Thursday, December 8, 2011

Interview with designer Chris Benz!

Chris Benz discussing pieces with a client at Gretta Luxe

Today, I was honored to have the opportunity of interviewing one of my favorite, emerging designers, Chris Benz at his trunk show at the beautiful Gretta Luxe Wellselley
There are some people in fashion who have huge egos or are just plain mean- Chris is not one of them. He couldn't have been sweeter when I admitted how nervous I was ("Want a glass of wine? We have people walking around with wine and champagne!") or when I started fashion geek-ing out ("I totally understand! I was the same way!").
Plus, it's really hard not to love a man who pulls off pink hair so well!

Gretta Luxe models wearing Chris Benz

Bostonista: Thank you so much for taking time out to talk with me today! I'm such a big fan!
Chris Benz: Of course! Thanks for coming!

Bostonista: You’ve said that the S/S 2012 collection was about an escape from the summer heat of the city. Like a wild trip to Coney Island. That inspiration is evident in the prints and colors but the silhouettes are very ladylike! What inspired the shapes? 
Chris Benz: Well, I mean, it was definitely about escaping. A lot of our collections are about escape! Our customer is often times very ladylike and free spirited at the same time. So, we were looking a lot at Andy Warhol and his contemporaries at the time like Candy Darling and how they were all very inspired by the idea of old hollywood glamour kind of in a tongue and cheek way and using that proportion to dress up for day so thats where a lot of the shapes came from.


Bostonista: You’re known for your use of color. How do you decide on a color palette every season? Does it come before or after the story for the collection?
  Chris Benz: It depends. It depends on the season sometimes, like the fall 2012 collection that we’re working on right now, we actually came up with the color palette before and then kind of backed up into the inspiration. So it depends. It always changes throughout the process. You know, at the very beginning we might want it to be all black and white and then like color is an accessory to it and then it will ultimately become a really colorful collection. Philosophically I like to design in a way where we’re open to as much inspiration through out the process as possible rather than coming up with an idea and having to...(Bostonista: Stick to it?) Yeah, exactly I like to be a little more fluid.
(Chris Benz with a blazer from his Spring 2012)

Bostonista: Do you have a favorite piece here today?
 Chris Benz: Well...I do love this dress. (Picks up a pink color blocked silk dress)Which actually at a store level- I spend so much time going around to stores and meeting with customers this is one that looks so great on everyone! Its a little bit of color blocking without feeling too crazy. Its really fun to have people try on this dress because its such a kind of like a crowd pleaser. And philosophically it goes back to every thing should be as comfortable as a t-shirt!
(Chris's favorite piece via the Spring 2012 look book)

Bostonista: You’ve been collaborating on shoes with Alejandro Ingelmo for a few seasons now- how did that come about? Can you elaborate on that process?
 Chris Benz: We’re very much contemporaries. Our business are at the same point. I know him just from living in New York and from being CFDA members together. I think we were both inducted in the same year. And it just came about as a natural progression. Obviously, we always need shoes! And, you know, he has a very specific aesthetic and so do I and in many ways (are) kind of opposite of each other so when we collaborate together it makes for such an interesting result in the end. The way that we do it is we have three meetings before, you know, while we’re developing the collection and we kind of pick what our silhouette is and Alejandro will create the shoe and then I’ll do whatever the color or application of print or whatever it is. The print and the colors always come from our end and then the structure is Alejandro. 

Bostonista: Any more collaborations planned for the future?
 Chris Benz: Well, we do jewelry also! This is all jewelry from Spring 2012 which we do with friends of mine whose collection is called The Woods and they are out of Colorado actually! They do a lot of high/low really well. Like, this (pointing to a necklace) is sandal wood and diamonds! Then there is all these Tibetan prayer pockets with these really gorgeous metal seed beads. We work with them much in the same way as we do with the other collaborations I give them inspiration and then let them go and they go and do their own spin on it. It always ends up being really great. They have really great taste and it always ends up being really beautiful.

 Bostonista: Would you consider doing a “Fast fashion” collaboration?
 Chris Benz: Maybe. I mean, at this point, we’re so busy with our main collection and whats exciting to me is developing that in a bunch of different ways. I’d love to do our own fast fashion moment! I feel like so many people have done it it doesn’t seem as exciting to me. But, you know, I think there is always a place for a little take-a-way.

