Lights. Camera. Cure: Hollywood’s Star-Studded Dance-A-Thon

By Ria Sardana

Hollywood may be known for its overindulgence and luxurious parties, but the city is no stranger to amazing charities. On Sunday, January 27, Lights Camera Cure, hosted by actors Devon Werkheiser and Gia Mantegna, held its second annual Dance-A-Thon at the Avalon in Hollywood to benefit Four Diamonds Fund. Celebrities that graced the red carpet to help fight pediatric cancer included Skyler Day of NBC’s Parenthood, Joe Mantegna of Criminal Minds and Brandon Routh of Superman Returns. The event included musical performances by Drake Bell, DJ Splyce, Bex and Vanjess.

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Into the Wild Night with the Center for Great Apes

On Friday, December 7, leading artists, designers, and a bevy of cultural enthusiasts flocked to Miami Club Rum Distillery for the Center for Great Apes’ Wild Night. Throughout the evening, guests sipped on cocktails while enjoying modeled fashions—commissioned by the Gabby Wild Foundation—inspired by endangered species. Artist Romero Britto purchased a painting by Bubbles (Michael Jackson’s former chimpanzee) saying that “it was the best and purest art in the whole of Art Basel.” Photos by Jon Norris & Yvette Alvarez.

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Ann Taylor’s New Concept of Style

By Allie Duncan

Ann Taylor has always been a shopping destination for classically chic clothing. And now, having evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of working women, Ann Taylor is defined by its unique aesthetic that is able to provide style for women across every generation. “Ann Taylor’s rich heritage has always been synonymous with iconic style for modern working women,” says Andrew Taylor, Ann Taylor’s Style Director (of no relation to Ann). “Under the design leadership of Lisa Axelson, the collections are more fashion forward and are designed to address the needs of today’s working women.”

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Monochromatic Burgundy: Fall 2012 Trend Report

By Katlyn Frymire

As we enter fall 2012, we have been overwhelmed by all the amazing textures, color palettes, and shapes that make up this season’s trends.  It can be confusing for any one person to know how to wear these trends, where to purchase them, and how to integrate what you already have in your closet to maximize your wardrobe. Our quick guide tells you what the trend is, how to wear it, and where to buy it, making your fall shopping trip effortless and easy!

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Eliminating Excess Fashion

By Robert Luce

Celebrities ascend to fashion fame or infamy due to the trendsetting visions of their stylists. One of those stylists, Kellie L. Trumper, will be holding a fashion seminar in Chicago on Tuesday, September 18 at The HAUTE Spot. Guests will receive a one-on­‐one style consultation with Trumper, and a make-­up artist and professional photographer will be on hand for each guests make-­over photo op.  We sat down with Trumper to discuss clothing essentials for fall, personal style and her favorite celebrity client, LeAnn Rimes.

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Luv Aj Designs: the ultimate accessory

By Allison Duncan

When Amanda Thomas of Luv Aj jewelry browsed Los Angeles’ Fred Segal a few years ago, she had no idea it would change her life forever. She had spent most of her high school years interning for a jewelry designer in Venice, CA who taught her how to make custom jewelry. She then browsed flea markets in her free time to find vintage chains and charms, eventually making her own pieces.

Thomas says she is inspired by materials and loves to pick out the chains for her collections, sometimes not even knowing what she is making when she chooses them. She uses both new and vintage chains and picks out different colors, different plating. Thomas says she likes to experiment, to just gather materials and create.

“My friends in high school would ask me to make them jewelry,” says Thomas. “I usually wore my own designs and one day I was shopping in Fred Segal when a buyer for the store asked about my necklace. When I told her that I had made it myself, she asked me to bring in more jewelry. They picked up my entire collection when I was a sophomore in high school—only 16-years-old.”

From that point on, Thomas started making more jewelry, and by the time she had graduated high school, all of the major Los Angeles’ boutiques had started selling her designs. Born and raised in the area, Thomas stayed in the city to attend the Otis College of Art and Design where she studied graphic design.

“I interned at Who What Wear and did freelance work for Rachel Zoe,” says Thomas. “I wasn’t sure if graphic design was right for me so I decided to pursue jewelry when I was done with school.”

Her employers at Who What Wear had noticed her jewelry and when she completed her internship with the company, they asked her to send a lookbook and linesheets of her latest creations.

“I had everything on their desk within two weeks and they ended up wanting to dedicate a story to my jewelry,” says Thomas. “The morning the story was published, I was contacted by Shopbop, Nordstrom and 50 other boutiques. They all wanted to pick up the line.”

Soon thereafter, the Los Angeles Times did a full-page article on Luv Aj jewelry, and Thomas says her line really took off around that time, thanks to Who What Wear. Urban Outfitters then approached Thomas, asking her to design a collection for them.

