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S. Tiara's Birthday and Fashion Show- Kress
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UNIQUE LOS ANGELES: 12/13-12/14
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Li Cari Launch Party at Taylrz Joynt 12/5/08

S. Tiara's Birthday and Fashion Show- Kress

Hollywood’s latest hotspot, Kress, was the place to be last Thursday the 18th. It was the birthday of hairstylist Stephanie Tiara, which also included a fashion show; featuring designers: Michael Benz and Kristen Don. Despite having to be at work early the next day, I went…Partly because I knew Michael and the show’s producer, Brand, from past fashion events.

After a half-hour or so of waiting to be let in, I finally was “branded” with a mushroom stamp on my inner wrist and was ushered in with a “Congratulations…” by one of the security guards. I breezed up the stairs and into a small lobby where I had to wait for an elevator that would whisk me up to the rooftop festivities.

The elevator doors opened and I walked around. Due to the cold weather, the roof was semi-covered and there were heat lamps (not enough in my opinion, but I get cold easily) that scattered the venue. The evening was clear and the view of the surrounding city was spectacular.

While waiting for the fashion show to begin, I caught up with one of the designers, Michael Benz, who is also a VJ. He is the designer of the line, Blive Couture (pronounced believe.) Blive is a mix of rock, cool, classy and edgy couture. It’s slogan is ‘Respect, Love, Couture.’ The line boasts hats and jackets, all handmade by Benz, without the help of patterns and measurements; and will feature a shoe line in 2009. As a friend of Stephanie, who’s also modeled in some of his fashion shows, he did the show as a birthday and Christmas present for her. She also wore one of his designs that evening.  Michael likes to “live now, forget tomorrow.” He is inspired by music, art and people; one person in particular is Jen. He says that she a style that no one else has. For the latest news and events on Michael, check out www.vjmichaelbenz.com.

I would like to also give kudos to the other designer, Kristen Don. I loved the denim, flowy dresses and the tops that were made from scarves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to speak with her.

Since the show’s producer was a little busy due to taking care of the show, I caught up with him at the Bourgeois Pig in Hollywood. Brandon Birtwistle or Brand, as he likes to be referred to, is an actor, model and most importantly, an entrepreneur. He started out as an actor and booked a photo shoot in Tokyo for Baby Dior at the age of two. He told me that since he’s been in the industry for awhile he become the “go-to guy”, people started coming to him to find other people to book other people…ie models, photographers, etc. That being said, brings us to the present. Everytime he has produced a show, it has gotten bigger and better. For the Kress show, it took one and a half to two months to plan. He is good friends with Stephanie and she approached him with the idea. The show did not have a budget, but he credits the will of the awesome people that helped along the way. Brand believes that it’s better to work with people than to work above, below or for someone. He wanted to give some special shout-outs to some of the sponsors of the show: MUAH make-up artists who have always helped at his shows, Welcome Clothing, Elitescene *thank you Gio*. He also wanted to bring awareness to another designer, M the Movement, an eco-friendly company that specializes in bamboo and silks. They plant trees to offset the energy they have used.

Since Stephanie Tiara was somewhat busy herself during the show, I caught up with her on the phone. She is a well-known  hairstylist at 9022 Salon in West Hollywood. She chose Kress because her friend who did Thursday nights there, got her the venue. She wanted to add a fashion show to her party because she wanted to first performance as a rapper to be with the show, since the song is about fashion. She also did shows with Brand and wanted to combine his and her talents to put on the show. She chose Michael Benz as one of the designers and Brand and her thought that Kristen’s style was good for the show as well. During the show, she and Jazmine performed, “We Got That” while the models strutted down the center aisle. She had help with the song, but is starting to write her own lyrics. Her inspirations are hip-hop and rock. She wanted to combine her talent and style with fashion.

Congratulations to Stephanie on her birthday and to Brand for directing/producing a fantastic show!!

UNIQUE LOS ANGELES: 12/13-12/14

              The cold weather that hit Los Angeles this weekend didn’t seem to put a damper on the holiday shoppers that flocked to the California Market Center in search of last minute  gifts at the first annual Unique Los Angeles gift and design show. The show boasted over 200 vendors, as well as booths by the LA Weekly and Myspace Music. There were drink promotions by Izze, Bossa Nova and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

               I had a chance to sit down with the founder of Unique Los Angeles, Sonja Rasula. She not only is the creator of this wonderful event, but she has a line of stationary that she was selling there as well. She developed the concept of having an independent designer show in later September of 2008. She wanted people to realize the value and worth of design. She wanted a modern, fresh way for people to shop, without having to shop at a mall.

