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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2016

mermaid parade 2016
coney island mermaid parade

After many years of admiring photos from afar, I finally got myself to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. The attire of choice is, of course, sea-worthy chic. The tradition of the Mermaid Parade was born from the artist's community of this area of New York City. Fine artists, burlesque performers, circus folk and unique souls kept this parade going. I love the sheer diversity of the crowd. There are, of course, sexy, scantily clad ladies that the photographers fight themselves to shoot. There are all groups, ages, body types, entire families with children and dogs. I even saw a chicken in cosplay.

You'll find tons and tons of glitter and seashells on mermaid outfits. Some people just opt for body makeup. Parasols to block the midday summer sun was the most popular accessory. Like other alternative fashion trends, mermaid style has evolving trends. There were Goth mermaids, mermaids that incorporated pop culture, like the Star Wars, "Fish" Awakens group. There were superheroines Bat-mermaid and Wonder Woman mermaid.

For the gentlemen, sea creatures were popular. I loved the Steampunk vintage diver costume (with a strategically placed spigot!). Sexy pirates, sea captains, Triton and even a Popeye costume walked the parade.

mermaid crown diy

My own outfit, I put together a pink skirt, embroidered tulle (fishnet) topper and I embroidered a bra top with seashells, jewels, and taffeta petals.

My DIY mermaid crown. I twisted a bunch of pipe cleaners into a coral fan shape (you can just wrap them around each other into any organic pattern). I used a headband as a base. The pipe cleaners are very easy to use (just a caveat, the sparkly ones tend to leave sparkly bits on the floor). Start twisting a few around the headband at first, creating branches that veer off at different sides, doubling up with other pipe cleaners around itself.

Then I glue gunned shells and jewels on top, using the pipe cleaners as a support frame. I originally wanted to use pearls, but the flat back jewels were easier to glue. That's it! A glue gun just makes everything quick and stable. Regular glue works too, but it just takes longer.

I hope you enjoyed the Coney Island Mermaid Parade peep show!
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Friday, June 17, 2016

Cointreau x Dannijo: The Art of the Soiree


Cedar Lake Events was home to a fantasy indoor garden Wednesday. Cointreau showcased a range of exotic cocktails to start the summer paired with scrumptious bites. The visual senses were seduced by the glittering jewelry from Dannijo, the brand founded by designers Danielle and Jodie Snyder.

Cointreau has been a staple in my bar for years as a key ingredient for my cosmopolitans and margaritas. I tasted several new cocktails that night that I will be adding to my repertoire.


Dannijo jewelry came out of the gate with spectacular statement pieces in 2008. The sisters self-taught themselves to make jewelry using their father's tools. Their label launched from a project to benefit Danielle's non-profit organization to create economic opportunities for women in Africa. Now their jewelry and handbags are sought after by top celebrities and "It" girls around the world.

Tin Can Studios in Brooklyn created the most beautiful decor for the party. There was a gigantic orange tree as the central point of the event space that seemed to bloom Cointreau and glittering jewelry from its branches. Other topiaries were dripping in jewels. The beautiful banquet table was set with wild-looking florals of intense color, stretching out from partial terrariums. The overall effect looked like an organic amethyst.

Platters of vegetables offered innovative flavors along the table. A rich smoked duck appetizer followed. The bar offered up salmon rilettes, pate, and cheese. Servers enticed with desserts like a chocolate tart that looked like tiny flower boxes of dirt and creamsicles that hung off bamboo spirals like tendrils of a vine. Here is a recipe for one of the most refreshing cocktails I sampled:

Cointreau French Lemonade:
2 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Cold-pressed Watermelon Juice
3 oz. Club Soda

Build all ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Stir gently. Garnish with a watermelon wedge and lemon wheel.

Thank you Cointreau and Dannijo for a decadent evening! A mix of opulent style, food and drink is a treat indeed.
(photos by Mariana Leung)



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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

NYWIFT Gala: Celebrating Designing Women in Film and Television


I was fortunate to attend the NYWIFT gala celebrating the achievements of women in film and television Monday. Costume designer Sarah Edwards, hair stylist Rose Chatterton and makeup artist Anita Gibson were honored for their work. Gender disparity is rampant throughout the entertainment industry. It was an empowering night to watch successful women encouraging others to support and mentor other creative women.