“Manufacturing an entire collection for Urban Outfitters, where I had shopped my entire life, was really exciting,” says Thomas. “It was definitely a ‘pinch-me’ moment to see my designs featured in one of my favorite stores.”

Having accomplished so much at such a young age, it’s hard for Thomas to pinpoint her proudest achievement. Instead, Thomas says she is grateful to be able to run a successful company at the age of 24, and she explains that she never thought she’d be in the position she’s in today.

But it hasn’t always been easy. When she first started her business, Thomas made a lot of expensive mistakes in production, and she wishes she had done more research, especially with manufacturers.

“Running a company can be overwhelming,” says Thomas. “You have to wear a lot of hats – be your own PR person, your own shipper, be on your toes all the time. And you have to be assertive. A lot of times when you start working with new people, you’re the little fish in the sea, at the bottom of the totem pole. You have to work your way up and be a pleasure to work with. If people like working with you, it creates better relationships, ensures longevity and stuff gets done faster.”

Now that Thomas has been in business for a few years, she is looking to expand into other accessories; first handbags, then shoes later. Thomas is hoping to grow her company and hire more employees. In the future, Thomas sees even more diffusion collections.

“Working for yourself is one of the most rewarding experiences a person could have,” says Thomas. “I would encourage anyone to try it, but you have to be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It doesn’t end at 5 p.m. You can choose to stop, but if you want to be successful, you need to push yourself and make things happen.”

She goes on to explain that it’s important to work ‘smart’ rather than work hard. It’s a matter of utilizing your time efficiently and finding ways to avoid wasting time.

Thomas spends most of her days in the studio going through emails, sending out online orders, visiting one of her multiple manufacturers and checking on samples. She jokes that her life sometimes feels like it revolves around FedEx shipping and that people would be surprised by how often she’s on the computer.

“I actually only spend two weeks of the year designing,” says Thomas. “In June, I designed 50-60 pieces and now they are being made. It’s easier for me to sit down and do it all at once and then release it sporadically throughout the year.”

Thomas’ favorite design is her Crystal Cross necklace, which was inspired by the Givenchy Panther necklace she says she was obsessed with.

“It’s such a good piece,” says Thomas. “Everyone that buys it loves it. I feel like it’s a really solid piece of jewelry.”

But Thomas’ most treasured piece of jewelry is an Alexander McQueen ring that her father gave her for Valentine’s Day a couple years ago; actually, the day after McQueen had died.

“It’s such a special ring,” says Thomas. “It’s a giant gold skull with a huge heart on the top of its head. I wear it every day, and it weighs like five pounds. It has sentimental value, and I feel like it’s signature ‘me.’”

Thomas says she tries to keep her personal designs versatile and as classic as possible so that while they’re still trendy, people can wear them for a few years and no one will know when they bought them.

“I design for the rock & roll edgy chick, a girl that can wear leather pants and a motorcycle jacket,” says Thomas. “But then my sister, who is very preppy, wears my jewelry too. It’s interesting to see her style the pieces in a way that I would never think of. I try not to be too trendy.”

She goes on to explain that Los Angeles is really laid back, a mix of chic and rock & roll girls, an eclectic mix of style that has laid back sensibility. Thomas says she doesn’t take herself seriously and her jewelry is something to have fun and play with, which fits the L.A. aesthetic.

While Thomas says people probably assume that she wears tons of jewelry every day, she actually believes that less is more when it comes to accessories. She thinks that women should spend money on a few good pieces and then wear those all the time.

“I used to spend fifty dollars on about 400 necklaces at Forever 21, but I think girls should curate their jewelry collection,” says Thomas. “Put some money into it because it should last you a lifetime.”

Thomas’ pieces are the ultimate investment—fun and edgy, yet still timeless. And as the Luv Aj collection grows, one can only expect to see bigger and better things in the future.

“You just have to keep moving forward, and it’s really exciting,” says Thomas. “I feel so blessed and happy that my hard work has paid off.”

EFFEN Vodka’s Art of Design at Studio Paris Chicago

On Wednesday, July 18th, premier local mixologists, designers, and over 500 cocktail enthusiasts flocked to Studio Paris in Chicago for EFFEN Vodka’s annual Art of Design. Throughout the evening, mixologists competed to design the ultimate EFFEN Vodka Cocktail. While media judges and guests sampled freshly designed cocktails and voted for their favorites, they also enjoyed the EFFEN-inspired works by Fashion Designer, Anna Hovet, Painter, Patrick Skoff, and Photographer, Jonathan Mathias. Photos by Barry Brecheisen.

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Chicago Stylist Eric Himel Brings Fashion to the Windy City

By Allison Duncan

Windy City stylist Eric Himel is a blast of fresh air in a business mostly concentrated in New York City and Los Angeles. Himel chose to base his styling company in Chicago because NYC and L.A. were already saturated with stylists. “Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, but it was leaps and bounds behind in terms of style,” says Himel. “People were hungry for it here.”

