Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: Fortuny Exhibit at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute!

In an industry that is always looking for the latest trend, Fashion is usually about what is new, hot and what is up next on the horizon.  However, we can take inspiration from the past and also appreciate the artistry of the masters of the past.  One of those masters is the legendary Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo.

Remembered as one of the fashion greats for his elegant pleated gowns like the Delphos, Fortuny was also involved in the arts in numerous fields, including textile design and the visual arts.  Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo was born into an artistic dynasty in Spain and this lineage had a tremendous impact on him and the groundbreaking work that he would create.

Fortuny was born in Granada, Spain, was raised in Paris and spent his adult life in Venice.  He took his inspiration from diverse sources, from art history and the cultures of his native Spain, Greece, North Africa, Japan and the Italian Renaissance.  Fortuny’s fashion designs were an expression of his artistry and didn’t constantly change and follow the inevitable trends of the fashion world, yet his work was embraced by the fashionable elite. The timeless designs are still highly coveted and have graced  everyone from Marisa Berenson to Tina Chow.

In an exhibition curated by present day fashion great Oscar de la Renta at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York, we get a first hand look at the work of Fortuny.  From the textile and clothing designs to his work in the visual arts, we get a glimpse into Fortuny’s artistry and an exploration of how his family’s artistic legacy helped to shape his extraordinary career!  For anyone who is interested in fashion and/or art, this is definitely a must see exhibition for those who live in or are visiting the New York area!

November 30, 2012 - March 30, 2013
Queen Sofia Spanish Institute
684 Park Avenue (at 68th Street)
New York, NY 10065
T: 212-628-0420

Gallery Hours:
Monday-Thursday 10am-6pm
Friday 10am-8pm
Saturday 10am-5pm

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: Sheila Johnson Luxury Scarves!!


Fall is probably my favorite season!  I love the chilly evenings, the smell of dry leaves and the return to the social season after a long summer break.  And let’s face it, it’s always fun to start wearing all of the new Fall fashions mixed in with favorite pieces from the past!

Of course, a MUST for Fall dressing is scarves! Not only do they keep you warm when there is a nip in the air, but they also accessorize any outfit perfectly, as every French woman knows!  And, as you delve into the world of scarves, there is a new player on the scene that will be a must have for your wardrobe.


Sheila Johnson, best known as the co-founder of BET Networks and the producer of films has just launched a line of scarves.  An avid photographer, Sheila has translated the beautiful nature and landscape photographs she has taken on her travels around the world into wearable art. The scarves have names such as Solace, Joy!, Elina and Felicity in a collection titled “Interludes” that captures the rich vivid colors of Sheila’s photographs.

Made in Prato, Italy, the luxury scarf collection is produced on old-fashioned wooden looms using Modal, a natural yarn that is smooth, supple and color fast.  Each scarf is digitally printed and then skillfully cut and fringed by hand.


The collection retails for $475.00 with a portion of the proceeds donated to charity.  One charity it will benefit is the Lady Salamanders, the first national all-women’s Street Soccer USA team, which aims to end homlessness through sports  (www.streetsoccerusa.org).  Sheila Johnson also traveled to Haiti with Donna Karan after the 2010 earthquake and the sale of the scarves that have the photos she took there will help benefit the rebuilding of that country.


At this time, the scarves are available for purchase exclusively at www.sheilajohnsoncollection.com!  So, go to Sheila’s site to view and purchase these exquisite scarves that are not only fashionable, but are also for a cause!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: THEIA Spring 2013!

Since discovering the THEIA Collection of eveningwear four seasons ago, I have become a devoted fan.  Designer Don O’Neill never fails to give the collection a new edge with THEIA growing and evolving each season.

We caught up with Don O’Neill at the photo shoot for the THEIA look book to find out what will be in store for Spring 2013!

For THEIA Spring 2013, Don O'Neill put an emphasis on beautiful colorful prints which set the mood for the entire collection.  The colors of dresses that are solid are pulled from the prints and even the stones in the beadwork reflect back to the prints, casting off corals, reds and blues.

