Archive for the ‘Style Icons’ Category

The Pitti Uomo 91 Diaries: Day Two

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

It was touching to hear a group of grown men emotionally talk about the late Franca Sozzani, the “Grand Dame of fashion” as Carlo Calenda, the Italian Minister of Economic Development called her during the opening ceremony of Pitti Uomo‘s 91st edition. From Calenda, to Gaetano Marzotto, President of Pitti Immagine, the power men of the Made in Italy fashion world gushed about a woman — a strong, powerful, intelligent and unafraid to be so woman.

Sozzani’s spirit of support for younger generations, her untiring resolve to make sure “that fashion would enter into the very DNA of our country [Italy],” as Calenda explained further, certainly are palpable at this edition of the menswear fair in Florence. And the gap left by her absence is undeniable. “I’ve never stopped dreaming!” Sozzani admitted in Venice, during a press conference for her son Francesco Carrozzini’s film Franca: Chaos & Creation last September. At the height of her struggle with the illness that took her away from us, from this world now a bit more unfashionable because she’s not around, she was still dreaming of helping fashionistas gain the respect they deserve.

Read the whole blog on the Huffington Post.

Top image of Ciro Paone and Dario Nardella taking a selfie courtesy of Pitti Immagine, used with permission.

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The Pitti Uomo 91 Diaries: Day One

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

A man without a knowledge of his history is like a zebra without stripes.

As if channeling the wise words of the South African proverb I found written outside an Ndebele village years ago, Italians realize that fashion is about tradition — beyond the seasonal trends that may come and go. Nowhere is that more visible than at in Florence.

Florence. The city where the Made in Italy mark was born, 65 years ago, inside the iconic Sala Bianca (the White Room) of Palazzo Pitti. Where this season, Florentine menswear maestro Stefano Ricci will “reopen” the room, by showing his collection in the Sala Bianca, the first collection to be shown there since 1982 when the Pitti Palace was officially turned into a museum. A lucky mere 180 spectators will experience in full what I managed to sneak a peak of last night, on my way to the inauguration of the Foto Locchi exhibit. I heard music, I saw a crack in the door, and the rest is fashionista history, as they say. But back to Pitti Uomo and Foto Locchi for the moment.

Read the whole blog on the Huffington Post.

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Sulvam: The Japanese Iconoclast and Pitti Uomo 91

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Yes, I was impressed by meeting Sulvam‘s creative power at play Teppei Fujita in Florence, for Pitti Uomo. So much so that I took a bunch of photos of him interacting with journalist and fashion enthusiasts, and even asked his publicist to take a few photos of us together. The man is iconic, his fashions grandiose and unafraid and I love menswear that I can appropriate, right here right now.

So, if your fancy is tickled, here is a link to a mini-interview that I did with Fujita himself. A bit could be lost in translation but that’s somehow cool too when it comes to this man.

And here is a special treat, a bit of the show on video. N-joy!

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What’s in a nose? Luca Maffei explains

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

While I’m an absolute beginner to the world of scent writing, I’ve loved perfume my entire life. I remember going with my Mom to her favorite beauty shop in Florence, when I was as young as four probably, and while she bought what she needed for primping, I was entertained by the shop ladies who bestowed upon me dozens of “campioncini” — little sample-sized bottles of perfumes by Dior, Saint Laurent and Estee Lauder. I’d take those little treasures home and add them to my collection, which at the time was cooler than I thought because the fragrance houses made miniature bottles, not the glass vials they give as samples today.

Those days in the perfume shop, going home to discover all the samples, smelling them, running over to show them to my Mom and maybe run down to Granpa Hans’s house to show him, those are memories that are as ingrained in me as that of my first cat, my first kiss and even the day I left Florence for good, for Los Angeles.

So it’s no wonder that all memories for me carry a scent-equivalent, probably as a result of those trips to that shop. The wonderful feeling I felt looking at the loot, the glass noise those tiny vials of wonder made clicking together, the joy of unwrapping the samples from their boxes and playing with them! What is that Coco Chanel quote? “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Yeah, I live that quote. Every day. In fact, not a day goes by that I don’t plan on what scent I’ll wear with what, where and with whom. And what/where to buy my next one.

Recently, thanks to Pitti Fragrance, which is like my perfume shop experience as a child but magnified by a thousand and one I can live as an adult, I discovered a nose. Luca Maffei is a handsome, quiet, sure of himself and quite well-known perfumer who comes from a long tradition of perfumers and is based in Milan. An excerpt of his interview follows but you’ll have to read the whole thing onThe Huffington Post.

Of course, I couldn’t resist a photo with the lovely Maffei. Here is a bit of the interview, to tease you on.

What inspires a person to create a new perfume?

Luca Maffei: This is a beautiful question. Everything is inspiration. The passion that people have who work in this art, is the passion to communicate through the olfactory sense. The nose is like a translator, an interpreter, so we rarely create for ourselves, rather we make our capacity available to those who wish to create perfume and communicate something. It can be the wish to communicate an image, a feeling, a film, a memory or a landscape.

