English Wedding

8:15 AM 11 Comments

Next week I’ll be leaving Santa Monica and traveling to England for three whole weeks- (*rubbing my hands together*) and I can’t wait! I LOVE England- the people, the roasts, the blazing fires and yes, even the weather (eternal summer in California does get tiresome). This time while there, however, I will be attending my first English wedding. The invitation came in the mail a few weeks ago and suggested “morning dress” for the dress code. Petrified and excited all at the same time, I googled “morning dress” and found a lot of rules for the men- tails, ascot, top hat optional etc.- but no suggestions for the women. I started to panic. Sure I have a lot of great silk dresses that I’ve worn to weddings in California but I’m pretty sure they don’t qualify as “morning dress” and I’m even more sure a hat needs to be thrown into this equation (yikes!).

I do remember recently reading a lot of press about Kate Middleton attending a few royal weddings without Prince William and decided to study her for inspiration…. After all I can’t go wrong learning from a potential future queen!

Here’s what I found:

This is Kate attending the royal wedding of Autumn Kelly and Peter Phillips...

...and attending the wedding of Laura Parker Bowles to Harry Lopes.

I’m noticing a trend of dresses with fitted jackets and, of course, delicious little hats.

I would love any input from you daily connoisseurs on what types of things one wears to an English wedding… I need all the help I can get!

Image of England courtesy of: http:davenportlibrary.com

First image of Kate Middleton courtesy of: www.dailymail.co.uk

Second image of Kate courtesy of: www.dailylife.com


Hitchcock's Coast

7:36 AM 7 Comments

It's off to Grandmother's house we go... yes today we are driving up the beautiful California coast to spend a much needed weekend with Grandma. I always love this drive, the coast is so dramatic, it never fails to remind me of some of my favorite Hitchcock films like Vertigo and The Birds.

We shall travel light and only carry the essentials: Chocolatt from Belgium (for Grandma of course), a light weekender bag, our Chihuahua, Gatsby and for scent: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur.

For more information on Chocolatt... from Belgium, visit: www.chocolatt.com

Image courtesy of: www.san-simeon-lodging.com


On Posture

9:22 PM 14 Comments

People watching is one of my favorite pastimes. I love nothing more (if weather permits) than to sit outside at a café sipping tea and watching passersby. I am fascinated by people’s choices in fashion, grooming and companions- but most of all I love to observe how people carry themselves. Lately, I have noticed a lot of bad posture- or lack of pride in the carriage of oneself- people walking around with slumped shoulders and a dreadful frown to match. Now I know that we are living in uncertain times, which could attribute to this lack of poise that plagues so many of us, but my view is: now is a better time than ever to pull your shoulders down and walk with a sense of purpose (even if you currently have none).

The reason that posture has been on my mind recently is because this past Saturday I was out shopping for curtains. As I was walking through the sumptuous fabrics in the shop, I had tunnel vision to the task at hand- finding the perfect fabric! It must work well with neutral paint- not too traditional and not too modern. Nothing fussy, yet not too plain. I was so absorbed in this task that I walked in front of a mirror thinking that I was looking at another person. A split second passed and I realized I was looking at myself! My shoulders were slumped forward, my brow furrowed and a slight frown was on my face. Quelle horreur! I paused in front of this mirror, wondering how many hours in my day are spent looking like this.

Instantly, I straightened up. I shifted my handbag from my right side to my left, pulled my shoulders down and forced a smile to correct the otherwise morose position my face had recently taken. Oh dear. This got me thinking.

I’ve always prided myself on relatively good posture but it has never been something that comes naturally to me. I must remind myself constantly. The first time I ever really thought about the importance of the way one carries oneself was over a decade ago. I was shopping with my parents in Geary’s of Beverly Hills. They were buying a new set of china for their house. While my mother and sister were upstairs browsing the dinnerware options, my father and I were downstairs looking at watches. We were in a discussion with the lady behind the counter when out of the corner of my eye the sliding door opened to the shop and a man walked in. Before I could turn to look and see who it was I could tell it was someone with good energy and a lot of confidence. I could just sense that this person had good posture and, dare I say, a smile on his face. I turned to see who it was and, lo and behold, it was Kyle Mac Lachlan, the actor, of Blue Velvet and Sex and the City fame. He carried himself with such poise and grace it was truly a pleasure to witness. He had made an entrance.