Sarah Edwards is the costume designer behind the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Star Will Arnett was hilarious in character as "himself" in his speech about Edward's talent as he took an interest in anyone who makes him look. Her favorite look for the movie was the armor-like costume for Shredder (far right). She is also behind the costumes of Michael Clayton, Last Days of Disco, The Devil's Advocate among others. She also oversaw the looks for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Ben Stiller. She remarked the subtle difference in dressing Stiller in frumpier versions of the same outfit in his real life scenes versus the sharply tailored versions of his fantasy sequences to define the character.

rose chatterton hairstylist

Legendary actor Ray Liotta remarked on the talent of hairstylist honoree Rose Chatterton in his presentation. He noted that in the initial reviews of his show Shades of Blue, the press actually complimented his hair in their articles. That's memorable hair. In my chat with Chatterton, she noted the most challenging days are the long ones, chasing down talent in humidity and wind. She actually looks to her clients for discovering the best in hair products. They are often gifted new beauty items and then share their favorites with her. In addition to the show Shades of Blue, she created the retro looks for Factory Girl and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

hollywood makeup artist

Anita Gibson was a powerhouse of energy at this event. Her favorite beauty products are to work with nails. She initially succeeded in film by excelling in films like Inside Man and Tyler Perry movies as an expert in working with diverse casts. That became more poignant when she worked on Kerry Washington playing Anita Hill in HBO's Confirmation. In the 1990s, cosmetics options for women of color were limited. Gibson reflected that in creating her look for Washington during the testimony scenes. She illustrated the stress Anita Hill's character endured in using waning lipstick and a lack of facial makeup as Hill's testimony wore on.

maura tierney the affair

The entire creative team in costume, hair, and makeup for the tv program The Affair was honored at the NYWIFT awards. Star Maura Tierney presented the award to the enthusiastic ensemble. What is subtle, but fascinating about this show is that the same storylines are told from multiple characters perspectives. This requires major diligence and precise creative choices to style onscreen.

Costume, hair, and makeup are always admired when the project is a fantasy or time period. However, helping to build the characters for realistic situations and real life is more intricate with less appreciation. I noticed that all the women honored this night had that in common. The characters they styled had to be believable in all scenes, even if they were the same scenes shot differently.
NYWIFT, the New York Women in Film and Television is proof that there are many hard-working, successful creatives in the field. Entertainment may be a cutthroat industry, but talented people are happy to prop each other up.
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Pamella Roland Resort 2017



Resort style is about heading out to the sun. Pamella Roland's fashion show at the Bulgari store Wednesday night was presented as a ray of light. As a board member of the Whitney Museum, she took inspiration from contemporary American artists James Turrell and Spencer Finch. She had looked at both their use of color and sculptural shapes to act as a muse for her Resort 2017 collection.
There was an inner glow to the collection (helped by the lit floor). The long, flowing lines of the dresses as well as the simple, draped pleats served to elongate all of the body lines when worn.
The fabrics were light, luxurious and breezy. Crepe, silk faille organza served as the canvas to cut bugle beading. The embroidery ranged from long linear motifs of reflective beads to emulate rays of light or a build-up of beads in an ombre or degrade pattern like a three-dimensional glow. The color palette was a serene white, silver, rose quartz and serenity blue (Pantone's top colors for the year). There was also pale iris and richer blues and staple black as part of the mix. 

I asked designer Pamella Roland where her ideal "resort" destination was. Her collection here is much more formal than most resort collections. That and the elegant pairing of Bulgari jewelry looked like a black-tie holiday. She said she was headed to Capri, a perennial favorite of hers. If that's the case, that little island has a much stricter dress code than I thought. Roland's Resort 2017 collection was a beautiful presentation of eveningwear, and I only hope that my next vacation is worthy of it.

