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Villa Wanderlust
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Mopeds and Wanderlust
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#BiscuitPaintWall
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Nigel Barker Celebrates Macy’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
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‘Ready for Retail’ with Fashion Group International of Houston
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#Carochella Zen Den – Los Angeles
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Elaine Turner Launches Her Spring 2015 Apparel Collection

Villa Wanderlust

Yesterday marked the launched of Villa Wanderlust- a pop up shop that featured a selection of Houston-based designers and boutiques. The event, which took place at Wicowork/Wired International‘s cool Midtown digs, was hosted by Sarrah Zadeh of La Mochi and Joy Kennedy of Priya. The featured brands were: Baanou, BellaJules, Brooke Feather, Elle Milady, Kandu Collections, La Mochi, Priya, Sweet Suri Jewels, Vali Belo Swim and {temple street}. They also featured local artists: Travel Photographer- Atessa Barazandeh, Painter-Tony Paraná and music by Cirque Noir. There was an EXQUISITE food presentation by Maple and Love, Roost and Lillo & Ella. I mean, it was literally one of the best healthy food varieties that I’ve seen at an event. There was also a tea bar by Mar-Tea-Na, where all the ingredients are natural and flavorful. William Grant and Sons provided a bar that offered Hendricks Gin, Milagros Tequila, Oncho Reyz and Solerno Blood Orange Liquor.

Wired International’s sister company- Wicowork “bases its goal achievement by creating dynamic environments, expanding networks and creating a working atmosphere that involves collaboration and sharing ideas. In Wicowork we strive to achieve our costumers goals and expand their businesses; this new movement is reshaping the work industry and transforming society, as we are.” The space, a beautifully renovated baby blue color home located in the heart of Houston’s Midtown district embodies creativity. The inside is inviting and bright, decorated with unique reclaimed and recycled materials (not to mention funky lighting structures). I hope this space gets utilized more in the future.

Takeaways from the event:

* Not only am I OBSESSED with caftans, but the ones at Elle Milady just upped my obsession ten-fold. I learned another fun way to stay the hem and to be daring when choosing a slip or whatnot to pair with the sheer ones. The owners- Nancy and Suzanne were extremely friendly and welcoming. Their dear Mother, who is an avid textile collector, even modeled a couple of the styles while I was there. The caftans and their billowy jumpsuit counterparts are made in the USA.

* La Mochi handbags are just lovely wisps of colorful, handcrafted goodness that come in forms of beaded necklaces and woven handbags. The fair-trade company was founded in 2013 by Sarrah Zadeh with a mission of collaborating with artisans and communities from all over the world. Some of the handbags I’ve seen were handmade in Colombia by women of the Wayuu Tribe.

* Priya jewelry was founded by Joy Kennedy in August 2011. She wanted to fill the need for high quality products while also supporting artisans from all over the world. In 2014, the company launched it’s namesake contemporary jewelry collection. In all, the brand awakens the spirit of the East, while dedicating itself to the structure and quality of the West. I loved Priya’s jewelry presentation, from the elegant necklaces to the druzy to the vintage Indian rings.

* The Brooke Feather gals were on hand, showing off a smidgen of what they offer at their River Oaks location. I loved some of their pieces (such as their sandals and a caftan by LemLem), which conveyed a relaxed, West Coast vibe.

* Layla Asgari of Sweet Suri Jewels was selling her best-selling rings, necklaces and bracelets to discerning clientele.

* BellaJules was founded by Marwah and John Fawcett, who love to travel and entertain. They formed this brand because they wanted to share their favorite entertaining items from near and far with their clients. We’re talking Brazilian agate coasters, recycled copper platters and mugs, rustic wood cutting boards and best of all- handmade wine soaps.

* Kandu Collections offers a variety of handbags and accessories in stylish leather and exotic skins. My favorite bags were the bucket bags by Alexandra De Curtis.

* {temple street} was founded in Fall 2011 by Ana Mae Holmes, who expresses her love of culture, travel and fashion into each handmade piece. She offered a stash of trendy druzy jewelry, along with other sweet contemporary pieces.

