January 25, 2007
On Silicon Valley MALE Fashion
ValleyWag today talks about Fashion No No's for Valley guys. Its about time we talked about this. It's not just that they don't dress the part, but they don't care about ever dressing the part. Paul Boutin gives us five pointers. Are you kidding? There should be at least twenty and I could keep writing. And I'm not sure I agree with their logic:
1. Dyed hair -I think this depends on how you wear it frankly. It's not an either or......have it done right and it can work wonders, just like it does with women -- or not.
2. Wrong shirt - which is to say, almost any shirt. They say to stick to polos and oxfords. When in doubt, stay within the first ten pages of the L.L. Bean catalog. YAWN - New England-like and boring. Step above the crowd, wear colors and wear them proudly and hell, be creative. L.L. Bean catelog, c'mon. Its so 1980s.
3. Faded pants. They say no, that a worn seat is the classic old boy's blind spot and that out here, it says you haven't recovered from the dot-com crash. Los Angeles money would not agree - its all about the fade. Again, isn't it how you wear it and what you do on top?
Sorry Paul, but you need a woman's perspective here. It's not about one piece on its own, its about the blend. And then to end with a suggestion to shop at Banana Republic? Not much better than The Gap or L.L. Bean I'm afraid. So much for being bold, daring and standing out 'ABOVE' the rest.
4. Cool shoes. Yes, cool shoes, but I have to agree that I'm a fan of simple but elegant shoes for men and women. They should make a statement but not take over your outfit.
5. Body odor. Yeah, well this one goes without saying and its amazing how often men forget to wear deoderant. There are other people around, ya know?
I could go on. He doesn't say anything about the permanent cell phone and Blackberry fixture to their belt buckles - so attractive isn't it girls? And the t-shirt (with logo), tattered sneaker combination with the loose jeans. If you have a great butt, why cover it? If you don't, then replace an hour of computer time with an hour doing something physical to firm up the overall package.
Yes, fashion counts. So does healthy sparkling eyes that say, "I'll be around for awhile because I take care of myself and have balance in my life," sadly something that lacks in high tech circles.
January 22, 2007
Fashion Gone Right, Fashion Gone Wrong
On Go Fug Yourself, which I don't regularly read but love to dive in and out of, there are always pages full of fashion gone right and fashion gone wrong. In the past week or so, online coverage includes an example of what I'd consider a mistake and a success. In other words, one draws you in, the other pushes you away. Can you tell which is which?
January 21, 2007
Political Chic Fashion
While we're on a roll with female politicians, check out speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's outward-facing wardrobe. Says the NY Times recently, "she brings her new position a sense of style that is admired on both sides of the aisle as well as in other departments in Washington."
Reminds the Times, "lauding someone for their style on Capitol Hill is a lot like celebrating the best surfer on Florida’s Gulf Coast — it’s all relative, and some would argue irrelevant. Washington has never embraced fashion (nor, for that matter, has the fashion world embraced Washington). In political circles, fashion is a loaded term, smacking of frivolity and vanity."
Hog wash. Go Nancy, change Washington. Lady Di brought a glorious feminine energy to the Royal Family at a time when we were forced to live with British politicians and business women parading around in pastel and navy blue striped conservative suits. YAY for Di, YAY for Nancy.
We need to remind women in the White House and beyond that they need not be fashion agnostic, nor do they have to live their professional lives in red power ties, multicolored scarves and lacquered hair.
January 20, 2007
Beyonce in Feminine Glory
This is a wonderful modern glamour shot if I ever saw one. Listen to her new song Irreplaceable. Beyonce: such a fabulous name and it works so well with her flowing feminine style. That feminine style in all its glory is incredibly engaging in her new video. Click play and click up the volume baby.
January 18, 2007
Left Coast Fashion
I was walking through Caesar's Palace, The Venetian and Paris' fashion-filled hallways in Las Vegas last week and had a very conscious thought about left versus right coast fashion as I studied some of the styles I would have not paid attention to a few years ago......
