Thursday, February 28, 2008

Housecall With Dr. Sebagh


The doctor is in... your medicine cabinet. Dr. Sebagh's Deep Exfoliating Mask, a thick bright orange concoction of Azelaic Acid that comes in a glass container with a heavy black lid, is the closest thing to a chemical peel from a dermatologist's office that you can use in the comfort of your own home. This product is not for sensitive skin as it initially causes a very slight stinging (more like tingling really), which will dissipate within a minute, and makes your face a little bit red for about half an hour after using it. However, the results are nothing short of miraculous. After just one application my pores were invisible, my skin tone was more even, my freckles were lighter, and my skin looked like porcelain with a healthy glow a la Cate Blanchett. I couldn't believe how dramatic the change was, and I didn't even need foundation for the next two days. Granted, it is a little expensive, but given the results it has become a staple in my pre-party beauty repertoire and hopefully you will make it a part of yours. What products do you like to use before an elegant night out?


photo credit for photo of Cate: http://www.irlook.net/.../glad/m/CateBlanchett68064.jpg

photo credit for photo of mask: http://www.drsebagh.com/index-w.html

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lartigue



I've
recently become obsessed
with
the book
Lartigue's
Winter
Pictures and have taken to looking through it frequently and picturing myself and my friends ice skating gracefully on a lake in Switzerland dressed in luxurious outerwear. Maybe I need a vacation. Seriously though, this book is such a fun winter indulgence to read before bed. I can almost guarantee that you'll have dreams of being a Swiss ice princess. Jacques-Henri Lartigue, an acclaimed twentieth-century photographer who vacationed in the Alps, captures the ebullient enthusiasm of going on holiday in this collection of black and white photos of elegant members of European society partaking in various winter sporting activities. Even if I can't actually get to Saint Moritz at the moment, I can still properly accessorize for the season. Barney's Antipast striped gloves are the perfect understated accompaniment to a vintage fur hat and chic ski outfit from Gorsuch. Now all I need are some skiing lessons.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Passage D'Enfer


The first time I went to L'Artisan it was Christmastime, and I was doing some last minute shopping in the wintry weather. I stepped into the boutique, and a chic saleswoman immediately came to my aid, not only giving me a detailed description of the inspiration behind the scents, but also allowing me to smell them and determine which was to my liking. The edifying experience was akin to a wine tasting, and I left feeling much better informed about top notes and base notes as well as how to precisely apply verbal descriptors to the experience of inhaling scent. I also left with an abundance of tiny vials of exquisite perfume to sample, in unique varieties such as Piment Brulant, as well as a gift for my friend that was perfectly suited to her, mysterious with a multi-layered complexity and not overly feminine as some perfumes tend to be. The perfume I had purchased for her was Passage D'Enfer. When I smelled it on the test strip I detected notes of peppercorn and a subtle muskiness reminiscent of leather bound first edition books tempered by a hint of a powdery floral that keeps the scent from being too heady or cologne-like. However, it is really the way that it smells on skin that is so profoundly intoxicating. There is an animalistic quality to the scent that literally makes men gravitate towards you in a room. Also, I love the name of this scent, as the art historian in me immediately conjures up images of Rodin's "Gates of Hell," commissioned in 1880 for the entrance to a Decorative Arts Museum. Taking a cast of characters such as The Thinker, Ugolino and His Children, and Fugitive Love, many of which were inspired by Dante's Inferno, and simultaneously deriving inspiration from Ghiberti's "Gates of Paradise," the project never came to fruition but was cast post mortem and is now displayed in the Musee Rodin. The depth and brooding nature of the scent captures the spirit of Rodin's complex sculptural group. The tortured, writhing bodies of the sculptures have a feral and sensual quality that, like L'Artisan's scent, enthralls the witness with raw sinfulness and evokes the fiery depths that beckon just beyond the gates.


photo credit for image of perfume: http://www.artisanparfumeur.com

photo credit for image of "Gates of Hell": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gates_of_Hell

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sample Sale Style


I received this email from LUCA LUCA and thought I would pass it on to you. This silver blouse is stunning, and I'm hopeful that they will have other equally beautiful pieces at the sale. I've been to one of their sales before and it was excellent, the prices were reasonable, and it was quite a relief after the Barney's sale! No crazy crowds and racks of fifty of the same Theory shirt. I'm kind of suffering from Barney's Warehouse Sale burnout, and if I have to look at one more Kate Moss for Topshop red dress, I think I'm going to scream. Anyway, enough of my complaining, check out the LUCA LUCA sale and let me know what you think. Happy shopping!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Museum Piece

