SPOTLIGHT ON…

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Vinca

It was during my visit to Hello Lucky when I first heard of Vinca. I immediately fell in love with the wooden diamond-shaped bracelets and the ridiculously-cute wooden earrings. When I received an email days later from the brand, I was literally doing cartwheels around the room. Come to find out, Vinca is actually a Texas brand that was born in Austin by Amanda Dimova in 2006. Dimova has been a creative all her life, always dabbling in making paper dolls, little purses, doll food out of clay, etc. It wasn’t until she was 18 when she truly found her passion in jewelry making. “I realized that it was a more universal wearable art form. It didn’t have to be sized, any body type could wear it, and I could produce it so that it was made in USA and affordable,” she explained.

In 2006, she officially launched her brand- Vinca. Vinca is the name she created for her original collection at the start of the company and is based on a small five petal flower, called the ‘Vinca.’ Amanda runs a small factory in Austin, where she designs and manufactures her line. She draws all her wooden and acrylic designs and oversees the cutting and assembling that is done in-house. Raw materials that are used in creating the little quirky pieces of jewelry include: sterling chain, specialty acrylics, wood and plastic (and of course are sourced right here in the good ‘ole U S of A, which she calls ‘micro-manufacturing’). Their wholesale catalog offers over a thousand styles, so there’s something for everyone! Prices range from $8 for a ring, $16 for earrings to $30 for most necklaces. They also do custom designs as well. Along with their online store, if you are local to Houston, you can find Vinca at Hello Lucky and Biscuit Home.

I cannot speak more highly about Vinca. The product really adds a touch a whimsy to any outfit. It’s locally made and sourced, which is an A+ in my book. As Amanda concludes,”I take it as a great compliment and am humbled by the fact I’ve been able to sell my designs for the past couple of years and really grow the business. I hope that when people see Vinca jewelry they can see the hard work I’ve put into it to make available a large selection of their favorite things in pretty colors at an affordable price point, and made sure it’s produced in ethical working conditions (my desk is in the same room as the manufacturing an inventory).”

heathermarie_033's Vinca album on Photobucket

**Photos of me were taken by Nicole Kestenbaum Photography**

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Hazel & Florange

The budding New Orleans brand- Hazel & Florange is the brainchild of Andi Eaton, the creative behind New Orleans Fashion week. I finally had the chance to stop by her space on my recent trip to NOLA on my birthday. The quaint space is located in the historic Bywater neighborhood of the city, in a lovely historic residence-turned-retail space that Andi shares with the Gaudet Bros. The space has a very hospitable Southern charm to it, which coincides with the brand and some curated vintage pieces that she also includes in the shop. I’ve seen photos of the brand, but getting to actually touch n’ feel and try on was a whole different ball game. The brand is locally designed and manufactured right in the Crescent City, using high quality fabrics for the dresses, tops, skirts, etc. Upon feeling and wearing the garments, I felt that the construction and yummy fabrics were top-notch, setting the mood for the rising talent in the NOLA fashion industry. Andi (who’s style is always evolving) has been in the fashion and beauty industries for around fourteen years and has found that living in such a vibrant city has helped her dig deeper into her creative side and want to actually design and make. “There are so many resources for design here and finally a year ago I decided to go for it,” she explained. Her dream was realized in March 2013, where Hazel & Florange was born. “The line is named for and inspired by two Louisiana lovelies, muses living on the river. Hazel loved sweet tea, a parade and a jazz band by the moonlight… Florange loved sipping espresso and playing Scrabble late into the night always with a ‘oui s’il vous plait mon cher.’” With that in mind, once I tried on the “Tropical Hazel” dress in mini and maxi, along with the “Diamond” maxi skirt paired with the “Bubbles and Friends” tee; I too, felt like I wanted to stroll along the banks of the Mississippi, Lake Pontchartrain or through the quaint hidden streets in the French Quarter or Bywater while sipping on a delicious sweet tea or mint julep. Hazel & Florange is for the gal who “is constantly evolving, she’s ever chic, with a retro glam vibe and she’s always the coolest girl in the room.” Part Southern gypsy jet setter, part vintage chic…Hazel & Florange is bound to not disappoint, for many seasons to come. You can shop online or if you are a NOLA local, check out Time Warp Boutique and Hattie Sparks for your Hazel & Florange fix. As of November 1st, the shop (located at: 2702 Chartres St.) will be open Tuesday- Saturday 11-5.

heathermarie_033's NOLA album on Photobucket

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Awdz & Nz

While I was checking out The Ultimate Dressing Room one afternoon, my eyes landed on a display of oversized (width-wise) clutches. I then learned that the clutches were handcrafted by local Houston designer- Jalissa Williams of the brand Awdz & Nz. After sitting down and meeting the lovely Jalissa, I was informed she had no formal training in design, although, due to her background in dance, she was required to create a custom piece or costume. So along with being creative in creating garments with a certain theme or character and having a few years of retail experience (in various positions), her love and appreciation of the fashion design industry grew. Her Mother- Gwendolyn and Grandmother-Thelma (who had backgrounds in fashion design) also helped her decision to launch her company. March 29th 2012 will always be recognized as Jalissa’s most memorable days because she officially launched Awdz & Nz…and it also happened to be her Father’s birthday. She chose the company’s unique name because she loves creating most of her signature clutches, apparel and accessories from odds and ends that she has available; as well as loving to dabble in the different spellings and plays on words. What’s really distinctive about Awdz & Nz is that each creation that she hand-makes is one-of-a-kind and has it’s own individual characteristics. “I want my clients to experience a fashion journey made just as special as their DNA.” Along with the overly-wide clutches (that EVERY gal needs in her closet), Awdz & Nz also offers cute infinity scarves that come in a variety of colors and that can be styled numerous ways, jewelry, red carpet worthy denim gowns and other fashionable pieces to complete your ensemble. Expect to pay around $50-150, just depending on what pieces you are interested in. If you’d like to reach Jalissa for a custom order or additional questions about the brand, you can reach her at: (832)640-9766. Her email is: awdzandnz@gmail.com. She is also on Facebook and Instagram.

Just FYI- If you are local to the Houston area, Jalissa recently launched weekly hip-hop aerobics classes at $10/class (teens and adults). Classes last one hour long. I’ve had the pleasure of attending a few classes and yes, you do ‘feel the burn’ and your body may hurt the next day…but I do notice a (good) difference. For more information, email: jalissawilliams06@yahoo.com. #HealthIsWealth

heathermarie_033's Awdz and Nz album on Photobucket

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Marissa del Rosario

I recently had the opportunity to check out a new accessory brand that is based in Northern California- Marissa del Rosario. Marissa is the designer behind her namesake brand and began her journey about twelve years ago, while she was still an O.R. nurse. By day, she was busy taking care of patients in the O.R., but in the evening her focus was taking design and apparel courses. She initially first concentrated on designing handbags but after tinkering with some pieces of leather, rivets and metal links, her concentration shifted over to jewelry and accessories. Marissa launched her company late 2007 and launched her handbags in August 2008. However, after three collections, she refocused on her true passion- jewelry and accessories and has been doing that ever since. Her best-selling items have been the Gen-X Bracelets (since their launch in 2011 at a Hollywood event) and are a hit with celebrities (such as Grammy winner Billy Idol songwriter, guitarist Steve Stevens and fellow rocker Billy Morrison). To this day, Marissa holds true to her company’s tag line: Be Your Original. “I am committed to designing pieces that are unique to every wearer. With over 30 colors and two metal tones to mix and match with, the Gen X is customizable to a client’s choice of combination. In fact, we have a “made to order” format where a client can pick any color she or he wants from our website. The product itself is different. The Gen X have a bold, strong feminine feel with a rock and roll style to it. It’s also versatile; men like them in black or brown hues. The bracelet has evolved into a unisex jewelry piece so much so that the (Gen) X is for XX and XY alike,” del Rosario stated.

This “made in the USA” brand is now available in over a hundred fashion-forward boutiques and retailers in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Australia. Prices range from around $32- 150. Marissa del Rosario is VERY active on social media, so be sure to check out the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Marissa was kind enough to send me a bracelet of my choosing and I chose the “Crystal Link Bracelet” in Merlot. The bracelet is exquisitely crafted with high-quality leather and metals. The bracelet has a snap closure and bears the name Marissa del Rosario on the inside of each link. Below is a slideshow of one way I styled it, as well as some close-ups of the bracelet. I must say that any of the MDR bracelets are great additions to anyone’s “armparty!”

heathermarie_033's marissa del rosario album on Photobucket

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post, however, all opinions are my own.

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Accessories by Abiye

Accessories by Abiye is still a “newbie” to hit UK’s fashion and accessories scene, having launched in December of 2012. This creative brand was founded by Nigerian-born Abiye-Yvonne Dede, who then moved to the UK to pursue her studies in cancer immunology at Nottingham Trent University. While she’s not busy earning her PhD, she is hard at work, handcrafting unique accessories that are inspired by African prints, bold colors and the latest trends. Abiye has always had a knack for design and started out by making accessories for herself and her friends after recognizing that people needed to have matching accessories for their Ankara (African print fabric) outfits. According to Abiye, the key to her personal style is accessorizing, “I love the way accessories can transform any basic outfit and accessorizing is a key element of my personal style. I wanted to make accessories that were bold, sophisticated and feminine – accessories that although were inspired Africa and African prints, could be worn with any basic outfit, to create an African-meets-Western look.”

All the accessories are lovingly handmade by Abiye herself and bases her success on customizable orders. Each item is accommodated to fit you needs, whether it be for work, play or special occasion. If you’d like a new fun bangle or another accessory that’s customized to suit your needs, check out her WEBSITE or her ETSY.

Accessories by Abiye is offering LAFashionsnob.com readers 5% off any purchase on ETSY. Enter ‘BLOGFEATURE05‘ at checkout.

**All images courtesy of Accessories by Abiye**

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Feather M

I recently caught word of a new UK- based handbag brand- Feather M by Leo Featherman. She launched the brand in 2012, just a few years shy of having graduated from London College of Fashion in 2006 with an accessory design degree. Having a love for all things ‘handbags’ has always been in Leo’s blood ever since she was a little girl, spending hours playing dress up with her Grandmother’s bags with her sister. Those memorable times playing with handbags sealed her fate as one of Britain’s unique handbag designers. Her collections offer distinguishing arm candy that consists of bold shapes and exotic materials. Leo goes on to add, “I want the bags to be recognized for their shape rather than the branding, and I also really try and source different and interesting materials. The bags are made in the UK as I really want to keep the brand as British as possible, they look simple but their construction is quite complex using traditional techniques and hand finishing to make them stand apart.” This designer is not one to follow the trends and sets the standard as far as being not only avant-garde, but also wearable (and versatile) for everyday use. When asked about her hopes for future collections, she states, “I love art deco and hope this will be a big inspiration.” I’m pretty excited to see what her representation of art deco is and how she will interpret it into the handbags. Her bags range from £515 to £1350, which is roughly $1,262.66 in US currency. The exclusive brand is only available at luxury online retailer- Then and Now.

*Images courtesy of Feather M*

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Dime A Daisiee

I was so pleased when my friend (and fellow long-time vintage and fashion enthusiast) Jami Larin approached me and told me that she had started her own clothing line- Dime A Daisiee. Now, having known Jami for sometime, it didn’t surprise me when she told me that her brand was influenced by vintage silhouettes and was also inspired by comics and cartoons. Her brand (which officially launched in 2011) is locally made in Long Beach. It focuses primarily on dresses for every occasion; as well as separates, couture and accessories. Jami defines her line as “a ‘Modern Vintage Betty’-who has classic style with modern values.” Larin’s inspiration stems from her diverse taste in music and movies (such as the gypsy punk band, “Gogol Bordello”and the 1940s trio- “The Andrews Sisters”). Her main source of inspiration, however, is derived from Lucille Ball, whom she has been a fan of since she was four. She admires Ball’s “charismatic character, her “go getter” attitude, and of course being the wonderful comedian she is {was}.” Jami also credits her mentor- Letty Tennant- owner/designer of Queen of Heartz, for teaching her about the industry and about herself.

Jami sent over (of my choosing) the Josie Maraschino cherry cotton sundress. It is made to order and came in your standard packaging, but also included a personalized “thank you” note. The tag was an origami heart made from recycled paper and a note that specified the fabric contents, along with Made with Spunk and Love in Long Beach. I just adore things like that from a brand. It makes it very personal and I felt that the garment was made just for me and not mass-produced in China (and just a number). Once I had the dress on, I felt perfect. It fit beautifully and I just love the full, structured skirt. The apple print is fun and whimsical. When I styled it, I wanted the look of ‘a demure vintage gal going off to brunch’ look (and I dare say I pulled it off). This dress is lined and I can pretty much wear it to work or on a date.

I’m so excited to see what the future holds for Dime A Daisiee, as by the looks of my sweet dress, I know it looks bright!

Jami is delighted to offer you, dear readers a special coupon code for her ETSY shop– Use “LAFashionSnob” at checkout to receive 20% off and it expires on 9/22/13.

heathermarie_033's Dime A Daisiee album on Photobucket

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J+Co Denim

While I was visiting LA, I had the opportunity to visit J+Co, a new division of JNCO, a brand that is solely based in Los Angeles. You 80s/90s babies might remember the brand- JNCO (pronounced “jenco”) that was usually sold at Gadzooks, JC Pennney, etc? To give you a brief history lesson on the brand, they were founded in 1985 by Milo and Jacques Revah and based their mission statement on the acronym, “Judge None, Choose One.” Back then, JNCO was strictly a menswear denim line that focused on urban, hip-hop, skater inspired street wear. The popular style was ultra wide-leg (like more than 50″ wide) with large back pockets and graffiti-inspired artwork (such as the signature JNCO crown). Though of course more conservative styles were sold as well.