I thought, "since I've moved to the west coast, I don't shop at Ann Taylor anymore." Meaning, I don't even go into the stores, get tempted to or look for a similar style. French designer Agnes B, who many of my East Coast girlfriends recommended I visit in Paris, was largely too conservative when I finally found two of four stories throughout the city. I left empty handed. Something happens when you move west.
A few hours after I had this thought, I ran into four industry girlfriends from the east coast, all of them reporters or editors from Boston and New York. They often shop at Ann Taylor and Banana Republic remains a staple.
It does not mean I'm now attracted to rhinestones, rubies and diamond shirts, or embroidered jeans (okay, perhaps some of the jeans). Nor does it mean I only wear flowy new age shirts found at coffee shops in quaint Marin neighborhoods or bright sweaters, rather than more traditional tans, greens and navies.
And not to pick on Ann Taylor, but c'mon, she's all about straight conservative lines, tends to be tailored and safe rather than bold and daring. Simple and elegant is great. Conservative and tailored is also great and there's definitely a place for it. I'm just glad there's less of a place for it on the west coast.
January 17, 2007
Shades Upon Shades
One of the great things about being a woman is that we can change our hair color often and the world is cool with it. And so I do. A dirty brown/blonde last week and this week I have four different spectrums of the rainbow on the top of my head.
"You want four colors," Tony asks. "No silly, four shades of three colors," I replied. "Ah," he replied. "But of course." It's so great when a hair stylist truly understands a woman.
January 13, 2007
Vegas at Convention Time
In addition to everyone seeming to be so damn happy in Las Vegas, it is a place where you are reminded of all things American. Modern American.
In all of its insularness, it proves that in this part of the world, tacky tourism rules, gambling will always be lucrative, creating a false illusion of what is real elsewhere (Paris) works, and that when people are driven by fear, an unhealthy lifestyle and diet will dominate.
I dread my Vegas trips every year and yet, once I arrive and remember that there are many people I care who are subject to the same week of insanity I signed up for, the dread soon dissipates. An internal voice says, "it'll be alright, life is good.”
It's hard to consistently remain calm on the CES show floor or any convention show floor of this size when everyone around you is rushed, fatigued and wishing they were elsewhere.
They may have just come from a two hour cab wait, worse on a cool desert evening when you're not quite prepared for it. The sunny crisp days continue to fool us and we seem to forget about the cold evening desert temperatures despite the fact that we've experienced it time and time again.
It's hard to manage your time as you schlep from one meeting to the next. Regardless if they are across the street from each other or a mere two blocks away, it still takes you 30-45 minutes to get there by foot or vehicle.
Yet, with the chaos brings a delightful madness that continues to surprise over and over again, whether its passing Treasure Island and seeing the shooting water for the umpteenth time, or suddenly hearing Frank Sinatra's loud hovering voice engage you in Fly Me To the Moon when you least expect it, or running into an old friend from another country or state in a dark hotel bar at four in the morning as if you anticipated them all along.
Vegas at convention time is sprawling, vulgar, frenzied, noisy, gawdy and tiring combined with stimulating, entertaining, colorful and fun. Above it all, there is always a sense of unhealthy energy at every turn, more prominent inside casinos and more noticeable when your crowd leaves.
The gambling addicts are perched at the lucky machine they have chosen with a cigarette dangling from their mouth and a large vodka tonic on the shelf next to them, their eyes bulging with anticipation. It's sad, amusing and colorful all at the same time.
When your crowd leaves, you only see the smoke and the aloneness of each of them surround you, the aloneness of their eyes jump out longing to be met, the aloneness that brings them to Vegas to fill so many perceived voids in their daily lives.
I feel the aloneness of the city even when my crowd is with me. When 150,000 of your technology buds all gather within a three mile radius for a week, you're bound to run into someone you know in any hotel hallway, elevator, restaurant, bar, bistro or taxi.
I seem to know enough people who go to this annual event that I can exchange a hug or shake a hand on every corner. Yet, past them is the aloneness of Vegas, hidden among the noise and color of its shining glittering parade of dancing girls, blackjack tables and 24 hour hard liquor bars.