And Himel has been hungry for a career in fashion his entire life. He began his studies at the Parson’s School of Design in New York City, where Project Runway’s style guru Tim Gunn became one of Himel’s mentors. “Tim Gunn has definitely been a mentor to me throughout my career,” says Himel. “He was a teacher of mine 25 years ago, and I admire him because through his success, he has remained the same person and has kept his integrity.”

Following graduation, Himel moved to Los Angeles where he began his styling career. His business grew steadily so Himel expanded to Chicago, where he is now based and spends the majority of his time. With a roster of celebrity clients like E!’s Giuliana Rancic, The Bachelorette’s Jillian Harris and Windy City Live’s Valerie Warner and Ryan Chiaverini, Himel is one of the most sought after stylists in the city. But his ideal client, he explains, is someone that recognizes they hired Himel for his knowledge and talent and is able to trust him to make them look their best.

“My favorite people to style are those who will benefit deeply not just on the outside,” says Himel. “Anyone who has lost (or gained) weight, divorcees, widows, and people battling/recovering from illness.”

Himel has styled celebrities, editorial shoots for top magazines and newspapers in the Chicagoland area, television segments and events. “Editorial can be like a fantasy,” says Himel. “For television you need to understand patterns, color, lighting and camera angles. Event is the most ‘real’ so you need to make your client look his/her best in real life as well as for photos. I love styling for all the mediums.”

Himel’s extensive styling experience in a variety of channels sets him apart, but Himel also has a fashion philosophy that makes him stand out from the multitude of fashion stylists: that is, the beauty of fashion not only relies on what looks great on the outside, but more importantly the way that fashion makes one feel on the inside. “I don’t look at my competition,” says Himel. “But I think I am successful because I combine a history of fashion design, with an understanding of how garments are made, with objectivity toward other people’s style and bodies. I don’t make it all about me.”

But when asked about himself, Himel explains that his proudest accomplishment to date is being a good friend, son, uncle and brother. And in five years, he hopes to be able to reach the masses through television, radio, books, and his own clothing line featuring accessories as well. “I want to start my own line so looking good won’t be exclusive to people with money,” says Himel. “It’s your right to look good!”

And while looking good is entirely subjective, Himel believes the definition of ‘great style’ is combining a unique mix of different styles, making your look your own by exuding confidence. “My favorite trendsetters do all of the above,” says Himel. “I love Zoe Saldana, Kate Moss and Helen Mirren. They’re all accomplished, have individual looks and are incredibly confident!”

It helps to have a great wardrobe, and Himel loves the aesthetic of a number of designers. “I really have favorite pieces in different collections that span so many designers,” says Himel. “For fall, I am loving Gucci, Ferragamo and Alexander McQueen.” And ultimately, it is Himel’s relationships with designers that give him insider access to the fashion industry, a notoriously difficult field.

“Styling is such a tough business because it is all about balancing personalities and being a great listener,” says Himel. “It is a constant balancing act.” If he had to give advice to an aspiring stylist, Himel counsels them to create a story and then make their client the star of it. And although Himel acknowledges that the styling business presents challenges every day, he loves his career.

“I knew I was going to be a fashion designer my whole life,” says Himel. “When I was younger, there was no such thing as a stylist. In the early 90’s when stylists came of age, I realized it was what I was always meant to be.” And Himel has certainly proven through his unparalleled success that it is always best to trust one’s instincts and follow your dreams.

The Blowout Salon Trend Expands to the Windy City

By Allison Duncan

The newest hair salon to open in Chicago only offers one service, albeit in a variety of ways. Blowtique (1 E. Huron, 312.280.2400), located in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, is the latest blow-dry only salon to open in the United States. Having now been open since the first weekend in June 2012, we spoke with owner Fiona McEntee to learn more about her unique business concept.

McEntee, native to Ireland, grew up working in her mother’s salon in Dublin. “In Ireland, most women get their hair blown-out all the time,” says McEntee. “When I moved to the states, I was surprised by how expensive a blow-out could be and as a result, women would not get it done regularly. Thus, Blowtique was born!” McEntee’s salon offers blowouts at a $35 price-point so women don’t feel guilty about getting their hair styled frequently. One of Blowtique’s founding principles is making the over-priced blowout a thing of the past.

Blowtique has been overwhelmed by its early success. “The first few weeks have been better than we could have imagined,” says McEntee. “We have been booked solid for Saturdays and some evenings during the week. It’s been really great meeting our new clients and neighbors.” McEntee goes on to say that many of their new clients live nearby and have expressed excitement about the easily accessible salon.