Ever since my Kyle Mac Lachlan sighting, I have essayed to improve my posture as well as my entrances (and exits) from a room. I believe it is the single most important thing that anyone can do to improve his or her look.
Tim Gunn, style guru and author of Tim Gunn A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, writes in his book that “the well positioned shoulder tells the world that you are a confident, healthy individual- not a showboat or a dormouse”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Gunn also goes on to correct the misguided thought that one must pull their shoulders back to have good posture. Rather, he suggests that you pull your shoulders down and imagine your spine being elongated. A slight tucking in of the pelvis is also suggested.

So in honor of Tim, Kyle and the rest of the stylish world, I am trying to be vigilant with good posture… hopefully one day soon, it will come as second nature to me and I wont shock myself in anymore fabric store mirrors. To posture!

Tim Gunn's book can be purchased at: www.amazon.com

Image of Kyle Maclachlan courtesy of: www.yahootv.com

Image of book courtesy of: www.amazon.com


The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr- A Book Review

7:48 AM 4 Comments

This week, I indulged myself in Chandler Burr’s The Perfect Scent- A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York. It is a book that Mr. Burr, scent critic for T: The New York Times Magazine, wrote about his experience following the making and launch of two very different perfumes in one year: Hermes’ Un Jardin sur la Nil and Sarah Jessica Parker’s first fragrance, Lovely. The book is a fascinating read; a comparison of two very different launches- one for one of the most exclusive luxury brands in the world and the other for a Hollywood celebrity. It also gives the reader an inside look into the $31 billion international perfume industry.

The story follows Burr as he travels to Paris to meet Jean-Claude Ellena, the man Hermes has picked to create their latest scent, Un Jardin sur la Nil (a garden on the Nile). Ellena is one of the worlds best in the industry and Hermes had strategically picked him to boost their otherwise lackluster sales in perfume. Burr, Ellena and the entire project team from Hermes travel from Paris to the exotic depths of Egypt where the sights and smells of the city provide inspiration for the house’s latest creation.

Back in Manhattan, Mr. Burr follows Sarah Jessica Parker and the team at Coty, who have teamed up to make her (now) bestselling fragrance, Lovely. SJP is, according to Burr, not your typical celebrity when it comes to launching a fragrance line. She was in it from the beginning surprising all with her interest, dedication and input. A particularly funny chapter found Sarah Jessica at the Coty offices pulling an egg out of her purse to show them inspiration for her bottle design.

The book shows the interesting dichotomy of the French and American markets with regards to perfume. The French, although highly interested in the numbers aspect of the business, still treat the making of perfume as an art. For the most part, the creators of these scents approach their jobs with the important gravity of artistic creation- it must be profound and it must smell amazing.

The American market, however, is (not surprisingly) mainly about the numbers. While this in no way implicates that American perfumes are less artistic than the French it is fascinating to see where the priorities lie.

The Perfect Scent is a very entertaining and informative read. Mr. Burr jumps from his narratives involving the exotic travels, parties and tense meetings he attends while documenting the launch of the two scents, to going into the fascinating figures of the perfume industry, to other funny anecdotes that he has gathered along the way. It is a highly enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested to know how much work goes into that little bottle of perfume sitting so prettily on your vanity.

Book image courtesy of: www.leffingwell.com


Coco Chanel- Movies and Interiors

5:48 AM 8 Comments

This past week, Lifetime Television for Women aired their latest primetime movie, Coco Chanel starring Shirley MacLaine, Malcolm McDowell and Barbara Bobulova. This movie kicks off what seems to be a resurging interest in the life of Coco Chanel and a need for viewers to re-familiarize themselves with this great icon. Audrey Tautou (of Amelie fame and one of my favorite actresses) will portray Mademoiselle Chanel in the film Coco Avant Chanel which will be released in 2009. I, naturally, am very excited for this film, so I was looking forward to watching the Lifetime version to tide me over until then.