They just recently re-launched into J+Co, geared towards the trendy, hip 20-something girl who “fearlessly lives in the moment expressing who she is without reservation. She pushes life to the limit and is inspired by every moment.” I really enjoyed touring their headquarters and being able to try on the many different styles. Who would’ve thought a skinny jean with a cute attached peplum would ever look so unique and chic? J+Co takes street wear to another level, though while still hinting at it’s over-the-top past as JNCO, they still maintain subtlety while still making a statement. The collection retails from $48- 168. Be sure to check out their new website HERE.

heathermarie_033's J Co album on Photobucket

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PARADE by Neely Shearer

Insouciant, dapper and the cat’s meow were words that designer Neely Shearer used to describe her newly minted clothing line- PARADE by Neely Shearer. During my last trip to LA, I had the opportunity to meet with Neely in her quaint vintage West Hollywood studio to talk fashion and play dress-up. Last year, I was breezing through Facebook and came across Neely’s page, which featured a photo of a model wearing this marvelous ’60s inspired dress with black lace bodice and rich colorful floral print. After I had inquired about the dress, she mentioned that she was getting ready to launch a line…

This year, she is officially launching PARADE during the F/W 2013 season, however she is bringing out certain items for summer. Neely concluded that since ‘parade’ is a celebration where people come together, put on costumes and party and that she adores the idea of ‘parading’ around in an outfit; she thought that PARADE would be a fun and fitting name for the brand. I browsed the rack of beautiful, vintage-inspired separates, picturing myself wearing EVERYTHING. From a ’20s style lace semi-sheer frock to a pleated sheer skirt paired with a tailored bustier bra to an amazing pair of high-waist shorts, this easy-breezy collection certainly did not disappoint. The pieces are perfect for dressing up or down and the prints could easily be mixed ‘n matched (and worn to a certain music festival in the desert). I whole-heartedly 100% concur with Neely that PARADE is the perfect name for the brand and her inspiration, which is- “feeling happy, feeling pretty…free…free to be who we want to be in the moment.” When I tried on some of the pieces, that’s exactly how I felt:…pretty…free…confident and ready to turn heads at an event.

PARADE by Neely Shearer can be found online on Facebook and at Stylehaus in LA and Pearl Drop in Venice.

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iSanctuary Jewelry

It is estimated that more than 800,000 people are trafficked every year, adding to the figure of 12.3 million people around the world presently living in slavery. Dear readers, I am pleased to introduce another highly exceptional jewelry company that is helping to end human trafficking- iSanctuary. iSantucary (International Sanctuary) is a jewelry company that rescues, rehabilitates and employs survivors of human trafficking in India and Orange County; while giving them 100% above Fair Trade wages. Founder Stephanie Pollaro realized her calling while flipping through the pages of Marie Claire and stumbling upon an article pertaining to human slavery. It was on her second church trip to India when she met Wendy Dailey (who now oversees the company’s operation here in the States, while Stephanie is in Mumbai). Since the company’s launch in 2007, iSanctuary has provided over 200 women with employment through their amazing program, which you can find out more information here.

The brand offers a marvelous selection of jewelry and some lifestyle products all at wallet-friendly price points. They also work with artisans and collab with other brands, such as Sari Bari- a brand (also known for helping survivors of human trafficking) who makes products out of recycled Indian saris. Some of my favorite pieces from the brand are: the Infinity necklace in gold, the Barbed Wire bracelet, the Peacock Cuff and the Sunbeams Ochre necklace.

To find out more about how you can help (shopping for the cause or volunteering, etc) go to iSanctuary.org.

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Jane Basch Designs

I was introduced to Florida based Jane Basch Designs through various media outlets and have since grown very fond of the brand. Although the company has been around for over sixty years, the branded Jane Basch Designs was launched three years ago, but Jane herself has been in the industry for over thirty years. Her signature monograms and name plate necklaces are a hit with fashionistas all over the world and celebrities like: Carly Rae Jepsen, Mayim Bialik, Christina Applegate, Nelly Furtado and Kaley Cuoco. The jewelry is meticulously crafted with the highest care and quality. Each piece is hand drawn, hand engraved and made by a jeweler- not a machine. Prices for the collection range from $155- 9,000 for diamond pieces.

I was lucky enough to get a custom necklace from the “Name It Claim It” collection with my blog name- LAFashionsnob- in beautiful script and with a 16″ chain. When it arrived on my doorstep, it came in a protective pouch and box. I’ve worn it several times now and couldn’t be happier! I’m so glad I made the investment for a quality piece and a symbol of one of the many milestones in my career in the fashion industry. Thank you Jane Basch!

To shop the collection and learn more on the brand, please check out JaneBasch.com.

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Darylynn Eyewear

I honestly can’t tell how strong the power of social media can be. I e-met the lovely Darylynn Ayala of New York City-based Darylynn Eyewear through instagram. When I saw her pictures of her oversized ‘Old Hollywood glamor’ sunglasses, I was hooked and just had to reach out to her to learn more about the brand. Darylynn recently launched the brand October 2012 during the Silmo Optical trade show in Paris. For the moment, four different styles of sunglasses are in the collection and are available in a few different colorways each. Each style captures the essence of vintage glamor and my brain immediately drew to the 50s through 70s eras, where famous women such as Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, Farah Fawcett, Goldie Hawn and Elizabeth Taylor hid behind massive frames. From a young age, Ayala was a huge fan of the Turner Classic Movie channel and at thirteen, she read her first Vogue and saw her first Old Hollywood film- ‘Divorce of Lady X.’ From then on, she was hooked and spent most of her time researching Old Hollywood starlets, jazz and clothing, thus setting her sights on her new endeavor in design. The lens silhouettes are inspired by vintage shapes, yet Ayala says that the metal detail on the temple of the sunglasses are what gives the collection their unique and fresh style. One of the interesting things Darylynn offers on her website is the short film that she wrote called ‘The Mystery Man,’ which is her way of expressing her love for fashion and everything vintage. Here is an excerpt from the first draft: He’s a mystery man, some say he’s well traveled, goes by the name of Daryl. For years he’s been followed, but his past, hard to unravel. A craftsman’s hand he has, it’s from another time. The frames are like magic, so divine. These creations of his, leaves everyone stumped. Elements of vintage influence, yet fresh. They transform your way of dress. Once the frames caress your face, a spirit of a flapper races through one’s mind. Her flirting, her playful laughter, adventure is what she’s after. What is it about these frames that bring such excitement? Such a sexy sense of danger…all created by this stranger? Legend has it if you wear his frames with grace, he will appear, spying on you with a smile so soft across his face. Taking inventory of the joy he brings & leaving inspired to create more gems.

Such a sweet little twist to a sweet brand, eh? I got to play with a sample of each style and while they all are just darling and overpower my face in the best way possible, I’d have to say that my favorite styles are the “Bugsy” and “Siren Sabine.” So loves, be sure to check out Darylynn.com. What are your favorite styles?

**Photos by Loghry Photography, shot on location at Cupprimo cupcake/coffee shop in Austin**

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Pitusa

I was recently introduced to Pitusa- a brand that is dedicated to creating boho-chic, comfortable and high-quality clothing. The brand was launched in 2010 by Clara Lago, who finds inspiration from all over the world to create bright, vibrant and wearable separates. The line is produced in Peru and also incorporates a touch of Inkaican artisanship. ‘Pitusa’ in Spanish means “cute, funny little girl” and it was also Clara’s father’s nickname for her. Pitusa is sold in over a hundred cities worldwide.

Pitusa lovingly gifted me their humanely-sourced Alpaca Fur Hat, which I am intensely in love with. The hat is massive and luxuriously soft, keeping my head and ears warm on chilly Texas days.

Below are images of my other faves from the brand. I love how they are great for layering and versatile enough so that you can go from lounging around the house to going to meet a friend for coffee and shopping. Start planning for warmer months ahead and head to Pitusa.com

**Images are used with permission from Pitusa**

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My Kitsch

I’m so excited that the gals over at My Kitsch reached out and sent over some fun and excitingly colorful hair ties and headbands for me to play with. The company launched in 2008 and was founded by Wisconsin native- Cassandra. Her deep love of fashion and making fun accessories for her family and friends, along with her travels (immersing herself in art and culture) led her to launch the brand from her tiny apartment. Now, it is a household name, carrying lovely printed, glittery, neon and neutral hair accessories and jewelry. My Kitsch is in over five-hundred boutiques; including Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Free People, Kitson, Urban Outfitters, Francesca’s and more. I love the idea of the using these delightful hair accessories as something well…other than hair accessories! They can also make great layering bracelets, chokers or anklets! As far as hair accessories are concerned, nothing is priced over $25 and are sold in a pack of different options. Jewelry is also reasonably priced as well, as I saw nothing really over $50. Holidays are approachin folks, so take My Kitsch into consideration when choosing a gift for a family member or friend!

**Photography by Naomi Loghry of Loghry Photography**

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AO3 Designs

Once again, I found out about another great handbag line through Handbago.com. Let me introduce AO3 Designs- chic, handmade and feminine handbags and clutches that was launched in 2003 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. What drew me to the line were the bold prints, like chevron and damask, that are complemented with a grosgrain ribbon closure. Inside nestled a small lace pocket, ideal for holding keys, credit cards or some change. Looking more into the line, I found out that each handbag takes weeks to design, while taking in consideration the needs of the AO3 Designs consumer, such as shape, pattern and color. Each bag is also carefully cut and put together by hand and with the same goal in mind: the end product being something of quality and for the new owner to love for years to come. In 2008, the company introduced bridal clutches that would make great gifts for bridesmaids, usually in the form of customization. According to co-founder Angela Olson, “In addition to custom and ready made clutches, we offer our {Something Old to Something New} service for brides looking to incorporate their mother’s dress, grandmother’s veil, etc. into a clutch they will use for their wedding day. We also offer embroidered tags to our clutches in which a bride could add a fun note for the girls or add an elegant monogram with her wedding date.” In addition to bridal accessories, be on the look-out for leather clutches coming soon! Prices for the handbags and clutches range from a wallet-friendly $55 to $255. Be sure to check out AO3Designs.com and their etsy!

My favorite clutch is the ALEXIS. Check out how I styled it in the slideshow below.

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Liz Henry Jewelry

I had heard about Liz Henry jewelry through a fellow blogger, who shared a photo of a dainty bracelet with the wire-wrapped outline of the state of Texas on it. It was of course simply gorgeous and I had to know more about the brand. I ventured over to the website and found that this gem of a jewelry brand was based in Mississippi. It was founded by Christi Gardner and Julie Clark, who started out designing and making jewelry on their kitchen table. Each piece is handmade with the utmost care and love and features only the finest materials available, including: 14k gold fill, sterling silver, freshwater pearls, semi precious stones and vintage materials. Best of all, each piece comes with a lifetime warranty and if anything breaks, they will gladly repair it at no cost. I was so excited when they sent me the ‘Texas’ bracelet, as I’m a huge fan of anything dealing with states in general. For me, it was either Texas, Cali or Arizona- as each state has a special place in my heart. Celebrity fans of this brand include: Hilary Duff, Hayden Pannettiere, Ashley Tisdale and Sela Ward. I am now a huge fan of Liz Henry jewelry and if you love simple, yet elegant and timeless pieces- you will too!

*Photo of me is by Loghry Photography*

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(Sponsored) On My Eco-Radar: Austin Yarn Company

We are living in a time where its almost second nature to buy environmentally (or ‘eco’) friendly products…whether it be apparel, accessories, home decor or cleaning products. It is becoming clearer that by using eco-friendly products, we are not only helping the environment (obviously), but we are also helping ourselves as well. Eco products take less processing to make them, and by ‘processing’ I mean using harmful chemicals that could eventually become harmful to our bodies {and environment}. And who on earth wants that?! Over the years, I have found that since cutting off meat from my diet and wearing some eco-friendly garments, my livelihood has become somewhat easier. I love wearing clothes and accessories that are not only unique, but made locally and with comfy fabrics (cause after all, ‘comfort is key’)!

So, with that being said, I was incredibly lucky to have been recently introduced to Austin Yarn Company, an eco-friendly handbag line with panache. In April 2008, owner and designer- Cathie Hutchins founded the AYC label, after having just won the “Eco Style” award during the Texas Next Top Designer competition back in 2007. But after suffering some setbacks, she launched the 2008 collection in 2009, which received a lot of positive feedback. When I met up with Cathie recently, she showed me the collection of wonderfully cute woolen handbags and ‘technology accessories.’ You are probably wondering why is AYC eco-friendly? They are using wool from sheep… Well, yes… BUT… AYC is eco-friendly and sustainable for two reasons: one, they use organic yarn to make their AYCwool™. The other reason is that they get the wool from ranchers who give their sheep the highest quality of care, in which none of them are harmed during the fleece-collecting process. Ok, so the bags are eco-friendly and they are locally made right here in Austin- perfect! Did I also mention that said eco bags made from the highest quality fabrics and still won’t break the bank?! The bags are featured in a variety of styles and sizes, ranging from a small clutch to a messenger bag and vary in price from $7 for a pet toy to $72 for a crossbody bag. If you are looking for a durable, yet chic case for your tablet and such, do yourself a favor and buy one from AYC. One of the first things I noticed when Cathie showed me the collection was not only the attention to detail in the stitching, but the durability of the casing. If you accidentally drop your iPad, but it’s encased in that fine AYCwool™, chances are that nothing would get broken. If you’re looking for a statement evening bag for your next event, check out the Alexis clutch, which comes in small and large and numerous color choices; or the Evelyn, it’s like ‘Hello Kitty,’ but more grown-up and sophisticated. The Evelyn is a bag that be carried by a ten-year-old or a fifty-year-old and is also available in numerous colors. Other crowd-pleasing bags include Bob and John , both crossbody bags. So, now that you have the lo-down on this fantastic company, why not go check them out?! Check out www.austinyarncompany.com, “LIKE” them on Facebook: facebook.com/AustinYarnCo and facebook.com/AmericanMadeEcoFashion and “FOLLOW” on Twitter @austinyarnco and @americanmadeeco. Be sure to follow the conversation using hashtag: #USmadeECO.

**Please Note: I was compensated in return for the article, however, all opinions are my own.**

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Love, Cortnie Handbags

I heard about the Love, Cortnie brand through various Facebook networks. I checked out Cortnie’s Etsy site and just gushed over her cute clutches. I reached out to Cortnie and bought the “Cool Cat” leopard-print clutch that I thought would be PERFECT for an outfit I had been planning for an event. I adore my new clutch! She did such a good in its construction, from the stitching to the heavy fabric. On the inside is polka-dot contrasting fabric and a small pocket for keys or business cards. Aside from buying the clutch, I also had to find out more on this handbag prodigy. It all started at the end of August last year when she wanted to learn how to sew; so she enlisted the help of her Grandmother, who was more than happy to teach her. After a quick craft supply spree, they worked on making a clutch. A week later, she had a shop on Etsy with three styles. Now, she has over forty. Her most popular bags are the leopard-printed ‘Ashleigh’ clutch and the ‘Glittering Gold’ sequin clutch. She just started a blowout sale on Spring/Summer clutches, so they range from $25-120. You can buy her bags on her Etsy or at three boutiques- Dress to Kill (opening September 1st) in Miami, Violet Boutique in DC and Bonnie Bonet in Tampa, FL. Love, Cortnie is also sold online at http://Shopjeen.com. When Cortnie isn’t busy making clutches, she is blogging on StyleLust Pages- her own personal style blog where she posts her outfits and the latest news for her Etsy shop.

NOTE: LAFashionsnob readers can enjoy 10% off their entire purchase (including sale prices) when they enter promo code: LAFASHIONSNOB. The code is good until September 15th.

