Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: SEW, A Needle Pulling Thread!

Having worked at Nina Ricci Haute Couture, you would think that I had been initiated into the world of custom clothing for myself long ago.  Somehow, there was a disconnect.  I will be the first to defend Haute Couture for it’s artistry and I can totally justify the cost based on materials and the hours of work that go into each garment.   However, making custom hand sewn garments for socialites and Arab Princesses that cost a King’s ransom never really made them feel accessible to me.  Then I went to Bangkok.
In Bangkok, I went to my first custom tailor and experienced my first round of made-to-measure clothing.  I must admit that I was sucked in and it opened me up to wanting to explore this world further.

One afternoon, I went to visit a friend in Nolita (North of Little Italy).  How could I have guessed that the run-down neighborhood we avoided on our way to Little Italy for cannolis or the San Gennaro Festival had gentrified and gotten a cute name as well?  I was awestruck by all of the great small designer boutiques and ended up wandering around all of the streets experiencing all that Nolita had to offer.  

And then I hit pay dirt!  I discovered a small boutique that is all about men’s custom tailored garments.  I ended up meeting the owner of SEW, Scott Evan Wasserberger, and fell in love with made-to-measure all over again.  Wasserberger, a third generation tailor, not only knows his craft inside out, but he also has an exquisite collection of fine fabrics to choose from. Luckily for you, I filmed my visit!  So sit back, relax and learn all about fine tailoring!  And then start thinking about paying SEW a visit and experiencing custom clothing for yourself!

Photos and Video by Ritika Wahal

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: The Denim that Saved the Planet!

Eco-friendly, global warming, Kyoto Protocol: all phrases that I had never even heard of 20 years ago.  Yes, we had Earth Day and there was concern for the environment as a whole, but nothing on today’s level of planet consciousness.  The effort to heal the earth has been so amped up that unless you are Sarah Palin, you have to start looking at all of the ways that we effect our planet on a daily basis from what we drive to what we wear.
Coming out of the fashion industry, I am well aware of the challenges that the manufacturing of apparel poses in regards to the environment.  Thankfully, more and more companies are emerging with an eye towards producing garments that are truly fashionable AND are kind to our environment.

The latest company to come on the scene with this mindset is the Chicago based M2F™ Brand Denims.  Introducing their new eco-friendly line for the Fall/Holiday 2010 season, their collection of vintage denim in eleven colors and four slim-fit stretch denim styles (straight leg, classic bootcut, skinny leg, mini short) is a product that is right on mark for the direction the apparel industry needs to be heading.

The M2F™ name stands for Made2Fade Technology™.  The company was founded on this yarn technology that creates denim that is able to be produced in an unlimited number of colors that fade and wear like traditional blue jeans.  This is the first product on the market that is able to offer truly vintage finishes in colors. Since other colored denims have had to be solid dyed twill fabrics, where the dye penetrates to the core of the yarns, they do not wear and fade in the same way as traditional denim.  The colors are amazing, with the fall color palette including Swiss Chocolate, Black Tea, Greek Olive, Brick Red, Genuine Teal, Purple Haze and multiple shades of original blues.  M2F™ has their own factory that produces their yarn and M2F™ has spent a considerable amount of time developing the finish of their denim, creating a denim that is buttery soft.

If that wasn’t reason enough to check this denim collection out, M2F™, is also committed to creating their denims using earth friendly technology.  The yarn used in making M2F™ Brand Denims has been certified by the internationally recognized OEKO-TEX lab in Sweden, whose rigid 100 point testing guarantees Made2Fade™ yarns to be free of substances that can harm your health. The Jeans are individually colored in a dye bath that uses 50% less energy & water, while eliminating 100% of the toxic chemicals typical of traditional textile dyeing procedures.

M2F™ Brand Denim is just hitting the marketplace now, so check them out at Fred Segal, E Street Denim in Chicago, & on-line at Planet Blue.  While this is their first entry into the marketplace, I am looking forward to this revolutionary company expanding and becoming available to everyone nationwide. And of course, wishful thinking......looking forward to a men’s line for myself as well (hint, hint)!

Photos Courtesy of M2F™

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: ShoeFete! For the Love of Shoes!