Unfortunately the Lifetime film was melodramatic and inconsistent. Shirley MacLaine plays Chanel in her later years and the film sees her mostly setting up flashbacks where Barbara Bobulova takes over as the young Gabrielle Chanel. Bobulova does a pretty good job in the role- although lacking gumption, she is charming, nice to look at and has a lovely French accent. For some reason, MacLaine made the choice as the older Chanel to not keep said French accent and instead would speak blatantly in her own (very strong) American accent! Bizarre, non? Being a daily connoisseur, these small things get to me…

Accents, aside, the film did a pretty good job of entertaining- there’s just something about watching a made for TV movie on a quiet and overcast Sunday afternoon- but it left a lot to be desired. I still await (what will surely be) the resoundingly better Coco Avant Chanel with Audrey Tautou…

What the Lifetime film did remind me of, however, is Coco Chanel’s amazing apartment on 31 Rue Cambon in Paris, with her mirrored staircase and Art Deco sensibilities. When researching my blog entitled Coco Mademoiselle, I came across the website for this perfume, www.coco-mademoiselle.com . On this site, one can navigate through Mademoiselle Chanel’s decadent apartment. It is a real treasure: crystal spheres, a sumptuous sofa, and oriental shades. For me, it is Art Deco heaven!

I paid special attention to the lighting in Coco Chanel’s apartment, as my husband and I are having recessed lights installed in our home this week. The past few days have seen crews of workers diligently cutting holes in our ceiling and wiring accordingly. The job is still not finished but it has me excited about lighting- which is pivotal to good design. Coco’s apartment was lit with gorgeous lamps and sconces, which appear to have tobacco colored shades that give the room that dusky, mysterious hue. We will try to create a similar effect by putting our overhead lights on dimmer switches so when night falls, our rooms will have that certain glow…

I can’t help but wonder what Coco Chanel would be like if she were around today. If nothing else, I’m sure she would be flattered that thirty-seven years after her death, she is still inspiring us through fashion, movies and interior design.

Virtual tour of Coco Chanel's apartment: www.coco-mademoiselle.com

Image of Coco Chanel courtesy of: www.theswellelife.com

Image of Audrey Tautou courtesy of: www.gracemagazine.com

Image of Coco Chanel's apartment courtesy of: www.starbulletin.com


Tom Ford Black Orchid- A Review

8:47 AM 8 Comments

Over the past few days I’ve had the pleasure of sampling both Tom Ford Black Orchid eau de parfum and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Both scents are wonderful and evocative in their own right as I soon discovered in their very different dry down.

My interest in these perfumes peaked- even before I was able to sample them- for various reasons; the first being, I love orchids. Aside from the rose, the orchid is my favorite flower- I tend to have them scattered throughout our house year round, adding a touch of exoticism and vigor to the décor. Also, before I smelled the scent, I fell in love with the packaging: a sleek, vintage looking art deco style black bottle with a lovely gold name plate (Voile de Fleur has a black name plate).

Tom Ford Black Orchid is a deep, sensual fragrance- very heavy but not too overpowering, making it perfect for fall and winter or even early spring when it is still cold outside but the warm weather is burgeoning and on its way. The scent is rich and luxurious, making one feel as though perhaps they were a femme fatale riding the Orient Express in Agatha Christie’s famous novel. The spicy accord to the scent suggests one who has visited exotic places.

Black Orchid Voile de Fleur is the shimmering and sparkling sister to Black Orchid. It is a much lighter fragrance- one that would perhaps wear better in late spring and early summer. Even though this is a lighter scent, it didn’t fail to move me. No, wearing Voile de Fleur, one could feel as though they were sipping champagne on the Italian Riviera- the scent’s light effervescence suggests that a celebration is in order.

Today, there is a little chill in the air so I am going to adorn my wrists with the eau de parfum and let the fantasy begin…

Tom Ford Black Orchid contains notes of: bergamot, citrus, mandarin, black gardenia, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lotus wood, black orchid, patchouli, sandalwood, incense and vanilla.

