Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

I am going crazy. I cannot get "The Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston out of my head. All day everyday I am singing it inside. Why, why, why??? Now I know. Marcia Kilgore, queen of Bliss and Soap and Glory, has always had a way with funny, catchy names for her products. I really like it usually. Well, I've got a tube of Soap and Glory's The Greatest Scrub of All and it is sending secret messages into my brain, keeping Whitney on replay. I am attempting to fight back with "Crack is Wack." It's not working. And honestly, it should because, in all honestly, this is not the greatest scrub of all in my opinion. But, maybe it's just that my product branding consciousness realizes that no one wants the words crack or wack on their beauty product packaging, even if it's tongue in cheek. I am looking forward to the end of the tube.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Local Yokel

I have been trying to justify any medium to kinda big fashion purchases by buying only things that do double duty as souvenirs of our stay in London. For example, my lovely Luella tote, my Philip Treacy hat, and my Lulu Guiness earnings. Even Topshop and Boots count. I've slipped a little here and there, like at H & M. But in my defense, we don't have one at home and it hardly counts as big spending.
Anyway, I tried taking this policy with me to Italy. (Just got back Thursday--it was amazing. Actually managed to get my fill of gelato, which I previously considered an impossibility.) We had a day trip planned to the designer outlet mall outside of Florence and I did a great job sticking to my guns by purchasing only from Gucci. (Yes, it is hard when you have such strong convictions about local products--har.) A hand bag, a pair of shoes, and a tie for (undercover label-loving) hubby. I felt very satisfied.
That was until I was dropped off a few days later, by surprise, at the Tods/Hogan and Prada outlets near Macerata. Wow. I actually managed to walk about of both shops empty handed but was haunted by a pale leather braided Tods bracelet that I left there because it was Saturday afternoon and the lines were so long and my kid was going nuts. I'm still thinking about it really, imagining how nice it would look on my tan wrist...sigh.
So, I really only have myself to blame for breaking my locastore vows. If I had bought that bracelet I would not have been lured into the brand spankin' new Marc by Marc Jacobs shop (AND CAFE!!) in the hip Brera neighborhood of Milan. Wow. Really wow. And have you heard about all the really awesome, fun, and cheap accessories they sell in the Marc by Marc Jacobs boutiques?? Well, it's TRUE! I got a couple necklaces (one's a monocle. awesome), a ring, a pen that looks like a lipstick, a tote (I KNOW. Shut up.), an umbrella, and some flip slops. All for a song! And, it was at the end of our trip, I was beginning to get that "I haven't bought enough stuff!" feeling, and it really made me feel "done." And, frankly, really pushed the weight limits of the tiny Alitalia plane that brought us back to London.
And now, rain. Good thing I bought that MJ umbrella! And my new Gucci bag is coated canvas so it does alright in this weather, too. Oh! and I am in love with my new pack-a-parka from Topshop! Am trying to stop shopping but with only 8 weeks to go, I feel I will fail. Maybe I can hold out for the rest of the week...wish me luck!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tote Check

Dude. Been here a little more than two months and have acquired so very, very many totes. Some free, some sort of free (GWP), some purchased in the name of urban-eco-renew-reuse-recycle-ism. In any case, I now find myself in possession of 14 shopping totes that I did not own before I came to London. Oh, man. This is stupid. But at least the free Dorothy Perkins tote that came with this month's Cosmopolitan is on trend with its bow and Breton stripes. And I could argue that it's practical because it seems sort of water proofed (neither claimed nor tested) on the inside. Ugh, even I don't buy it. And, speaking of freebies with the glossies (a glorious UK phenom) I have also snatched up a Neal's Yard facial moisturizer thanks to Marie Claire and a James Brown (hair stylist and bestie of Mossy!!) hair conditioner with Glamour. It seems like there's free stuff everywhere in this city. I mean, I can remember being handed bottles of Vitamin Water, Lemon Coke, and I think some sort of gum outside the Dupont Circle Metro stop every once in a while when we lived in DC, but the free stuff on tap here in London is unbelievable! I mean, if you've got the time and the inclination it's all yours. Cocktails, tastings, lessons, samples. Obviously, I could live without another canvas shopper, but my trip to Italy ends one day after an amazing sounding Elle Magazine sponsored event at Harvey Nichols. Cocktails, canapes, GOODY BAGS!! And I miss it by one day. ONE DAY!! I know, it's for Italy, but I know from past experience that Elle throws a good party (this past LFW and a few events back in DC) and combine that with Harvey Nicks? COME ON! Oh well, I hope there will be more opps to party with Elle before I leave. And, the trip to Italy provides an awesome opportunity to bust out the best tote of all: the Luella Barney that I scored at LFWeekend for a tiny fraction of the original price. It will hold my beauty essentials, a stack of glossies and my Mac, all while being so incredibly fabulous it will be hard to believe I'm sitting in Economy. And maybe I'll stuff in a couple of the canvas numbers into the side pocket so I'm at the ready to stuff them full of cheese, olives, and salumi whist wandering the markets of Tuscany. See? It's all coming together.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Making the Toast of It