A few weeks ago, I made a pilgrimage to one of my favorite shrines, Bergdorf Goodman.  After I had gone through the entire Men’s Store, I made my way across the street to the main store.  Inevitably, I found myself in the shoe department drooling over the latest Chanels, Louboutins, Choos and Manolos.  I have no practical purpose for them whatsoever, so it isn’t even a question of buying them.  For me, it is more like going to a gallery and appreciating a fine piece of art.  I guess I have a bit of Carrie Bradshaw in my DNA.
Imagine if you could shop for shoes in your own home or in the home of a friend in a relaxed party setting?  You could try them on, get feed back from friends, sip a nice glass of wine and just play!  Well, if you live in Southern California you can do just that with ShoeFete.  Created by mother daughter team Caryn and Ali Shaye, ShoeFete brings the shoes to you through shoe parties. Shoefete offers a line of super trendy shoes and purses at amazing prices.  These shoes and bags are not only sexy, but they are Vegan!!  As a connoisseur of fine shoes, all I can say is that these are top notch.

You can host a shoe party in your home or business and they will bring the shoes and purses to you.  The host automatically gets a pair of shoes of her choice and the more her guests spend, the more free shoes she gets.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
If you are lucky enough to live in Southern California, check out ShoeFete and become a host!  And, while I won’t buy the shoes for obvious reasons, invite me too so I can appreciate the artistry of the shoes over a glass of wine. ;-)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: Norma Kamali Wellness Café NYC

About three years ago, I started changing my diet; I began cutting out processed foods and trying to eat fresher and healthier.  Unlike a lot of people I know, my goal was not to extend my life indefinitely.  My reasons were geared more towards immediate gratification.  By eating healthier, I found that I could control my weight more easily and improve the quality of my daily life. Yeah, my reasons were a bit more superficial.  I like nice clothes!

So, having attended an event at Norma Kamali’s Wellness Café, I was intrigued to find out more about what they had to offer.  I returned for an event that focused on salt and its healing properties.  They introduced me to Halo/Air Salt Rooms, Himalayan salt products from Solay and I was even lucky enough to interview Norma Kamali herself and find out what her Wellness Cafe is all about.  Check out the video segment below. :)

Additionally, I discovered that the items that are offered in the Wellness Café make ideal gifts!  You can even choose from all of the products that they offer from olive oil and Himalayan Salt to Vital Choice foods and they will put together gift packs that are personalized in any way you wish. And, they will ship them as well! That takes care of some of my shopping list this year!
To order their awesome products and/or make gift packs contact;
Diana Spohn, the Wellness Manager
212.957.9797 x111

Photos and Video by Ritika Wahal

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: Creators Co-Op in Astoria, Queens

Astoria, Queens.  How unlikely a place to find me. So you would think.  Being a Manhattanite, I have very rarely traveled to the other boroughs.  Back in my youth, I taught ballet classes in a studio in Morris Park in the Bronx and since I was already there, I would visit my Italian relatives that lived in the neighborhood.  Outside of that, there were a few random visits to Brooklyn to go to the homes of friends in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope.  As for Queens, I had only ventured there once with a group of dancers from the Joffrey Ballet.  We had spent the night partying at Studio 54, afterward piling into cabs and making the trek to one of our groups apartments in Astoria, Queens, where we crashed on sofas, floors, etc.  Why we decided to head off to Queens, to this day I still do not know. The next morning, we jumped on the subway back into Manhattan, without really exploring the neighborhood.
So when I recently received an invitation to the opening of a co-op artist boutique in Astoria, like so many other Manhattanites, I struggled with the concept of journeying there for a boutique opening.  But deciding that it was more than time for me to explore more of my hometown, I enlisted my friend Brenda, a Queens native, as my escort and off we went to Astoria.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Astoria has a vibrant community.  The Greek community has long called Astoria home and it is evident in the markets and restaurants that you find there.  But one can also find interesting cafés and small boutique shops.  It was to one of these boutiques that had brought us here in the first place, Creators’ Co-Op.