Everyone is moving from one place to another, like New York but not. In New York, there are many choices. People may be going to work, the theatre, their local café, corner grocery, or walking their dog.
In Vegas at convention time, each person you encounter only has time for 15-20 minute hellos at most and all of it is rushed and inauthentic somehow even if its not intended to be. There simply isn't enough time to engage even if they want to be genuine and present.
It begs the question - why not stay at home and make the conversation virtual in the remoteness of your own office or home? The goal at CES should be personal connection time, building relationships and trust with those you’ll either partner with, sell to or solicit money from….
This is part of the delight, the kind of surprise you experience as if at a summer camp or college reunion. Each year, we are hopefully a little wiser, sometimes we’re wearing a different corporate badge or none at all. Some are a little grayer, some no longer with us as the years pass.
Despite the things that have changed over the years, some things never do, like the booth-babe energy and glittery costumes, or lack thereof, on a stage set-up to be torn down a few days later. PC Magazine and CNET still have their open pavilion areas where editors interview vendors on camera, give awards, and throw after parties in a suite or casino bar.
There is also the press room, where you catch up with old friends, do email and write. Some will disagree however. A few of my press buddies argue that with the influx of bloggers, podcasters and vloggers, there is no physical space for "legitimate" press anymore. Inside and outside of the press room.
There used to be a food table, no more. Coffee is minimal, there are no bottles of soda or water and hard copy press kits are half what they were. Reporters and bloggers alike still stand in long lines to get their logo-filled backpacks, t-shirts, digital games on DVD, USB drives and flashing pens.
The fatique and intolerance increases as the prices go up, the cab lines grow longer and the ROI for many, shrinks. There are simply more effective means to reach customers and potential customers, yet there remains the draw of an event where you can get face time with some of the top worldwide innovators in one city at one time. A city, mind you, that never sleeps.
My favorite meetings are in the long stretch limos (gold if you can get them) as you drive around and around the convention center or from one casino hotel to the next. You watch the gaud from inside a clean long limo with tinted windows, dentist office music playing in the background.
On foot, it's an entirely different experience. As I walk along the strip, I pass the Flamingo and hear Free Fallin' blaring through an overhead speaker, another reminder of the city's unhealthy fabricated glow.
You can spot the tourists and most definitively can tell the difference between the tourist and the convention attendee. The tourist is looking up, their eyes wandering around them, side to side, awe struck by the campiness and gold.
The convention attendee is instead, looking down at their cell phone or blackberry, sending a text message or reading one. They often wear their badges into the night long after the halls shut their doors, and logos can be found on something they hold, whether it’s a pen, t-shirt or bag.
The dialogue is not about theatre, Elvis look-alikes, the latest show they just saw, or dinner at Olives, nor is it about the ceiling at Caesars or their latest loss at the Hard Rock or Tropicana.
For the convention crowd – this year -- iPhone dominates the discussion, as does the same ole same ole response, “I didn’t really see anything that blew me away this year.” I hear this year after year and yet what follows is a continuation of chatter about gadgets and toys, ranging from cell phones and HDTVs to iPod accessories and mobile games people are eager to try.
One voice around me wonders what Gates’ response was to Jobs keynote and the iPhone announcement. His buddy tries to get a connection on his Treo to give him the answer within seconds since the response couldn’t wait until a laptop browser was available.
Its important to engage in the glitter at least once, whether you're there for a convention or as a tourist. This year, I did manage to get at least one nice meal in at the top of Paris' Eiffel Tower on the strip.
Photos of the Las Vegas Paris taken by Doc
December 21, 2006
Winter Paris Visual Moments
December 19, 2006
Chains Along Champs Elysees
Champs Elysees is a famous boulevard worthy of praise for its beauty, lights, charm and decadence, yet it is lined with commercial chains you can find in any American city. It is also lined with crowds of tourists from around the world, most of whom are either standing in que for a cappuccino at one of the many cafes or snapping photos from the busy narrow landing in the middle of the avenue.