I recently went to MoMA to see the Lucian Freud show. The show is definitely worth checking out as it’s wonderfully curated and the portraits are deeply psychological and haunting at times. After walking through the show I headed to the Museum Shop that is chock full of wonderful housewares, jewelry, trinkets, Muji office supplies, and even fashion items, all of which are worthy of being museum pieces themselves. While the Beast tried on an Alessi silver watch, I checked out the jewelry counter and came across this exquisite and unusual necklace. I instantly imagined it paired with a little black dress from Vivienne Tam’s collection, the ultimate stunning cocktail party outfit. The necklace itself is quite delicate and light, and the deep rosy pink petals are a perfect complement to the thin gold chain. It’s the perfect memento for my MoMA visit, a museum piece that I can actually take home with me!


note: Unfortunately this item doesn't seem to be available online so you'll have to travel over to the store to get it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fountain of Youth


There are some Manhattanites (a few of whom I know personally) who simply don't seem to age. Their skin is almost as glowy and unlined as it was when they were teenagers, their hair is lustrous and silky, and their hands show not even a hint of an age spot. Are these women genetic marvels or are we to understand that they have actually discovered the fountain of youth, and, if so, is it in Central Park? Well, the truth is they were born beauties, but they have stayed that way because they maintain. By maintain I'm referring to wearing Anthelios sunscreen, working out with light weights every morning along the Hudson River path, and dining on salmon accompanied by a splash of green juice and lemon. However, some of us (myself included) consider the pose of the child a complete yoga workout, dine on Shake Shack burgers and chocolate shakes courtesy of Danny Meyer, and forgo the sunscreen out of laziness. For girls like me there is hope as I have discovered (actually an editor at Vogue discovered) the next best thing to the fountain of youth. Olay 14 day skin intervention is like rehab for your face. The small tubes of concentrated night treatments have a clinical air about them, resting in a container that looks like the ones used for holding test tubes. When you snap off the red cap and spread the cream onto your face it has a serum-like consistency reminiscent of a primer and absorbs into the skin quickly. In just two weeks I looked rested and rejuvenated, and I didn't even have to drink a single sip of green juice.

If you want a little extra oomph to rev up your youthful transformation I suggest purchasing Charla Krupp's
How Not to Look Old, which offers invaluable tips on issues such as how to ditch the granny glasses for a pair of sexy frames, leg-wear for the youthful minded, and why dark lipstick is a big no no for mature gals. We can't stop the aging process but we can definitely stave it off for now, or until we discover the real fountain of youth!



photo credit for Olay product: http://www.olay.com
photo credit for book: http://www.amazon.com



Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lost in Translation


Paris has exquisite fashion, awe-inspiring museums, and, above all, the most elegant patisseries. While the inquisitive American with a fear of air travel (i.e. me) can gaze for hours at Candida Hofer's photography book Louvre and feel instantly transported, or order chic Parisian fashions via the click of a mouse and emulate the gamine look in the time it takes for the UPS box to arrive, there are some French items that are unattainable for this Chelsea girl. At the top of my list is a delicacy from the ultimate Parisian tearoom, Laduree. Yes, I know that I can get a perfectly good pain au chocolat right in my own neighborhood, but it is the entire Laduree experience that I am after which portends to be an elaborate affair fit for a princess judging from the images of the Faberge egg-like gilded exterior. The pastel colored rose and pistachio macaroons call to me, but the full experience is lost in translation from bakery case to photograph. However, I can indulge in a dessert inspired Parisian import, a confection without the calories so to speak. Chanel's Brush-On Creme Lip Colour creates a luminous and highly pigmented effect and comes in the patisserie inspired shades Petit Four, Creme Brulee, and Madeleine among others. The glossy Chanel shades make me feel like a chic Parisian lady strolling along the Champs Elysee. I plan to go to Laduree someday, and when I get there I'll be sure to wear my Chanel lip colour so that I'll fit right in with the ritzy clientele and enjoy my black currant violet choux in style.

photo credit for pastries: http://www.laduree.fr/
photo credit for lip colour: http://www.chanel.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Flora & Fauna