Black Orchid Voile de Fleur has notes of: black truffle, bergamot, honeysuckle, gardenia, black orchid, black pepper, lotus wood, a noir gourmand accord, vanilla tears, patchouli, balsam and sandalwood.


Image courtesy of www.ebeautydaily.com


Gala at the Taper

8:50 AM 4 Comments

Last night I attended the reopening of the newly renovated Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles to see a production of The House of Blue Leaves starring John Pankow (Mad About You) and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle). This time the invitation did not say ‘business casual’ but suggested suits and colorful ties for the men; and gowns or cocktail attire for the women. How fun! I was really looking forward to people watching at this event- I love observing what people view as being dressed up- noting the time and effort they take to adorn themselves appropriately for the occasion.

The crowd did not disappoint. Men came in tuxes or well cut suits and the women shone- some in floor length gowns and some in fun cocktail attire. It seemed the theatregoers of Los Angeles turned out in their best to celebrate this reopening of one of our most beloved theatres. I went with three of my good friends N, M and J- who each, in turn, looked very well turned out indeed. I opted for an art deco inspired cocktail dress and heels.

The biggest showstopper of the night, however, was the Mark Taper Forum, which sits between the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Ahmanson Theatre in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. I had only attended a play there once before but that was enough for me to tell what a spectacular renovation had occurred. The entrance was lovely with mirrored paneled columns and deep rich curtains and carpet. The theatre itself was a wash of color with new velvety chartreuse seats and deep blue floors. The space felt fantastic and I was really impressed with the makeover at hand.

The play was very interesting- a farcical comedy that we later found out was a commentary about fame. (J and I admitted to each other at the after party that it was WAY over our heads). The seats surround the stage in a semi circle so I found myself at several points during the play looking at the faces of the people in the audience. I love observing other people’s reactions- I saw everything from the totally engaged to utterly confused!

This ends a wonderful week in theatre for me. I feel really grateful to have attended two thought-provoking shows and both in the company of good friends.

Can’t wait to see what next week brings!

Image courtesy of www.downtownla.com


A Bronx Tale- Theatre Review

12:40 AM 2 Comments

Last night I had the good fortune of attending the Los Angeles premiere of A Bronx Tale, starring Chazz Palminteri at the Wadsworth Theatre. I was invited by one of my dear friends, R, who was asked to walk the red carpet before the show… she is an actress on a very prominent Disney show and has lots of devoted fans. The night was a glamorous affair, although I found it odd that it said “business casual” on the invitation. R and I were musing over this strange request. “Business Casual” evokes images of khakis and button down shirts…not quite what I think of wearing when attending an exciting premiere. I interpreted business casual, connoisseur-style, as buttery Ferragamo pumps, a simple black dress and for scent- Narciso Rodriguez For Her.

But enough about fashion- back to the play! Palminteri, of The Usual Suspects and A Bronx Tale (movie) fame, wrote and starred in this powerful one-person show. The play was inspired by an incident that Palminteri witnessed first-hand as a child- the shooting of an innocent man outside of the doorstep in his 1960’s Bronx neighborhood. The semi-autobiographical storyline that then ensues is enthralling.

The show runs for 95 minutes and Palmenteri is on stage the entire time. His storytelling is so engaging that you almost forget that this is a one-man show. The transitions he makes from him as a young boy, to his father, to the gangster, Sonny to the colorful characters of Sonny’s posse are flawless.

Touching on themes of lost childhood, love and the quandaries of a young “working” man, A Bronx Tale is an engaging and moving piece, definitely worth seeing.

Arriving home that evening I felt a sense of satisfaction that I always get after seeing a good play. I love the coming together of people- the ceremony beforehand, the party afterwards and the collective feeling of unity after witnessing a truly original work of art.

This Saturday- it's on to the opening gala at the Taper- such an exciting week in theatre!

