Monday, March 29, 2010

A man of means...New York Real Estates secret weapon... Spencer Means

It may be the handsome boyish grin, the classic good looks, the Etro bespoke haberdashery and impeccable manners that initially commands your attention. Do not be sold short by the exterior package. Take note, Spencer Means is a man on a mission.

He is way smarter than he looks and a one man army in the New York real estate playing field. A true negotiator in the mine fields, of this concrete jungle. Navigating roadblocks and laying claim to some of the cities toniest properties, many would give their eye teeth to own. Not to mention, competitors would die to list on their own.

As Senior Vice President, Associate Broker at Corcoran Realty the largest, residential real estate firm in the city, Spencer has generated upwards of one hundred million dollars in sales. A feat he has been able to accomplish by keeping all ten fingers on the pulse of the city. He studies and heavily evaluates market trends, and takes note. Where other realtors find their business flat-lining as a result of a dead economy, Spencer is the 'defibrillator'.

His client list includes hordes of boldface names and icons in entertainment, society and multiple business sectors. They come to him because he delivers, and they trust him to always keep their goals first.

So when you come across the perfect place to call home (Montauk beachfront, tree-lined townhouse, East River modern luxury tower, Westside pre-war, city view, park view , carriage house) and can't quite figure out how to make it happen, there's only one man to call. I will bet, he's already got the key!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bali High

A friend of mine escapes to Bali twice a year to collect her thoughts. Hmmmmm. I wonder why?

Renting a villa, for a mere two hundred USD daily yields a 'house person' to prepare any food you desire, someone to peel your grapes and keep the residence well attended to while you're playing tennis or enjoying the pool. There's always a pool.

She gorges on the freshest of fruit while being glazed by the sun. Bali's villas have become a benchmark for tropical living. The architecture is stunning. There appears to be a requirement all structures are surrounded by the thickest of palm trees. I have long had a strong appreciation for the juxtaposition of traditional references adjacent to the modern approaches.

These images are from 'Bali Houses' by Gianni Francione, an Italian architect who has lived in Bali more than twenty-years. He has designed many homes there. The adoring images were captured by Luca Invernizzi Tettoni. He specializes in Asia culture and architecture.

These are some of my favorite images in the book.
Anyone up for a change of scenery? I'll gladly race you to the nearest hammock.

"Mrs. Robinson, you are trying to seduce me... aren't you?"

The answer to the question... "Mrs. Robinson, you are trying to seduce me aren't you?"

Oh, if you have to ask no mortar board for you. Return to the rear of the class. I am longing for the return of hosiery. Real hosiery. Sexy hosiery. The kind that makes a grown man blush.

The sheer hosiery industry has fallen forty percent, as the current fashion trend of the 'bare leg' has been all the rage of late. Note: Even in the dead of winter. Hosiery sales have increased in the 'tights' industry, namely 'patterned tights' but sheer hosiery markets have fallen drastically.

How lovely would it be to see the return of seams at the back of the leg? Or sheer natural colored legs dressed in silk/nylon. Come on women. Let's really 'bring sexy back', and give all the boys (and real men) something to drool over once again. Seduction made simple. Let a lady be a lady. Without even trying.

Some summers ago, I sat on bench ever so innocently in Central Park having lunch. Disclaimer: this was not my intention. I was reading a book, one most cerebral in fact. From my crumbled paper bag I released my banana for lunch. Engaged in my reading, I became oblivious to those around me. Yet, when I emerged from my reading, I realized a not so young man seated across from me drooling. With his eyes bulging from his head, wearing the sickest grin, I just couldn't figure it out. He laid his newspaper (once on his lap) and walked toward me. He approached asking if he could "please buy me another banana". OMG! it all started to make sense. I became embarrassed totally unaware of how I must have appeared. Back to the topic.

So I say, bring back hoisery. The kind you had to gently roll up you leg, that would make a grown man blush. Bring back a sense of mystery. Sexiness exuded without even trying. Make a man work for you. Let him know what a lady you are. That darn right, you DESERVE to be put on a pedestal. Make him work to be 'YOUR' arm charm, not the other way around.

So find a rare store that manufacturers fine hosiery (Fogal, Wolfords, whomever). Bring out the Dita Van Teese in you and make a Tiger, not want to leave a happy home.