I returned from a peaceful long- weekend sojourn in the country last night to a messy apartment, a noisy heater, and the sound of club kids screaming outside my window. I'm a city girl at heart, but sometimes it gets a little intense, even for me. I desperately tried to hold onto my vacation induced state of zen as I was attempting to fall asleep while the taxis honked and the heater sputtered, but I just couldn't seem to relax, and I spent the night fitfully tossing and turning. However, when I woke up bleary eyed I began to unpack my travel tote and I instantly felt my heart jump with excitement when I pulled out one of my souvenirs from the country. These white, floral ballet flats from a suburban Target in Connecticut are chic in a Parisian sort of way, very ladylike, remind me that Spring is almost here, and comfortably cradle my feet in a cushioned lining. Best of all, though they look expensive, they cost only $11.99!! With the predominance of floral motifs in the Spring fashions, this is an excellent way to get the luxe look for less. In addition to my floral memento from the country, this whimsical Deer Tray from ibride will remind me of the fauns that I saw gamboling in the meadow at sunset and will look stylish hung up on the wall in my entryway. I'm counting the days until my next vacation, but in the meantime, these reminders of the country are sure to make the transition back to city life a little bit easier.


photo credit for Deer Tray: http://www.velocityartanddesign.com/ibride.html
photo credit for shoes: http://www.target.com

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Beauty's Other Half Speaks: Beauty & the Beast in Chelsea


While I frequently, and gratefully, sleep over at my girlfriend’s apartment, doing so exposes me to the cloying attack of scented candles meant to evoke fragrances best reserved for the dessert plate. L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Parfum de Feuilles (Scent of Leaves) candle offers welcome relief to this all-too-common affliction. Described as “a blend of lightly aromatic herbs, vine tomatoes, basil, and mint,” it most closely recalls the leaves of a tomato plant when closely worked. Bracing and slightly astringent, the aroma disperses fully, yet without that dripping-down-the-wall heaviness typical of other candles.

photo of tomato plant: courtesy of 1976design.com/blog

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ritual Cleansing






In her paintings, the Impressionist Mary Cassatt elevated the mundane act of bathing to an art. In her two Japoniste aquatints, both entitled "The Bath" from 1891, Cassatt, who was an avid collector of Japanese prints, employed their stylistic devices of tilted perspective, flat planes of color, and continuous contour line. Similarly influenced by Japanese sources, Red Flower's Wild Cherry Blossom line is inspired by a multi-step Japanese cleansing ritual. The Wild Cherry Blossom Rice Buff is a small pouch filled with rice bran and cherry blossoms among other skin soothing ingredients that you are meant to immerse in warm water and then rub directly onto your face and body. It stimulates circulation, smells like you are basking under a grove of cherry trees in spring, and imparts a luminous sheen. This is the most elegant exfoliant I have ever used. I followed this step with a spritz of the Rose Camellia Plum Soft Water Mist, which also has a delightfully light scent and left my skin incredibly soft. I was so relaxed after using these products before bed that I promptly drifted off into a deep sleep afterwards and awoke with sparkling rosy skin.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cleo Convert


I must confess that I don't really like yogurt. I find it to be too filling and creamy and the sour taste a bit unpleasant. When I heard about Cleo, an Italian line of products whose main ingredient is yogurt, I was not too optimistic, but figured that I would give it a try as the price was a mere $4.95 for a shower gel (which Cleo refers to as shower cream) and $7.99 for a body cream. I ordered the shower gel in the Chocolate variety and the body cream in Cherry. When the package arrived, I pulled out the bright pink Candy Land-esque plastic bottles and headed for the shower. I was nothing short of impressed with the body wash that produced a creamy lather with a smell akin to a cup of hot chocolate and the thick white body cream that was light and cooling and smelled like cherry blossoms. Now that I'm a Cleo convert I plan to try the other scent varieties such as Sugar and Cereals. The products smell good enough to eat, and thanks to Cleo I've finally discovered a way to actually enjoy yogurt without having to use a spoon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Was will das Weib?"