How is a new perfume created? What starts the process?

Maffei: It starts from an idea. And that idea can be associated to a memory, a moment, a trip, a recollection that lights up this desire to transform it.

At which point does the name of a fragrance come into play?

Maffei: I believe that often the name comes beforehand. It is the starting point, because there must be a continuity between the perfume and its name, the message it wishes to send out.

Read more by clicking here.

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Confessions of a Gucci Mama

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

OK, so I’m neither a mama, nor do I wear Gucci as often as I’d like, but come on, the brand is on fire! Ever since Alessandro Michele was appointed as creative head of the Florentine fashion house, his clothing, shoes and accessories (yes, the bee watch!) are all I crave.

So what it is about this relative fashion unknown that is setting the usually clique-y world of fashionistas on fire? He’s a smart blend of hip, frilly and cool. That’s what. I mean check out these looks, do I need to say more?

To date, my favorite purchase of 2016 is a pair of gold flats by Gucci, studded by a tiny gold star and wrapped in the brand’s signature ribbon — reinvented by Michele of course! They make any and every outfit I wear them with and even withstood the test of film festival madness in Venice, holding up beautifully and cuddling my feet. And the price, well way way way less than any Louboutins or Jimmy Choo’s I tell you.

So this is why I’m a Gucci Mama.

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Interviewing Kirsten Dunst…

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

When I say “I must fall in love with every man, woman or film” I write about, I mean it.

As I walked into the luxury hotel suite at Berlinale, stripped bare for the occasion, to interview Kirsten Dunst, I felt a surge of happiness. Here I was, standing across from one of the loveliest, prettiest, most watchable stars I’ve ever known, ready to find out what makes her laugh, cry, hope and dream. It’s an experience that feels otherworldly, to interview someone whose work you’ve long admired. Much like finding a fudge, frosted, chocolate chip cake that doesn’t have any calories.

Dunst is every bit the style icon I expected her to be. With her simple blouse paired with black pants and high heels, she was the off-duty movie star from beautifully shiny head of perfectly blond hair to toes. And giggling with her and her publicist on some other journo’s time about her appearance on Star Trek when she was a child, was priceless.

Read the entire interview with Kirsten Dunst on the Huffington Post, but here’s a quote from one fabulous woman, to get you in the mood.

“What do you look for in the movies you watch?

Kirsten Dunst: I think some movies I’ve loved and they changed the way I think about acting and some movies I never think about again. I mean if I go to the movies sometimes I wanna see something really silly… I remember I went to go see this movie, I think it was called The Best of Me, a Nicholas Sparks one, you know how they make all those. My best friend was pregnant and I think she gave birth the next day. So she was super pregnant and I was like “lets go see this movie,” she wanted to go see it, she loves sappy things. So we went. And we got into it and I started to cry, but I’ve never laughed so hard at myself for crying at a movie. But that’s what I mean, I’ve never done that but I’ll never forget that movie because of that. I was laughing hysterically at myself crying, which is so cheesy.”

Original post:

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Dev Patel and Jake Gyllenhaal at DIFF

Friday, December 25th, 2015

It’s no secret that sometimes I watch movies for all the wrong reasons… Because I like the stars in a rom-com or admire the actress in a drama. Yup, cat’s out of the bag, cinema for me is a visual art… Isn’t it for you??

So both Dev Patel and Jake Gyllenhaal are high on that list of mine where I would go to watch them read the NYC phone book (as if such a thing still exists!) or just read out the menu of Shake Shack.

I recently came face to face with Patel and listened to a talk with Gyllenhaal at the epicenter of all good things cinematic, the Dubai International Film Festival and you can read about it all on the HuffPost.  A teaser you say? Well, they are both handsome… And all grown up!

Read my blog post on the Huffington Post.

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I’m in Love with Dior!

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

Yes, I see the house of Christian Dior everywhere. At the mall, make that The Dubai Mall, I recently went to the press preview of “Le Théâtre Dior”, a gorgeous exhibit of miniature mannequins recreating lilliputian versions some of the house most famous designs.

After that, I simply had to get a bottle of their iconic Diorissimo, a scent that includes a favorite flower of mine, Lily of the Valley. I even do my brows all Dior style these days, thanks to their Diorshow Brow Styler and Structure and Style Brush-On Brow gel.

I’m addicted. Or do I have to call myself a Dior Addict?

I’m even seeing a lot of Dior at the movies, Dior and I, as well as on the gossip columns which are buzzing with speculations of who their next designer will be. From where I stand, the maison can’t lose.

Anyway, I wanted to share my piece on the traveling exhibit from The Huffington Post Style vertical. Read it in full here, but enjoy a video for now.

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Food, Fashion and Fun in Dubai: At the Marina Yacht Club

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

There is no two without three, and the third blog for The Huffington Post I wrote about chefs and design in Dubai, is a magical one. I really enjoyed meeting all three of the talented chefs, but Chef James impressed me with his kindness and humanity.