(photo courtesy of IMDB)

"When Blue, Wear Red"... Rouge Coco ... The return of lipstick

Call it marketing, the economy or just plain wonderful. The return of lipstick! Not gloss. Lipstick.

One of my first memories as a young girl was sitting on the edge of the tub, watching my mother apply lipstick. A daily task she approached with absolute precision, stopping only to admire its application, before softly applying tissue to her lips, blotting, then gently turning the swivel base to apply more.

Wearing lipstick was something I could not wait to do. I remember the first Easter Sunday she applied the faintest tint of pink to my lips. Immediately, my WHOLE attitude changed. My walk, my head was higher, my shoulders were back. I was a woman. I was a mess! At that defining moment lipstick became my caviar, my luxury.

With the flick of color, I imagined myself to be one of the images in film, I begged to stay awake late to watch. I was Bette Davis! I was Blanche DuBois. I was Elizabeth Taylor in that beautiful silk slip in a 'Streetcar named Desire', even if I did'nt know (or care) what all of that meant. I was Cyd Cherisse dancing with my idol Fred Astaire. I was grown. At least, as long as that one brushstroke lasted. It was a long stretch between Easter and Christmas. When she promised I could wear more. Secretly, that Christmas, all I really wanted was another brushstoke of pink.

You can blame it on marketing but it really is true. Young girls truly have not experienced the application of lipstick, as a rite of passage the way a young man looks to shaving. Current practice dictates a few pumps of the 'gooby-lipgloss' from a plastic applicator and you're out the door. No mirror needed. Believe me, I am guilty of that too.

The best handbags were those with mirrors for the application of lipstick. I want more like, that I don't have to search for on Ebay! I always have no less that ten colors with me. With handbags costing way beyond thousands of dollars, they should all come with 'lady mirrors'.

When the ecomomy sours, and lord knows our has been beyond rancid lately, women typically purchase the one thing they can absolutely afford. Lipstick. She may have thrown the word 'darling' in there for good measure. Immortal words spoken by the original stylist Diana Vreeland, "When blue, wear red". So treat yourself to some. Bonifide, lip-staining, pouty-mouthed, (not potty-mouthed) lipstick. There are so many new long-lasting shades to try.

And no, I do not work for Chanel, Estee Lauder, L'Oreal or any of them. I just support the cause. Wear it proudly. Strike a pose!

(photograph courtesy of Chanel)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Baked By Melissa - Bites of Heaven

If you walk fast you will miss it. From a vest pocket outpost sandwiched between a hot eatery and a jewelry shop, lies Baked by Melissa.

Sized just a bit larger than a quarter (yes a USD denomination quarter), they are mini bites of heaven. Priced at three for three dollars, Twenty dollars for twenty-five little. One hundred at seventy dollars. They may also be purchased online. At such as small size they I like to refer to them as 'bite sized (almost zero) calorie miracles'. Well maybe not zero calories. But well worth it.

Flavors are Red velvet, Smore's, Peanut Butter, Cookie n' Cream, Cinnamon, Tie-Dyed, Mint chocolate chip and Cookie Dough. The minimum order quantity from the bakery is one hundred dollars. It is very easy to consume the entire box before you reach the next street corner.

(photographs by Hautezone)

Cannonball Vineyard

Believe me, I wouldn't refer to myself as a sommelier by any measure. Put a long-winded wine list in front of me and I shiver at the countless choices. Simply, I just know what I like. I will however share with you what I have come to believe is the very best Cabernet Sauvignon on the planet.

Produced by Cannonball Vineyard, courtesy of Napa Valley, the very first whiff engages your senses. The flagrant marriage of blackberries, oak and chocolate, engulfs your olfactory system and welcomes the rest of your body to come play. The hardest part is pouring it into a decanter, and patiently waiting as it 'breathes'.

Surely most vitners would recommend pairings of lamb, beef and hearty accompaniments. However, I believe it works just as well will peanut butter and jelly, seafood and vegetarian dishes. At less that twenty dollars a bottle at Grande Harvest Wines (Grand Central Station) in New York City, celebrate life, love, birthdays and surviving Mondays with a sip or two. Your palatte will love you for it!