Check out Resort 2017 Looks to Inspire Your Next Getaway
by Ms. Fabulous at Mode
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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Maiyet Fall 2016


This fashion show is the first collection from Maiyet I had seen in person under the creative direction of Declan Kearney. He has taken over the design of the label for about a year now. Maiyet was founded by the unlikely fashion exec Paul Van Zyl, a human rights lawyer and executive secretary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. 
Van Zyl established his brand as a luxury line dedicated to sustainability and one that sources from struggling communities in India and Kenya. They work heavily with NEST, an organization that connects with businesses that want to help communities preserve artisan techniques. However, he wanted to establish the brand as a high-fashion designer force as well. He brought in Declan Kearney to overhaul the look and was a former designer at Alexander Wang. For the Fall 2016 collection, he drew upon the sexy aesthetic of Carlo Mollino photographs and interior decor patterns found in John Lautner designs for the iconic Indochine. An image of Jackie O. also factored into the mood board.
Carlo Mollino Photographs
 You can see the retro influence in the wool boucle coats and slim cigarette pants. Leather trim and leather jackets made for sophisticated statement pieces. There were a lot of sheer evening and cocktail dresses that were embroidered or appliqued with variations of a leaf motif. The leaves were a tribute to the botanical print wallpaper of Lautner's interior decor. While the vintage source was acknowledged, the collection looked thoroughly modern. Each model in Maiyet's outfits strutted down the runway like a cosmopolitan power woman.
Maiyet is quickly growing as a great designer label for the style but also one that stands for something. Barney's and Neiman Marcus is one of many luxury retailers to support the brand. I can't wait to watch this label in the seasons to come.

Fashion show photos by Mariana Leung
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Most Inspirational Speeches From the CFDA Awards


The CFDA Awards is known for fashion designers celebrating each other. If you are not in the industry, you stalk the red carpet for the best looks. The 2016 CFDA Awards was one of the most quotable. It was a night of accomplished women inspiring other women to reach for the top.

The recipient of the CFDA Fashion Icon Award was Beyonce Knowles. Bey has been on a roll to make herself a force beyond pop princess, starting with "Formation" then "Lemonade". Her acceptance brought tears to many. She started with her family's history. Her grandmother was a seamstress who used those skills to get her mother an education. Her mother Tina Knowles then went on to help craft Destiny's Child's look with her own fashion skills. Beyonce went on to empower fashion designers with this statement, " Y’all are fairy godmothers, magicians, sculptors, and sometimes even therapists. I encourage you to not forget this power you have or take it lightly. We have an opportunity to contribute to a society where any girl can look at a billboard or magazine cover and see her own reflection. Soul has no color. no shape, no form. Just like all your work it goes so far beyond what the eyes can see. You have the power to change perception, to inspire and empower, to show people how to embrace their complications and flaws and see the true beauty that’s inside all of us."

The CFDA Founders Award was presented to Donna Karan by Calvin Klein. They both spoke of how they climbed the ladder of the fashion industry together. Karan spoke of giving birth to her daughter only to have her employer call to ask when she would finish the collection and finding out her mentor Anne Klein had passed away. She acknowledged "Every single one of us is guided, for an internal strength, creativity of vision and what is needed for the future". "That is what fashion is about". Honoring our heroes and those who support us is something we can all do more of.

"“What really matters is talent. Talent is the solution and talent is what we celebrate tonight" -Diane Von Furstenburg. This fashion icon was voted to lead the Council of Fashion Designers of America over and over again. She was at the front of major initiatives for model health and protecting the rights of designers. 

Menswear Designer of the Year went to Thom Browne. His heartfelt speech thanked his team, partner and the CFDA for their incredible work. Marc Jacobs also thanked his team, citing "My greatest reward is working with them day and night. Creating fashion is what I love to do and the only reason I'm here". 

Norma Kamali was the recipient of the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Michael Kors. He honored her for making sweats fashionable long before "athleisure" was a term and sending sleeping bag coats down the runway for decades. She was humble in stating that she understood being "disruptive" in an ever changing fashion industry was difficult. She is constantly asked for tips to succeed in fashion. Ending on a humorous note, her advice was that "Celebrity might help if you can't do it any other way, but maybe you just have to go for the sex tape!". "Fitness and beauty are very important to me, doing it in style". 

Congratulations to all of the winners of the CFDA Awards 2016!


Beyonce photo: Theo Warger/Getty, Designer photos from the CFDA

Check out The Best Fall 2016 Looks by This Year's CFDA Award Nominees
by Jill Manoff at Mode
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