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(Sponsored) Sseko Designs 30 Days/30 Ways Campaign

I am collaborating with Sseko (pronounced: say ko) Designs as one of their featured bloggers/stylists taking part in their 30 Days/30 Ways Campaign. Sseko Designs is still quite a young company and is based in Uganda. They employ young recent secondary school Ugandan women grads to make leather sandals with interchangeable fabric straps and handbags. In exchange for a nine month long working program, the folks at Sseko provide full college education (in effort to break the vicious cycle of extreme poverty in Uganda). By shopping at this company, each dollar goes to aid in the growth of this awesome program. Every women, no matter where they are or “social/economical status,” should be able to get an education, dream and become whoever they choose to be….and Sseko is helping the women in Uganda at least, to have that opportunity. I am so blessed to be apart of this movement with other well-known fashionistas.

Each of us was given a pair of leather sandals with the face straps (of our choosing) and we got to style the straps however we want! Personally, I had a blast working with my red straps and playing with the MANY different ways of twisting, intertwining and manipulating the straps into something fabulous on my feet.

Now you have chance to get your own pair of fun sandals and play with the straps til your heart’s content! I’m offering LAFashionsnob readers 15% off on SsekosDesigns.com, all you have to do is use coupon code: FashionSnob30 at checkout! Once you have your sandals, Ssekos invites you to take part in the public 30 Ways/ 30 Days contest for the entire month of August. For full contest details, go here.

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AK Showroom

I was so pleased to hear that one of my friends- Amy Kim had recently opened up a showroom in the Cooper Building. I had the pleasure of working with her and Jen O’Brian- the lovely showroom manager during LA Market Week (June 2012). Not only did I learn a different side of the fashion industry, but I also found some amazing brands that they rep: Isabel Lu, Lavuk, Seventh Wonderland, Dra Clothing, Spencer Lacy, The Bikini Thief and Kinship. Here is my little Q&A sesh with Amy…

LAFS: What inspired you to start your own showroom?

AK: I first came into the Fashion industry back in 2006 working as a sales manager for a denim company. And when I paid my first visit to a well-known showroom at the Marts back then, I knew that this was what I would be doing.

LAFS: What brands do you carry and why?

AK: d.RA Clothing

I first met the owner Diana Ra when she was launching d.RA and we connected right away. At the time, she had left the Head Designer position at Patterson J. Kincaid to start her own label – and I fell in love with d.RA instantly. I believed in the brand from the start and hope it achieves the fame it deserves.

LAFS Side Note: d.RA is one of this blogger’s fave brands in the showroom! Love the girly and chic tops, skirts and dresses in fab solids and fun prints! The quality is great and I could definitely see myself having fun mixing prints with this collection!

Isabel Lu

Having come from launching a few Korean-American owned brands prior to opening my Showroom, Isabel Lu was exactly the type of brand I was looking to add to our lineup. The Collection is beautiful, fashion-forward, yet affordably priced for Contemporary. The owner Jane Moon has many years of experience in the industry and is quite savvy in all aspects. A great partnership.

LAFS Side Note: Isabel Lu had some great leopard print separates that I love and some of those maxi dresses would look great in my wardrobe. Everything in the Isabel Lu brand is classy and chic, perfect for the office and dinner after!

LAVUK Los Angeles

I’m a big believer of Eco-friendly and earth consciousness. When we first met with Natasha Gindin – the owner of LAVUK for the first time, we knew there was something very special about her and the brand. She brings such unique style and vision to the table which is incomparable other eco-friendly brands out there. Natasha and LAVUK are headed for stardom.

LAFS Side Note: I’ve known the LAVUK brand (and the lovely Natasha) for a few years now. I love the brand… because not only is it eco-friendly as Amy had mentioned, but I love that Natasha takes risks in cut or silhouette…and it looks great!

KINSHIP Made in LA

We’re always to looking for a great new potential brand to launch and cultivate. And what better line to do so with than a trendy, hip, and affordable knit Collection? KINSHIP covers everything from basics, novelty, and graphics – truly something for everyone. Creative Director Alex Vargas and his team bring 10 plus experience in the knits world and have been waiting to launch their own brand for quite some time. We are working towards KINSHIP being the next household name in the knits arena.

LAFS Side Note: KINSHIP is a great brand for your basics. Alex has some unusually fun cuts in the tops and sweaters. I found that the material was nice and comfy!

SpencerLacy

We really wanted to represent some Australian labels – as we know the Aussie brands are very hot in the USA right now. SpencerLacy is a beautiful Contemporary Collection which all the finer stores always gravitate towards. The Collection brings the cool Aussie vibe and translates them into very wear-able styles for women of all ages.

LAFS Side Note: LOVE SpencerLacy as well! Actually, come to think of it, I’m loving all the Australian brands that have come out so far. The brand offers amazing flowy chiffon dresses in solids and prints. Oh and the knits… I tried on this oversize sweater and wanted to curl up on the couch with a good movie and hot cocoa and just be ‘snug as a bug in a rug’! So yeah, the knits are luscious! Then they also have basics, like tops, leggings, etc.

Swim Division – starting July of this year, we have added a Swim Division to the Showroom.

Here are the brands we currently represent:

Bikini Thief

This is an adorable Swim Collection which is getting crazy recognition in the USA right now – having been featured in the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issues and also sponsoring top women’s athletes! The owner Whitney Andresen is a sweetheart and it shows in the Collection – which is very sweet, girly, feminine, with the right amount of sexiness. Look for an exciting project coming up soon with a supermodel for next Spring!

LAFS Side Note: I didn’t get the chance to view this line in person, but from the looks of it on the website, the suits look nice!

Seventh Wonderland

Here is an amazing Australian Swim Collection which we just could not pass up, and which inspired me to add the Swim Division to the showroom. Seventh Wonderland is a fast rising star in the USA Market as well, having being picked up by some prominent retailers this year. Look forward to growing their presence in the upcoming seasons and beyond.

LAFS Side Note: Again, didn’t get the chance to see the line in person, but this line looks pretty rad from what I’ve seen on their website. Gorgeous prints and cuts. They take swimwear a little step further….

LAFS: What makes AK Showroom stand out from other showrooms in your niche?

AK: I myself come from the Corporate Sales Managerial background – in which where I was not only in charge of sales, but learned the ropes from the manufacturer’s end. I firmly believe that this enables me to work with all of my brands more efficiently (having been on the other side) and in better conjunction to cultivate and grow sales. I hired Jen O’Brien as my Showroom Manager because not only does she bring almost 10 years of Showroom Sales experience – but has represented every type of brands out there ranging from high-end to lower-end. She is extremely hard working and truly remarkable. I feel very fortunate to have her heading on my team.

LAFS: What can we expect to see from AK Showroom in the future?

AK: An East Coast Showroom is in the works. We will be joining forces with ELR Media Group NY to combine Sales and PR for the brands we present. Our target launch date for the NY Showroom will be September of 2012!

LAFS: How might we contact you if we want to do pulls, etc?

Phone Number: 213-239-0496

Jen O’Brien: jen@akshowroom.com Amy Kim: amy@akshowroom.com

Thank you so much Amy and Jen! I wish you both huge success in the showroom! So, dear readers, if you happen to attend any of the LA Markets, please pay AK Showroom a visit!

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De Lacy Collection

What first captured my eye regarding the De Lacy Collection were the abstract stripes and leopard print from their Holiday collection. I’m obsessed with stripes, especially on chiffon and on a hi-low silhouette. I was able to check out more of the collection in their New Mart showroom during this last LA Market and was really impressed at the wearability of the pieces. You can mix ‘n match simple (more mature) pieces with sequins and faux furs. De Lacy was launched in 2009 by Bridgette De Lacy, with that concept that “nothing in your closet has an expiration date.” The brand believes in the versatility of its consumer, in that teenagers and women up to their 40s and 50s can wear the brand. This is one collection that I’d love a piece of everything because it has everything from a loose, worn-looking tee, pleated chiffon skirts or dresses that could be worn during the day and can be snazzed up with just the right amount of accessories. When shopping for versatile garments, check out the De Lacy Collection- where versatility is the name-of-the-game.

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Subtle Luxury

I actually came across Subtle Luxury by accident. I was working in the Cooper Building during LA Market and saw a flier for a “free scarf” from them. I went into their showroom, got my pretty and incredibly comfy scarf and learned more about the brand. Subtle Luxury is apart of Nothing to Wear, Inc. which California natives- Darrin and Cindy Freeman started in the 90s, but then Subtle Luxury was created about ten years ago and consists of spun scarves, knits, cashmere, wraps, slips and furs. Their goal is to make sure their ‘better contemporary sportswear’ has that vintage, washed and lived-in feel to them. All the styles are produced with fine gauge knits with 100% cashmere and cashmere blends and their cashmere designs have that ‘California cashmere’ esthetic. Every design goes through a ‘hand feel’ process, in which if the design is not soft, it immediately gets tossed out. Since Cindy is the gal-on-th-go, everything has to be ‘easy care.’ I left the showroom as a new fan of the line. Subtle Luxury is definitely subtle and comfortably luxurious, great for people on the go and for long flights.

Aside from the wholesale aspect of the business, there is a Subtle Luxury store in LA, located at 1016 Montana Ave and has been there for over fifteen years. For more information, please check out the Subtle Luxury website.

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LuxeYard

There was been a surge of members-only eCommerce shopping sites recently and I was excited when the newest website- LuxeYard reached out to me to check out their site. When I did check it, I feel that it is in ranks with Gilt and Hautelook, but with more emphasis on quality luxury for every budget. When I had the chance to speak to Daniella Clarke, who is the consultant to LuxeYard, I found out a little of what makes LuxeYard stand out from the others. Taking a curated approach, they offer a variety of products, ranging from mens, womens, home decor to art work. The also offer a concierge service, where members can use inspiration boards on the site and pin items they would love to see on the site. If there’s enough demand for that item, the buyers will look for the item and get it on the site. I love how they offer hard-to-find, local, unique and vintage brands (such as Mr. Kate, Gypsy Junkies, Frankie B.), instead of just the mainstream. They average around nine to eleven events per category per week, with brand introductions; which is nice and not so overwhelming. They also incorporate “Trendsetters,” or influencers that showcase their favorite picks, which rotate about ever two weeks. Lastly, they also do pop-up shops, so be on the look out! Check out LuxeYard and your wallet will thank you!

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Bloom Showroom

In the heart of downtown LA’s historic district lies a quaint little showroom, tucked away in the owner’s residence in one of the historic buildings-turned-lofts. Bloom Showroom is independently owned by Jennifer Dermer and offers publicity and sales for emerging designers. Bloom’s mantra is to flourish or thrive. Bloom Showroom’s goal is to help the artists flourish and thrive in the fashion world…Helping new artists ‘bloom’… At this time, five lines are represented: Santina Lucce, Something Charming by Jolica, Lila Clare Jewelry, PERI and Casalinda Studio.

The Lila Clare Jewelry collections were one of my faves when I toured the showroom. Each piece is made from eco-friendly sterling silver and other mixed metals, such as copper or 14K gold fill. Designer Clare Johnston draws her inspiration from her love of nature-from basking in the many acres of forest that was her backyard growing up in the mountains of North Georgia. There are three collections: Botanic, Luna and Joy. The Botanic collection focuses on nature in the Southwest with emphasis on the Prickly Pear Cactus. She casts their skeletons to form exquisite abstract cuffs, earrings and necklace pendants. The Luna collection is comprised of mixed metals that produce stunning combinations. The Joy collection offers impressions of lotus petals that are mixed with semi-precious gemstones. For more information, go to the Lila Clare website. The Santina Lucce line was unavailable to preview during my visit, but from what I can see from the images, the line is made for the modern bride. The line is made in America and takes reference from vintage and fine jewelry. So whether you need some fun and whimsical pieces to amp up your wedding attire or need some bling to jazz up your tee and jeans, then Santina Lucce should be on your list. For more information and to check out the images, go to the Santina Lucce website. Another cute jewelry line is Something Charming by Jolica. World-traveler and designer Jolica Taguiped became inspired by the native artisans in Europe, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. After eight years of having her own shop, Jolica decided it was time to design jewelry full-time. She currently has three lines in the Something Charming collection: Lava, Nautilus and Mahjong. The Lava line is pieced with hand picked gemstones and Murano glass and individually crafted using the lost wax casting process. Jolica looks back at her French and Hawaiian roots for her inspiration for the Lava line. The lava flows on Hawaii’s Big Island are the heaviest influencers of the line. The Nautilus line offers a unique look with hand-hammered sterling silver before shell, gemstone or coral are added. The line is also inspired by Jolica’s love of the Nautilus shell. The Mahjong line is based off of the ancient Chinese game. For more information, please check out the Something Charming website. The last jewelry line and one of my other faves is Casalinda Studio. Casalinda Studio is an eco-friendly collection was founded in 2007 by mother-daughter duo Linda DaPra and Jennifer Dermer. The collection’s inspiration is based from California’s native flowers (influenced by the works of A.R. Valentien-who is commissioned by Ellen Browning Scripps to paint the endangered flowers), mudcracks and other natural wonders. The brand only uses recycled, reclaimed metals and fair trade, conflict free, recycled, reused or vintage semi-precious stones and beads. The brand’s goal is to create ‘guilt-less glamour,’ as explained by the brand, “California’s botanical, sea and geological diversity is an artistic treasure that is the motivation behind creating our pieces. We believe that we must all conserve this environment and preserve the diversity of life that exists here.” Casalinda Studio is based in San Diego. For more information, check out Casalinda Studio’s website. The last line represented is the eco-friendly clothing company- PERI Pure Eco Rag Industry. PERI founded the company in 2010 and is based in LA. She is inspired by her deep love for all the beautiful nature that surrounds her. The PERI motto is I am Organic, I am Biodegradable, I am recyclable. I loved checking out the clothes. The designs were simple yet cute and fun; from a navy-blue short sleeve jumpsuit with fuschia silk belt to a lovely ombre hi-low skirt. She has separates that work for every occasion, whether it be at the office or for a night out. Check out PERI’s website for more information.

Bloom Showroom is open by appointment only Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Call them at (626)534-5625.

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One Grey Day

I was invited to come and check out this ridiculously chic Los Angeles-based brand- One Grey Day. Founded by Bradley Davidowitz, this brand prides itself on ingenious, marketable and comfortable knits-ranging from cardigans and pullovers to warm outerwear and accessories. They compare their modern simplicity and neutral tones to exclusive brands like: Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang, and Philip Lim. The knits are of the highest quality, yet retail at affordable prices. Prices for basics range from $68 to novelty items at $242. My favorite pieces from the collection are pictured below. What are your faves?