What does woman want?
Freud asked the question, and while I don't pretend to know the answer, I do have some thoughts on the subject. During the time of Jean-Francois de Troy, women clad in luxurious silk "robe volante"-style gowns were treated to lavish displays of love, and partook in the courtship ritual, skirting the delicate balance between feminine propriety and wanton sexuality. In this modern age courtship is not quite so fraught with complexities; indeed it's positively banal for the most part. Women are lucky if they get a quick email after a date, and dramatic Regency-esque displays of affection are certainly out of the question. So I propose that on Valentine's Day we readily accept whatever token of love comes our way from our significant other, be it an e-card or a bouquet of bodega flowers (especially the dyed ones that can't possibly really be neon pink or electric blue) and then go out and get ourselves what we really want...jewelry! Tarina Tarantino's jewel box of a store in Soho has playful trinkets in whimsical colors and styles that won't break the bank. I especially like these Queen of Hearts earrings from her Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired line. Also, check out the chunky bracelets made of clear lucite beads with a rhinestone adorned heart attached. I must confess as I was brainstorming for this post, my boyfriend came home with an early Valentine's Day present for me, and it was a gorgeous (right-hand) ring. So I must admit that courtship isn't dead after all. It's alive and well in Chelsea in 2008! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!! xo

Let's Hear it for the Boys



Valentine's Day is fast approaching and that means it's time to get our acts together. Ladies that means you too! Guys deserve a little something too on this special day, and though a homemade Valentine is a lovely heartfelt idea, here are a few gift ideas for those of you that want to give your significant other something a little bit different:

1.) For the Urban Adventurer: This Pen Knife by Vivre is useful and stylish, for all those urban obstacles that may come his way, from opening a particularly difficult UPS package to slicing a ripe Brie, plus it comes in a variety of bright colors.

2.) For the Art Lover: Lucian Freud: The Painter's Etchings from the exhibition at MOMA, is the ultimate coffee table book. Freud's grandson's Egon Schiele-esque portraits are haunting, memorable, and sure to capture his interest.

3.) For the Man-Child: A set of polished stone building blocks from Leo Design enables him to create his own castle where he can be the king and momentarily forget that you're really the one who wears the pants!

4.) For the Product Hound: A product from Bigelow's new Barber line will satisfy his craving to groom himself in style, plus the products come in festive red bottles, perfect for the holiday.

5.) For the Businessman: Spritzing on Bond No. 9's Wall Street will make him feel right at home, even on his day off. It might also inspire him to pick up a little scented something for you too!

As for my boyfriend, he'll just have to wait and see what he's getting for V-Day this year. Let's not forget that in the end it's really the thought that counts. What do you plan to give your significant other for Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter Whites



It's officially freezing again in New York City and I'm not giving in! Being a creature of habit, I decided to brave the elements and walk home from school. Well the cold air sure did wake me up, and along the route home I found myself stopping into basically any store I could find to supposedly browse, but realistically to take refuge from the arctic chill. Subsequently, I visited 3 shoe stores, 2 Starbucks', a Duane Reade, and a patisserie where I purchased a chocolate and raspberry macaroon. Feeling dejected by the fact that my faux fur hat, down comforter-like coat, and carpenter's mittens weren't doing the trick, I swore under my breath that I hate winter. However, my feelings quickly changed when I spotted the most amazing winter white Goyard tote carried by a statuesque model clad in all black. I quickly had visions of myself dressed in my Kova & T latex leggings and Privee black satin jacket walking down 9th avenue, a white Goyard tote on my shoulder. While I momentarily forgot my frigid state, all this daydreaming caused me to bang into a cranky man who unfortunately didn't share my vision, but even that didn't ruin my new found enthusiasm for winter.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Perfect Canvas


Looking gorgeous requires attention to detail, diligence, and risk taking. These three categories are imperative when talking about one's skin. Besides cleansing, and applying SPF 30 or higher daily, one needs the right foundation to create a perfect canvas. This is where the risky part comes in, because we often get attached to a foundation and wear it for many years, discounting the fact that our skin changes as we age, and refuse to try something new. I definitely fell into this category. I was strongly devoted to my Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer and felt that I had no need to branch out. I met my mother for lunch in the West Village after work, and while she is the naturally glamorous type, I noticed something different about her while sitting across from her at the table - her skin looked like it was lit from within, glowy but not at all shiny. She excitedly told me that her latest beauty purchase, Sisley's Phyto Teint Eclat Oil-Free Foundation, was the culprit behind this radiance. I tried it myself and loved the smooth and light hydrating texture (that's akin to spraying your skin with those miniature evian canisters in summer) and coverage that doesn't obscure your skin's natural look, but just enhances it. The link I've provided for you sells the foundation at a discount! While I am still an avid Laura Mercier fan, I have vowed to switch it up now and then so as not to fall into a dreaded beauty rut.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Parterre de l'Orangerie