 Bostonista: You started with an internship at Marc Jacobs and then designed for J. Crew. They are such different companies were there specific things you wanted to apply or avoid when you started your own business?
 Chris Benz: I don’t know that specifically there were things to replicate or not. I always say, when people ask me, "what should I be looking for? Whats the formula for doing things?" I feel like every experience is a learning process and theres always successes and failures throughout your life. For me, working for Marc was really great because it was the most beautiful fabrics, the most expensive buttons and hand sewing and all of those techniques that are kind of very old world designer which I loved. On the flip side a great takeaway from J. Crew was selling clothes! And really getting into the mind of the customer and merchandising and so the combination of those two experiences was what was really valuable.


 Bostonista: February is almost here which means the fall collections! How far along in the design process are you? What can we expect to see?
 Chris Benz: Well, its definitely dressy. We’re really feeling dressy and migrating away from the very casual and um kind of like sophisticated casual and going in a little bit dressier way.
Bostonista: To me, you’re the best at doing a neat, slouchy look- so is that still there?!
Chris Benz: Oh its definitely that! Absolutely!
(The scene during Chris's trunk show at Gretta Luxe!)

Thank you so much to Chris Benz, Eugene Migliaro, Gretta Monahan & her team at Gretta Luxe Wellesley, and Blair Smith and everyone at Krupp Group!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chris Benz Boston Trunk Show!


Meet designer Chris Benz at Gretta Luxe Wellesley tomorrow and shop his Spring 2012 collection!
I'll be there to interview him for Bostonista!
Do you have any questions for Chris?
I'll be picking 1 reader submitted question at midnight to ask tomorrow!



Sponsored Post: Makeup.Com

Thanks to L'Oreal for sponsoring my post about my favorite beauty looks, tips and tricks! Check out Makeup.com for beauty advice from the experts. 

 My makeup routine has become a little bit uniform. Sheer foundation, a little blush, liquid eyeliner, black mascara, and a nude-pink lip. I look really young and rather than fight it I tend to play it up with a bit of a baby doll look. But it can get a bit boring. When L'Oreal and Makeup.Com asked bloggers to dare to try something new I thought it was the perfect opportunity to break out of my makeup rut!
My inspiration?
The looks created in Rachel Zoe's Holiday 2011 collection look book:
I totally died over the dramatic plum lips!

I have to admit that I'm terrified of a bold lip. It seems so simple but I always feel so self conscious about it (is it too bright? has it smudged? what if it gets on my teeth?) that I almost never do it.
It doesn't help that the one time I did a bright red lip a friend made a not so nice comment and I retreated from lip color forever!

But the great thing about makeup is that it wipes right off! You can try anything one day and go back to comfortable the next. You can paint a Gaga lightning bolt on your cheek and pile on glitter or you can go natural and look like your most glamorous self. It isn't permanent or serious so have fun with it!
And what better time to add a little drama to your look than the holidays? With lots of parties and events you'll have plenty of opportunities to try out new things and if it doesn't work you can wash it off and start again! So I'm daring to try out a bright lip this Holiday season!

Of course, a new makeup routine always looks best when your skin looks its best so I always start with clean skin. Lately, I've been using Smashbox's Photo Finish Hydrating primer (I've also been using this without makeup as my daily moisturizer) followed by Estee Lauder's Idealist Illuminator and Neova's Eye Therapy. I used to believe that three skincare products was too much; that my skin would break out, flake, or turn foundation into a cakey mess! But its actually created smoother, glowing skin that needs less makeup to look amazing. Yes, I still breakout (that's just my skin type) but its easier to cover and the rest of my skin looks lovely.

I'm a girl plagued with chronically dry lips even in the summer.
But I found the perfect antidote at A Matter of Face in the North End!
 The lovely ladies there introduced me to Sara Happ's lip scrub and "lip slip". I've been using it every night and putting a light layer of the balm on in the morning and my pout has never looked (or felt) better!

And now on to the good stuff- lip color!