        I was also curious to see if the current economy has had an impact on the vendors and what her prediction for the consumers. Due to it being the end of the year, some merchants had items left over. Others were fine, however there were some stores that had to close in the past few months . This show was a great way to help them sell their extra merchandise and get their name out there. As for the consumers, the prediction is that people don’t have the money that they did a few months back, though there was something for very budget. I must add as a personal observation, that it is different from buying at a mall. Buying local means that you can meet the person(s) that make the products and there is a one-on-one relationship between the transactions.

         There were a few designers that have celebrity status in the fashion industry and had booths at the show, such as Rojas, who recently was featured at the BoxEight shows during fashion week. Freddie Rojas is a men’s and women’s designer based in LA and does four collections a year. He chose to be amongst the vendors due to overstock and it’s a great way to promote his line. Among his signature pieces are tie necklaces-little bow ties and skinny long ties on a chain that both sexes can wear dressed up or down. This season, he updated the cardigan. One style with kimono sleeves, pockets and an elongated body. Another version is a draped body with no sleeves. Personally, I loved them both and was eyeing the men’s Mondrian printed tee, which would look great with leggings and boots. You can view his collections at www.rojasonline.com.

I also ran into Smoke and Mirrors designer, Emily Brandle, of Project Runway fame.  She, along with business partner, Michelle Chaplain, started the line in late 2006. Ms. Brandle was on ‘Project Runway Season Five’ during the summer and fall. She wanted to include pieces (for the show) that would be good for the fall. One of the key pieces was a cute reversible flipside jacket. Her line is available online at www.smokeandmirrorsclothing.com.

Other fashion designers I thought were interesting were ‘Clothing of the American Mind’, an eco-friendly company that launched in 2004, the one year anniversary of the Iraq War. They sold tees at one of the LA rallies. COTAM raises money for other progressive organizations with the sale of their t-shirts. Some tees are connected to specific organizations, such as: HCLW and Unscrw America. There is a special tee with the slogan, “Love Across Barriers” designed by Project Runway contestant Jack Mackenroth. This tee was launched on December 1st, World AIDS Day. Most of their tees are made with polyester, spun from recycle bottles and organic cotton. Check them out at www.cotam.org. Two of my designer friends shared a booth at the show. Corrie Hill Sullivan, a children’s designer and Julia LoVan. This is Corrie’s second craft show. She has been interested in baby clothes and interiors since she finished college. After she moved to LA from Ireland, she has worked for several designers before started her line. She finds inspiration through color, fabrics and textiles. She believes that it’s important that each child has something individual and handmade. For more of her beautiful designs, go to www.corriehill.com. For my other friend, Julia LoVan, Unique Los Angeles is her first big show. Over the years, she has designed under different names, however, in July 2008, she started Julia LoVan Dresses. Her specialties are dresses, totes and handpainted tees. She also specializes in DIYing vintage pieces from the dollar sales at Jet Rag on LaBrea. Her totes, made from vintage fabrics are one of her best-sellers. She finds inspiration everywhere from junior-high kids and kids where she works to magazines and style.com; though her biggest inspiration is from God. Whenever she makes something, she prays a lot. She is currently working on getting one of her dresses mass-produced. Her prices points range from $50-60 for a tee to the low $100’s for when the dresses get mass-produced. For more on Julia, tune in to www.julialovandresses.etsy.com.

There were many jewelry lines at the show. A few that caught my interest were, Tiger Lily by Heather Gardner. Gardner is based in Malibu. Since Heather was not present at the show, I spoke to her assistant, Ally. She told me that Heather loves nature. She finds her inspiration in Malibu and nature. She loves making jewelry that is delicate and that women can wear. Her pieces are very versatile. They can be worn long or short or even in layers. Her pieces range from $60-200 and $65 for earrings. For more of her line, go to www.tigerlilycollections.com. Another line had some very cute handcrafted fruit necklaces. Go to www.juliabristowjewelry.com. At a booth that she shared with an Eco-Friendly company, jewelry designer Amy Annab, who created beautiful bracelets and earrings from gemstones and ornate wire-wrapping. She is reachable via www.myspace.com/namastecreations. Another booth had pop-art jewelry for sale. Product designer (as he likes to refer himself) Steven Shein loves to play with color, line and form. He sells globally and at Fred Segal. The line has a celebrity following and he is doing a collaboration in February with Toki Doki. His words of wisdom, “Fashion shouldn’t be taken too seriously…” Check out his fab line at www.shopstevenshein.com. The last line that caught my eye was Myfriendroze. Some wares in particular were the necklaces, bracelets, etc, made from molds of bubble wrap, which designer Rose Braunstein made. She made the cast and then made the pieces out of sterling silver. She loved popping the packing material as a kid. (Let’s face it, who doesn’t?) Her other inspirations were circles, which are never ending. You can reach her at www.myfriendroze.com.