The Fall 2012 Collection was inspired by Athena and was all about a woman's strength.  Spring 2013 takes that strength and balances it with a lighter, more playful attitude, embracing Spring with the newness and rebirth it offers.

Steadily gaining more and more celebrity clients, THEIA is becoming known to the general public. And with that recognition, THEIA is gaining a following of devoted customers who look to the collection for its sophisticated, elegant and always dramatic evening wear.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: A Beccafico: Venetian Dining at It's Best!

Venice, the city of canals, one of the most romantic and distinctive cities in the world.  Other cities with canals across the globe compare themselves to this gem, by declaring themselves the Venice of the North or other similar names.  But there is only one Venice.

I had been to Venice several times before, but never in the winter and never at Christmas so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  Venice has always been a magical place for me and somehow at this time of year without the big crowds of tourist season, it seemed even more so.

Arriving in Venice quite late in the evening, we were met by a representative from the agency that had rented us an apartment overlooking the Grand Canal for our stay.  We asked the representative if there would possibly be any restaurants in the area that would still be open and she highly recommended one that was literally right on the square next to our apartment, A Beccafico.

Heading to A Beccafico we were surprised to see that it was indeed still bustling despite the late hour, so we decided to give it a shot.  The modernly decorated restaurant had a staff that were all very friendly and one server, Alessandro, spoke English beautifully and took care of us, explaining any questions that we had about the menu.

Our meal began with salads, a mixed salad for me and my partner had a Caprese followed up with an appetizer of marinated fish and shellfish.  Appetizers and salads led on to main courses of a selection of Squid prepared in three different ways and for me, Caciu all’Argentiera or the Silversmith’s Cheese, a dish that originated in Palermo and consists of Fried Caciocavallo cheese with fried slices of zucchini.  A delicious dish, I gobbled it down with slices of Italian bread and focaccia.

We had such an amazing meal, we ended up going back for dinner again on another evening where my partner dined on Lamb Chops and I had an amazing roasted half eggplant that had then been baked with marinara and cheese on top!  For desert we just had to try the Tiramisu, served in a glass lidded jar.

Being a total Pizza Addict, I just had to give their pizza a shot, so we mad a final visit on our last day in venice for lunch. As with everything else we had had at the restaurant, the pizza did NOT disappoint.  At A Beccafico, Every meal ended  with complimentary decanters of both a sweet dessert wine and limoncello, a nice finish to a satisfying dining experience.

The perfect restaurant for our Venice sojourn, I still find myself daydreaming about A Beccafico and have put it on list of places that I MUST return.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: Tis the Season to be Stylish!

This year has sped by so fast!! I can’t believe that in one week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving again.  Then we will once again be plunged into the Holiday Season, ready or not!

That of course means family gatherings and Holiday parties, where you want to look your best and impress.  But how do you do that without completely breaking the bank and having to take on austerity measures à la Greece in the New Year?  THEIA, ML: Monique Lhuillier, JS Collections, and JS Boutique are all answers that fit the bill completely.

THEIA, the beautiful line by designer Don O’Neill, is just what the doctor ordered for your Holiday needs.  THEIA offers cocktail dresses that are elegant, chic and will make you look like the superstar that you are!  Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and even Oprah have discovered the allure of THEIA and now you can too!

ML: Monique Lhuillier is another collection that will let you grab the spotlight.  Monique Lhuillier has long been a leader in the eveningwear category and now with her ML Collection, you can experience the style that has made Monique Lhuiilier a stand out!

And last, but not least, if you are on a tighter budget but still want to be the definition of Holiday Style, JS Collections and JS Boutique offer dresses that will make everyone's head turn!  Who says you can't be stunning on a budget?

All of these delectable collections will make you look like a million bucks, without breaking your budget!  Tis the season for looking incredible!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: Byron Lars Beauty Mark Spring 2013!

Byron Lars is one of those designers that never ceases to amaze me.  SInce his meteoric rise in the 90’s, he has consistently produced one amazing collection after another.

For Spring 2013, Byron Lars did an informal presentation of his Beauty Mark collection at his showroom in the garment district.  The event was deliciously catered by The Model Chef - Kelley Lauren (themodelchef@gmail.com), who was also the perfect model for one of Byron’s sexy red dresses from the collection.

