Sunday, January 19, 2014

Highlights from Saturday Night's Emerging Designers Party

This past Saturday I was invited to an event introducing a new batch of semifinalists that will be competing during Charleston Fashion Week this coming March. The Memorial Waterfront Park in Mount Pleasant provided a beautiful backdrop for the event and Jim 'N Nick's BBQ came through with an awesome spread of goodies. And naturally, the room was filled with some super style mavens. I was so inclined to put my Nikon to work and capture the standouts.

Just a smidgen of what Jim 'N Nicks had to offer on the night.

Bridal competition winner (left) Kendra Barnes and blogger & model coach assistant (right) Venita Aspen

Semi-Finalists (in blue dress) Terese Brown

Semi-Finalists (from left to right) Angela Bacskocky, Model, Kaitlyn Machos, and Zachary Howell
I caught up with AngelaKaitlyn, and Zachary to ask a few questions.

Chinos & Cheesecake: What are you most excited about getting to present at Charleston Fashion Week?
Angela Bacskocky: This is my 4th collection and I've wanted to show at Charleston fashion week since I first started my design line. I think this is a really unique and relevant show that has launched some great designers and I want to be a part of that. My highly conceptual clothing is going to be awesome on the Charleston runway!

C&C: What was the inspiration for your collection?
Kaitlyn Machos:  Exposed is a collection that was initially inspired by shattered glass and the way it cracks. A year ago my car was broken into and they completely shattered the glass of my car. Not only did the glass break into several beautiful shapes, colors, and reflections; but also it gave me a life realization. As I worked on the collection and talked with others, the meaning developed into something more personal. This collection was going to be a way to express my emotions about all the bad things and the people I have lost involving shattered glass.
Before, I just found beauty in the shattered glass in the colors and shapes, but I found the beauty in the story that these cracks would tell. Ever since I was little everything bad that has happened in my life has involved shattered glass and the deaths of 22 of my closest friends in car accidents since my sophomore year of high school. Since I didn't expect any of these moments to happen, they did ... thus my inspiration found me. But the collection is not meant to be dark, it meant to take those lost moments and make them beautiful. It is meant to celebrate the life of the ones who I have lost and to possibly have emotional closure.
While thinking about all of these factors, I finally realized I was trying to expose myself. Trying to expose my vulnerability; to shed the armor of emotions I have been hiding behind for years; to finally reveal the emotional secrets that I have kept hidden for so long. Thus my journey for self-revelation and healing began.

C&C: Why do you want to be a designer?
Zachary Howell: I have a passion for dressing women who are not afraid of the people around them that cling to the social norms. One day my hopes are to be walking down the street and see a woman wearing one of my pieces and being filled with joy on the inside.

Semi-Finalists Deanna Ansara

Last year's emerging designer competition winner Alfriye Poku and me.

Alfriye and I had a lengthy conversation about his upcoming collection but I'm sworn to secrecy about the details. All I can say is, this guy has me beyond excited in anticipation for what he's planning on sending down the runway in two months. 

Semi-Finalists Yuyan He (right)

The highly talented semifinalists.
Tickets for Charleston Fashion Week are on sale now.
Mark your calendars for March 18-22. It's going to be grande!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

#rewindNYE 2014

This past Friday, the Fashion Queen of the Southeast Ayoka Lucas, threw New Years Eve party. If you're checking your calendar, I know, New Years Eve was like two weeks ago. But give me one good reason why it's not OK to celebrate it again. Don't worry, I'll wait. Hard to come up with one right? I definitely had no problem showing up to The Royal American to bask in the festivities. And as always, I came strapped with my camera to capture all the happenings of the night.

Makeshift photo booth was is full effect.

Photographer Landon Neil Phillips was on hand visually documenting the night.

Me with K. Cooper Ray, aka Social Primer

Lexa L'Terra performed one of her songs.
I believe Beyonce's new single "Drunk in Love" was playing at this point. The room proceeded to go nuts.

Elliot Carlyle the PR machine.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.......