I love deep purples and plums right now- I know some people might automatically think of Hot Topic at the mention of purple lipstick but I swear it suits almost every skin tone. I'm quite pale and I've always loved the way it makes my skin glow.
One of my favorite deep purples that I'm finally daring to try comes from YSL's 2009 Holiday collection: Sweet Dark Purple #151.
This true berry goes on beautifully but it is a long wear color so if you're like me and need something with more moisture the texture may not be for you but it will last even after glass after glass of wine!
For a budget friendly, creamier feel I really loved Maybelline's Color Sensational High Shine in Dazzling Plum. I had shied away from trying Color Sensational because I was concerned that it would come across less like a color rich gloss and more frosty. I couldn't have been more wrong! I did have to pile on the layers with this one to get the strong color because it is much more sheer than the YSL but it feels amazing. Maybe there really is something behind the honey nectar ingredient!
(Maybelline Color Sensation High Shine)

I think I've mentioned my summer long search for the perfect bright pink lipstick that all began with a shot of Kate Bosworth supposedly wearing a Clarins that ended up looking nothing like how I wanted it to.
So the search has continued into the winter months!
I've been slow to jump on the Armani cosmetics bandwagon but when they announced a limited edition line of pink lip colors (Rouge d'Armani Hot collection) it pushed me over the edge! Could my obsessive search finally be over?
Yes!
The color I'd been trying to find for months is Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Hot #522.
But it isn't necessarily a bold, daring color. So I turned to #520 that shocking, rich hot pink look. I still can't believe that such a creamy formula lasts this long! I get about six hours of wear even with my water bottle addiction!

(Giorgio Armani d'Armani Hot)


Of course the boldest of the bold lip color (in my opinion anyway) will always be the classic red lip. The trick for it to look sexy and beautiful is to find the perfect shade for your skin tone.
And that has been my ultimate downfall. There are so many reds to choose from on the market today that it can be really overwhelming! I tend to forgo the drugstore when looking for red since you (usually) can't test them out before you buy them. I decided to hit the MAC store the last time I was at the mall and was surprised to find that MAC's bestseller MAC Red really worked well on me. The trick was to finding the right lip pencil and rather than just lining my lips I filled them in with the pencil (I used MAC's Kiss Me Quick) and then layered lipstick on top. It helped my lipstick to last longer and I needed less of it. 


So did my return to color work out? I was definitely self conscious at first but after I glimpse in the my car mirror I realized how much I liked not having a smokey eye. Since most women who grew up around the time I did were raised on gloss and lots of eye makeup my vibrant lips made me stand out from the crowd. Plus, there is something so glamorous about carefully applying lipstick with a mirror instead of just slathering on gloss. It felt grown up but also sort of liberating. Those mean comments that persuaded me away from red before? I didn't care- I was having way too much fun!

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Click here to learn more about Makeup.com or become a Facebook fan by clicking here.

(Photos courtesy of MAC, L'Oreal, and Rachel Zoe)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Events In Boston: Newbury St. Holiday Stroll


Looking for something to do on Saturday?
How about some holiday shopping?

The unseasonably warm weather might put a damper on the whole white Christmas idea but it does make Christmas shopping on Newbury a whole lot more appealing!
And you might just run into Santa (and me) doing some shopping!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Daphne Guinness for MAC!


It was only a matter of time before someone smartened up and gave Daphne Guinness the makeup line she was destined to create.

MAC (always the innovator in terms of collaborations) stepped up to the plate today and announced The Daphne Guinness for MAC collection.

The dramatic, jewel toned collection features pigments, blushes, eye shadows, nail polish, and lip products in MAC's classic packaging.
Side Note: Based on the pictures MAC released I don't actually see Daphne's name on any of the products. This leads me to believe that in stores they'll be limited edition colors without much emphasis on Daphne's involvement since outside of the fashion world, she's not that well known. If you're going out in search of her products I suggest knowing the individual names because if you just ask for the Daphne collection the sales girls will probably give you blank looks and have no idea what you're talking about. Why don't brands insist that up-to-date knowledge of the brand (and all up coming items) be a job requirement? 
Sorry, ranting.

It won't be in stores until December 16th but given how quickly past MAC collections have sold out, and the rabid fascination with Ms. Guinness' life, I think pre-ordering would be the safe bet.

Pro LongWear Lip Creme in Approaching Storm ($17)

I'm dying over both of the ombre blushes, and the lipsticks in both Approaching Storm, and Seasoned Plum. Aren't they perfect for the holidays?

Pro Longwear Lip Creme in Seasoned Plum ($17)

Blush Ombre in Azalea Blossom ($17)

(Thanks to MAC and Racked for the pictures!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Model Moment: First Look at Gemma Ward in The Great Gatsby

(Thanks to Fashionista for the pic!)


Gemma Ward is playing Catherine and today we got our first look of her on the Australian set.
I was excited for this movie from the second it was announced because who can resist Baz Luhrmann's luscious sets and surreal story telling? Add in the fact that it is one of my favorite novels and that Carey Mulligan is playing Daisy and you can imagine how thrilled I was.
But now that I know that Gemma is also in it? I'm absolutely giddy!