A Bronx Tale is directed by Jerry Zaks and runs at the Wadsworth Theatre in Los Angeles from September 10th through 21st. For tickets: www.ticketmaster.com

Image courtesy of: http://calendarlive.com


Scent- It's a Personal Thing Part II

8:34 PM 12 Comments

For the follow-up to my blog entitled, “Scent- It’s a Personal Thing”, I have interviewed some of the women that are closest to me in my friends and family and asked them the top perfumes that they currently wear and love. The list for each lady was relatively small- they all tend to have a top two or three fragrances that they are very loyal to. I started out the same way, as you know, with my Stella and Narciso, but now after reading so many fabulous blogs by all of you perfumistas out there (please see ‘blogs I follow’ on my profile page) I have been converted into a full blown perfume connoisseur!

I had so much fun interviewing these ladies and peeking into their scent wardrobes- here are my findings:

My mother, who always smells delightful, is devoted to:

-Laila: which has fruity notes on top of wild flowers and feminine lilac. She likes to wear this fragrance in the “early morning”.

-Hanae Mori Butterfly
: a complex blend of flowers, fruits and woods. This is more of an “evening” scent for her.

-Yves Saint Laurent Paris: A classic with floral and woodsy notes with rose, violet and bergamot. This is her special occasion perfume.

My sister, a yoga goddess and full-time mother of two young boys loves:

-Hanae Mori Butterfly: see above (I suspect my mother and sister were shopping together when they picked up this one).

-Cartier Delice de Cartier: with notes of iced cherry, bergamot, pink pepper, violet, jasmine freesia, amber, Tonka bean, musk and sandalwood.

She says she prefers clean scents that don’t smell too strongly like perfume because she needs a scent that is “mom appropriate”, one that she affectionately told me she can "wear to Target”.

My good friend A, a fashion queen and in-demand stylist to the stars is devoted to:

Bvlgari eau de parfum: amber, sandal, musk, benzoin, vanilla, green tea, and cedar. This is her all time favorite...

Stella by Stella McCartney: (one of my favorites too) Rose, peony flower, mandarin, rose absolute and amber

K, a hip, young housewife in Orange County and mother of one is privy to:

Jo Malone Orange Blossom
: Clementine leaves, morning dew, water lily. This lovely scent is reminiscent of a garden oasis.

She swears that the fact that she likes this fragrance has nothing to do with her living in Orange County.

JS, my hiking companion and fab actress most recently seen on “The Cleaner” loves to wear:

Jessica McClintock eau de parfum
: with citrus notes of lemon, basil, white rose, and white jasmine- she loves this one for daytime.

St. John parfum
: tangerine, marigold, freesia, white rose, night blooming jasmine, apricot, sandalwood, vanilla and amber.

Angel by Thierry Mugler
: the classic oriental gourmand with notes of chocolate. She loves the chocolate...

I am fascinated by what everyday women wear and what moves them… I will continue my scent sleuthing in a part three of this post somewhere down the line where I review yet more friends, family and acquaintances about their scent wardrobes.

Hanae Mori, Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Cartier Delice de Cartier, Bvlgari, Stella by Stella McCartney and Angel by Thierry Mugler can all be found at: www.Sephora.com

Jo Malone Orange Blossom: www.jomalone.com

Laila and St. John: www.nordstrom.com

Jessica McClintock: www.jessicamcclintock.com

Modigliani image from: http://www.mystudios.com

Home Fragrance- Quandaries

8:26 AM 6 Comments

I adore scented candles… There is nothing like candlelight to create instant atmosphere and mood in a room. And if it is a top notch scent- all the better! Living in a condo in Los Angeles, however, provides a tricky predicament with regards to home fragrance. In urban cities, many modern spaces have a combined living room / dining room. We live in a three-story condo in Santa Monica and the middle floor consists of this plan, with the kitchen just off of where we dine. So many spaces are using this open floor plan- my question is what do you do regarding home fragrance?

The first thing I love to do at twilight time when the sun starts to set is light a candle. My favorite scents for the home are: fig, verbena, almond, vanilla and tuberose. Right now, for example, I have Fig by Henri Bendel burning on our entry table. The scent is so earthy, green and delicious and the warm, amber glow that comes from this candle adds a sense of luxe to our room.

