Dispatch from the Desert

_MG_8359
MG_8281

MG_8286

MG_8293

MG_8295

MG_8296

MG_8297

MG_8298

MG_8312

MG_8319

MG_8350

MG_8359

MG_8362

MG_8369

MG_8383

MG_8389

MG_8395

MG_8398

MG_8399

MG_8400

MG_8401

MG_8405

MG_8412

MG_8414

MG_8417

MG_8431

MG_8435

MG_8442

MG_8444

MG_8451

MG_8454

MG_8457

MG_8462

MG_8466

MG_8471

MG_8494

MG_8498

MG_8500

MG_8501

IMG_1226

IMG_1234

IMG_1235

IMG_1244

IMG_1246

IMG_1252

IMG_1258

IMG_1262

IMG_1301

IMG_1305

IMG_1306

IMG_1308

IMG_1314

IMG_1315

IMG_8289

_MG_8359

Just seventeen miles outside of what most of the world pictures when they think about Las Vegas—the lights, the scantily clad, the fortunes won and lost—is an expansive landscape magnificent and martian in its curiosity. Odd trees burnt by the relentless sun sag toward the earth like something from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, massive cliffs of limestone and bulbous formations of sandstone press against a cloudless sky of the brightest blue and desert creatures scuttle about in the sage brush.  It’s hard to imagine such pristine natural beauty exists so close to a city built as a mirage of dreams.

I travel annually to Sin City but had never before made it out to the true desert. The Couture Jewelry and JCK Luxury shows are all held in the heart of Las Vegas at the end of May each year and the industry flocks to revel in a celebration and presentation of the best in the business. Being surrounded by such talent and innovation in fine jewelry and filling my days working with incredible brands and discovering new pieces and designers leaves little time for extracurricular expolaration, but each year that I find myself leaving the desert without having trekked into the red mountains that touch the horizon in each visible direction from Las Vegas I regret it.  So this year I made the trip, and who better to go with than the crystal-toting bohemian beauty of my heart, Maria, alias @GratefulGemHead.

_MG_8286

Maria’s crystal business is an inspiration– with an unparalled knowledge of the stones and their properties, she sources from across the country and makes them accessible to rock heads nationwide.  On our trip she actually had a piece with her to ship to a loyal, repeat purchaser based in Las Vegas and we joked about showing up at this person’s house with merchandise in tow — perhaps not the best idea in a place where signs advertise “Shoot Real Machine Guns” and “Las Vegas Battefield” every 20 feet. She is in the midst of growing her jewelry business featuring the gorgeous crystals she sources and as such, this idea to collaborate on a story was formed.

_MG_8471

Red Rock Canyon is a straight shot outside of the city by highway, and the arrow straight road that takes you into the foothills of the mountains stretches into 360 degree landscape of rich color; stripes of bone-white rock painted onto the dusty red cliffs are framed by green brush below and blue skies above.  The radio was tuned to the local classic rock station and Stevie Nicks sang in her wild voice welcoming us to the edge of nowhere.  Nothing makes you feel such freedom as barreling down a road hazy with heat rising off of the concrete and dissapearing into a world without cell service.

The outside temparature was a blissful 88 degrees with a breeze when we rolled into the canyon park midmorning which made the day exploring and photographing a pleasant one with the onset of heat exhaustion slow and sneaky as we ran around in the hot sun for hours–we thankfully remembered to apply sunscreen twice on our trip and walked away unscathed, though a bit dehydrated.  The dress I was wearing was the perfect camoflage in the desert with dusty brown and red colors.  I love the photos of me being swallowed up by the vast landscape.  You can imagine how little justice the photos do for this vivid expanse of rock–when you stand at the base of these mountains the wild formations they take make them look as though they are moving even though they are as still as the dead.

Laying back on sun drenched stone with nothing but the sound of the wind echoing through the caves is the closest I’ve been to pure bliss in a very long time.

IMG_1235

The crystals we photographed in the desert come alive as though they found themselves at home after a long journey and the purity of the land, the company of Maria’s spirit and the excitement of a seemingly endless expanse of beauty inspired future collaborations.  I am so very excited to work with Maria as she launches her jewelry line and you should definitely look forward to some summer fun–and an amazing give-away–with this babe. Stay tuned!