The Chrome Tank Top, pictured below is currently available at Urban Outfitters. I was given one to review for you, dear readers and let me tell you… it looks amazing on. It’s made from lightweight bamboo and cotton mix and just super luxurious on the skin. The asymmetrical hem and v-neck give it a unique and edgy twist. It’s quite delicate, so it’s advised to hand wash only. I styled my top with dark skinny jeans, feather cuff, vintage Hermes-inspired handbag and vintage Ferragamo heels. How would you style the top?

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Playing Dress Up with Shop Excess Baggage

Recently, I had the opportunity to check out the Shop Excess Baggage showroom, located in a swanky penthouse condo in Studio City. Shop Excess Baggage is an online and offline boutique that caters to high-end brands for up to 75% off the retail price. If you are local and want to get a feel of the brands and try on the clothes, they are open by appointment only for private shopping and for trunk shows. Their trunk shows (or Ex Bag Events) offer guests a unique and intimate experience, with cocktails, hors d’ oeuvres, beauty services, gift bags and more! Whether you’re shopping from the comfort of your home or stopping by the showroom, you’re bound to find something cute for that next event or outing, as they feature over a hundred brands, from BB Dakota, Blank NYC, See Thru Soul, Woodleigh, One Grey Day, For Love and Lemons to LNA Clothing and M2F Denim.

Personally, I really enjoyed the rather intimate one-on-one experience with the CEO- Haylee, who walked me through the two rooms of fashion goodness. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to a mall or thrift store, but having someone there to walk you through the brands, help you pick out outfits (while thinking “outside the box”) and not have to deal with the cluttered racks and hoards of people at let’s say- ‘a popular fast fashion brand’, is rather a pleasant experience.

If you are local to LA, I’d highly recommend checking out the showroom or get a great group of girls and have a truck show. But, if not, don’t fret! You can still get the same great deals on the Shop Excess Baggage site!

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Just in Time for Spring at Chic Little Devil Style House

Spring is here and with Coachella is just around the corner, I thought it would be perfect to stop by Chic Little Devil Style House in downtown LA and do a mini photo-shoot with some Spring/Summer 2012 separates by several brands that were offered at the CLD. With help from one of the fab interns and my partner-in-crime and photographer, we compiled several looks featuring Gypsy Junkies, Lovemarks, Val Stefani Couture, Luichiny, Girlfriends Material, Cuffs Couture, Hadari, Pretty Pistol, BodyRock, Debi Lynn Designs and Evil Pawn Jewelry.

I’ve recently seen some of Gyspy Junkies’s line through various LAFW S/S 2012 coverages and it was such a pleasure to be able to play with the gaggle of sequins, lace, chiffons, etc. that make up the collection. LA-based Gypsy Junkies was founded by Marcus Paglialonga and Cynthia Crighton. Drawing inspiration through their world travels and LA street style, they infuse a variety of influences in the brand, such as bohemian mixed with somewhat rebellious and So-Cal edginess. I LOVED the way the clothing felt, so light and airy. The pieces are extremely versatile in that you can wear them to work or play and layer to jazz up any basic outfit. (Lime cascade dress $72 available at: Kitson or RevolveClothing.com, Sequin shrug $68 available at Kitson, Sheer maxi skirt $58 at ShopPlanetBlue.com, Pleated sheer dress $88 available at NastyGal.com, Sequin shorts at Kitson, Crochet jumpsuit $84 available on ThreadSence, Orange checkered dress $96 at Kitson or RevolveClothing.com.)

I also enjoyed playing with the girly dresses from LA-based Lovemarks Collection. Whether you’re looking for a piece to complement your bohemian look or just want to have fun playing around in whimsical tribal or polka-dot prints, Lovemarks Collection is for you!

Need some cool workout gear to enhance your daily gym regimen? I would suggest BodyRock….a rather new take on your plain, average workout clothes that blend style and fitness all-in-one. This line was founded in sunny SoCal by Kelly Dooley in 2009. Dooley had been searching for just the right sports bra that combines functionality and style…and when she didn’t find that, she decided to create the innovative line- BodyRock. My team and I had a fun time creating a funky, editorial look with this line and managed to nab it with an electric blue faux fur and snakeskin bra ($600) that’s reversible. We paired a hot pink leopard bra ($77) underneath. Though I had some trouble zipping up the bra, the fit was perfect! We finished the look with the black moto leggings ($99) and Luichiny wedges. Definitely check out BodyRock, you’re body will love you!

The gals at Chic Little Devil introduced me to the Hong Kong-based line- Girlfriends Material. The line features sweaters, jackets, tees, one-of-a-kind tees with original artwork by Pittsburgh-based artist: Bovey Lee and handmade jewelry by Julie Sun. The fabrics are soft and luxurious. Silhouettes are trendy and unique. Girlfriends Material is definitely on my list for best tees!

For the shoot, we decided on minimal accessories. We used cool necklaces with vintage hardware and turquoise from Debi Lynn Designs. Debi launched the line in 1994 and bases her inspiration from her rich Cajun and Muskogee Native American roots. Her pieces are considered “rustic chic” and have somewhat of a rocker vibe. For more information, go to the Debi Lynn Designs website. We also used a black beaded multi-strand necklace and Victorian-esque magnifying glass necklace by Evil Pawn Jewelry. Evil Pawn is designed by Faith Evangeline and has major Gothic and Victorian influences. Check out more of her truly unique designs on the Evil Pawn Jewelry website.

And that’s a wrap! I’d love to thank Kate, Michelle and the team of Chic Little Devil, the brands and Kate- my photographer! I also used vintage sunnies from Haute Olive (765 Maple Ave. corner of 8th n Maple DTLA 90014), and my vintage 80s jacket from Deja Vu Fashions. I made the butterfly necklace, so if interested in ordering a custom necklace for yourself, please contact me.

**General Photography by Kate-Marie Heimann**

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Margot Wolf Jewelry

I was lucky enough to meet yet another Austin-based jewelry designer- Margot Wolf, while in Austin. This fellow FIDM grad loves wearing jewelry and after graduating and working with designers, she decided she wanted to make her own jewelry. She has since flourished and launched her line during Austin Fashion Week in 2010. Soon after the launch, the line was picked up by local boutique- By George and has sold MW jewelry since Spring 2011. I had the honor of taking a peek at her collection of necklaces, bracelets and rings, all meticulously constructed from metals, stones and enamel. My faves in particular included the large Chevron Slider Necklace, Tangled Ring and the Doorknob Rings. Yet, most of the pieces, especially the rings, can be stacked into the perfect bohemian armparty, fingerparty, etc! Prices range from $150-320.

For more information on Margot Wolf, check her out on Facebook or her website. Or, if you’re in the area, head on over to the the studio in East Austin she shares with fellow designer- Isabel of Isobel + Ezra at 1200 E. 11th #106.

 

**Video courtesy of Margot Wolf**

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Isobel + Ezra Jewelry

Isobel + Ezra is a jewelry line based in Austin and I happened upon the line while visiting another jewelry designer- Margot Wolf, who shared the same studio space. I admired the stackable and oversize stone rings, simple beaded and delicate bracelets and necklaces. The designer- Isabel B. had worked at a local boutique that carried handmade jewelry. After always admiring the workmanship of a hammered ring or bracelet, she became more interested in the the process of making and designing jewelry; and took it upon herself to learn the art. She has been hooked ever since and launched Isobel + Ezra in early 2011. She will be producing a mens line in the future (which is the Ezra part of Isobel + Ezra). Her prices range from an affordable $30-128 and she also plans on expanding to gems and precious metals.

For more information on Isobel + Ezra, check out her Etsy shop. Or, if you are local to Austin, her studio is at 1200 E. 11th #106.

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Doctrine Jeans

I was invited to check out Doctrine Jeans- a Los Angeles based brand who’s showroom was located in downtown. Mr. Johnny P., of the popular denim blog- The Denim Guy, was kind enough to show me their Fall/Winter 2012 collection. It’s all about skinnies in coated earthy ombres and coated subtle metallics. Why not skip the traditional dress for a red carpet affair and go with their haute dark skinny jean with a tuxedo stripe down the side of the leg! In the mood to channel your inner boho for Coachella? Doctrine offers a high-waisted bell bottom silhouette and wide leg trouser. The brand offers handmade denim in a variety of styles and fits and they carefully test it to make sure it’s the highest quality before handing the jeans over to retail stores, like Saks and Bloomingdales. The denim has the softest feel to it and quality is just exceptional! The designer- Teresa Sung explains what she uses in the fabrics, “Materials I used in colors are Satin twill that gives out luxurious and extra softness to the hand feel. Also Tencel denim was used as well for that reason. Egyptian denim has been well received and has become our signature fabric through out the seasons as well as our 10 to 11.5 oz rayon cotton based fabrics.” Thanks to Johnny, I now own a few pairs- a skinny, a jegging and a flare. I can tell you that when I wear the denim, the fit is perfect and I don’t have the issue with the butt. You know that issue when the jeans don’t fit in the in the back at the waist?! Such a pain, right? Well, thanks to Doctrine Jeans, they got rid of that problem, due to the darts in the back. I tell you what, my butt has never looked so good! Check out more info on Doctrine Jeans here.

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Jill Pineda Bow Ties

I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Jill Pineda during an event one evening and I learned that she had her own accessories company- Jill Pineda. The just recently launched company specializes in fabulous bow tie that look great on both sexes. The website also features some clothing, handbags and accessories. Jill also includes helpful “How-to” videos and offers three different ways to style the clothing. Jill knew that menswear was making a comeback and has always wanted to wear bow ties, but unfortunately, has been unsuccessful in finding just the right styles to fit her small neck. So she just started making her own and so far, has gotten a heaping amount of great feedback. Her best-sellers have been the black faux leather bow tie and black spikey bow tie. Her personal favorite is the silver studded black bow tie. Ms. Jill also has a celebrity following…I’m sure you have heard of the Kardashian sisters- Kim and Kourtney? Also, Blair Taylor, a member of the brand- Speakers has been seen wearing her gold studded tie. And now, yours truly, is a huge fan of the line. I am honored that Jill gave me one of her black faux leather bow ties to wear and accessorize accordingly. You can wear the ties with practically about anything and they come in a variety of colors, styles and different fabrics. All bows are made in Los Angeles. Check out Jill Pineda today! She also has a blog, is on Twitter and YouTube.

 

**”How To Style Your Bow Tie 15 Ways”- courtesy of Jill Pineda. **

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“MICA” Clutch by Michael Stervinou

I was honored when Parisian artist- Michael Stervinou reached out to me to tell me about his new venture in hand-painted clutches. He started dabbling in the new accessories line in the beginning of 2012. What inspired him were the women who carry the bags and how much they pay attention to the bag, as well as their emotional attachment with it. Stervinou goes on to explain, “It finishes the garment you’re wearing. It’s chic and elegant. Shoes and clutch… envelope bags are the most elegant for me. When you see this accessory it’s usually the same design, most of the time, even if it’s beautiful and well designed, it’s the same. As a painter, it came naturally to me to design it with acrylic paint and make a unique piece. Like having an art piece in your hand when you go out. How elegant!”

His design process is rather quite simple. He buys a classic bag and then adds his own personal touch to it. My bag, for example, he applied purple, pink and silver paint to the silk flap of the bag and then finished it off with varnish gloss to keep the colors intense and to protect the paint. The price of the MICA clutch retails for $255.

For more information and to order your own handbag, go here. Or you can reach him via Facebook as well.

**Photo Credit- Haoyuan Ren **

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Elephant Heart Jewelry

My friends over at a local PR company introduced me to this great jewelry line called Elephant Heart recently. I took a look at the website and saw that a.) the company and designer pride themselves on social responsibility and b.) the collections are fun and unique. I received some samples to play with and I must say, the pictures on the website do not do the actual products justice. I was very impressed with the quality of the pieces. Two of the pieces that were included were a lips necklace and ring from the Supernatural Collection- fun, sculpted lips on necklaces, rings and cufflinks (perfect for Valentine’s Day!) What’s even cooler, is that the lips are handcasted from real lips right here in Los Angeles. One of my other favorite pieces include a necklace with a gorgeous amethyst pendant.

Let me now introduce you to the designer- Elyse Graham, who is also a sculptor. She went to Otis College of Art and Design for jewelry design while still in high school, and then went on to Brown University. She created the name “Elephant Heart” for her jewelry line because she loves elephant heart plums. The concept that they are simple on the outside and are a deep red, sweet and delicious on the inside is what drew her to this name. “This concept fit perfectly with my desire to have more than just a business. The idea of going deeper—what’s inside is what matters—having a good, giving and big heart is what is most important to me.” She explained. “The spirit of Elephant Heart is to ‘open our hearts and making a positive difference in the world.’” The entire line consists of 170 pieces and two primary collections: The Classic Collection by Elephant Heart and Supernatural Collection. The Classic Collection is more higher-end, with 14k gold-fill and semi-precious stones; whereas, the Supernatural Collection (and Kiss Collection) boast a more funky take of wearable art (that is very lightweight and comfortable to wear). It combines her skills of jewelry making and sculpting (such as the lips rings and necklaces). As I mentioned before, one of the cool things about this brand is their commitment to giving back to the community. That’s one of the many things that sets the company apart, along with great jewelry that has been worn on big names like Miranda Kerr and Selena Gomez, just to name a few. Elyse also had a great mentor to guide her since the conception of the brand. She goes on to add, “my greatest goal, professionally as well as personally, is to be able to pass what I have learned on to others—to be a mentor myself and to help others realize that sometimes small gestures of kindness can have the biggest impacts.” With that being said, Elephant Heart is involved in two community projects: 32nd Street School and the EH Charm Necklace Project. EH offers two sets of greeting cards which feature original artwork from the students of that LA-based school. 100% of the proceeds go to promote art education and bring in art supplies. The school has already received over $2,000 from Elephant Heart. The EH Charm Necklace Project is that the brand has partnered with the Bob Woodruff Foundation- which provides resources for injured service members and their families. The project began last year in November until Christmas Day and 50% of the proceeds of the charm necklace went to the foundation. In the end, Elephant Heart presented the foundation with a $7,200 check.

So now you know that when you purchase a piece of jewelry from EH, you know that you are contributing to a good cause. Prices for the line range from: $78-$320 for necklaces, $48-$148 for earrings and $68-$148 for bracelets. Elephant Heart can be found at Roseark’s gallery-like locations in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, Fifth Floor Gallery in Chinatown, GREY AREA in NYC and of course on the website.

Note: Pieces from the Supernatural Collection, including the Kiss Collection will be shown alongside the geode sculptures at Futuro Anteriore, a group exhibition that opened Saturday, Feb. 11th at Carmichael Gallery in Culver City and continuing through March 10th.