* Vali Belo Swim displayed several of their Latin-inspired posh beach and pool cover-ups and swimwear. I rather loved the “Blue Haven” bikini set and the “Silk Wind Palm Kimono.”

* The Baanou folks were in the house, selling their exclusive collection of designer apparel and accessories.

10% of the sales went to support The Priya Foundation and Renacer Colombia.

Mopeds and Wanderlust

Yesterday was the inaugural Villa Wanderlust event in Midtown (Houston). It was of course humid and in the 90s. I decided to finally wear my vintage floral halter jumpsuit from Top Vintage LLC. Despite it being polyester, which is known to be HELL in the heat, was actually fine (although maybe it was because this was a skin-bearing halter…). I also paired it with my white clutch from California-based Leoluca handbags and vintage, thrifted burnt brown woven slingback sandals. My blogger pal Shasie and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and the overall outside decor of the event’s venue- Wired International and were able to get some photos with clever backdrops, including a vintage moped!

** Photos by Live Life in Style **

#BiscuitPaintWall

The #BiscuitPaintWall is located in the trendy Montrose neighborhood of Houston. The wall is actually a part of the Biscuit Home retail store and has been drawing photography enthusiasts for months now. I had the opportunity to visit the popular photo shoot spot with one of my favorite local photographers- Brock Lawson, who indeed created some photo magic! I wanted to show the versatility of a vintage petticoat, so I took a white petticoat and thought that the Biscuit Wall’s unique and colorful theme would make for a perfect backdrop. All it took was a little fabric manipulation and some safety pins to turn the simple petticoat into an avant-garde dress. I also added a minimal baseball cap shaper that I thrifted awhile back, as a complementary accessory to the dress. The heels are H by Halston for Bakers.

** Photos by Brock Lawson **

If you are a brand or magazine and would like to work with me on a creative project, please feel free to reach out!

Nigel Barker Celebrates Macy’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

In conjunction with Macy’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the department store hosted Nigel Barker– notable author, filmmaker and photographer. Barker is of English and Sri Lankan descent and credits his Grandmother and Mother for being pivotal influences in his life.

I attended his appearance at the First Colony Mall in Sugarland and had the opportunity to interview him one-on-one regarding his heritage and his successful career in the fashion industry.

His Heritage:

“My Mother and Father were both born in India. My Mother moved back to Sri Lanka when she was a little girl. In her late teens, she moved from Sri Lanka to England and that’s really where the basis of my Sri Lankan heritage comes from and why it’s important to me and why it has been an important part of my personal life story. Growing up in England as a young boy in the 70s, there were very few bi-racial children. I was probably one of the first bi-racial children of a generation where you were beginning to see them. So growing up in England, you were constantly asked, ‘where are you from? Who are you?’ and it makes you question your identity. Then I had to identify with a place called Sri Lanka, which geographically meant nothing to me. Luckily I had my Grandmother, Mother and Aunt who lived with us, who told us about it. Even the Sri Lankan community alienated us because we weren’t 100% Sri Lankan. As a child, I remember going to Sri Lanka for the first time, seeing other children who looked like me.”

On Modeling:

“My Mother, who had been a model (also former Miss Sri Lanka) entered me into a show called The Clothes Show in the late 80s and I was still in high school. I didn’t win. It was a televised TV show and was one of the first of its type. I got in the top three and was offered a contract and in between going to school and college, I took a year off and had a go at modeling. One year led to two years led to several years, etc.”

On Photography:

“I’ve been shooting now for almost twenty years and in many respects, I’ve always been interested in photography. Got my first camera- a Brownie- when I was 9 years old. Learned how to print when I was 14. It was never a career, just something I enjoyed doing. It was an expensive hobby more than anything. When I became a model was the time I saw fashion photographers at work. This was a very exciting and high-fluting type of job, or so it seemed from the outside. I was a model in a sort of special time, in the late 80s, early 90s when there was a lot of money in fashion and modeling business. When big supermodels Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Tyra Banks were all emerging and becoming major stars. That all changed in the mid-90s with heroine-chic and grunge and androgyny. I was none of those things, so it was the transition that I made just because I didn’t want to give up the six/seven years of experience within that business that I had. It took a couple years, but I transitioned from one side of the lens to the other.”