Well, here we are deep into Lent and all I have done is shop and drink and neglect wifely and motherly duties. I did fast last Friday, in solidarity with the poor, but my one meatless meal was eaten in a wonderful restaurant and, since it wasn't food, I accepted a few glasses of champagne at the end of the evening at LFWeekend. All while lusting after everything from vintage (original Dior from the '70's!!) sunnies, to Beatrice Ong shoes, Juicy Couture velour tracksuits (which I actually don't even want), and especially the very bikinis I was trying to sell. Except for some very mild hunger, I did not feel like I was showing any support for the poor, neither in prayer nor the sharing of my gifts. When offered a bite of incredible chocolate tart, it was only half-way to swallowing that I remembered my intention to fast. So, while I didn't have another bite, I still got mine.
Since returning to normal life two days ago, I have been trying to redeem myself by cleaning the flat like crazy. Hubby's been a good help with the dishes that built up over the weekend, but the laundry! Oh, the laundry. I must have been behind before I started my fashion fantasy because it is really overwhelming, especially when you consider the completely ridiculous nature of the washer/dryer combo. To wash and dry, it seems to take half a day. If you line dry, the drying rack takes up half the flat. But, it's my job to do the laundry. This is mostly in part because I hate to explain things to people and I really hate to answer questions. An occupational hazard if ever there was one considering I have an uber-curious and interested-in-everything husband, and a five-year-old who can't help but ask questions and require explanations, I mean, he IS five. I chalk it all up to my being an only-child. I've managed to avoid some of the usual pitfalls: I share my toys and don't require or expect everyone's attention all the time. But, I'd rather just do it myself than have to explain, say, where the mop is, or how much coffee to put in the Bialetti, you know? Ugh, I know...
So, back to Lent. Obviously the shopping and casual bubbly quaffing are out. That's a sacrifice I definitely feel. Hubby and Baby have been saying a decade of the Rosary every night and I plan on joining them. Wednesdays and Fridays for abstinence(from meat) and fasting, try to get my ass to a mass during the week, and one more thing: Toast. I hadn't realized it but I have become totally obsessed with toast, with butter and fig conserve or butter and a slice of cheddar. Breakfast, tea time, late night snack--sometimes 6 slices in a day!! And not super healthy whole grain, granary, high fiber biz, either. No lovely sourdough from Poilane, or even a tartine made from yesterday's bakery-fresh baguette. No. What I want is plastic white bread, thick sliced and super-sized. I NEVER buy this at home! I mean, I'm the girl who bakes her own bread and even makes her own yogurt! To assuage some of the crunchy-mom/food snob guilt I buy the white bread with seeds in it. It's not even organic!
So, in order to make the most of the next few weeks before Easter I have decided to give up toast. Also, I will be more patient with my family and their endless questions, and more satisfied with their help around the house, even if it's not the way I would have done it. And I'd better hit the ground running with these, since in 10 days we're off to Italy for 2 weeks (trip to a designer outlet on the itinerary!) and I will have to rejigger and find different means for sacrifice and prayer. The biggest challenge for the next 10 days will be to resist the urge to do the crazy pre-holiday-shop-for a bunch-of-stuff-you'll-never-wear. I am famous for that kind of shopping, and while you may think that after all the clothes and fashiony stuff of the last 2 weeks I'd be sick of it, it's only made me more crazy for it all! Maybe I'll go with that urge to cut bangs and then all my old things will look new? xoxo