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Footwear Designer- Jerome C. Rousseau

Kindly move over Mr. Blahnik…There’s a fab footwear designer that everyone NEEDS to know about! LA-based Jerome C. Rousseau is the latest “IT” designer to hit the mainstream with his impeccable taste of unique silhouettes. Jerome is like ‘the guy next door’ and quite delightful. So, I was honored when he invited me over to his new studio in Hollywood one afternoon to catch up (from our first introduction at MAGIC back in August).

The studio space was still being renovated at the time, but the majority of the work was done. All the shoes had their respective places on the shelves, so it was easy to pour over them. Jerome was kind enough for show me some of the other shoes that weren’t at MAGIC and showed me some sketches for his Spring 2012 collection. All I can say is: Bellisimo!!! Seductive femininity at its finest! We also had a more in-depth discussion about his line, which launched in Fall 2008. His fascination of shoes and design started back in the 90s, when he saw the band, Deee-Lite on MTV and noticed their platform shoes. It was during an art class in high school, when he found himself drawing the shoes from the video and realized that he wanted to design shoes. He studied at Cordwainers College and worked for several shoe designers in London before moving out to Los Angeles. It turned out to be a great move for him, because things took off- from a feature in British Vogue to Charlize Theron wearing a pair of his shoes. Inspiration for his collections vary from season to season. He doesn’t do any research, he credits whatever he’s loving a few months beforehand (whether it be a painting, a musician, a sculpture, artist- Kazimir Malevich, muse- Siobhan Fahey and being in California…) and uses that for some inspiration. He loves designing peep-toe booties and loves simplicity and simple peep-toe pumps (especially the ones that show just the right amount of toe cleavage). Fans of the peep-toe staple include: Charlize Theron, Cameron Diaz and Katie Holmes. What makes the Jerome C. Rousseau brand stand out among other high-end shoe brands is that inspiration is very important to him. Also, the cut and silhouette of the shoe makes it very distinctive, like where it’s cut and where it hits the foot. Prices for the line range from $495-1,200…depending on material. The Spring 2012 collection is inspired by British artist, who is based in New York- James Nares. Jerome loves the simplicity of the large paintings and the richness in the colors and shapes. He mentioned that the collection will be minimal and feminine, but also a little flirty (with some references to Marilyn Monroe as well). Boutiques in LA that carry Jerome C. Rousseau include: Arcade on Melrose, Madison in Beverly Hills, Fred Segal in Santa Monica and Saks 5th Ave in Beverly Hills. For more information on the brand, go to the website here. To schedule an appointment, etc., email Ali at: Ali@jeromerousseau.com.

Thanks again for having me stop by, Jerome, Ali and Renee!

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HEATHER Fashions

Again, I’d like to thank the ladies at The Shop PR for forwarding me information about the line-HEATHER. When I saw the email and noticed that there was a cute womens contemporary fashion line that bears my name-Heather, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon!

HEATHER was founded in 2009 by Jin Moon and Ardy Raminfar. It takes the concept of mixing basic silhouettes and adding a unique twist to each piece. Quality and craftsmanship are key when it comes to producing each garment, which are constructed from novelty heather fabrics. Along with the heather fabrics, they juxtapose other fabrics such as: woven silks, leather, micropoly chiffon, and high twist cottons to create texture and depth. HEATHER has a celebrity following, including: Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa Hudgens and Kim Kardashian. I received two tops that I did a mini photo-shoot with. One top was in a light heather grey and had a scoop neck with draped pleating detail in the front and bat-wing sleeves. The other top was a sheer, striped navy blue heather, short sleeved chiffon top. It did come with a cami. The top may have looked basic in the front, but the back was loose and separated from the bottom band. Both tops are extremely comfy and can be dressed up or down. Prices for the line range from $44-215. For more information, check out HEATHER here.

**Photo Credit: Kate-Marie Heimann (Wear In LA)**

Brands used in shoot: Sole Society (Esme glitter heels), Michael Antonio booties, Alicia P. necklace, Kensie sunnies, Hue sweater tights (super comfy), Melissa Velia tassel earrings, cute big bow headband by Marialia.

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Rebekka Lien- Creative Designer & Entrepreneur

Dear readers, I would like to introduce my friend- Rebekka Lien. She was born in Hamburg, Germany and has since been an avid traveler to places like: Taiwan, Japan and Australia. She is a fellow FIDM graduate and we met during our volunteer work at UNIQUE Los Angeles a few years back. Since then, I’ve watched her grow in the fashion industry, both as an avant-garde designer and now an entrepreneur and self-proclaimed “Asian Gypsy.” She owns an ebay and store envy store, full of amazingly cute and affordable jewelry, with proceeds going to Stella’s Voice and Compassion International- organizations to fund children’s education and rehabilitate girls saved from human trafficking. She also runs a blog, which you can check out here. Here is my Q&A sesh with her…

LAFS: Tell me a little about your background and why you chose to be in the fashion industry?

RL: I have always been obsessed with fashion magazines as a child and my mom taught me how to sew when I was 12. My mother recently told me that I had made $100 selling toys for two years at my elementary school. I said, “how do you know?” She said, “You told me! You would tell me how much you made each day and you would carry a bag of things to sell after school”. I laughed because I remember she would tell me to be careful because I might get caught for soliciting illegally. That was from the age of 8 to 10. I then went to Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising for Fashion Design and Business Management. I worked in every area of fashion- from marketing, designing costumes, import manufacturing, visuals to small business start ups. Gradually, I realized that life is better lived free, so I quit my job and started my own business.

LAFS: What do you like designing?

RL: I like designing one a kind couture gowns that nobody would wear on the street. I love the fantastical feeling of wearing something no one else has. I like shocking people, I like thinking outside the box, recycling, and creating a masterpiece.

LAFS: Tell me about your other entrepreneurial goals? (Like your selling jewelry and stuff, prices and pieces, etc)

RL: I am currently working on my jewelry and accessories business- http://rebekkalien.storenvy.com. I have a very non-conventional approach to earning a living. I trust that a higher being is orchestrating my every source of income and I focus on what I want to do each moment, whether it’s marketing the products, hanging out with people, or simply reading a book. I am expanding my business and hope to start my own t-shirt line. I am also planning to continue my “pop up trunk shop” approach, not only selling through social media, but also carrying my shop everywhere I go. This lines up with my “Asian Gypsy” lifestyle, I hope to open peoples’ eyes to a more simple and uncomplicated lifestyle consisting of recycling and living communally.

LAFS: What have been some of your biggest achievements in the industry?

RL: Depends on what you call achievement. If you call achievement being recognized by big shots or making money- I haven’t made much money from the industry and haven’t really gotten my “big break”. If you want to be your own designer, you simply can’t work for other people. I have enjoyed meeting people in the industry though- that’s my great achievement, meeting people and making lifelong friends.

LAFS: What advice do you have for other budding designers/future business owners?

RL: Be prepared to fail. Failing is a MUST, without failures, there won’t be successes. Follow your heart, if you’re gut tells you something is wrong, back the hell out! Be open to new opportunities, do not pigeon hole yourself to ONE THING that you want to do. Do something different everyday, try something new, because that random thing you decide to do (like go to a new cafe) can lead to a life changing moment or opportunity. You might meet a soul friend or a boyfriend (wink)…Know where you want to go and what you want from life, if you don’t, someone else will. Someone else (your parents, your friends, strangers) will tell you what you should be doing- and of course, how are they supposed to know? They’re not you! So decide now before you end up living someone else’s life.

So as you can see, Rebekka is truly an inspiration to many an aspiring creative and small business owner. The girl’s gonna do amazing things so be on the lookout! In the meantime, I highly suggest picking up a “Snazzy Moustache”ring or feather earrings. And feel free to look her up on Facebook and Twitter!

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Australian Label- Finders Keepers

I have a new-found obsession- Australian brands, especially Finders Keepers. The line was founded in 2009 and is no stranger to fun and feminine elements. From peek-a-boo cutouts that reveal just enough skin without being too scandalous to unexpected silhouettes. The line already has a celebrity following, such as: Giuliana Rancic, Nicky Hilton, Demi Lovato, Kendall Jenner and others. I had the pleasure of working with the lovely ladies from The Shop PR (who handle the label) and they sent me a few pieces from the Spring 2012 collection “Future Icon.” I received the Changing Skies Short, Let Love Down Maxi Dress and the Just Dance Dress. At first glance, I thought the shorts was a cute skirt with ruffles around the hips, but after realizing they were shorts, it just made them even cuter and quirky. The material is light and breathable and sits perfectly at the waist. It can easily be dressed casually with a tank or dressed up with a fun top and heels. The maxi dress is elegant…period. I received the dress in ‘Sunset’, which is equivalent to the Pantone 2012 Color of the Year- ‘Tangerine Tango.’ The dress is simple, except for the tasteful lace cutout in the front and bare cutout in the back. I just love that the cut in the bodice bares my finest assets. The Just Dance Dress was the last dress I received. It has a sheer lace bodice with scalloped peter pan collar and a lovely pleated skirt. This dress is meant to be snazzed up a bit, whether it be a bright or neon-colored cami, a fun headband and a pair of Jeffrey Campbells.

Finders Keepers is deliciously exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing the collection at the stores here in the States. For more information, check out the website. For a peek inside a couple lookbooks, go here and here.

**Photo Credit: Kate-Marie Heimann (Wear in LA)**

Other brands photographed in the shoot: Kensie, Modtoast, Free Aruna, Sole Society, Lola Shoetique, Forever 21, Old Gringo Boots, Pop Killer, Heart of Haiti by Macy’s, Heather-Marie Accessories (my own line), Jenny Dayco, Vanessa Mooney, Alex and Ani, Venus Fly Trap and Lani Beck Collection.

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Vanessa Mooney Jewelry

I recently had the pleasure of taking a peek into the Vanessa Mooney design studio, located in downtown Los Angeles. Vanessa Mooney is known for her vintage-inspired, rocker-chic and boho jewelry and has been seen on the likes of Katie Holmes, Vanessa Hudgens and Sienna Miller. Vanessa, who is the great-granddaughter of Harry Warner (one of the original Warner Bros.) is self-taught and launched her line in 2009, with one idea in mind: “let uninhibited design intuition lead the way.” She gets much of her inspiration from the many cultures and ethnicities she experiences during her travels. Mooney’s studio is housed in a very chic loft with breathtaking views of the surrounding city. I had the chance to meet the staff (unfortunately Vanessa was out-of-town) and see first-hand all the supplies and work that goes into making a bracelet or necklace. I previewed some classic pieces, as well as pieces from the new Holiday Resort and Spring 2012. I also saw some of the fringed handbags and tried on the comfy moccasins (available in tribal or animal print) that are now apart of the line. My favorite pieces I saw that day were the “Spear Me” pewter/brass necklaces, the African tribal collection, the rings and the “Dream Catcher” necklace. After personally viewing the collection, I am now an avid fan. Her jewelry is perfect for layering and creating that bohemian edge to any outfit, whether it be for work or going out. The line ranges from $50-300 and can be found at Urban Outfitters, Shopbop, Free People, Calypso, LF and Planet Blue. For more information and to shop the line, check out the website here.

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Thale Blanc and La Pochette

I was unable to attend the official launch party to celebrate Thale Blanc’s newest and hottest IT accessory- the pochette. But I was able to stop by the designer’s showroom and preview the collection recently. It was such a pleasure meeting Thale Blanc’s designer- Deborah Sawaf, who was kind enough to share the background of the brand and demonstrate how one would wear the pochette. Deborah grew up in a family of couture designers, thus, going into the couture business herself. She also studied gemology and had a fine jewelry line. After taking a break to start a family for seven years, she decided she wanted to get back into doing what she loves best-design something that’s practical. So, after realizing that she hated rummaging through her purse for her phone and would miss a call, she came up with the pochette- a mini accessory with a compartment that holds a phone, credit cards, cash and drivers license. There’s also a hook that holds car keys safely and securely. Deborah wanted this to be versatile (as she’s BIG on versatility) and fashionable. She currently has forty designs for the pochette, a little something for everyone. It comes with a detachable chain so you can wear it cross-body, around your waist or as a necklace. She also sells a variety of chains for the pochette. Feel like a plain chain? Done. How about a little bling in the chain? Done. There’s also a smaller chain available so you can attach the pochette to the outside of your handbag. The line has expanded to “double-pochettes”- the mini accessory with two compartments and very travel/family-friendly. How about a unique and durable ipad pochettes and covers? Each ipad accessory comes with a handy pocket for your phone, etc. and an opening for the speaker and camera. The ipad cover also comes with a small pocket for retractable headphones.

Along with the pochettes, Sawaf also has a collection of handbags and jewelry. Since she has a background in jewelry, she casts her own three-dimensional hardware. The results are stunning. My favorite pieces were the clutches from the ‘Maharajah’ line. The clutches are sleek and simple, but with a “crown jewel”clasp. So, along with the best hardware, the line contains the best skins (Deborah loves the exotics) that only come from the best farms.

The entire Thale Blanc line includes purple packaging, dedicated to her late brother-in-law, who died in Afganistan. Everything is manufactured in Los Angeles. Prices range from $112-300 for a pochette, wrap-bracelets are $50. For more information and to check out the latest specials (which includes a holiday deal for all pochettes- $98) go to the website!

I would personally like to thank Deborah and Fabiana for having me! Thank you again for my pochette. I LOVE it and it’s so handy!

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Designer- Christina Makowsky

I had the honor of meeting New York designer- Christina Makowsky, while she was in town (and many thanks to the Kate and staff at Chic Little Devil Style House). After Christina graduated from FIT and discovered luxury brands such as Celine, Mugler, Gaultier and Alaia at the Pret-a-Porter show in Paris; she decided to open up three retail stores in Long Island. These stores only carried around ten-fifteen pieces of most of the high-end designers. She had Michael Kors in the store for eighteen years. Granted, back in those days, luxury brands were rare and since there was no internet, people weren’t aware of the brands as they are nowadays. It wasn’t until about eight years ago, that luxury brands did begin popping up everywhere and weren’t as rare. With that being said, Christina decided to close the stores and put her heart back into her roots- designing clothing. Her collections are apart of who she is and showcases her sense of style. Her pieces are classic with a hint of edge. She is a woman of value and she wants not only her children to grow up with the right values and to understand that you should buy only the best quality and to be able to wear it always, save and cherish it; but also wants her clients to recognize these values. That’s why her pieces aren’t sold in stores. She wants to keep her collections tight and precious and be made in America.

Christina is a huge believer of being humanitarian. She feels that at this stage in her life, she wants to do something that will ‘leave a mark’ in the fashion industry. “Imagine if everyone did a little something through their career they were in?” At this time, she hosts private charity trunk shows with part of the proceeds going to a specific charity. The brand hosts Twitter campaigns with a charitable edge. Right now, they are working with Operation Smile. Anything donated throughout December is matched by O.S. So far, Christina has accumulated eight smiles. The Red Carpet Collection is only made up of ten gowns for ten actresses. If the actress wears the gown, the gown will be named after her and when the gown gets produced commercially, proceeds from the gown will go to the charity of the actress’s choice. How cool is that?! That concept is also what sets Christina Makowsky apart.