The predicament lies, however, when it is time to eat dinner. I never have my scented candle burning while cooking food or eating it for that matter. I attended a dinner party about a month ago where a large cranberry candle was placed right in front of me as I tried to eat my salmon and engage in conversation with the person across from me. The scent was so distracting and powerful I suddenly felt claustrophobic!

At home, as I am sure most people are, I’m very sensitive to scent. If we’ve had fish for dinner, I don’t want to light a scented candle immediately so that the room suddenly smells like fish and jasmine. Not a good combo! Luckily I live in a very temperate climate and can have the windows open all night. To compromise, I usually wait an hour or so after dinner to light my beloved candles. I know I could always use unscented in the living room/ dining room which makes the most sense and just stick to scented candles in the bedrooms.

I would love to hear how you daily connoisseurs scent your homes…

My favorite candles include: Diptyque- Baies, Amande, Figuier and Tubereuse. Votivo: Moroccan Fig and Jo Malone: Spring Jasmine.

I also adore high quality incense in Sandalwood, Nag Champa and Celestial Patchouli.

Image courtesy of: independent.net-genie.co.uk


Viva la Vida

4:45 PM 6 Comments

Coldplay’s latest album Viva la Vida could be compared, in my eyes at least, to my recent experience with Coco Mademoiselle. At first listen, I wasn’t sure about how much I loved it- and I desperately wanted to love it-, as Coldplay is one of my favorite bands of all time. When they released their first single “Yellow” their poetic and heartbreaking lyrics and sound moved me deeply and they have continued to do so through the years with each album release.

Viva la Vida, however, is not like any other album they have put out yet… It took a few listens- ten to be exact, before I fell in love with it. I compare this to the dry down of Coco Mademoiselle that I experienced last week. Wasn’t sure at first… then pure love, bordering on obsession!

The album starts out with “Life in Technicolor” which is a purely instrumental track that I feel sets the listener up for the journey to come. It suggests the start of something new- a tingling, rush of excitement for the dawn of a new day. It also hints at the exotic nature of the album- largely influenced, I believe, by Japanese sounds.

One of my favorite songs on the album is “Lovers in Japan/ Reign of Love” which evokes images of bright young things riding bicycles through cherry blossoming orchards in Japan. The song evolves, as so many on this album do, into “Reign of Love” which sounds like a divine lullaby. Every time I hear it I want to close my eyes and just smile- which is bad because I’m generally listening to this album whilst navigating through L.A. traffic.

“Viva la Vida”, of course, is another great song and their first single released on the album. I don’t know why but whenever I hear it I picture myself as a young woman in one of Judith McNaught’s romance novels riding in a coach on the way to a ball to meet Count Westmoreland (or whatever the hell his name was). There is something very exciting and revolutionary about this song- which probably inspired the album cover they picked (see above).

And finally, if I were to pick a third favorite, it would be “Strawberry Swing” which, upon listening, brings to mind a perfect, sun-drenched day… perhaps in the summertime where you have not a responsibility or a care in the world and you wake up in the morning, and go to bed at night feeling happy. Oh if only everyday could be like that…

Viva la Vida!


From G's to Gents

9:23 PM 4 Comments

I love a good Pygmalion story. It all started for me with Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” as Eliza Doolittle. Seeing her transformation from street to chic was the beginning of my love affair with makeovers. Who could forget “Pretty Woman” or “Gigi”? Seeing the transformation and evolution of a woman’s style never ceases to interest me. Lately, there have been a whole crop of reality shows on television transforming rowdy youths into refined beings. And I can’t get enough!

One of my favorites is a British reality series called “Ladette to Lady”, where 12 “ladettes” (read: foul-mouthed, uncultured and unpleasant young women) are sent to Eggleston Hall, a finishing school in Teesdale, England. There they are taught the basics of becoming a lady: dress, elocution, relating to the opposite sex and even flower arranging. Of course, each week one of them is expelled from the school and at the end of the series there is a debutant ball to announce the winner. This little gem of a series plays on the Sundance channel and, sadly, was only three seasons long.