The collection itself was everything that we have come to expect from Byron Lars Beauty Mark: feminine, sexy, flirty and above all FUN!  These are the types of garments that every woman should have in her wardrobe!

Another score for Byron Lars and another reason for me to stay fascinated by his design expertise!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: First Lady Michelle Obama in Byron Lars!

After a hectic and contentious campaign season, the election is finally over! We will once again have the ever stylish Obama household in the White House and 4 more years of Michelle’s wonderful sense of fashion!

The Obamas Graced the cover of the November issue of EBONY magazine as a prelude to an interview with President Obama.  In the interview, President Obama discusses the issues that are most important in the struggle to keep the country where the American Dream is not only possible, but a reality.  For everyone!!

Being a devoted fashionista, I was particularly interested in the photos of Michelle Obama and how she is attired!  Upon glancing at the cover, I suspected that the design I was seeing was from one of my all time favorite designers and upon looking inside, my suspicions were confirmed!  The First Lady is elegantly attired in a dress designed by Byron Lars for his Beauty Mark Collection.

The dress is a completely modern take on the super feminine shirt dress that was a staple of proper dressing in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  The white shirt dress is embroidered with a floral motif from just under the bust and diffusing just below the hip line.  The black and grey embroidery emphasizes the waistline in a way that creates a very flattering and slimming silhouette.  The hem of the dress is embellished with several tiers of a metallic tweed, adding texture and dimension to a dress that is sheer perfection!!

Once again, Michelle Obama has made a brilliant fashion choice with this Byron Lars Beauty Mark dress!  I for one am looking forward to another 4 years (and beyond!) of this awesome First Lady’s fashion.  But, I am also looking forward to 4 more years of her intellect and presence as the woman behind the most powerful man in our country!

Congratulations President and First Lady Obama!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: Mama D's Italian Restaurant Newport Beach CA!

When I am in New York, I almost equally eat at restaurants and cook at home.  But surprisingly, when I am in California I primarily cook at home, with the occasional take-out that I bring home to eat as well.  This is probably in part because I hate to drive, find parking, etc.  and almost every restaurant that I am interested in is at least a 30 minute drive away.  

However, every once in a while I can be convinced to venture out and on this trip to California, I was enticed by an Italian restaurant in Newport Beach.  I had driven past Mama D’s last December on the way to a Christmas party and my curiosity was piqued!  As for the restaurant itself, the architecture is typical of old school beach town and has an atmosphere that is relaxed and inviting.  The walls are covered with photos of the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and other celebs of note.

We kicked of the meal with a bottle of ONEHOPE California Merlot.  I wasn’t aware of this wine until I saw it on the menu and was impressed, because the company donates 50% of its profits from the Merlot to charities who support the fight against AIDS.  Not only was I able to feel good about the choice, but the wine was excellent as well!

For starters, we kept it light.  I had the Italian Garden Salad, a composition of lettuces, tomato, carrot, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, shredded mozzarella and olives.  My dining companion had the Caprese salad.  We both enjoed the salads and they whetted our appetite for the main course.

My main course was Ethan’s Eggplant Parmigiana and it was one of the best eggplant parmesans that I have had in a restaurant.  The sauce was perfectly seasoned and it was not sweet as were the last two times that I had ordered it in a restaurant.  The only thing I would hae done in retrospect is to have ordered a side of pasta.  My companion had the Veal Marsala (despite my dirty looks and threats of a lecture) and said that it was excellent.  Not as good as the Marsala sauce I make, but one of the best he has had. :)  Quite frankly, I was stuffed from the very rich eggplant parmesan, so I passed on dessert this time.  However, the desserts at the other tables looked quite yummy.

I will most definitely be back to dine at Mama D’s, as they serve EXCELLENT Italian food.  I can’t wait to try other things on the menu!  But even better than the atmosphere and the food was the service.  The staff at Mama D’s is exceptionally friendly and attentive, from the hosts to the servers and busboys!  Sending a special shout out to our server Natalie who made our dining experience at Mama D’s special and memorable!