Creators’ Co-Op is the brain-child of artist and designer, Kazuki Kozuru-Salifoska.  Kazuki is the creator of the so very New York all black children’s line, babyNOIR and the follow up more colorful line babySOLAIRE.  After years of selling her designs at streetfairs and craft markets, she decided that she would like a permanent location for her creations.  She also wanted to create a space for fellow artists to display and sell their work.  Kazuki has basically corated the artists joining the co-op based on the quality of their work, style and taste level.  And just as importantly, she wanted to give the people of her neighborhood the opportunity to shop for cool items, without leaving the neighborhood.  The result is a store that sells hand-made unique items, which include fashion, jewelry, accessories, art, homegoods and personal care products.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: Rebecca Moses Book Debut at Fratelli Rosetti

For the last 20 years, designer Rebecca Moses has been designing in Italy for labels such as Genny and since 1996 for her own label.  America’s loss was a brilliant gain for Italy.  Thankfully that is about to change.

Fresh on the heals of showing her beautiful collection for Macy’s, Heart Soul Style, at New York Fashion Week, Ms. Moses was on the scene last night.  This time it was for the debut of her new book, A Life of Style: Fashion, Home, EntertainingBeautifully illustrated in a playful manner, this new offering from Rebecca Moses takes the reader on a journey through the world of style and urges them to develop their own style and use it to express themselves.  Using witty captions to drive home her philosophy of style for all aspects of life, Ms. Moses creates an experience that is a sheer delight for its reader.

The debut of the book was held at Fratelli Rosetti on Madison Avenue where fans and friends of  Rebecca Moses turned out to buy a copy, have the designer sign their copies, while sipping Proseco and enjoying light appetizers.  This fan got my signed copy and now am kicking myself for not having gotten more copies to give as presents this Christmas!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: Vital Choice at Norma Kamali's Wellness Café

Norma Kamali has been a fashion innovator and legend since the 1960’s.  From her “parachute” collection and “sleeping bag” coat to flattering swimwear and sexy body conscious dressing, Norma Kamali has always led the way to new ways of looking at and approaching fashion.  In keeping with her innovative and trend leading history, I was not surprised to find out that Ms. Kamali had opened up the Wellness Cafe in her 56th street boutique.

Believing that what you put in and on your body is as important as what you wear, Ms. Kamali opened the Wellness Cafe to offer gourmet healthy foods and personal care products.    Every Wednesday, The Wellness Cafe features products and concepts that promote healthy living.  This last Wednesday, the Vital Choice company was featured with products such as salmon that comes in a vacuum packed pouches or in single serving cans, pouches of organic wild blueberries, organic trail mix, and organic no-guilt chocolate bars.  Among these offerings are what Norma Kamali calls “organic fast food”, which basically means that you can take it on the go with you, providing a healthy alternative to burgers, fries and all of the other foods that one might eat on the run.

Although I myself am a vegetarian, a very personal choice, I believe if you are going to eat fish and fish products that they should come from sustainable healthy supplies.  Vital Choice was started by husband and wife team Randy and Carla Hartnell, when they realized that farmed salmon threatened to replace wild salmon in the marketplace.  Their goal was to provide consumers sustainably harvested wild salmon; good for your health, the environment, and the health of coastal fishing communities.  Farm raised salmon is often raised in unhealthy conditions and fed hormones and antibiotics.  They even put dye in their food to create different shades of the salmon pink that occurs naturally in wild salmon.  As a tremendous source of Omega-3 fatty acids, they help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, reduce incidences of depression, fight disease and contribute to overall better health.  And, while salmon is a good source, Vital Choice also offers other fish high in Omega-3s, such as tuna, sardines, mackerel and sable fish.  In addition, Vital Choice has one of the purist Salmon Oil Vitamins on the market.  Their catalog provides all of these products and a myriad of other organic products to keep you eating healthy.

It only makes sense to eat products that are the most healthy and nutritious for you and Vital Choice offers exactly that.  For us veggie people, while we will have to get our Omega-3s from sources such as walnuts and flax seeds, Vital Choice still offers a myriad of healthy eating products which we can incorporate into our daily eating habits.