On Writing the Book:

“I just wanted to write the book. It was my second book and I enjoyed the experience and process of it. I’ve worked 20 years in the business with so many remarkable women. I’m a big advocate for woman’s rights and equality and gender-equality as a whole. I’m a spokesperson for the United Nations Foundation and am an ambassador for them as well for the HeForShe campaign with Emma Watson and Girl Up as well. Writing books about how these extraordinary women that I’ve worked with (models in general have always gotten a bad rap), but I wanted to talk about how so many have actually shaped the way we see beauty. As much as we have a long way to go still today, seeing people of ethnicity, shape and size and there being an equality within beauty and fashion. We’re only as far as we are today because of some of these extraordinary women and what they did, what they went through and what they pushed and stood for and made happen; not just from purely a beauty stand point, but often times from a women’s liberation stand point and economic stand point. For example, someone like Lauren Hutton who changed the hourly wage that models were getting paid in the 70s and made them get contracts for the first time. That was a huge step, as no woman had ever received a million dollar contract. Lauren was the first to demand it and made it happen. She eliminated hourly wages in modeling. To Elle MacPherson who got the very first licensed deal as a model or celebrity of any sort in 1989. She created Elle MacPherson Intimates – a multimillion dollar business that makes 65 million dollar a year today. To people like Naomi Sims who was the first black woman on the cover of a magazine in 1967. She was also the first black woman on a TV commercial that same year… having first been turned down from every single agency out there. So to talk about how they did that and those pivotal moments and why they did that and how they epitomized a moment that helped shape it, so it’s a tribute to these remarkable women. I start off with my Mother at the beginning of the book because she’s the woman who is of Sri Lankan heritage, who started modeling in the 60s and I know now how difficult that must’ve been and she certainly had a profound affect on me.”

On Why Macy’s Chose Him for the Campaign:

“Because I’ve talked about my Mother so much in previous books and on television. She’s been on my shows and I’ve brought her in to teach the girls on ANTM to properly tie a sari,etc. So that part is known about me, but not terribly well-known. Also it was because I have a new book to launch too. It was a great synergy too, to celebrate my heritage, talk about the book and these wonderful women and give a tribute to my Mother, why not…”

On Career advice:

“I think there’s no really special recipe, golden ticket or anything like that to success. I think that you have to be yourself. I think that being authentic and real and honest, hard-working. These are all the things that seem obvious but they are. It’s the reality of it. Everybody I know who is a serious success are all those things. Certainly within fashion and being in any of the creative industries, the number one thing that is important is to know when you’re done. Know when you’re finished. Know when you’ve got what you need to get. What I mean by that is that people are constantly asking me ‘would you have a look at my work? Do you like it? Is it ok? What do I need to do to improve?’ and I totally understand and I appreciate that there’s nothing wrong with asking for mentorship and having some guidance. But the turning point for when you finish being a student and when you start being a professional is when you know that you’ve done the last stroke on that painting. But you don’t need to turn around and say ‘am I done? Does it look ok?’ I don’t ask anyone what I do. If they don’t like it, it’s their problem.”

After the interview, there was a Q&A with Nigel and the audience. We also viewed traditional Sri Lankan dancing as well. The Q&A was hosted by Manesha Liyanage, who was dressed in a traditional Sri Lankan sari. One of the highlights of the session was when Manesha asked about taking a good ‘selfie.’ Nigel showed a rather saucy side (which was just for show of course) while teaching Manesha with her phone.

~ If you’ve got an iPhone, you can take it with the (+) sign.
~ Most people go really high up and shot down on themselves…DON’T… It helps get rid of the double chin, but you end up with a huge head and tiny body.

The last bit of conversation/demonstration between Nigel and Manesha had the ladies in the audience in a comical uproar and went something like this:

Nigel: “Do you like chocolate?”
Manesha: “I love chocolate…”
Nigel: “As you’re looking at me, think of a piece of chocolate in your mouth and with just your eyes, tell me how delicious it is…If you can’t think of chocolate, you can think of something else…and THAT ladies and gentlemen is how you do it!”