I am awfully opinionated about my perfume selections. Not only must the scent transport me in an escapist manner to an edenic locale, but it must also be contained within a glass bottle that's sleek enough to display on my shelf. Though these criteria may not seem that extreme, the real challenge is that the perfume must change, chameleon-like, once I spray it on my wrists, blending with my body chemistry to create a complex and personal scent. Serge Lutens' Fleurs D'Oranger exceeds even my high standards. Not only does it carry a light floral essence with a hint of fresh cantaloupe, but it dries down, lingering in the guise of a delicate aroma of white hydrangea and of saltwater on skin warmed by the sun. Notably, the elegantly slim bottle recalls the formal and opulent luxury of the Palace of Versaille. When I spritz it on I feel transported to the Parterre de l'Orangerie, and what could possibly be more edenic than the lush orange groves of Louis XIV?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Art Book Fair


When I was little my school used to hold a book fair every year. All the books would be displayed neatly on white lunch tables in the tiny auditorium, and kids would scramble to peruse the merchandise. The brightly colored covers and the array of choices always made my heart skip a beat. I often pondered my selection for a while to be quite sure that I had made the right decision. 192 Books (shown at far right) is like an art book fair for the grown-up set. It's housed in the heart of the gallery district in Chelsea, and when you walk in you feel like you've entered some very hip modernist residence, complete with Prouve chairs, an oak reading table, and walls of artfully displayed books. Across the street is the equally stylish, but decidedly more industrial, metal storefront Printed Matter (interior shown at left). This shop boasts a diverse arrangement of obscure exhibition catalogues, flip books, and art books. I'm planning on picking up a copy of Stacey Armstrong's Broken Dishes, described on their website as "collages containing scenes from a diner." Whether you venture over to 192 Books or Printed Matter, leave yourself some extra time to browse around and ponder.

Child's Play

Nostalgia and whimsy are really underrated, as are children's toys. The smallest thing can make a child ecstatic with happiness. Last summer my mother and father were invited to dinner at an old friend's home. Their friend and his beautiful wife are now the parents of two young children. My parent's, who adore children, came to the party with gifts for the kids. Upon opening her present the little girl screamed with delight and a slight stutter brought on by sheer excitement, "It's ponies!!! Ppppponies!!!!!!!" If only adults could be so lucky. However, even though My Little Ponies may not elicit the same response as they did way back when, it's still nice to indulge now and then in a purchase that reminds us of being a kid. I think that this Bubble Blower necklace by Cynthia Rowley is chic enough to wear out to brunch at Paradou but is still whimsical. Also, this Boy With A Balloon Brooch by Allira Tee has a hip sensibility but simultaneously reminds me of The Red Balloon, one of my favorite books from childhood. It's nice to have a little respite from adulthood now and then.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Are You a Snow White or a Rose Red?


In fairy tales the world is an idealized place. There is a moral to the story, virtue prevails over vice and lessons are learned. Sibling rivalry doesn't even seem to exist in the world of the Brother's Grimm. For example in the tale of Snow White and Rose Red, these two sisters who are seemingly opposite beauties (Snow White is a homebody, whereas Rose Red is a wild child) live in peaceful harmony with no fighting over closet space, beauty products, or boys. Can opposites really coexist without any negative backlash? When I tried By Terry's Creme de Rose I was wary. I have oily skin and this moisturizer is ostensibly for "dry or sensitive skin," the type of product which I usually try to keep as far away from my face as possible for fear of breakouts. I realized however that my fears were irrational when after applying this light luxurious hydrator that contains White Rose, Black Rose, and Indian Lotus to my face and massaging gently I not only felt like I was strolling under Monet's "Flowering Arches at Giverny," but also had glowing soft skin afterwards with no residue. I love using products with smells that transport and relax me. So maybe I will stop being so cynical and realize that sometimes opposites do attract.

Roses are Red...

Though spring temperatures have arrived in NYC, the wet weather is making it foggy and dreary outside. On days like this, all my good intentions to be productive and get through all my art history reading assignments are thwarted by my desire to stay in and indulgently curl up with a magazine.

While I don't usually read Martha Stewart Living, today while getting tea I passed a newsstand and the cover caught my eye. It featured a luscious crimson background with a huge heart made of yellow, pink, and red roses. It cheered me up immediately because Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday.

Consequently, I have chosen to start celebrating the holiday a bit early this year,
partly because it makes me happy and partly because it gives me the opportunity to wear my favorite rose red wool jacket by Camilla and Marc with bright golden buttons. I plan to wear it tomorrow and pick up some fuschia and yellow roses on the way home from school, so that I'll really feel like it's Spring.