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Art of Splurging for Women

Earlier this week, I gave you a list of what I thought to be the top 10 menswear items to splurge on. Well I didn't forget about the ladies, this one's for you!

I have always been a fan of Jil Sander's knitwear designs. She knows how to turn something that can easily end up being pretty bland and boring, into something fun and quirky. This wool and cashmere blend piece is done in a two-toned yellow color block style that I find to be very clever. You can wear it during these last few months of cold, and because of its color you can still get some use out of it during the early spring when temperatures can still flirt in the 60s.

I'm not one for generalities, but it's safe to say that every girl wants something from the store known for their little blue boxes. This simple, yet elegant watch is made from stainless steel and it features quartz movement (sorry, this one doesn't sweep). This will work for almost every occasion except maybe a formal event. You'll need something a little smaller for that. Nonetheless, this would be a great choice for a splurge purchase. 

Once a lady finds a makeup brand that works for her, it's hard to get her to switch. But if you’re okay with trying something new, then set your Cover Girl, Maybelline, or even your MAC products to the side for a bit and give Chanel a try. What makes me so confident? Well, while I've never tried their lipstick (for obvious reasons), just about every notable female blogger I keep up with swears by it. Then of course there's the iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5 that has received a massive amount of praise over the years from the likes of celebrities from Marilyn Monroe to Nicole Kidman. Getting back to the makeup, I'd think the best way to get the full effect of the brand is to wear everything in conjunction with one another. The $415 price tag is for the perfume, lipstick, lip gloss, eyeliner, mascara, foundation, and blush. If it's not for you, then it's not for you. But with a little extra cash on hand, it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot.

You would be in your living room doing the rain dance and praying for the opportunity to break it out if you had this in your possession. Trust. Burberry is known, hands down, for their immaculate trench coats. Quick history lesson: They got started in 1856 but it wasn't until 1879 when Thomas Burberry invented "gabardine", a strong, water resistant fabric that he began to use to make the coats. British military supplied their troops with them and when the war was over and they returned home, it was an instant hit for civilians. The rest was history. 

Full disclosure: this is from the Men's section, but you would never be able to tell. You will get a lot of miles out of this. Obviously it will go with your denim and chinos, but because it's so slim (coming in at 1" thick) it's the perfect waist clincher for those shapeless dresses. Coming in at just over a grand, I'd be lying like Lil’ Kim on the witness stand if I said it wasn't expensive, so think of it as an investment. As the years go on and a rich patina starts to form, it will have its very own special character.

This next one is broken up into two parts. I'll start off by saying that just like every guy should own a tuxedo, every lady should have a little black dress in their collection. When the invitation says "formal" or "black tie" this is the dress that you reach for. No thought, worries or stress. Grab something classy and simple.
Option A: If you don't own one, this one by RED Valentino (the diffusion line of the iconic Italian dressmaker Valentino) is the one for you. It teeters the line of being beautiful and at the same time not so memorable. If you have a plethora of evening events to attend, then you can get away with recycling it a few times before anyone starts to notice.

Option B: If you already have one or a couple black dresses, then it's time to add a show stopper to the collection. Done in a sparkly chevron pattern with lace sleeves, this one is definitely memorable. I would only pull it out maybe once or twice a year.

Speaking of "formal" and "black tie" occasions, this would be the perfect accessory to go along with it. I'm not really sure on the rules for women's dress code on these occasions, but who cares when you have a clutch as beautiful as this. The hot pink provides a strong contrast to a black dress. In a meticulous pattern of folded leather, this bag packs one heck of a punch.

The Tom Ford pumps with golden lock accents are simply to die for. You will almost certainly be the envy of every girl in the room. And I think these are very versatile. They'll go seamlessly with any color denim, chinos, dresses obviously, and even shorts. 

These heeled boots in a neutral suede gray kind of sneak up on you. They don't really pop. They almost come off as looking a bit dull. But once you put them with an outfit, you won't be disappointed. The great thing about gray is that it compliments every color. These are on sale so there are only a few sizes left. Don't miss out on them. 