(photograph by Hautezone)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lorna Simpson Photographer

Lorna Simpson is definitely an artist worth following (and works are worth acquiring). Lorna Simpson is a photographer and artist. Her art usually shows photos of mostly African-American women combined with text to express present society's relationships with race, ethnicity and sex.

Lorna was born in New York, she attended the High School of Art and Design where me met. Later attending Visual Arts in New York and then at the University of California, San Diego. We were fortunate to become friends early in life. More fortunate am I to watch her career develop, even if we don't always remain in close contact. I have always continued to support her work and smile from afar. Winking at her accolades, smiling ear to ear.

Her earliest work was as a documentary street photographer, before moving her observations of race and society into her studio. Simpson began exploring ethnic divisions in the 1980's era of multiculturalism. Her most notable works combine words with photographs of anonymously cropped images of women and occasionally men. While the pictures may appear straightforward, the text will often confront the viewer with the underlying racism still found in American culture.

Simpson's 1989 work, Necklines, shows two identical photographs of a black woman's mouth, chin, neck, and collar bone. The white text, “ring, surround, lasso, noose, eye, areola, halo, cuffs, collar, loop”, individual words on black plaques, imply menace, binding or worse. The final phrase, text on red “feel the ground sliding from under you,” openly suggests lynching, though the adjacent images remain serene, non-confrontational and elegant.

Lorna Simpson has explored developing her photographs on large felt panels as well producing as video works such as Call Waiting (1997). She was the first Black woman to participate at the Venice Biennale. In a recent work, Corridor (2003), Simpson sets two women side-by-side; a household servant from 1860 and a wealthy homeowner from 1960. Both women are portrayed by artist Wangechi Mutu, allowing parallel and haunting relationships to be drawn.

Lorna's work has also been presented at the Whitney Museum and MOMA in New York City, Walker Art Center to name a few.

Seeing a friends success is like milk... It does a body good!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Collabo! Armani and Lady Gaga ...

This is continuing to be one glorious collaboration! Lady Gaga and Giorgio Armani came together for Lady Gaga's 'Monster Ball' which got pumping on February 18th. The septuagenarian, Mr. Armani continues to flow with the times and the music. "We hear Lady Gaga's music everywhere we go, it is like a soundtrack of our times" Armani said. " In addition to her formidable songwriting skills, she is a fashion phenomenon".
Without a doubt, he was one first!

(sketches by Giorgio Armani)

Monday, March 22, 2010

"His stuff, your stuff, now what?"

As an interior designer with over 25 years in the game, you could say I have endured some design challenges. And now as design head for Armani/Casa IDS, Giorgio Armani’s interior design studio, I have been fortunate enough to design home environments for bachelors like singer John Mayer, violinist David Garrett, actor Adrien Brody, and various captains’ of industry. I’ve spent seven years designing showrooms for Ralph Lauren, including the Beverly Hills and New York stores amongst others. But the most challenging feat is often a new home for ‘newlyweds’.

Man, Check! Ring, Check! Venue, Check! But did you really, sign on to gaze at that threadbare sofa ‘Til Death Do Us part’? What will your response be when he comes home dripping from sweat, some hazy, hot and humid mid-August summer day during a New York City garbage strike? He walks in, runs his hands through his sweat laden hair, hurls his Kenneth Cole laptop messenger bag to the floor, runs into the kitchen for one, no two, cold ones. Pops the cap, grabs the remote control and salt and vinegar chips, to watch the eighteenth run of Rocky 2 (like he never saw it before), poised to stretch out, feet up and realizes someone moved HIS sofa?

‘Till Death Do Us’ part. Hmmmmm. Sometime in the not-so–wee hours of the night (okay, day after he’d gone to work) the Salvation Army Truck arrived. I know, I know you never saw it coming, didn’t call them, but somehow they managed to enter your newlywed home and haul that raggedy thing to an unknown location. Hmmmm. Where, Oh where are the by-laws buried for the not-so harmonious task of ‘blending furniture’? This was not covered in marriage counseling. If so, the pages must have been stuck together. It is likely easier to ‘blend’ in-laws, and extended families. Well except for the ‘crazy cousin’ no one wants to claim much less talk to.