The latest reality show to come out in the Pygmalion genre is MTV’s “From G’s to Gents”, hosted by Fonzworth Bentley. Mr. Bentley is the first gentleman of hip-hop and author of “Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence and Style to Get Ahead”. I was really excited about this show because I’m a HUGE stickler for etiquette and manners and I couldn’t believe these topics would take center stage on MTV- a network that has, let’s face it, probably created most of the lads and ladettes of today’s youth!

The show started out very promising. There were 12 G’s (read: homeys, street criminals) that were tired of the “thug life” and wanted to clean up their act and become gentleman. They came in with gaudy bling around their necks, do rags and my personal favorite, grillz.

How on earth was Fonzworth Bentley going to turn these hopeless young men into refined gentleman? Each week, the G’s are taught a lesson in the art of becoming a gentleman. They learn how to dress, hold silverware properly and even give a business presentation. My interest was starting to wane after the first two episodes as I felt that Mr. Bentley wasn’t being strict enough. These guys weren’t in it to make a transformation- they were in it for the cash prize. Not enough change was being made. And I felt that the basic things like speech (most of them need subtitles to decipher what they are saying) and grooming should have been addressed in the beginning. They were also allowed to keep their street names (which I find ridiculous)- such names as Creepa, E-6 and D-Boy.

However, just like with my Coco Mademoiselle eau de parfum, I stuck with the show and I’m so glad I did. This week’s episode was highly emotional with reality finally sinking in for these men. Some of them were deadbeat fathers and finally broke down with the realization that they hadn’t been there for their children or their baby mama’s. Transformations were finally being made with Creepa taking off his sunglasses, bling and grillz and for the first time being comfortable in his own skin.

Now Cary Grant, these gentlemen are not, but I do think that their metamorphosis has been remarkable. Let’s hope it inspires today’s ruffians to go from street to chic!

"From G's to Gents" airs on MTV Tuesday nights at 10pm


Coco Mademoiselle

4:55 PM 6 Comments

I re-learned a lesson today in the art of perfume appreciation. When I was 18, my father was working in Cannes, France for the summer and my mother and I had the good fortune of joining him there for six weeks. It was a transformational trip for me… my first time in Europe and the beginning of my life long love affair with European culture. During our time in the South of France we visited the perfume laboratories in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. I knew little to nothing about perfume back then and was fascinated with the tour of the facility at Fragonard, where I learned about the art of appreciating fine perfume.

Today I tried a sample of Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle based on several positive reviews I read in books and over the internet. My initial reaction was neither positive or negative. The top notes seemed to linger for a long time and were very heady and spicy. I dismissed it as not being “for me” and almost washed it off my wrist when I arrived home an hour and a half later. Something stopped me, however, and I am so glad I let the fragrance linger! It has since developed into an intoxicating aroma that has mixed with my body chemistry like a heavenly match. I am so glad I gave this one a chance!

Of course, they suggested this at Fragonard so many years ago… but I somehow forgot that one must have patience when waiting for fine things to develop.

Coco Mademoiselle has top notes of orange, bergamot and grapefruit. Middle notes of Litchi, rose and Italian Jasmine; and base notes of Indonesian Patchouli, Hawaiian vetiver and Bourbon Vanilla.


The Laundress

7:45 AM 0 Comments

Fall is on our doorstep and soon it will be time to bust out those cashmere sweaters! Although living in sunny, Southern California, it might be a little longer before I can bring them out from their cedar-lined drawer, but a girl can dream! When it comes time to clean your most luxurious knit, please forgo the dry cleaners- in my experience, the texture of the sweater is never the same and they often pill- instead, reach for The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo!

About a year ago I read an article about The Laundress in Real Simple Magazine. It was a New York based company run by two women who wanted to bring glamour and luxury back to the mundane task of doing your laundry. With an entire range of products (that I now can’t seem to live without) from stain solution to delicates wash to crease release spray; The Laundress provides a stellar product in beautiful packaging (you’ll actually want to display the bottles!). They offer three different scents: classic- a clean, fresh scent; lady- a more feminine, alluring scent; and cedar- perfect for the cashmere shampoo to keep those moths away!