_MG_8391

 

 

The Brooklyn Bruja

_MG_7929-Edit
MG_7958-Edit

New Slide

New Slide

New Slide

iRYgRjYzyO9x-8cbD95jstKS6UMCaUwXpALcYZwW5oU

MG_7929-Edit

MG_7935-Edit-Edit

New Slide

New Slide

42A9532

42A9780-Edit

MG_07591

MG_7862-Edit-Edit

MG_7893-Edit

V07HCwwcfaw__2LU4Cz8gl8Emwhf61AlYv1lhEFAdGw

MG_8018

MG_8028

MG_8031

dPsd2xXBHyUtORn0XrMm4Fljw2kIYrPHqndyd255xg

I was happy that big fat raindrops were falling on the day I visited Melissa McGill’s home studio for this shoot. We had wanted to take our photographs outdoors—her brilliant red hair would have looked stunning punched up against a colorful Bedstuy backdrop—but my creative spirit always feels most open during a storm, and what better time to collaborate with such an electric, soulful beauty as Melissa?  Besides, it gave me the opportunity to explore her wondrous space and share it with you here.

y8I9kWzk2gkPDe6KYevggExzMyK5Soghx415EAODnTk,WYw7qtS5dLSp6WsCiZp60VQZXVZOImi6a1u5uH6iuw8

Walking into Melissa’s home is like walking into a still life curated by time: rife with natural curiosities, happy plants in all shades of green, keepsakes and totems of a lifetime of adventure and experience and, of course, the tools and treasures of her labor, all perfectly placed and humming with good energy.  Founder and creator of Morphologically NYC—a line of hand crafted aromatherapy wares for the body and home—Melissa has made it her mission to help heal and hearten all who use her exquisite products.  Nothing is more apparent when walking over the threshold of Melissa’s home, a proverbial pot is always bubbling on the stove, her home (as well as the host), is always warm and welcoming and a testament to a life lived in wellness.

Melissa had a houseguest during my visit—a miniature Yorkie named Bubba, a sweet little girl who stole the show and somehow made it into almost every frame we shot that day.  There is also a house mouse happily living in a fancy new cage—saved from an untimely death and immortalized in a framed portrait that is displayed on Melissa’s mantel. The true protectress of the house, Melissa’s 19 year old cat Mephistopheles, wisely spent the day sleeping, hidden in the fabulous mess we created of vintage, thrift and coveted designer pieces that Melissa has collected. A couple of these outfits that laid strewn about, in the organized chaos that only those truly clothes-minded can understand, she had picked up from a local Brooklyn street vendor the day before this shoot. Having left a decade long career in the industry to make some magic of her own, her day-to-day is still a flurry of fun sartorial choices.  A stunner with a background in performance art who rolls with a veritable coven of stylish, driven goddesses like herself, Melissa feels just as much at home in some wild costume she has created—red lips and skull ring ablazin’—as she does in an understated pair of denim jeans and chuck taylors with a bit of studded embellishment left over from her metal kid days.

_MG_7893-Edit

“I’m holistic, but I have an edge too; it’s important that people understand that about me.” A woman who meditates daily and eminates a feeling of calm, Melissa also has an infectious, feral personality.  She’s exactly the person you’d want to call when you’re feeling ill to ask for one of her custom aromatherapy blends and perhaps curl up on her couch while her spritely energy soothes you, but she’s the same person you’d call to catch a midnight concert and dance into the morning light. She would probably wear a hit-the-floor black dress to the latter, perhaps with some feathers braided into her hair.

_MG_0759(1)

A vision of humility and grace, Melissa is the first to tell you how blessed she feels in this new entrepreneurial chapter of her life. “I don’t like to use the word too much because it feels insincere, but I really do feel so blessed.”  She certainly puts as much good into the world as she receives back and fosters a univeral connection with all people.  Her willingness to talk to everyone and to listen to advice as she “dives all-in” in pursuit of her passions will undoubtedly be her key to continued success, both in life and career.  Just remember when dream chasing to “carry a tube of bright lipstick with you for when you have a surprise first encounter and can’t do anything else to prepare but show up.”

Proof that you can take the girl out of fashion, but you can’t take the fashion out of the girl.