While Hermes is widely known for their scarves and their 6-figure Birkin bags, they also make some noise in the home furnishing areas. Many of the worlds wealthy (or at least the interior designers they hire) choose to furnish tier homes in Hermes furniture. And it's with good reason. Each item is unique, well thought out, and beautifully constructed. Like this beach towel that's reminiscent of a tiled bathroom floor. Or the plush cashmere blanket. You can even treat your dinner guests to some fancy plate settings. The possibilities are endless. Bed linens, lamps, books, etc. A full range of home items. Pick out something to throw in your living room. 

As I said in the previous post, you can pick whatever you want from this list, or you can use it as inspiration to get something else. Feel the thrill of purchasing that piece that you've been coveting. I always get a feeling of accomplishment after I shop. Don't stress out over this stuff. Have fun with it. But above all, be smart and don't add debt to yourself. 


Edited by Felicity Rhode

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Art of Splurging for Men

Come the beginning of every year, there are a number of things that most people look forward to. Number one obviously is New Years Day. This past weekend you had the start of the NFL playoffs. But above all of that, arguably the biggest thing that people look forward to is getting their tax return money. While some responsible (read boring) people just throw it in the bank and pretend like its not even there, others do things like get out of debt, renovations to the house, down payment on a new car, finally replacing those bald tires that could've killed you for the past 3 months, etc. What I'm here to say is screw all that (kinda, be an adult and cut some debt) and splurge on that super lux and super expensive high fashion item that you've been coveting for a while. Everything you saw coming down the runway back in September will be hitting stores soon. So treat yourself to something that shouldn't make you feel guilty. We deserve nice things every once in a while. So as long as the neccessities are taken care of, (shelter, cheesecake, utilities, etc) please feel free to partake. I now present to you in no particular order, my top 10 tax splurges for men. 

Long before Jay-Z gave Mr. Ford his seal of approval by naming a song after him, Tom Ford has been churning out a strong assortment of suits and accessories. In the eyewear game, he's easilly in the top 5. These aviators are a good pick because they're ideal for the warm weather that's coming soon. Also, getting them in the classic tortoiseshell frame, you cant go wrong. 

Just about everyone and their mother owns a Ralph Lauren polo. They can easily be picked up at a TJ Maxx or Marshall's for $20 bucks. But I personally have never come accross anyone wearing one of these. How are these superior from the ones you see everyday? I can pick out three reasons: the mother of pearl buttons (not plastic), they are made in Italy (not China), and the logo is much more exclusive than the regular pony you see every day. I'm willing to bet most people wouldnt even recognize it when you wore it. And that's what I like about it.

As much attention to detail as I spend on clothing and all things related, I probably have the quickest face routine ever heard of. I have no loyalties to a specific face wash, face lotion, body lotion (I just learned you shouldn't use the same for both),body wash, etc. As of late, I've been trying to spend a litle more time in that area. After all, a lifeless mug and ashy hands are unattractive. Malin + Goetz is a brand I've been hearing about for some time. It doesn’t hurt that they have a minimalistic bottle design.. It's a relatively new brand that started in 2005 by two guys Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz in New York. And their use of only natural ingredients has helped them capitalize on everyone's new desire to "go green" and use "from the earth" products. While they don't actually sell this stuff as a set, I've compiled a list of 10 bathroom products that every man should be using: SPF 15 Face Moisturizer $48, Vitamin B5 Body Moisturizer $38, Bar Soap $10, Eucalyptus, Deodorant $18, Rose Hand + Body Wash $20, Vitamin E Shaving Cream $40, Jojoba Face Scrub $38, Detox Face Mask $40, Grapefruit Face Cleanser $30, Mojito Lip Balm $12
. And as a plus, you get 3 free samples with every order over $75. This is one that's on my personal list that I can't wait to scoop.