Alas, The Great Gatsby isn't scheduled to hit theaters until Christmas Day 2012 so I'll have to wait!



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is Vena Cava On Its Last Beat?


In September one of my favorite labels, Vena Cava, held a small, private dinner to show Spring 2012.
With the economy still struggling to come back many smaller designers are significantly cutting back so Vena Cava's scaled down presentation didn't seem that worrying.

But last week Fashionista reported that designers Sophie and Lisa had given up the lease on VC's studio and WWD said that talks with new investors had broken down. Since then Barney's no longer has Vena Cava listed on their website and Bergdorf's has only a small selection left almost all of it is on sale. Not a huge boost of confidence from two of their biggest retailers.

One of my first real designer pieces was a silk Vena Cava dress. Like many of their pieces, it worked from day to night, and was subversive enough to be stylish but not alienating. I wore it constantly, from a Valentine's date to a summer brunch to after work bar hopping. After two years, I dropped a few dress sizes but had a hard time letting that dress go so it had a place of honor in my closet for months.
I regret selling it now (although it did help go towards another fashionable purchase) because maybe it would be something a daughter or granddaughter would want someday. Hopefully, I'll have many more chances to buy some more of their amazing pieces and this time, I swear I'll hold onto them!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Events in Boston!

Two great events to tell you about this week!

Over the weekend head over to the waterfront to Louis Boston to check out luxe loungewear company Skin's latest offerings including some ready-to-wear pieces for day during Louis Exposure.
Louis Exposure is a pop-up store in store experience with local and national talent helping them gain credible exposure at one of the country's most famous retail stores, Louis Boston.
Also featured this weekend will be jewelry designer Eddie Borgo and Ariel Knitwear!




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Boots & Boys....

Sometimes Ke$ha is right...
Boots and boys DO bring me so much joy!
But this is a fashion blog so we'll stick to discussing boots and not my paramours! 

As my least favorite time of year keeps popping up (snow before Halloween, freezing cold temperatures most days) its time to think about boots once again! I wish I could just have the boots without the winter weather! 

I have a lot of boots on my wish list this year some practical for snow and unplowed sidewalks and some that are just so pretty!

Elizabeth & James Wayfar boot ($350) is flat so it makes navigating icy streets a cinch plus I love the contrasting brown buckles across the top and the angled zipper!

If you want a bolder ankle boot choice then you'd need to go with Sperry Topsider's Princeton bootie in  Leopard Pony ($150). 
They have a slight platform and the heels are just over 3 inches BUT they have almost hiking boot like bottoms so you can wear them in slippery conditions without fear of falling. (Unless you're as klutzy as I am and you trip in all heels in any kind of weather!) They are definitely day to night shoes that can go with any outfit since, in my opinion anyway, leopard print has become a classic neutral!

Now, when its a blizzard outside and I just want to be curled up in front of the fire with some hot chocolate my mind turns to cozy things. Like, UGG's Lattice Cardy boots with buttons ($140). I know, I KNOW! But this is New England, not New York, and sometimes I care more about being warm and comfortable than being absolutely stylish! Now, I'd wear these around the house like extra warm slippers but I guess if its a dry, cool fall day then they'd be okay outside with jeans.

On Thursday, when it was cold and down pouring (but thankfully not snowing) I pulled out my Teva Jade Cove High boot (C/O Teva) and couldn't help but be happy that my rain boots looked more like fancy boots. Rather than feeling like a thrown together slob in bright yellow rubber I felt put together in tall, water proof suede!
I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of the black rubber sole with the brown boot but the plaid inner lining is darling even if I'm the only one who gets to see it! They're stylish enough that you could wear them to walk to work and not have to change into something else once you get to the office!

The boots I've been dreaming of forever- flat, tall, chocolate brown, leather or suede boots. I can never seem to find exactly what I want- either they were the right style but the wrong color or the right color but with giant heels or fringe or something that just wasn't what I wanted.
Of course, enough money makes it easy to get pretty much anything (well, except love and happiness but thats beside the point) so I shouldn't really be surprised that my dream boots exist- just entirely out of my price point!
A girl can always count on Miucci Prada to know exactly what she needs! Prada's Tall Buckle Riding Boot ($890) are chocolate brown perfection! They have just the right amount of slouch to look cool but not messy. I'd give my right eye for them. 

What are you wearing this winter? High heels, hiking boots, or something in between?



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