Admittedly I did the same thing and was nearly run over by a bus trying to perch myself on an iron box to capture the distant swaying trees together with glittery dazzle in the foreground.
I used to make it to cities east of New York often as well as small European towns and villages; now it is a rarity. In all foreign cities, I make a habit of at least one shopping experience, largely do the fact that so few American cities give me much of a “creative” selection.
Enter for a moment Les Champs Elysees in the heart of one of the most romantic and fashion-centric cities in the world. My head was spinning after three blocks, but not because I was in awe over charming elegant boutiques and unique Parisian shops, but because of the mediocrity of store choices – on my left and right.
With ‘Arc De Triump behind me, I had in my view McDonalds, Benetton, Virgin’s Mega Store, Swatch, Disney, Hugo Boss and Sephora on my left, Adidas, Debusy, another McDonalds (how did this happen?), The Gap and Lacoste, on my right with Louis Vuitton and Cartier adding a little elegance close to the Metro entrance.
Most of the coffee bars and bistros were native, however there were a few Pomme De Pains (baggettes and chocolate) and Hamburger Restaurants, all of which called themselves the same name on both sides of the street.
Carole Boutique is a small crowded shop in a side promenade that carried western American clothing “finds” with lots of jewels and stones affixed to their denims and cotton shirts. (all ran about 100 Euros a piece ($140).
Two or three people volunteering for The Salvation Army stood in the middle of the boulevard ringing the bell, while another bell attached to the red metal bucket, somehow rang automatically. Despite no wind, the temperatures were brutal and my green cashmere scarf, leather gloves and fluffy hat didn’t seem to help much.
I walked into Cartier and a few leather shops, simply to avoid the chains. Is big business this important to the longevity and success of one of Paris’ most prestigious boulevards? How did the French let this happen?
Tara Jarmon’s window display drew me in amidst the clutter of generic shopping energy. Her half-mannequin tantalized me; the sexy naked window-display dummies were dressed in vividly bright yellow dresses and black cocktail attire; there was a sheer faded near-white back-drop. The display alone brought me back to Paris. And there I stayed.
November 04, 2006
Dining by Design
A new friend of mine was involved with San Francisco's Dining by Design, an annual event to raise money for AIDS. It is co-sponsored by Elle Decor and Design Industries Foundation (DIFFA), held in San Francisco's SOMA, an area that continues to flourish for design, arts, and architecture.
DIFFA is one of the oldest and largest funders of HIV/AIDS service and education programs in the U.S. and has tapped into the immense resources of the design communities to provide over $35 million to hundreds of AIDS organizations nationwide.
I attended this fabulous fundraising gala this past week, which showcases the creativity of some of the Bay Area’s most inspired designers. Each designer is assigned an 11' by 11' space to create a masterpiece table which can seat ten people for dinner.
My new friend, who has been involved in the design industry for years but who is more of a 'business organizer' than a designer, admits that it gets a little cat-like as the event closes in. At noon on the day of the event, a friend from New York (also in the biz), called to see "how things were going." I can't imagine the pressure if it were my own creation and time was ticking away, however I couldn't help thinking - Project Runway anyone?
It was noon and the place had barely been set or decorated. He said, "there's about 200 queens on walkie talkies worried about broken glasses and fighting for prime space." "Excellent, so, everything is on schedule then," his friend responded. He smiled when he said it and winked playfully. Energized (for how could you not be when you see the final result), he continues the story of set-up, every step of the way until it final completion, including the the fine details, like the champagne and Elle Decor giveaway bags.
Alison and Renee hamming it up
He reminded me that only the highest maintenance designers could produce results as exquisite as this. Meaning? Second place is not an option. I get that. Take a look at some of their designs. Each setting demanded excellence and their creations, each one of them, provoked you to go beyond the food and the wine, made you imagine, "what conversation 'could' happen at this table versus that one?
A round-up of some of the fabulous set-ups below. Which one is your favorite?