Over our lifetime, we've all had the uber generic luggage set from Sears. Or maybe we have a huge gymbag that we kept from our collegiate sports playing days done in the respective school's colors and logos. But one thing is certain; our luggage has not properly aged with us. It's time you start carrying something a little more grown up. Lotuff Leather, formally known as Lotuff & Clegg, have been churning out all types of leather goods from the mighty state of Massachusetts since the 70's. Out of all the duffles they produce, this one is my favorite. Big enough to pack nearly a weeks worth of clothing and you can still carry it on the plane with you. It is also great for days when you need to carry a change of clothes stylishly or maybe just something to keep all your daily crap in and toss it in the backseat of your car. This is the kind of bag that you can beat the ish out of it and it will continue to look better with age.

If you've already got your hands on a good navy blazer for March to November weather, and a go-with-everything-in-the-Winter grey tweed  blazer, then now's the time to experiment a little. Take a chance on a different, yet easily wearable color. Think of this deep green as the crazy, whacked out cousin of navy blue. They're pretty much interchangeable when it comes to coordinating other colors with it, but since blue is used so much more then the green, it comes of looking fresh and new. O&S has been on my radar for some time now as they continue to put out strong collection after strong collection.  Give it an honest try and you'll be surprised by how many things it will go with.

Lanvin sneakers have taken on somewhat of a cult following after GQ Magazine said it was OK to wear sneakers with a suit a few years ago. These suede and patent leather bombshells are lux simplicity at their finest. They offer this style in six colorways, and while I would most likely lean towards the grey version for their versatility, the burgundy ones are whispering sweet nothings to me.

If you've ever taken the time to scroll through some street style photos of Italy's biannual menswear trade show Pitti Uomo, then you'll notice that a large percentage of the attendees are wearing a pair of Herman Munster-sized shoes with a dainty tricolor tab on the back. They are the work of Mr. Thom Browne. You will definitely get your moneys worth because these will literally go with everything from your dark denims, casual chinos, dressy trousers, and for the brave, a well-tailored pair of shorts. They come in two colors: black and brown. Flip a coin a take your pick. It's a win-win situation.

Keeping the Thom Browne gravy train rolling, if you thought $1,000 was too much for a pair of shoes then save $5 and cop this cardigan. Done in 100% cashmere, this thing will feel so good on your skin it should be a crime. Great for throwing on top of a tee or a polo on the windy days, as well as being slim enough wear under a blazer for some extra warmth where it counts. Adorned with his signature tricolor accents, it's a thing of beauty.Here's your chance to own a piece of wearable art.

International Fashion Magazine Subscription - $195-$400
If you're like me and you've began to dare I say yawn at American mags, then treat yourself to a few of these. Its the gift that keeps on giving, for a year, at least. While they are dirt cheap in their native country, attaching airfare to these things jacks the price explicitly. A $6 magazine turns into a $20 magazine. Multipy that by 12 issues and a yearly subscription is nearly $250. The three that I have my eyes on are "Popeye", "Free & Easy", and "Brutus". If wifey says it's OK, then I'm pulling the trigger on one or two of these. 

I purposely saved this one for last. So I've read, watches pretty much come in two categories. The $4,000+ category, and everything else. If that is truly the case, then consider this one the best of the rest. Made by Baume & Mercier, a Swiss watching making company thats been around since 1830. So they kinda know what they're doing. It features a stainless steel case, real alligator strap, and it's automaticly self-wound (the second hand "sweeps", it doesn't tick). It's elegantly designed with virtually zero bling so it compliments your formal wear and beefs up your casual wear. Plan ahead for this one. This isn't something you just roll out of bed and pull the trigger on. Depending on your situation, you may have to save for a while on top of using the majority of Uncle Sam's withholdings. But you will be rewarded with something that just may outlive you. 

So there you have it. My list of 10 things to treat yourself with. You can pick something from the list or use it to spark an idea for something else you want. But let's all agree to not be boring and save every penny. Like I said in the opening, be an adult and take care of some debt first. And then feel free to use some of it to bless yourself with something you otherwise wouldnt normally get. Happy shopping, folks! And stay tuned for later in the week when I give you my top 10 list for women.

Edited by Felicity Rhode