 

 

For more on Melissa and her exquisite brand and to shop her products, visit www.morphologically.com

Window Portrait photo credit: Dawn Marie West

To The Original Icon, Happy Mother’s Day

10

10

In honor of Mother’s Day I had wanted to create a tribute to the fashionable moms and daugthers in recent history (re: Jane Birkin and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lisa Bonet and Zoe Kravitz, Anna Wintour and Bee Shaffer).  Yet, while flipping through online galleries of these lovely women, I realized more and more that the individual whom I most wanted to pay homage to was my original fashion icon–a true Betty–my mother.  A self-proclaimed hater of shopping (except when it comes to buying accessories and plants for the garden) my mom wouldn’t describe herself as a fashionista.  Yet I credit her, and thank her more than she knows, for teaching me by example to embrace vintage and electic pieces and mix them in with more staid, functional classics. Being a first generation Brooklynite with French and Italian parents she may as well have invented the “look” of Park Slope as we all know it now.  Wide brimmed hats, boyfriend jeans embellished by her own embroidery and patchwork, airy linen dresses and espadrills.  She was a teenager in the 1970’s, afterall, a time when Brooklyn was still a far-and-away destination from the established island of Manhattan, budding with its own counter culture.  She was a dancer who studied at the Performing Arts school of Fame fame (she wasn’t in the movie herself but a close friend of her’s was) and later at the Sorbonne in Paris where she tells stories of the bohemian life, taking baths with her cousin and then roommate to conserve water and scraping the mold off of the cheese from the makeshift ice box for lunch.  Stories like these are why, among so many other reasons, she remains of paramount example to me.

11

A fearless lover of life and travel into her later years, she just returned home from five weeks traveling through Laos, Cambodia and Thailand with my father.  The two of them bonded over the vagabond lifestyle in their formative years as a couple and have continued fostering it until this day–moving from New York City to Maine where the culture and landscape lends itself more readily to weekend adventures, sprawling backyards and storage for boat, ski and camping equipment.  Her style was always, and is to this day, ammassed of a collection of pieces that tell a story: Italian hiking boots (a bit of her heritage), silk scarves collected in her travels or gifts from loved ones, pearl jewelry purchased by my father on an international flight.  For some it may be hard to pin-point exactly what vibe she is trying to portray.  And that’s because she’s not trying to portray anything.  Her style is very much her own: eclectic, functional, and classicly my mother.

So today, and everyday, I thank her for all that she is and for instilling in me the desire to be my own person, both in fashion and in life.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

12

Attractive People, Attractive Places – The Roadtrip

twfM5jzlQoaj6B6H1yXkmR9QFEeu_GxiDI2Tx27q7l0,3jhDh-EjbIydQSVM-mF8DUmAfYaRG9uxIGBNB7xIqXE

twfM5jzlQoaj6B6H1yXkmR9QFEeu_GxiDI2Tx27q7l0,3jhDh-EjbIydQSVM-mF8DUmAfYaRG9uxIGBNB7xIqXE

Few vacations breath as much room for exploration, inspiration and reflection into your life as a road trip. Be it an escape, a pursuit, or a mixture of the two, the open road does wonders to cleanse the soul and always reveals a new beginning at the end of the journey.  Solar flares, coffee stains, sunglasses and the ever-pulsing road mixtape define your destiny: a new set of rules exist and time disappears.

USA___1288646941_8910

This past trip through Texas and Louisiana certainly shook something loose in me and re-instilled my desire to meet, photograph and write about the people, places and things that inspire me. It was incredible and exciting (albeit a bit tiring and frantic at times…) to wake up and go to sleep in a new place each day. We drove through some of the biggest cities in the South, only to then spend miles passing heartbreakingly beautiful fields of wild animals and livestock that stretched out to the horizon. In Louisiana we drove along an elevated highway with nothing but the wild bayou beneath us—a forest of trees all around, covered to their very tops with water, giving the illusion of a sunken world. It was peaceful and centering to be away from my computer for a week and to write all of my thoughts and notes in a journal.