Thank you Norma Kamali for introducing us to such wonderful companies and products.  Ms. Kamali’s concern for healthy living matches her brilliant talent for design and I can only ask myself, what next?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: Career Transition for Dancers Gala

During Fashion Week in September, the divine Ms.FABulous told me about the 25th Anniversary Silver Jubilee Gala to benefit the Career Transition for Dancers organization.  I was thrilled to find out the the gala would be taking place when I would be back in NY in November and I immediately purchased a ticket to the event.
Myself a former dancer, this event was of particular interest to me.  As a dancer, you eat, sleep and breath dance from a very young age and it becomes a deep and integral part of you, no matter to where you move on.  I used to think of it almost like those people that had left the Soviet Union; it was a home that would always live within, yet you could never really return.  Transitioning from the dancer life to other fields can be a major challenge and the Career Transition for Dancers organization is a vital force in aiding dancers in that process.
The gala was held at City Center Theater on 55th Street with a packed house in attendance.  I had performed at City Center with the Béjart Ballet many moons ago, yet had never sat in the theater for a performance.  The Moorish influence decor was still stunning and although seated in the Gallery, I had a wonderful vantage point for the performances.

Hosted by Angela Lansbury, the program featured performances by Jacques D’Amboise’s National Dance Celebration Team, the cast of 42nd Street, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Joffrey BAllet, The Last Mambo, Momix, American Ballet Theater’s Yuriko Kajiya and Daniil Simkin performing the Don Quixote Pas de Deux, the cast of Chicago with the incredible Bebe Neuwirth.  The program was diverse and each performance was a masterpiece of artistry.

The Rolex Dance Award was presented to a gracious Twyla Tharp by the dance legend Edward Villella.  The gala closed with a new work by Marvin Hamlisch “I’m Really Dancing” with Mr. Hamlisch on piano and an all star cast of performers including Charlotte D’Amboise, Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking, Chita Rivera, ABT II, and the American Tap Dance Foundation Youth Program.
Recently starved for live theater and especially dance, the evening was both nostalgic and exhilarating; taking me back to my youth and reminding why I had fallen in love with dance so many many years ago.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: Diwali Dinner in New York

After a long but pleasant day bounding about the city (NY), I ended up on the Upper West Side with two close friends.  It was late Sunday afternoon and everyone was ready for an earlyish dinner.  But deciding on what type of restaurant to go to was a challenge.  Each of us tossed out our options: Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese......but no one could make up their mind.  I finally settled the matter by suggesting that in honor of Diwali, now in its third day, that we go for Indian cuisine.  After debating which restaurant to go, we finally decided on one within a short walk from my friends apartment.
A walk in the crisp Fall weather stoked our appetites further and we were more than ready to eat when we fell into Indian Tanpura.  A very friendly server greeted us and sat us in the small nicely decorated dining room with crisp white linens.  We perused the menu and decided upon dishes that we would all mostly share.

We began with samosas, which were delicately seasoned and added broccoli to the usual combination of potatoes and peas.  The nicest thing about these samosas was that they were not in the very least greasy, but still nice and crisp.

Then the main courses arrived: Dahl Makhni (Black Lentils sautéed in Ghee with ginger & garlic) , Alu Mottor Gobi (Potatoes, Peas & Cauliflower cooked in Masala sauce), Vegatable Jalfrezi (Mixed Vegetables sautéed with Green Pepper, Onion & Tomato), and an order of Chicken Tikka (Marinated Boneless Chicken Breast cooked in the Tandoori Oven) for my two friends.  The entrées came with white basmati rice and we also ordered the Nan.  All of the dishes were very flavorful and were seasoned perfectly with all of the spices that make Indian cuisine so special.   We enjoyed everything and felt completely satisfied by the end of the meal, with every plate cleaned.  

And as an extra bonus, our extremely attentive server treated us to servings of their rice pudding which was as delicious as everything else had been, sweet with just a hint of curry.

One note to those embarking on a meal at Indian Tanpura.  I love all of the spices that go into Indian Cuisine: cumin, cardamon, garlic, ginger, etc.  However, I seem to have an intolerance to red pepper.  Pile on the black pepper or any other spice and I’m in love.  Red pepper on the other hand.... So, I was incredibly surprised that all of the dishes had an abundance of all of the spices I love, but only enough red pepper to give it a tolerable kick.  I asked about this and was informed that they made their dishes mild as far as red pepper was concerned, unless it was requested to make the dishes really spicy.  So if you are one of those who like their Indian cuisine at fire department levels, just let them know and they will gladly accommodate you!
We had an excellent meal and I would not only recommend dining at Indian Tanpura, but will put it on my list of places to return to.