In the midst of all the handmade goodness, I came across an oasis, known as The Body Bar. I then saw a sign beckoning customers with a “$25 massage.” I just had to stop by. I spoke to the massage therapist, Roxi and she told me that the massage was 25 minutes, basically $1 per minute. Knowing my budget was tight, I told her I would be back later. I thanked her and then walked away. After a few minutes, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was Roxi. She told me she spoke with her manager, Julie and since they haven’t had any customers yet, I could be the ‘guinea pig.’ I gladly accepted, knowing that my aching shoulders would thank me. Roxi did a fantastic job and when visit the Body Bar in Silverlake, I will ask for her. Before I left, I also received another perk. An eyebrow waxing by the fabulous Vivian. She was quick and the end result were two perfectly arched brows.

For the last leg of the journey, I would like to point out (despite this being a fashion blog) that there were also some great handbag, as well as photographers and all things kitsch. There was a booth with leather purses that have been seen on the arm of Hayden Panetierre and other celebs. The line is Tucker Paisley and was created by Tracy Franklin, who also founded www.stylechick.com with business partner, Kevin Tidwell. Stylechick.com is a great site to network with other fashionistas and industry insiders. And check out www.tuckerpaisley.com. There was an eco-friendly portion of the show, one booth in particular was Ecobooma, Inc. And just who is responsible for this line of environmentally conscious and extremely fashionable totes and tees? Ms. Hillary Danner. The company is 100% women owned and are geared toward manufacturing here in the States. As they want to support the country they live in. Danner, along with Maria Newman also have a parent company, Jenkins Jellies, which they make right at home on their stove and is of course organic. I had the opportunity to taste the mandarin marmalade and it was wonderful. Check out this great company at www.ecobooma.com.

Now I don’t know about ya’ll, but I am a fan of kitsch. Pamela Barsky’s booth was definitely the right fit! There were fabric buttons and fun little buttons with slogans and pictures of states. Journals on divorce and therapy and luggage tags that were uber-hilarious. Ms. Barsky designed everything herself. Go to www.pamelabarsky.com for more information! I also stopped by a booth run by Portland, Oregon photographer, Misha Ashton. She had prints, prints on woodblocks and abstract photo jewelry available. Her work is amazing, you must check out her site at www.mishaashton.com.

For more info on UNIQUE LOS ANGELES, check out www.uniquelosangeles.com. The next show is scheduled for May 2009. I want to extend a special thanks to the volunteers! You guys are awesome! I can’t wait to work with you again!!!!

Li Cari Launch Party at Taylrz Joynt 12/5/08

The weather warmed up enough to head on over to the Li Cari clothing launch party at Taylrz Joynt in Sherman Oaks. Despite it being a Friday, the traffic was decent and I was able to find parking across the street from the venue. When I arrived, there was the red carpet and the paparazzi taking pictures of  Li Cari’s designer, Jazmin Whitley, Hanna Beth, and a couple stars from “Paris Hilton’s New BFF”, Sinsu and Onch.

 After check-in and taking pictures on the red carpet, I proceeded into the boutique. There were models wearing items from the line posing in the window, their poses changing every so often. There was a good crowd turn-out, ranging from actors to models, designers and hipsters. I stood back for a few minutes, taking in the scene. Taylrz Joynt is a small, narrow boutique; though there was artwork on the walls, as well as the fun, creative displays for the clothing and jewelry. Tucked in the back of the store were the quaint dressing rooms and a large floor-to-ceiling mirror. I walked to the back to meet up with the 20 year old phenomenon behind the line- Jazmin Whitley.

             Whitley, dressed in a vintage floral print dress and cardigan was glad to sit down with me for a few minutes to discuss her rise to success in fashion. She started designing in high school and gained momentum when her teacher suggested doing a fashion show. Since then, she has designed for friends and clients. Her collection started out small and has escalated into the line we know today. Her advice to budding designers and entrepenuers, “Never give up and always have faith.”

              I later caught up with the Taylrz Joynt owner herself…Ms.Taylr. (Pronounced Taylor, but minus the ‘O’.) Despite the busy atmosphere, she kindly accepted my request for a short interview and ushered me back near one of the dressing rooms. Taylr had always wanted to own her own boutique. After moving down to LA from San Francisco in 2001, she worked as a stylist and wardrober. In 2007, her lifelong dream came true and she opened her first boutique in North Hollywood before recently moving to her current location on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. She hopes to open a chain of stores across the nation, her first stop being Houston, TX.  Being a fan of wanting to start a business myself, I asked her if it was easy to start a business. She told me that it was easier to start, but keeping it up is more of a challenge. I really enjoyed speaking with such an inspirational woman. A favorite quote that she left me with is, “Don’t put your dreams in the hands of others.”

Taylrz Joynt is located at 13549 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. The phone number is (818)907-7818. You can view the Li Cari line at here. Special Thanks to Susan Costa of World Coast Management PR.

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