Christina gets most of her inspiration from her clients from the past twenty-eight years of being in the retailing/designing business and their lifestyles. Her collections are always on-trend and classic, but never trendy. She believes that the clothes have to work for the wearer. “Every girl needs a wardrobe that works for them and can take them wherever they are going.” Her Winter, Spring and Resort collections are versatile enough to be broken up and mixed around with different pieces. “You can go from a t-shirt to ballgown, but I will try and always show you how to wear a little cocktail suit, break it up and wear out to dinner with jeans…” She showed me a beautiful suit jacket with jeweled detachable collar and cuffs and showed me how she would pair them with another piece from the collection. She loves working with double-face crepe and many of her pieces boast a raw edge (so fun and unique, very glam and rock). Another great fact about the Christina Makowsky brand is that the buttons boast her CM initials and are made in the great state of Rhode Island.

She doesn’t have a favorite designer she looks up to, as she thinks that the best designers are the ones that are consistently true to their brand, which helps build a loyal client base. But she did say that Karl Lagerfeld stands out. She thinks he’s brilliant and took Chanel to a whole other level. Plus, he made her wedding gown (omg!!). She hopes to continue to evolve her brand and evolve the awareness of the ‘made in America’ stance. You, dear readers, can check out her website to shop or get more information. If you have a charity event and would like to have Christina do a trunk show, you may contact her as well.

**My photo of Christina and a peek at the collection**

*These photos were used with permission by Kate of CLDStyle and Christina Makowsky*

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Jill Milan Handbags (via Handbago)

I am very excited to introduce two companies- Handbago and Jill Milan. Both are making their mark in the handbag/fashion industry in some way. One of the Handbago founders- Kristina Meert, kindly enlightened me about the luxury handbag line. So, without further ado, may I first present- Handbago. Handbago is a members-only site founded in 2009 and dedicated to having the best and most unique handbags around, as well as feature awesome yet lesser-known designers; such as Sherry Wolf and the brand I’ll be discussing with you- Jill Milan. Not only is Handbago a marketplace to find the hottest bags, but it’s also a community. It features a blog, handbag reviews, giveaways and more! So… what are you waiting for?! Sign up to become a ‘Bagista’ today for FREE!

I was thrilled when the folks at Handbago acquainted me with the lux line- Jill Milan, which, might I add, is V-E-G-A-N! Jill Milan is still new, having just launched in 2010 by Jill Fraser and Milan Lazich. The faux-leather bags are handcrafted in Florence, Italy by the same artisans that created bags for Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga. They recently hired Maya Stewart to design their Fall collection. Maya uses her Native American background as inspiration for her design aesthetic and loves incorporating geometric shapes in the designs. Jill Milan not only is environmentally friendly, they also help out the animals. For example, upon hearing that horses are in danger of being shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, (and that Jill is an equestrian herself), proceeds from the brand’s “Thoroughbred” bag go towards organizations that rescue and save former racehorses. I love hearing about brands like this…whose products are simple, but beautiful and help out the environment or other charities. Prices for the bags range from $450-2,500. Check out Jill Milan here!


**Photos courtesy of Jill Fraser for Jill Milan**

I would like to thank Jill Fraser for gifting me the “Gondola” clutch in red. The clutch is the object of every women’s desire and feels amazing when holding it. The inside of the clutch is spacious and can comfortably fit a cell phone, small wallet, car keys and other small items. The bag closes securely via an inside magnetic closure and via an outside closure that is made from Italian brass with the JM logo and is hooked to a soft faux-leather strap. I love the clutch so much that it inspired me to create an avant-garde dress!

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Lani Beck Jewelry Collection

I heard about the Lani Beck Collection through the lovely Kristina of Handbago (where Lani is selling some of her accessories). I had the opportunity to meet with the designer- Lani Beck over coffee one day and chat about her line, which was recently started in February. She was inspired to start her line because of the burgeoning handbag accessory trends, like the fox tails and tassels. She also wanted something that didn’t weigh down the handbag. Unable to get the accessories at that moment, she just decided she was going to design some of her own and bought two leather hides, tools and hardware and just started experimenting. After the leather fringe she cut out herself didn’t turn out the best the first time, she was able to get a professional leather cutter. She is pretty much the sole person for her company (which helps cut down the costs) and she makes all the samples herself. There’s a signature feather charm included on all her pieces, which was inspired by the feather trend (that she adores). She describes her line of necklaces, bracelets and tassels as bohemian and rocker-chic and that can also transition easily from day to evening. My favorite piece from the versatile collection would have to be the fringe necklace, which can be worn casually with jeans and a tee or tank or dressed up. I am also a fan of the bracelets, with a leather strap woven through the chain. I’ve also got to have one of the tassels for my growing collection of handbags. Her price points are fantastic, retailing from $42-64. Lani Beck Collection is not sold in stores yet (but will be soon). You can check out the Etsy Store and she is also sold on Handbago.

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31 Bits

I had the fortunate opportunity to stop by the popular development organization, 31 Bits’s headquarters in Costa Mesa to learn more about the brand. It was co-founded in 2008 by Kallie Dovel, who had traveled to Uganda back in 2007 to visit friends and get a glimpse of life in Northern Uganda. While there, she met women that had been displaced, who were crafting beautiful beads made from old posters, magazines, fliers and textbooks; but unfortunately, there was no market for selling them there. She brought back a box of jewelry to share with her friends and family-thus, bringing awareness and more demand for the jewelry. This series of events conjured up the idea for 31 Bits. The name, “31 Bits” was named after the Bible verse- Proverbs 31, which describes a diligent woman providing and caring for her family. “Bits” was named after the phrase- ‘bits of paper’, which is what the beads are made out of. Since 2008, 31 Bits has grown from having six women designers to one hundred fifteen. I think this is so amazing because these women are so talented and 31 Bits is helping to bring awareness to their craft, as well as helping them through development programs and giving them a decent wage so that they can provide food, shelter, health care to themselves and their families. I really enjoyed taking a peek inside their warehouse, chock full of boxes of different styles of necklaces and bracelets. As a visual person, it was a joy to see all the many colors and the variety of color-ways in the jewelry. If you want more information on the brand and want to hear more about how 31 Bits helps the women of Gulu, Uganda, go to their website.

Note: I want to extend a huge thanks to Alli- the director of PR/Marketing for kindly giving me the opportunity to tour the 31 Bits headquarters and for gifting me the ‘Heritage’ necklace in violet, as a thanks for doing this article on the brand.

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Carrie Parry A/W11

During FOCUS, I had the opportunity to meet New York designer- Carrie Parry and view her Autumn/Winter 2011, titled “Mrs. Montague.” Carrie was inspired by 1930s cult classic, The Women and Japanese polka-dot artist- Yayoi Kusama, emphasizing versatility. The line is beautifully tailored and extremely innovative; using the concept of interchangeable and detachable collars, which celebrates the pioneer of the detachable collar- 1870s housewife, Mrs. Montague. Her eco-friendly pieces are timeless classics. You can play up the separates by mixing n’ matching, as well as layering. Need a new outfit that transitions from the office to a gals night out? Might I suggest the fun ‘colorblock sleeveless dress’ or ‘black and white checked skirt’ or the ‘red shift dress with detachable collar’…The whole collection is brilliant and for more information on Carrie and the A/W11 collection, check out her website and Facebook!

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Alter Ego Jewelry by Erika Walton

All you Superhero, Mattel, Disney and Warner Bros. fans rejoice! Burbank-based jewelry brand, Alter Ego by Erika Walton is your dream come true! This very funky and kitsch line has been seen on the likes of Paris Hilton, Tila Tequila, Cisco Adler, several Japanese celebrities and Korean band- Big Bang. I had the pleasure of meeting the designer, Erika Walton at her studio. She is such an awesome girl with a fun down-to-earth personality (which is a perfect match for her quirky line). Back when she was fifteen, while babysitting, she was playing with beads and toy cars, and it came to her- a car bracelet. It took her a week to make one that didn’t fall apart. After that, she branched out into making bracelets and necklaces made from semi-precious stones, beads, charms and recycled toys from the 1950s-1990s. She attended her first trade show- MAGIC- when she was seventeen. During that time, she received a lot of press and celebrity attention. Now, at present time, she has two lines: Erika Walton, a simpler line that is licensed with Warner Bros. and is made in LA. Then Alter Ego by Erika Walton, which is more high-end and handmade by Erika herself. She is also collaborating with Comme des Garcons on the “Black Collection.” Just recently she also explained that she just started making toys and having a line being made locally, in hopes to help boost the economy (as she is a fan on being green). Erika isn’t inspired by any jewelry designers, but rather, finds inspiration in the little things, such as: candy, nature, glitter, sequins and when she sees people laughing and smiling. You can tell this girl puts a lot of passion and heart into her work. Her pricing varies, depending on the line… The Superheros go for $65-90, the Looney Tunes for $150 and bracelets are around $140. The Alter Ego bracelets go for $80-150, necklaces for $200-600. The Comme des Garcons pieces can go from $500-1000. Her famous car bracelets are $60. For more information on the lines and to shop, check out the website!

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Tash Folds by Tash Limited

Move over Dr. Scholl’s! There’s a newer, (and cuter) foldable flat in town! Tash Folds (the sister line of a regular shoe line, Tash Limited) was created by Natasha Tomek. Having been disgusted by the plain ‘ole black roll-up flat, she decided to take a chance and create foldable flats that fit nicely into your purse and are inspired by her friends and herself. Her line launched during MAGIC (February 2011) and consists of snakeskin, Oxford-inspired, TOMS-inspired and linen floral lace-ups. Unlike its counterparts, Tash Folds has a thicker sole and is meant to be worn everyday, hence the motto: “For the girl on the go.” Natasha passionately stands by her product (having been wearing her folds for eight months and they’re still going strong). She also believes that if she designs something, she’s going to wear it too! Due to her upbringing, she also believes in keeping her line under $45 and affordable for everyone. In the coming months, we will expect to be seeing a Havianas-inspired sandal collection, with the bag (that the sandals come with) opening up into a handy beach tote. There is also a wedding collection in the works as well…ballet flats adorned with pearls and Swarovski crystals with Bride, Bride to be, etc. Tash Folds are debuting in July, so be sure to check out the website for further deets!!

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Macy’s “Heart of Haiti” Campaign

This campaign was brought to my attention by the lovely people of Macy’s and beeverywhere. Granted the earthquake in Haiti happened last year, but it still has an impact on us today. After the Clinton Foundation Summit in May 2010, Macy’s teamed up with Fairwinds Trading and Brandaid Project to collaborate with Haitian artisans on the “Heart of Haiti” campaign, which will bring trade and aid to the country through a program that that will give the Haitian artisans the opportunity to sell their traditional handcrafted home decor products and jewelry. The collection is inspired by the courage and culture of the Haitian people. As of now, there are more than two-hundred artisans back to work; including blacksmiths from Croix des Bouquets, papier mache artists from Carnival Jacmel artists and a womens quilting cooperative in Cite Soleil. A selection of quilts, metalwork, ceramics, wood-carvings, paintings and jewelry launched as the exclusive Macy’s “Heart of Haiti” last October online and in twenty-five Macy’s stores. To shop the products, meet the artisans and watch the video- go here. According to the CEO of Macy’s- Terry J. Lundgren, “It is truly devastating to see the ongoing impact of the earthquake in Haiti. While we, along with many others, responded immediately with giving, we also quickly identified an opportunity to help in a more lasting way. Like our Rwandan ‘Path to Peace’ program, we know that we can create a sustainable economic model when there is beautifully appointed product and an inspiring story to tell. We are delighted to bring these incredible works of art to Macy’s customers in America, and in turn to create a revenue stream that can support the foundation and infrastructure for Haiti’s rebuild.”

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Jenny Dayco-Jewelry Designer

Whimsical…Fun…Humorous… Those are the words LA jewelry designer Jenny Dayco used to describe her high-quality yet very affordable line. Dayco, a natural artist who has a knack for seeing something in her mind and actually being able to make it; was tired of the limited selection of plus-size fashion back in 2002. So she figured, hell, why not make jewelry to jazz up an outfit, since she was after all, working in the fashion industry and attended numerous events and parties. She recalled making a giant gold circle necklace for a cousin’s wedding back in 2004 and later wearing the same necklace for a friend’s store’s party. Her friend is the owner of the boutique, Scout, by the Grove and he suggested she started making jewelry for his store. So she thought about it and decided to give it a go. From then until the beginning of 2006, she worked to make ends meet, while doing her jewelry on the side. Then, literally by the grace of God, opportunities started popping up everywhere. She no longer needed a job and was able to support herself doing her jewelry full-time. Though when the recession hit in 2009, she dwindled down from making mostly large pieces to smaller pieces (but still is continuing with the large pieces). It was only until recently when she started having actual ‘themed’ collections. Cleopatra is by far, one of her favorite inspirations; due to the opulence of the movie in general, in addition to Elizabeth Taylor’s costumes and jewelry. For Fall 2011, she’s sticking to the Cleopatra theme (though some people have said her pieces are very 70′s Disco inspired). She references magazine pages at times , but for the most part, feels that she gets her inspiration from within herself. “It’s like you’re a painter… what do you want to paint today? I wanna paint that tree…You can look outside at the world around you and say well, I think that is beautiful, I wanna paint that …You could. Or is there something within you that you want to create..that you’ve never seen before? Or that you have seen in your own mind. But you have yet to witness through your own eyes on a canvas…” Dayco explains. She likes to stick with what she knows, as far as materials goes. She knows that her customers appreciate the gold and silver jewelry and loves working with large found objects (such as a brooch or an aluminum acorn). Best-sellers for her line include: teardrop earrings, silver/gold feather necklaces/earrings, charm jewelry, handcuff necklaces, religious–inspired pieces, brooch rings (I have the black brooch ring and LOVE it!), black and gold jewelry. Her prices are very reasonable, as she says she wants to design for everyone. Her wholesale prices start at $10-50. Due to the economy also being the way it is and that she does everything herself and doesn’t have to outsource, her retail prices do not go above $110. She also passed along some advise that she would like to share with young artists and jewelry designers…”Start small. Make a few things, see where it goes from there… Be the person that people like working with. No one likes working with a diva. You yourself represent your brand…You’re your own spokesperson. Young designers- put yourself out there… business cards… word of mouth… And be careful what you say online (Facebook or Twitter) because your representing your brand.”