I am often asked to ‘marry’ styles. Contemporary, with Traditional, Moderne, with Bohemia, French with Vintage Metal, as in Heavy Metal. Generally there has already been a degree of editing done way before I show up. But all too often, there is that one piece that manages to be the ‘button’. The piece that can be a real deal breaker. The one fabric clad (often stained) heavy piece from the ‘hot’ bachelor/bachelorette days that can question your own judgment. The piece that makes you wonder is you should have married ‘Fred’ instead of ‘Ted’. What is the solution?

The answer, in short is ‘diplomacy’. The same level of ‘diplomacy’ required in deciding where to spend the holidays, how to tactfully avoid eating his mamas, overdone pearl onion casserole which is like chewing a plate of marbles, with cheese.

Identify pieces that fit well into the new environment.

When I say ‘fit’, I have four suggestions:

1) Scaled to fit. Do not keep a large sofa in a studio apartment just because your sister gave it to you.

2) Keep ‘non-trendy’ pieces that are in good condition and made well. Even if something is old consider updating with new knobs, pulls, hardware etc. Strip the finish and add a coat of paint. There are numerous shops allowing DIY practicing before committing to an entire job.

3) Make breathing new life into old pieces a ‘date night’. Wear sexy clothing and he will forget you’re ripping the denim fabric off of his favorite football night chair, replacing it with velvet and a colorful Jonathan Adler toss pillow. Whenever, he see’s the chair, he will imagine how much fun you had frolicking on it, forgetting what it used to look like. And if he can’t remember, frolic some more until it’s all he can think about. You know what I mean!

4) 1-800-STO-AWAY and any likely facsimile available in your region. Costs are generally manageable. Who knows, down the road there may be more room for it, or the style will come back. Again, only keep pieces in great condition.

Remember, “keep it moving or be left behind”. So try not to worry about sofas, curios, tables and such. When the music stops, just be glad to have a chair!
(Photo courtesy of The Nest)

Living Legend - Giorgio Armani

I would like to start my blogging efforts paying homage to a fashion designer I know and love... Giorgio Armani.

Mr. Armani is a true perfectionist. The term 'Attention to detail' takes on a whole new meaning in his hands. Having received medical training early in his studies, Mr. Armani carved the craft of tailoring like the skills of a surgeon.
Giorgio Armani, 76 is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Armani Group and sole share holder of Giorgio Armani S.p.A., one of the world’s leading fashion and lifestyle design houses, with 5,000 direct employees, 13 factories, and a direct network of 500 exclusive retail stores in 46 countries worldwide. Under Mr. Armani’s direction, Giorgio Armani S.p.A. today stands as one of the few remaining independent, privately-owned companies in its sector, with a proven business strategy that has capitalised on the worldwide power and potential of the Armani brand name.

Born on July 11, 1934, Giorgio Armani grew up with his sister and brother in the northern Italian town of Piacenza. In 1957, following two years of study in medicine at the University of Piacenza, Giorgio Armani decided to leave in order to pursue his interest in fashion, accepting a job as a merchandiser at Milan’s well-known department store, La Rinascente. Thereafter, Mr. Armani worked as a fashion designer for Nino Cerruti, and then as a freelance designer for various companies, an experience that resulted in an exceptionally rich and varied evolution of his style.
Mr. Armani’s philosophy of fashion and style, together with his entrepreneurial ability, has been central to the success of Giorgio Armani S.p.A. He oversees both the company’s strategic direction and all aspects of design and creativity. Perhaps best known for revolutionising fashion with his unstructured jacket in the Eighties, after thirty years of running his own label, he now presides over a stable of collections, including his signature Giorgio Armani line, Giorgio Armani PrivĂ©, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, AJ Armani Jeans, A/X Armani Exchange, Armani Teen, Armani Junior, Armani Baby, and Armani Casa home interiors, offering a choice of lifestyles to the marketplace. Today, the company’s product range includes women’s and men’s clothing, shoes and bags, watches, eyewear, jewellery, fragrances and cosmetics, and home furnishings.
He has the energy of any young man who models his wares. He shows no sign of stopping. The House of Armani continues to produce effortless, tailor-made garments without succumbing to trends.

(Photo courtesy of WWD)