SSFSytz9nwUI_f5T4PKVVgqKlmD98vQ-PtXGhDAbNeM,it5JXKR4Y68-uWdjfvYcw3MCFtLOvp7Ac8P-zAb93bg

While on our trip I found a great quote by the epic Slim Aarons who said that he photographed “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places”—and it perfectly sums up what these pages are devoted to, but in my case it’s the attractive people and their attractive projects…the things that make them tick and, in turn, make me tick. This is why I love to travel—you stumble upon those things (the people, the places, the projects) that you may have never discovered otherwise.

_MG_7700

 

Likewise, the best part of any road trip is discovering something new: be it down some dusty road where few have been before you, or right under your nose in a bustling metropolis. Our travels brought us to the doorstep of many wondrous new places (shout out to AirBnB and all of our hosts along the way…) but it was in New Orleans, the city we ended our trip in, that I discovered one of my (new) favorite designers: Ashley Porter of Porter Lyons.

abt-designerImg

 

Her imaginative, sculptural designs representative of bayou and southwestern themes and imagery, infused with the Californian cool of the native-born artist, are exactly what I would have hoped to find on my journey. With collections like “Rebuild,” “Voodoo” and “Alligator” its hard not to get jazzed on learning more about Porter Lyons – the brand and the woman behind it. I picked up a piece from the “Backbone” collection—the Backbone Medallion—cast from real alligator backbone scutes* and have been wearing it ever since and poring over her site and instagram to learn more.

Backbone-Medallion-Bronze-450x598backbone-extra-description-img3Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 9.09.53 AM

_MG_7674

And so, with this perfect talisman to commemorate a long journey, a new designer to covet, a million photos and pounds of laundry, I return to my “real” life with eyes open.

Shop Porter Lyons online or in New Orleans at Hemline or the Frenchmen Art Market.

 

*A Scute is a bony external plate or scale overlaid with horn, as on the shell of a turtle, the skin of crocodilians, and the feet of birds.

Hat Tricks

_MG_7016

 

MG_71021

MG_70161

MG_70321

MG_70421

MG_70681

MG_71361

MG_71511

Ever since this hat (handmade somewhere in Poland) came into my life this winter, it has brought a special kind of magic with it… (more…)

Daniel Silverstain – The Original Jetsetters

static1.squarespace

static1.squarespace

Fashion Week is upon us in the throws of winter’s chilliest, frozen-to-the-bones days.  We brave the cold to enter into the world of design, drinking in the warm-cocoa of next season’s collections and basking in the warmth of each show’s glow. We often get what we’ve expected: a riot of new colors, mouth watering fabrics, and the exhilirating feeling that we’ve seen one or more truly unique looks that remind us of why we’re addicted to this game.  But, at times, when we are very lucky, we encounter a presentation that surprises us–proving layered and complex in origin of design and inspiration.  For me, this very experience was bestowed upon me at Daniel Silverstain’s presentation/runway show this past week at the Montauk Showroom in SOHO.

Upon first gaze at his top-knotted, glossy beauties–faces polished in futuristic light , oversized, structured coats and crop tops in robot metallics and mod brights–I was taken by Silverstain’s exciting display of sci-fi friendly looks that I would actually wear. My excitment only grew when I realized I was witnessing so much more.

static1.squarespace-1

static1.squarespace

Inspired by his own travels to India, the Fall Winter 2015 Collection was influenced by “the heritage and architecture of the

Indian world, followed by a new interpretation of the modern era.”  Striking at the heart of my winter doldroms, Silverstain’s presentation evoked joy in vibrant colors, visions of supple and vast landscapes and exotic textures and shapes that encapsulate the west meets east experience of the original jetsetters — the “New Tourists” — of the 1960’s.  Their journeys, as imagined in these designs, are a marriage of the modern world’s newfound ability to swiftly travel far and wide and the discovery of lands still wild and widely untouched, thus the robotic silvers paired with lush greens and feathery, three-dimensional fabrics.

static1.squarespace

A strong influence in Daniel Silverstain’s creations, as described by his PR firm COLLECTIVE Communications, is the Jaali, a term for the perforated stone or latticed screen that is a quintessential architectual element in Indian culture.  These ancient, clean shapes are translated by Silverstain into large geomeric accents and subtly repeated motifs across overcoats, and specifically in an ivory hued sweater that could double as the ornamental, patterned window to an Indian garden.