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Take This Job And Love It

Back to real life! London Fashion Week and London Fashion Weekend were so fun and amazing and exhausting and fabulous. I already wrote about my experiences at the beginning of the week, the most exciting being the Fashion for Relief show. (I mean, helping women and babies in Haiti while getting a good hard look at your fantasy BFF? And champagne? Come on!) But there were a few other fun moments like my brief stop at Fashion Mavericks, the A la Mode Fashion Show put on by Le Geneve North, the Elle/Warehouse Fashion Week shopping party, the Warehouse Utility Collection Preview Party, and the free events and workshops at Topshop. All totally awesome.
On Sunday February 21st, I manned Pistol Panties at the London Fashion Week Exhibition in the Portico Rooms at Somerset House as a favor to the designer Deborah Flemming ( ) who is the friend of one of my old friends from my summer in Paris, Liz Entin ( and ). Liz suggested that I look Deborah up when I got to London. I did and she immediately invited me to coffee. There I got to meet her amazing, talented, and beautiful assistant Lizzie, who I got to know a little more over the last week and I must say I am smitten. From what I can see, Deborah has hired the right girl. Lizzie is incredible and savvy beyond her years.
Working the Exhibition basically meant staying with the clothes (in this case, swimwear) and being available to talk to press and buyers and answer any questions they might have about the line and the collection. What I didn't realize until that day, was how essential it was for the designer to get the contact info from all the journalists, stylists, and buyers, so that they could follow up with anyone who was at all interested. Having only experienced fashion from the point of view of a shopper and avid reader of glossy magazines and fashion blogs, I think I just imagined that the mags and stores went to the designers and asked for things, or maybe the designer sent over some samples. I had no idea the amount of phone and email follow-up required on the part of designer in order for their designs to be seen and made available for purchase to the public.
It was very interesting to see the other side of the business and to realize that sometimes it is actually boring. The other ladies in the Lingerie Collective were fun to talk to and really interesting, and seeing all the beautiful things on display at the exhibition was such an exclusive treat, one that I never imagined I would ever experience. I also developed an obsession with bangs (or fringe) and may just march into the salon and demand some someday soon. I'm obsessed!! (I also have a new obsession for hummus, but we'll leave that for another post.)
That night after the exhibition there was a digital presentation for the Lingerie Collective. It was an arty little black and white number with a gorgeous girl modeling bras and knickers from the exhibition. Everyone was in a festive mood and there were waiters offering wine and champagne as we walked in, and then always at your elbow, ready for a top-up. From there the crowd moved on to a club in Soho for the after-party. I tried to rally, but when I stepped off the bus and realized I was closer to home than the club I decided to call it a night.
Four nights later I returned to Somerset House for my VIP night at London Fashion Weekend. Chambord cocktails, special lounge access, FROW, personal styling session, and Elizabeth Arden make-overs. And shopping! So many incredible discounts! That night I came home with a Luella bag and I paid 75% less that retail! Amazing! I also snapped up 3 Ella Moss tops for 40 pounds. A (just okay) goody bag was handed out at the end of the night and I went home satisfied with my night out.
The next night I was there again, but this time to help sell Pistol Panties to the throngs of champagne-fuelled bargain shoppers. It was fun and the time flew by. I did the same on Sunday. The prices were slashed even lower and I couldn't resist a Philip Treacy hat and some cute lingerie from Aloe ( *love the designer, Claire Judge). Everyone was getting a little nuts at the end of the weekend, even the bar staff were sticking it to the man and slipping me free champagne. Lizzie and I broke down the display in record time, she managed to snag a dude to help carry, and got the whole lot of bikini bins into the car to be taken back to the shop. Whew!
And that's that. I do miss it already actually, but I don't miss missing weekend fun with my boys. I didn't miss laundry and dishes, but (lucky me!) there were some waiting to welcome me back home. I am glad to be off the champers and espresso and back to tea and water (for now, anyway.) I'm over organizing bikinis by color, style, and size, or digging through bins finding a gazillion different sizes and styles for a customer to try on, only to have them decide against them all, leaving me to reorganize and hang them all back up. I am glad to be back with my kid, reading books, playing with clay, doing math (Wowee. I know!), and watching movies. All that said, I am looking forward to another chance to play "fashion girl" sometime soon, either with Pistol Panties, or whomever I can convince that I am not psycho and that I am fashion savvy enough to help out for free. Though, I may wear a sign around my neck saying "Will Work For Bikinis." I'm telling you, I have not quite reached my fitness goals, but Deborah Flemming works some magic. Girls, get thee a Pistol Panties bikini!!! You won't believe how amazing you look. xoxo