I mean… Let’s just say I won’t be looking at chocolate the same way again! Anyway, following another Sri Lankan dance, there was a reception and book signing for the public.

Thank you to the folks at Pom PR/Macy’s for gifting me a copy of “Models of Influence.” HUGE thanks to Nigel for the wonderful interview and for taking your time to sign my book.

Find out more information and local events at a store near you during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month HERE.

‘Ready for Retail’ with Fashion Group International of Houston

Fashion Group International of Houston has put on several really great seminars lately… and “Ready for Retail” was no exception. Attendees were able to attend mini-sessions pertaining to production, design, meeting the buyers, marketing and branding.

Sydney Dao and St. Cloud‘s Cecelia Marquez briefed the audience on the proper protocols of how and when to approach buyers with your product. Cherise Luter and Medley Inc‘s Ashley Small spoke on the importance of social media and opened the majority of the seminar to the audience to ask questions. Notable Houston designers- Chloe Dao and Toni Whitaker discussed design and production. New American Creative‘s David Stagg enlightened us on branding and logos. Did you know that it only cost Nike $20 for their logo?!

For more information and to get involved with FGI, go HERE.

#Carochella Zen Den – Los Angeles

During my trip to Los Angeles in March, I had the opportunity to stop by Caro Marketing‘s new downtown digs while attending their Coachella event- Carochella Zen Den. Caro’s fashion branding extraordinaire- Caroline Rothwell opened this event exclusively for LA’s top bloggers, stylists and editors as part of the pre-festival activities that were taking place throughout the city. The lofty space was transformed into a mini-boutique and zen lounging space for guests to relax and enjoy. The event was also hosted by YMI Jeans and featured brands such as: Coye Nokes (their Inas flat is TO DIE FOR), Hare+Hart (sustainable leather accessories), Carmen Steffens, Lelis Collection (made in the USA and creator of one of the cutest ruffled floral blouses), d.RA Clothing (adorbs floral crop tank tops), Egg by Susan Lazar, LATS, Globio Juices, Kind Bar, Lovemade, Mario Badescu, Raw Elements Sunscreen, Snaptats, and Sthenos. DJ Amy Pham provided beats for the event, while Flashtag offered a photo booth to capture fun moments. The event concluded with sunset meditation by Aliign.

Elaine Turner Launches Her Spring 2015 Apparel Collection

Houston-based Elaine Turner, best known for her luxury accessories, recently launched her Spring 2015 apparel collection at her Rice Village store. The event was hosted by not only Elaine, but also Nancy Levicki, Co-Founder and President of Dress for Success Houston. The designer, whose classic shoe and handbag designs grace the likes of stylish women all over Texas, premiered easy-to-wear separates in bright, tropical hues. Chic silhouettes include: lounge pants, a short caftan-inspired dress, cami dresses and tunic tops.

As Elaine explains, “The three main reasons why I designed this collection were, number one: I wanted to bring you those classic, essential pieces that could take you through all facets of your lifestyle. Second, I really wanted to appeal to all body types, so I designed loose-fitting, relaxed silhouettes, but they still have a refinement and a polished edge to them…They can go from cross-generational, from all body types, so there’s not that insecurity of ‘should I try this on?’ I wanted people to feel an accessibility about the pieces. Lastly, I wanted to communicate my message of color and print. I wanted the collection to make you smile.”

The evening consisted of shopping (20% of the proceeds went to Dress for Success), mingling and eating light bites catered by Phoenicia Specialty Foods (I’d like to chat about that Tiara cookie…so delish). Elaine also presented the looks, modeled by Paige Branam, Lisa Dawn, Roseann Rogers and Clare Sullivan Jackson. While I was browsing the store, I have come to learn that I’m IN LOVE with the Renata Cork Heel and the Bo Fringe Clutch in all color ways.

When I first walked into the event, I signed up to win the Sabine Tote…and WON!! The tote is my first ever Elaine Turner piece and I’m quite excited to have it.

Be sure to subscribe to Elaine’s YouTube channel to catch up on episodes of “Elaine’s Big Life” and more!

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