Jenny Dayco has been mentioned in multiple publications, such as: Nylon Guys, Teen Vogue, Flaunt, Paper, etc and has been spotted on Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Paris Hilton, Keri Hilson and many other A-listers. Her line is sold in boutiques throughout LA, most noteably: Diavolina (located 8741 West 3rd Street Los Angeles, CA 90048 310.550.1341), Beige (located 7274 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036-2545 323.549.0064), Kill City (located 7975 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90046-7118 323.272.4206) and EM & Co. (located 7940 West 3rd Street`Los Angeles, CA 90048-4305`323.782.8155). She also is a best-seller in Japan and online.

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Designer John Murrough and illia

I hate to admit, but I didn’t really know of illia until after I had the pleasure of touring the store in Venice, meeting the retail manager-Fritzie and talking with the designer- John Murrough (and meeting his dog- Gracie). The store was small, which enabled a more personable atmosphere. All the clothes and accessories exuded the highest quality in fabrics, mainly leathers and some knits and wovens. John was eager to share some background (and current) information with me. illia has been around since the 90′s and the garments at the time were made out of suede. However, John decided to take a sabbatical from the industry and went back to South Africa. It wasn’t until Spring of 2009 when illia relaunched again, with an exclusive event at Barney’s New York. This time around, the garments were mainly created out of leather. Since rejoining the fashion workforce, along with business partner-Robbie Moray, he has realized that the business had changed dramatically with the recession. Specialty stores are getting fewer and far between. The point was brought up that because of the economy, people are paying more attention to the quality of clothing. Consumers want something that’s unique and not seen on a lot of people (which is why illia stands out from other brands.) He was telling me that during one of the trade shows, he saw a very chic woman that he knew was wearing of his jackets. He found out that she has had it for twelve years. He is very passionate in his brand, being well-aware of the ‘illia consumer,’ who are usually the very health-conscious Venice women. He always wants to know what has or hasn’t sold and why, along with the fit of the garments. He focuses on a fitted, tailored silhouette with smaller armholes. Although illia is a womenswear brand, men even love trying on the shirt jackets because of the tailoring. He is constantly thinking about what the customer wants next and is usually spot on with his judgement. He credits LA as his inspiration, because the brand is all about the California lifestyle…casual yet chic. He also has a couple muses that have impeccable style and looks to them for inspiration. Although every piece at the Venice store is exquisite, there are a couple best-sellers: the motorcycle jackets and vests; because they’re made so well that they last a long time, which is what people want (I mean, wouldn’t YOU?) In the near future, illia plans on opening a few more stores (as Venice is the one and only) and creating a menswear line. The line would ultimately consist of five or six easy shirts and blazers.

illia is located in the trendy Abbot Kinney neighborhood in Venice at 1638 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. The phone number is (310)450-2890.

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Jewelry Designer- Clemmie Watson

I first heard of Clemmie Watson when I was reading NYLON magazine and saw a picture of a customized “NYLON” necklace she was sent them. I checked out her site and fell in love with her jewelry line. Native American inspired necklaces and earrings…Fender guitar pick earrings… Medicine pouch necklaces…Each piece is one-of-a-kind and was carefully constructed by Clemmie- who chose jewelry making as an artsy medium to express herself creatively. About ten years ago, she found herself at an arts and crafts store to get some string and seed beads. But as she soon realized, what started out as just a hobby, quickly turned into a happy love affair and business. She draws her inspirations from the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte, her boyfriend, the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City (where she is based). According to Clemmie, ” [the museum] houses one of the most beautiful masterpieces by Michelangelo Caravaggio, John the Baptist. I could look at that painting for hours. It is more intriguing than the most perfect sunset because it was created by man.” As far as the process of making the pieces; she uses anything from silks, leathers, precious stones (smoky quartz and crystal quartz in particular), fine chains and feathers. “I am always challenging myself to develop new techniques to make mixed-media pieces look balanced and seamless,” she adds. At the moment, her favorite pieces are the medicine pouches. “I put different crystals in each pouch. No two are alike and they’re so much fun to make because I don’t know how they will turn out,” she explains. Prices range from $40-920 on her website. The medicine pouches range from $160-700.

NOTE: All but one of the photos were used with permission from ClemmieWatson.com. The one photo I took myself. Many thanks to Clemmie for gifting the “Silver Feather #1″ !!!!

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Nana Bijou Jewelry

I had the pleasure of meeting jewelry designer, Natalie Sadigh at my monthly Two Point Oh LA “Blogger Cafe.” Her pieces were very exquisite and delicate and immediately caught my attention. She started her line, Nana Bijou Jewelry in 2000 while studying at GIA (Gemological Institute of America). The name, “Nana Bijou” originated from when her younger brother was a toddler. He had a tough time pronouncing her name, Natalie; so he said, “Na-na-Na,” which has stuck with her over the years. She just recently found out that “Nana” means: “chic” (French street slang for ‘girl’.) Bijou is her mother’s name and means, “jewelry” in French. Natalie finds inspiration from her mother, Karl Lagerfeld, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, nature, and the LA architecture just to name a few. She is not only business-savvy (having followed her parents wishes and went to business school) but is extremely crafty in the fashion and jewelry industries. She works with anything she can get her hands on, turning it red carpet-worthy jewelry. She’s known for her lariats, chunky necklaces, elaborate earrings and especially her attention to detail. Each necklace comes with two little tags: one is a Hamsa, for protection and the second is a heart inscribed with a quote- “Made with love.” Prices for the pieces vary depending on materials. It could be anywhere from $40 (for a pair of earrings) to $3,000 (for a more elaborate necklace). But the average necklace prices are from $100-500. I will leave you with an inspiring quote from Natalie: “…I guess you could say I’m walking proof for all the youngsters out there of how important it is for everyone to be sure and DO WHAT YOU LOVE!!! Because ultimately, that’s the only way one can truly be successful.”

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We Are Handsome

Thanks to fellow blogger, Jennifer for introducing me to Australian swimwear brand- We Are Handsome. The line features mens and womens suits with simple silhouettes but have bold and fun images printed on them. The brand was founded by longtime friends, Jeremy and Indhra. Indhra managed a nightclub in Sydney and also ran swimwear label-Oscar and Elvis. Jeremy was the creative director of the same nightclub. Then, after about five years, Jeremy approached Indhra with the idea that would later be “We Are Handsome.” When finding images for their collections, they go through massive piles of images and then come up with an idea. Once they have an idea, they explore the many themes and images that are affiliated with that idea. They use the highest quality elastomeric and polyester fabrics and use the process of digital sublimation that makes the images vibrant and lucid. What sets them apart from other swimwear lines? According to Jeremy,”Our debut collection was all born from the idea that we wanted to create images that you felt like you’ve seen before. The familiarity of all our prints is really important, even though you’ve never actually seen them before. We love to be able to create an emotional connection to an image and for it to bring back memories of thoughts of distant times.” When I browsed the collection at the California Market Center, I did see a couple suits with images of vintage life… Ahhh yesteryear……. The line and its signature scoop neck one-pieces are coveted by the likes of Katy Perry, Jessica Biel, M.I.A. and Tyra Banks. Prices range from $200-250 to own a piece of wearable art that’s perfect for the beach. Also check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

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Gasoline Glamour’s “Candyland” Collection

I happened upon the ‘candied happiness’ when I was reading an e-newsletter from the Chic Little Devil Style House. I immediately contacted them to view and get to know more about the collection. I tell you, the pictures don’t do the products justice… Just being able to try-on, touch and actually see them was awesome and overwhelming (overwhelming in a good way of course). Shannon-the designer for Gasoline Glamour utilized everything from candy, lollipops to spikes, jewels and Christmas ornaments; when she was commissioned to do the “Candyland” collection for Katy Perry. The collection was done in 72 hours. As for the rest of her collections in general, she finds inspiration through random things in her house, images in her head, anything she can get her hands on or sparks her interest…”Creativity is not something you can bottle. Like swagger, you either have it or you don’t,” she states. Gasoline Glamour is sold in boutiques around the globe and online. For more information, contact Kelly@cldstylehouse.com or Michelle@cldstylehouse.com.

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Adam Bernhard- CEO at Hautelook

Yours truly had the exciting opportunity to sit down with Adam Bernhard- the founder and CEO of the popular and ever-growing e-commerce site, Hautelook. What amazes me is that the company is only two years old and is doing remarkably well [whether growing internally with employees or externally with its member base] during this economy. For this interview, I did something a little different. I not only asked some of my own questions, but reached out of my fans as well, asking them ‘if they had one thing to ask the CEO of Hautelook, what would it be?’

LAFashionsnob: What made you want to get into fashion?

Adam Bernhard: I’ve been around fashion since I was a kid. My mother’s in the fashion business. She owned a textile company and buying office. One of my first jobs was working at a retail store- Fred Segal when I was 17 years old…and so I worked there for years. Even while I was in college I worked at Fred Segal. I always loved being around clothes. It was kind of a family industry that we were in.

LAFS: Of all the names you could have named the company, why “Hautelook”?

AB: Hautelook represents a couple things in the fashion business: ‘Haute-couture’ for one, which is high or high fashion, ‘Haute’ the word in and of itself, in French means ‘high’, so the concept of it being a aspirational site we wanted to make sure the name carried with it aspirational thought process. Psychologically, you think ‘Haute’ is a very elegant word and the word,”look” actually is a word used in the fashion business. So on photo shoots, no one really says, “oh I like that outfit”, they say, “oh I like that look” and when you’re backstage at fashion shows they call the different outfits “look 1, look 2, look 3″..etc…depending on when the girls are walking out. In fashion always, there’s the new “look”…The word ‘look’ is highly correlated to the fashion business. So ‘haute’ which is ‘high’ and ‘look’ which is very ‘industry terminology’…just seem to go well together.

LAFS:What is the purpose behind the “legendary big comfy green chair”?

AB: When I had just started the liquidation business, I had just come off running a label called, “Joie” and I was in my apartment and every morning .. I would get up like I was going to work, take a shower, get dressed and go sit in that chair like it was my office. I would start to call my friends in the business and see if they had extra goods for me to sell.  ( My friend had an office up the street from my apartment and when I needed to send a fax I would go to his office and I would sneak in there and I would send faxes from his fax machine because I didn’t have one in my apartment. ) And so that chair lives on and I won’t let anyone throw it away.

LAFS: What sets Hautelook apart from the other companies (ie Gilt, Rue La La)?

AB: Part of it I think, is the culture and the roots of our business. This business comes from me being in the apparel business. We had never seen this idea. We had a liquidation  business (post my running a label)  and the business really came out of us wanting to provide brands with a better way to clear their access inventory by protecting the brand from anything that would harm their brand identity and we wanted to figure out a way to make more margin for them. So it was a fortuative timing that we happen to launch the site during one of the worst economic downturns that this country has ever seen. So we were fortunate enough to have that on our side and we had the wind in our back and it really just took off so quickly.

LAFS (on behalf of Crosby Noricks-PR Couture): Given the proliferation of similar sites, how do you continue to differentiate Hautelook and retain/extend your community?

AB: As a first-mover we have an advantage that our site is recognized as one of the leaders in the space. We are able to leverage that because we are a west-coast based company in and of itself the culture and the brand of Hautelook is more of a casual-lifestyle brand,compared to the east-coast players in the space who are much more New York based and east-coastcentric so we have more of an inviting atmosphere of inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness and we wanna make sure that our membership continues to grow with that feeling of being a member is open as an invitation to all people no matter who they are, where they are, at what social bracket they’re in, what ethnicity they are, the gender…Now we have mens. So our focus is to differentiate by being inclusive rather than exclusive  and we are letting brands know that we’re reaching a huge customer base of customers that wanna know more about what’s going on w/style as opposed to us dictating what we think style is.

LAFS (on behalf of Crosby Noricks-PR Couture): Why should a designer consider a sale through a company like Hautelook? Any success stories to share?

AB: When we first started the site, it was an exhaust vehicle for brands to be able to clear their inventory. What we quickly realized was that this was a incredible marketing vehicle for brands to be able to reach our close to three million customers on a regular basis. Seventy-five percent of our member sales , when they buy something from the sale from the brand, they go to that brand’s website . Fifty percent of the people that buy something from one of our sales they go and go buy and purchased that brand post the sale at either brick-and-mortar or online store and twenty percent said they bought an item from that brand post the sale at full price. So we’re getting brands a new member into their the brand culture and this is the real exciting part of what’s happening in the flash sales base that is not just a exhaust vehicle, but it’s a marketing vehicle.

LAFS (on behalf of Crosby Noricks-PR Couture): How does Hautelook promote itself off-domain?

AB: We have been fortunate enough to have our community of members basically build our business. The bloggersphere has really retold our story, brought sixty percent of our members into our membership base into our database and it’s been really a fantastic word of mouth growth . Plain and simple, it’s one of those phenomenons where people like to talk about it. It’s one of those things, people like to hear about it, it’s great, they like to share. Like the proliferation of the social web , people like to share what they’re doing more so then ever. So as they continue to share (girls love to share about their shopping experience) so we are continuing to escalate our ability to allow them to share information. And you’ll see something coming out in our iphone and ipad apps in the next couple months.

LAFS (on behalf of Crosby Noricks-PR Couture): What excites you about coming to work each day?

AB: I think it’s the atmosphere and the people here.We’re doing so many new things every day it’s a undiscovered territory where our business is there’s no road map in doing what we’re doing. It’s the discovery similar to every night we re-merchandise our store so every morning there’s new discovery for our members and it’s similar for me when I come to the office . There’s new challenges every day, there’s new exciting frontiers , new problems, there’s always something new for us to focus on. This is a very young atmosphere here, the employees are all very young and it’s exciting to see how everybody’s just working towards the same goal and it’s a very pleasurable place to work.

LAFS (on behalf of Crosby Noricks-PR Couture): What are three things you wish you had known before you launched Hautelook?

AB: I think not knowing sometimes allows you not to have fear. There’s a lot of things that if I knew it, I probably wouldn’t have been able to build this business as big as it is. The three things I wish I didn’t know, I still wish I didn’t know. So I know now what I knew then, I probably wouldn’t have started this business. My advice would be: don’t worry about you don’t know, learn what you don’t know and don’t be afraid. You have to just go with your intuition some of this obviously when your building a business from scratch it’s all about that feeling that you’re gonna have to make a decision and once you make a decision you’re  have to stick with it. You have to be big enough to admit you’re wrong. At some point, when you know something’s not going your way you have to cut bait and move on.

LAFS (on behalf of Rebekka Lien): What is your life goal?

AB: I enjoy life. So I live as hard as I work and my goal is to experience life as it comes to me. I want to see the world. I love travel. I love that we (here at Hautelook) put a stamp on a new form of doing something, which is the new form of retail. So for us to have a lasting impression on the mindset and way in which people shop, that’s really exciting  for me.