Finding the right location for Blowtique was one of the biggest challenges that McEntee encountered in starting her business. They knew they wanted to be downtown around the Magnificent Mile but found it difficult to find the ideal location. However, she says, with some perseverance and a great realtor, they found their flagship salon space and could not be happier.

McEntee has lived in Chicago since moving to the United States and considers the city her second home. She chose to open Blowtique in the city because she loves the friendliness of the people and the laidback Midwestern attitude. “The people in Chicago are second to none,” says McEntee. “That combined with amazing architecture, extreme cleanliness, and a fun and vibrant ambience make Chicago unique.”

Partly in tribute to the city, each style at Blowtique is named after shopping streets in major U.S. metropolitan areas. The ‘Signature Chicago’ look is the Magnificent, which is a classic blowout with lightweight body.

McEntee says customers’ blowout selection has been quite varied so far with many choosing the Magnificent and the Deep Ellum, a southern look of full-bodied curls. McEntee explains that a popular hair trend this summer is ‘hair chalking,’ which involves temporarily coloring partial sections of the hair with your shade of choice, and it later washes out. Blowtique is offering a ‘Festapalooza’ look this summer, braided and tousled, with complimentary hair chalk to keep up with the latest hair trends. But aside from the diversity of blowout options, the typical customer for Blowtique has proven to be every woman.

“Our ideal customer really is everyone,” says McEntee. “Every Blowtique guest is different – they’re all ages and come from all walks of life. We recently did our first ‘petite’ (blowout for children) for a two-year-old!” McEntee expects they will have customers who never style their own hair and take advantage of Blowtique’s ease of scheduling and low price point. She also looks forward to welcoming guests who visit once a week or on special occasions to feel spoiled.

McEntee emphasizes that a blowout is not just for one day, and Blowtique’s experts provide tips and tricks for extending the blowout’s life. Blowtique’s Creative Director Rhona Kane was one of the top stylists in Ireland’s busiest salon before joining the team at Blowtique. “She has recruited and trained an amazing team of stylists and we are so lucky to have her and them,” says McEntee.

McEntee and Kane oversaw an extensive recruitment process to obtain the best stylists for Blowtique. They interviewed potential candidates for a week and completed intensive training modules to ensure they had the best in the business, explains McEntee. “We paired that skill with killer personalities and vibrant energy, and we couldn’t be happier with our amazing team,” says McEntee.

More than just a great team, Blowtique sets itself apart by exclusively offering Oribe products, which recently launched a luxury hair care line. All of the furniture in the salon is custom made, and two of their chandeliers were flown in from Tipperary Crystal in Ireland as a way to incorporate McEntee’s Irish heritage into her new home on State and Huron.

Based on the success of the flagship salon, there are already plans for a Blowtique expansion. “We have already earmarked a few locations, and we expect to be announcing something in the not-so-distant future,” says McEntee. “We love seeing the delight on our clients’ faces as they leave Blowtique with fabulous hair, and we can’t wait to offer our services to more people so they too can be ‘blown away’!”

Blowtique Chicago

Blowtique Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blowtique Chicago

Blowtique Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blowtique Chicago

Blowtique Chicago

Edgemar Celebrity Poker Tournament

By Vanessa Bisetti

“Shuffle up and deal!” was the phrase that kicked off the 4th annual Edgemar Celebrity Poker Tournament in Santa Monica on Saturday, July 14th.  Held at the Edgemar Center of the Arts, celebrating its 10th anniversary, the non-profit center stays alive through the societal love and generosity of the community.  The poker tournament is an annual fundraiser that plays a large role in helping the center to continue to be a home for anyone to unleash their inner artist.

The night began with a variety of food and beverages, sponsored by Tom Elliott, owner of the Venice Ale House located on the boardwalk in Venice Beach.  As a friend to the center’s owner and founder, Tom was more than willing to not only provide food but to of course get in on the poker action and contribute to the cause.  Of the participants sat John Hennigan, a professional poker player and Camryn Manheim of ABC’s “The Practice” and many others.  A grand prize of a weekend getaway to Las Vegas was the cherry on top of participating in the charitable event.

Michelle Danner, owner and founder of the Edgemar Center of the Arts, describes it as a magical place.  She expressed her gratitude to those who came to play and for their contributions to keep it running as it is a “wonderful home in the community”.  The theater itself gives back by having programs for under privileged kids and senior citizens.  Recently, the Edgemar had a night called “Senior Moments” where senior citizens came and shared stories from their lives to an audience, “story telling at its purist”.  Michelle enjoyed playing poker for the night and gave the floor to Lara Gertzen of the West LA Poker.  Lara has provided the equipment for the event the past four years.  With a personal love of the theater, she enjoys putting on the event and believes it draws a great crowd every year.  The night, full of laughs and friendly competition, concluded as a night to remember.