static1.squarespace-2

windowsweater

All the above manifested itself as an intoxicating potion that divined my deeprooted wanderlust, laid dormant in the long darknesses of February.  And, with dreams of Spring travels just around the corner, I climb back into  hybernation to wait for the sun to again hit its zenith.

static1.squarespace-1

Cult Classic Holiday Fashion

static1.squarespace

 

 

static1.squarespaceOver the brief Thanksgiving recess–belly-full and poring over such seasonal classics as Planes, Trains & Automobiles (yes, that kid with the bow-tie is an infantile Matthew Lawrence)–I began to muse about which outfits from our favorite holiday cult films would make a “best of” list.  

A few cinematic gems and their respective time-capsule-appropriate wardrobes came to mind; Bad Santa and, of course, the ever-archetypal Home Alone were front runners, but some other, lesser-associated films popped up, like Batman Returns and the snazzy stylings of the Ice Princess.  

While doing a bit of digestif-Googling I discovered that many of the iconic looks from these films have sound runway-ready equivalents (like the fabulous adult counterpart to the snowsuit from A Christmas Story, picture above, by Moncler Gamme Rouge). Who would have thought?  So, below is a cult classic guide to dressing in your holiday best.

 

edward-scissor-hands-rosie-assoulin

Dear Wynona, your off-the-shoulder 80’s party dress will remain a holiday paradigm for the ages. Sadly, the front buttons and bow render the piece a bit out-of-date, but I would gladly trade it in for this asymetrical, caped beauty by Rosie Assoulin.

 

batman-returns-ice-princess-roberto-cavalli

 

Ice Princess, you are a fashion plate, and I would commit Gotham City caliber crimes to get my hands on this runway stunner by Roberto Cavalli.

bad-santa-louis-vuitton

 

Billy Bob Thorton’s Santa Suit leaves a lot to be desired–there’s not much one can do with oversized red pajamas–but Bernie Mac’s mustard-colored suit is a sensation and Louis Vuitton has the look.

home-alone-tibi

Saving the best for last, Macaulay Culkin’s survival-chic jumper and cargos will forever be exemplary of the season.  Apropos to last week’s post, I am in full and unflinching support of dressing with comfort and ease, but when the holidays come around I believe it’s time to leave the boyfriend jeans at home.  This monochramitc and deliciously slouchy-sweater dress by Tibigives you the look, and room for seconds at your holiday meal.

static1.squarespace

Merry Christmas, you filthy animals.

Beyonce Reinstates Normcore. The People Rejoice.

beyonce-video-normcore

beyonce-video-normcore

 

 

The Friday before Thanksgiving (in this the year of our Lord 2014) will now and forever be equated with Beyoncé, and how she officially broke the internet as Manrepeller so eloquently and aptly writes.  

I’d like to move beyond the argument of whether or not 7/11 is a good song because the full-on dance party and 8 consecutive plays that the video incited should clarify my stance on that matter.

What’s most exciting about the release of this video is that it reassures the masses that the greatly contested fashion movement, normcore, is here to stay.  

Don’t for one second think that I stand in defense of ill-fitting tank-tops and bottom-of-the-laundry-pile sweats, but I am in full and unflinching support of dressing with comfort and ease and sometimes, when the mood strikes, a hint of irony. 

 

brigitte_bardot_normcore

 

The french have been doing it for years.  And they’ve been doing it well: picture the striped Normandie tees, oversized men’s oxfords and trenchcoats of Françoise Hardy, for example. Add a pair of understated white sneakers and you’ve acheived the coveted look.

Today’s example is a bit cheekier–it’s more like a member of The Glass Family got lost on their way home from tennis practice and found themselves on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in desaturated tones. We likey.

 

Your patent-leather pumps and clingy-sequin dresses still have a place in the sun, but if you ask me, they’re better integrated with harem pants and platform sport sandals, respectively.  Let’s celebrate the fact that, basically, the rules of proper dress as instilled by the pearl-necklace-wearing-Birkin-bag-toting professionals are a thing of the past.  But don’t abuse your privaleges.

 

Take a page out of Beyoncé’s book: oversized sweatshirts and men’s underwear are a definite go, as long as your hair and makeup are looking tight.

 

 

fashion_normcore