LAFS (on behalf of Emma Zerner-model/singer/actress): How do you always look and feel “haute” and meanwhile retain your sense of self?

AB: Hautelook doesn’t define me. It’s a company that we have all built together so I am still me and I think part of our ability to build this business was my relationships out there in the marketplace and I think it’s you need to be true to who you are -always . People who change over time, I guarantee you, people from grade school will say I’m the same guy I was then , nothing has changed about me, I do exactly the same things I was doing before . Like everybody else, I eat, I sleep, I breathe, I exercise. I have the ability to meet with people that because of this business allow me to continue to collect deeper levels of information because we have garnered a status here at Hautelook of a “frontier blazer,” and so that’s exciting for me . I now am able to spend time with individuals that  are leaders of business to completely understand how we can develop our business.

LAFS (on behalf of Jane Chen): What are your favorite stores or places that you go to that always has that something special for everyone?

AB: I’m very particular with my gift-giving. There isn’t one particular store where I shop. When I buy gifts , I really think about what that person’s likes are and anytime people ask me what I should get them I say what do they do? What are they into?What are their hobbies and passions? Mine are pretty evident, you see around the office, I have modern architecture books, art books, calenders by famous artists… So for me, I’m pretty transparent. Art, architecture and travel are my passions so when people buy me things, they know and so when I say to my friends and when I go to buy gifts for people, I really focus on who they are and what they like rather then the stores i find appealing to me because I’m buying something for someone else.

LAFS: In closing, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs wanting to start their business, and in this shaky economy?

AB: This is the best time to start a business. It’s all about change right now. It’s all about evolution. People are looking for different ways to do pretty much everything. So I believe this is the one of the most opportunistic times we’ll have in our lifetime. The economy has turned in a way where there’s a lot of great talent out there on the streets of if you’re able to start a business and get some great people, whatever you do, do it with conviction. If you believe in it, you gotta go for it, that ‘s the number one thing.  I think being an entrepreneur is one of the most exciting things you can ever do. but what you need to understand when you’re an entrepreneur is the highs are very high and the lows are very low. so you better be thick skinned if you’re gonna start a business. You gotta be able to ride the wave and be able to understand that there’s gonna be good days and there’s gonna be bad days. If you just go to work somewhere and you’re just getting a check every week, yes that could be fulfilling, but if you’re going to go the route of an entrepreneur, you have to have that mindset of when it’s going great, that’s when you need to worry, because it can turn in a second. and so you need to be able to ride the highs and ride the lows and keep a calm, cool and collected head.

NOTE: Many thanks to Executive Assistant Christine Elmassian for helping to set up the interview, to Adam and to Kate Petreccia of Paqit for providing five boxes of Paqit for my five fans that provided me with questions. And the lovely people who provided me with questions: Crosby Noricks, Rebekka Lien, Jane Chen and Emma Zerner!!

**You can sign up to become a member of Hautelook on my blog. Thanks!**

**Photo of Adam provided by Hautelook….. 2nd photo is of the Legendary Green Chair (taken by me)**

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Designer Elene Cassis

I had the chance to sit down with and view the Fall/Winter 2010 of New York designer Elene Cassis. Elene is a graduate of Parsons and felt very prepared and driven to start her company right after. This June will mark the one-year anniversary of the start of her company. She defines her style, inspired by Chanel and Ralph Lauren, as “classic beyond belief with a modern twist.” Her clothes have a general color palette of black and white and have a European meets Jackie-O meets London feel. She uses natural fabrics and all the pieces are lined with silk. She is extremely detail-oriented in that she checks the quality of every piece before it goes out to boutiques. Her pieces have been seen on Booker T. Washington’s daughter, the Shannon twins, Stephanie Pratt, and the ‘Linda’ dress has recently been worn on Cheryl Burke.

The classic silhouette was evident in the collection I viewed. The dresses are very versatile in that they could be worn during the day and then jazzed up a bit to wear out on the town in the evening. They are also structured to fit curvier women as well. Elene believes that “everyone should feel special and wear designer clothes.” Prices range from $300-400 and are available in boutiques around the country (one being Petro Zillia here in LA). Her NY showroom is located at 252 W. 38th St. (between 7th & 8th Aves.) and her office number is (212)784-0696 and fax is (212)784-0699. Check out www.elenecassis.com for online shopping and more information.

Special thanks to the designer, Elene Cassis and Carla Bate of Spin Shoppe PR!

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Celebrity Jewelry Designer- Onch of Onch Movement

I caught up celebrity jewelry designer and one of Paris Hilton’s BFFs, Onch at a local Starbucks and chatted with him about his line, Onch Movement. Malaysian-born Onch found his niche in jewelry making while attending school for graphic design. He took leftover resin and paired it with some Tylenol pills and created his first necklace. While wearing it out, he was approached by a woman who loved the necklace and bought it off him. This then motivated him into making more necklaces out of pills, M&Ms, etc. He met up with Mika, who helped him with tips on making his jewelry better. On April 1st 2005, Onch Movement was launched. Soon after, Onch  appeared on Paris Hilton’s BFF, wearing pieces from his line on every show. The show brought attention and a new audience to the line. There is a major celebrity following of the Hollywood and pop culture-inspired line, like: Kate Moss, Amy Winehouse, Jenna Jamesson, Brooke Hogan, Paris Hilton, Perez Hilton and Beth Ditto just to name a few. His signature pieces include the pretzels, lollipops and lips. He recalls when Kate Moss wore one of his razor blade necklaces and it created a media frenzy overnight.

His current collection is called, “Monchsters” and is inspired by our world. Each of the monchsters is limited and due to pollution, becomes extinct. “Gotta save our planet to save our monchsters!” He is also currently collaborating with the Trevor Project, a LGBTQ suicide and crisis hotline, designing a necklace for them.

Prices of the necklaces range from $12.99 for a flip-O-pendent to $45 for one the famous pretzels or thousands for one of his pieces from his line with Jason of Beverly Hills. Onch Movement can be found online at www.onchmovement.com. He hopes to have the collections available at stores at the end of 2010. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook!

Special Thanks to Onch for the Flip-O-Pendent!

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Celebrity Stylist- Reinaldo Irizarry

Meet celebrity stylist Reinaldo Irizarry (pronounced erie~zarie), the latest phenomenon to take the fashion scene by storm. Having started his career in the industry as a visual merchandiser for Saks Fifth Avenue and even dabbled in design, he realized that there are a lot more career paths besides design and modeling and decided to take up styling. Having a strong editorial background has given him many opportunities to style photo shoots, be a Creative Director for his online magazine, A-List International (www.alist-international.com) and has given him the chance to style the likes of American Idol’s Ayesha Mercado and Mel B of the former Spice Girls. If you walked into his office, you would probably find a vast array of magazines, European in particular, arranged alphabetically of course and you would hear about every genre of music playing on his ipod; as this inspires him to create moods, themes and looks for styling. Whether his day begins at 5AM or 9AM, a stylist’s work is never done. He is always checking emails, making phone calls to clients or designers or PR Firms, picking up clothes for shoots, attending fittings and then making returns. Current styles [or trends] he is hyped up on at the moment are harem pants (he loves the way the modern woman wears it with platform sandals) and shoulder pads. He is currently filming his own reality show, Style Protocol, which is about his fast-paced life as a stylist and his goal to get to high-profile status. The show is being produced by DJM Multimedia and help from Daniel Magro. For more info on Reinaldo, Style Protocol, and contact info, go to www.reyalfashion.com.

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Michaela Kuechenhoff- Designer of Micha Designs

While I was at the Focus Fashion Show, I was introduced to a bubbly designer named Michaela. She showed me her jewelry collection, which consisted of  handmade, one-of-a-kind, avant-garde necklaces made from vintage watch pieces, belt buckles, brooches  feathers, etc.  Let’s just say- I was HOOKED! Her company was founded in 1997 and her mission is “Go Green.” She uses recycled and vintage materials while also using ‘offbeat’ materials like: leather, feathers, lace, door knockers, brooches, fabric roses, scrabble pieces, doilies, etc. Her mission “is to show that you do not have to compromise beauty to ‘go green’.” She gets inspired by materials, odds and ends from swap meets. She does not work from a sketch, thus allowing the creations to develop organically, draping materials over a mannequin. A few of her signature pieces are: “What time is it?”, “Buckle Up” and Hardware Deluxe Designs. She sells her pieces at numerous style houses, boutiques, Nordstrom’s, Bloomingdale’s and trunk shows. Her price points range from $40-300. Her necklaces are very popular with celebrities, including: Jessica Simpson, Kourtney Kardashian, Fergie and Audrey Kitching. I look forward to seeing more of Michaela’s unique pieces on the red carpet or out-and-about. For more information or to purchase, go to www.michadesign.com or contact Michaela at micha@michadesign.com.

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SHANE TAMOSHUNAS- ELEGANTLY DISHEVELED

I am truly fortunate to work in a place full of creative people. So, with that being said, it was no surprise when I heard that one of my co-workers, Shane Tamoshunas has his own jewelry and apparel line, “Elegantly Disheveled.”
His passion for deconstruction began as a child and jump started when he was working on a shoot. He wanted a pair of boots used on set but they cost $700. Unable to afford them, he decided to take matters in his own hands. He bought a pair of boots, sanded and painted them, turning them into the exact same pair as the ones at the shoot.

2007, he officially launched his line, “Elegantly Disheveled. He sands (by electric and hand) jeans, khakis and boots; deconstructs tees and jewelry. He takes knick-knacks that wouldn’t normally be used for jewelry and incorporates them into his pieces, which are unisex. “Not too masculine…not too feminine…” An example of a unique item that he puts on  his necklaces was a canary pendent he purchased at a thrift store for $2, or the face of a watch, which he would re-make into a locket. He wants “Elegantly Disheveled” to be affordable to people who want that one one-of-a-kind piece.

Depending on the amount of work, the line ranges between $30-100 and is available online at www.gas-d.com. Shane’s website is now available at www.elegantlydisheveled.net.

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MATT KAYE- DESIGNER AT BAZANGO CREATIVE

Bazango Creative was the name that first popped into comedian Matt Kaye’s head when thinking of names for his apparel company. He is an eco-friendly company that takes thrift and new apparel  and turns them into works of art. The idea came to him during the ten years he was a house painter, people would offer money for his paint-splattered pants…and so it went from there. He found an investor and so, this past February, Bazango Creative was born. He paints a menagerie of colors and draws Johnathan Winters-type cartoon characters on jackets, shoes, tees, pants and dresses for men and women. He can paint on most types of fabrics, except coarse materials found on sweaters; but loves working with Dickies, which holds paints well, like canvas. Matt finds inspiration while looking through Juxtapose, graffiti magazines and the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat (*1960-1988* Of the Warhol era). He is currently selling online and at Monogrammit on Robertson Blvd, but wants to ultimately sell to more boutiques. His jackets and pants go for $390.00, long sleeve shirts go for $155.00 and tees for $120.00. For more info and to purchase a one-of-a-kind Bazango creation, go to www.bazangocreative.com and check out Matt Kaye on Facebook!

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JOSEPH RENE- HAIRSTYLIST

Joseph Rene, known for styling hair for high-end fashion shows, celebrities , magazine shoots and now…me…that is, for Beauty Fusion Beauty Show in Pasadena, CA; where I was a last-minute model.

I arrived at Salon Sessions the day before the show, not knowing if he could take me or not. His station was already packed with clients, but he asked me to kindly wait for a few minutes and then we would talk.

Just when I thought I was probably outta luck, his assistant ushered me back to his station, where there was a free chair. Despite that he was booked, he still managed to squeeze me in and had the time to color and shape my hair for the show the very next day.

At the show….

I observed Joseph working his magic on fellow models. Three girls had curled red carpet hair, with the help of the Enzo Milano curling irons…While he inserted colored extensions in others…By the time the show was over, every girl and yes, there were a few guys looked amazing. Even during a few stressful times during the show, this man kept it professional. When a workshop location went awry, he took charge and brought the show to the main stage, which got the attention he needed. During his presentations (with a rockin ’80′s theme), he would bring each of us up and explained (or demonstrated on the Enzo Milano and extensions models) in detail what he did to our hair. In the end, he achieved yet another level of his dream and I left with a bad-ass rocker hairstyle!

SPECIAL THANKS: Salon Sessions (112 S. De Lacey Ave. Pasadena, CA 91105  Phone: 626-795-8856) , THE MODELS!, Beauty Fusion Beauty Show, Joseph Rene (contact #626-243-3123), Enzo Milano, Chenice Beverly Hills, the Jr. Stylists: Liz and Charles, the make-up artists: Lupita, Johanna and Sandra from Millenium Cosmetics (8611 California Ave. Suite B  South Gate, CA 90280 Phone:323-249-0018), Fresh and Famous Clothing and Parris Harris.

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FALLING WHISTLES

Falling Whistles was a concept that started a year ago when Sean Carasso poured his heart and soul into a blog while on a trip to Congo. He had been on a shoe drop with Tom’s Shoes and had decided to explore the region. What he saw and experienced in the months ahead were heartwretching. One was of five boys that had been tortured and in this prison camp that Sean and his friends were able to acess. The boys told him of the whistle blowers…boys what were not old enough….given whistles and forced on the front lines…

When Sean was back in the States, he was still broken. Then one day, a friend gave him a whistle and told him to “just keep it alive…” From then on, he wore that whistle around his neck and people have come up to him and asked about the meaning of that whistle. It was then that he chose to “make their (the boys) weapon his voice” and now Falling Whistles is a company based out of Venice, CA that sells whistles along with the boys story. 100% of the proceeds go to programs that will help rehabilitate children through local leaders in Congo and to advocate the war.

Falling Whistles will be selling the whistles at Space 1520 and Steven Alan. The company has also partnered with jewelry designer Lizzie Fortunato and she will be making a whistle every season.

Sean hopes that he can distribute and share the information about the social issues in the Congo through fashion and the whistles.

For more information and/or to purchase the whistles, please go to www.fallingwhistles.com.


8 Responses to SPOTLIGHT ON…

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  3. Debi says:

    thanks sweetie for supporting and loving my work! Great blog!! xo

  4. Kelli M says:

    Thank you for this! It was such a great read!!! =) ~K

  5. Michael says:

    The LAfashionsnob blog is a real mutlicolors visual demonstration of how Heather Petrey see fashion all around the world. She can get the instant and prompt wave of treasures about fashion, art and cultural things that make her blog so fantastic and so rich. It’s a real pleasure to connect on it usually. LAfashionsnob blog is a Favorite site to add on your own list.

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  7. Carolina says:

    Great post! The Feather M is gorgeous. I like the almost triangular purse. I have couple of events coming up and that specific one will fit it the best. Thank you for sharing these with us

  8. admin says:

    Thank you Carolina! I’m glad I can help :)

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