Finding the Meaning of Life, and Cooking in Dubai

The Dubai Marina Yacht Club, seen from the bay
When I recently asked three world-class chefs in Dubai to create culinary creations inspired by fashions discovered at the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience, I did expect I’d get to peak into their kitchens. But I never imagined that I’d also get a wondrous insider’s look into their humanity.

Chef Steve at The Palace Downtown Dubai, was inspired by the colors and cultural heritage of the African Java-print fashions by Dent de Man, while chef Abel at The Address Downtown found his inspiration within the structural look of a Max.Tan red mesh dress, thus recreating a modern take on the classic red velvet cake.

The reason I love doing what I do so much is because I often get to the heart and soul behind film, food and fashion. Think of it as a direct, private line to the men or women behind glitz and glamour. Even with celebrity chefs, artists, fashion designers and movie stars, their humanity is what interests me most.

And what wonderful warmth and candid intelligence I found in the figure of Executive Chef James Knight-Pacheco at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club! His interpretation, of the black and white structural looks created by Korean designer Byungmun Seo, went straight to the form of both fashion, and food. He overstepped the obvious, color (or the lack thereof) to discover the essence of the composition. What a beautiful experience this all turned out to be.

When I say “only in Dubai” I mean it. I love the grandness of this place, and those who understand it best are those who possess a spirit of discovery. One only has to sit perched on the second floor terrace of the Aquara, chef James’ first class restaurant inside the Dubai Marina Yacht Club — overlooking the water dotted with multi-million dollar boats and framed by the impossibly high buildings of the area — to understand why. Perhaps, if there is one thing these three great men I got to interview last week have in common, and whose culinary generosity I thank for the extra notch I’ve had to begin using on my belt these days, it is their pioneering spirit. Dubai is a city that can boast over 6,000 restaurant, nearly 14 million visitors a year, and still doesn’t have its own Michelin guide. It was chef James who brought this important fact to my attention.

In terms of world-standing, Dubai is still a baby on the global foodie map. Sort of like NYC pre-2005, the year when the first US Michelin guide, focusing on the City, came out. I often draw parallels between Dubai and the Big Apple because I truly believe there is something about this city borne out of the desert, with a thirst for the future and a hunger for glamour that truly feels like NYC in the good ol’ days.

Chef James’ background is, in his own words, “half Venezuelan and half British; I was born in Venezuela and came over to the UK when I was 8.” He attributes his love of food and cooking to his Venezuelan culture, which is family oriented. “My family is all female led, four sisters, my mother, my grandmother, lots of aunties and I was always in the kitchen,” a place he calls “magic.”

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Food, Fashion and Fun in Dubai: At The Address Downtown

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

In the second of this trio of blogs for The Huffington Post, I got to catch up with another magical chef, and admire (but also taste of course) his creation.

The Red Velvet Side of Life in Dubai

The Dubai Fountain and neighboring hotel, The Address Downtown
Don’t know about you but hearing the words “red velvet” always makes me think of those wondrous events where mere mortals are kept away from the celebrities by velvet ropes. In the United Arab Emirates, there is no lack of premieres or celebrities, as highlighted by recent sightings that ranged from Jackie Chan to Brad Pitt (plus Angelina), Dennis Quaid, Malala and the entire Star Trek Beyond cast. Things are only bound to get steamier once the Dubai International Film Festival kicks off in early December.

Yet when I asked three Dubai-based master chefs to draw inspiration from the fashion exhibited as part of the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience and create their own gourmet creations, I never expected that this style and taste experiment would turn into a kind of metaphor for life. And I definitely did not anticipate that a red mesh dress by Singaporean designer Max.Tan would be turned into an edible study in deconstructing, and then re-assembling, the perfect red velvet cake.

I started out knowing full well that I would be awed by the wonderful ambiance of Downtown Dubai, now a must-visit tourist destination but also a gourmet and fashion mecca for any self-respecting jet-setting world traveler, and that the chefs’ creations would remind me why I love food — and those who prepare it with passion — so much. But what I didn’t expect was to find such distinct interpretations by three men who each represent the best the world has to offer. As chefs of course but also, most importantly, as human beings.

While seafood was conquered by chef Steve in part one of this series, dessert undeniably belonged to chef Abel Vieilleville, the Executive Pastry Chef for The Address Downtown. The wonderfully soft-spoken, Cannes native explained that when he went through the collections by the various designers, the red-mesh dress creation by Max.Tan, a design house based in Singapore, “inspired freedom in me.” And what a beautiful word that is, freedom. Chef Abel continued, “the design is really wide, the dress is made out of mesh, it is beautiful, and although like a structure that looks really fabricated, it’s really light.”

Chef Abel has worked in the food industry for the past 24 years, after studying in the South of France. His parents owned a restaurant for 26 years and so, chef Abel explained, “I was brought into the business at an early age, always focused on dessert.” His first move away from French kitchens was to England, where he worked with Michelin-star chefs, and after working with Chinese-French fusion cuisine in the UK, decided to move to China, which he called, “a fantastic experience.”


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