The first time I used the wool & cashmere shampoo I was petrified. I couldn't believe I was actually going to wash my cashmere sweater by hand! What if I ruined it and it was never the same? Needless to say, I picked my least favorite sweater- a cheaper cashmere v-neck I got at Bloomingdale's. There was no way I was going to risk ruining my all time favorite cashmere sweater- a heather grey Vince cardigan that I received as a present from my parents years before. So I proceeded to wash the garment by hand using the delightfully smelling cedar cashmere wash. I did not wring the sweater when finished but patted and “rolled” it dry, as suggested. Then I laid it flat to dry. The following day, I went with nervous anticipation to check the status. It was amazing! The sweater seemed softer than when I got it! The “shampoo” actually conditions the material, and it had a divine, slight scent of cedar chips- not overpowering.

The bottles aren’t cheap, especially compared to the bargain basement laundry detergent you could find at say, Target. But with almost 30 washes per bottle, it is a steal! Just remember, you are saving money on dry cleaning!



If It's Not Broke, Don't Fix It

10:05 AM 2 Comments

Our society encourages consumer spending- especially in the beauty and fashion industries. Let’s face it. There’s a new fragrance, make up or skin care line launched and touted what seems like every other day! And I am guilty of buying into it just as much as the next woman. But on my path as a daily connoisseur, I am starting to look at the world a little differently.

Have you ever taken FOREVER to get dressed in the morning? Trying on several outfit combinations before coming out with what you’re going to wear? I do this all the time! It inevitably goes like this: I try on an old favorite (black skinny jeans and a black t-shirt from Vince or C&C California, for example), and then take it off thinking that it is boring and I wear it too much. I then proceed to try on a number of different clothing combinations from that dress I bought last season that just doesn’t quite have the right neckline (but I will make it work!) to the more stuffy option of a high-waisted skirt with a blouson top tucked in (Let’s face it, I will never wear this choice). A half hour later and a lot of clothes strewn about my bedroom, I go back to my number one choice. My skinny jeans and t-shirt. I feel comfortable in this. I feel chic in this. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

The same holds true for my favorite nail polish, Essie Mademoiselle. I love this color. It looks amazing on my nails but without fail, when I visit my manicurist twice a month, I always think “How boring to wear the same shade all of the time”, and I pick out a different color that ends up having too much beige or pink in it. And without fail, I wish I had stayed with my Mademoiselle. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Now I’m not saying that I'm never going to try anything new. Mais no! But what I am suggesting is that sometimes our egos are not satisfied with what we have (especially mine). We want more. We want better. There is a Kanye West song with the lyrics, “I only like it if it’s brand new”. I think a lot of us, including myself, feel this way. I must remember, before I go out and buy that outrageous fashion item or start to feel restless with a certain beauty regime, if what I already have is working for me- why stray?

Spiritual Practice: Practice gratitude and appreciation for what I have and what works for me.

Tanning Update: Faux Tan

8:29 AM 0 Comments

My first few posts were on the adventures of air brush tanning and the small fiascoes that therein ensued. I did promise to keep you updated on my quest for the perfect self tanner. Alas, I now have my review for Bare Mineral's "Faux Tan". I'm pretty impressed with the color that it gives you. It is very subtle and not orange at all. The lotion goes on in a dark green color so you can see where you have applied it, which is nice. Also, the initial smell is delightful- it has a heady almond scent. A few hours later, the "self tanning smell" does arise, however, due to the DHA in the product. I think next time I am going to try the application with gloves. Applying the product with my bare hands has given me very tan palms (eek!). And then there is the catch22 of washing my hands after I have applied the product. The color seems to stop at my wrist. To avoid this, I tried applying a little of the cream on the tops of my hands and somehow only wash off the palms of my hands without getting water on top (a very difficult maneuver indeed!). I am still in search of the perfect facial tanner to avoid the look of having a pale head and tanned body- not chic! L'Occitane apparently makes a fab self tanner for the face from their new Brazil collection. I vow to try it and let you know how it goes. Would love to hear about your self tanning stories and / or favorite products!


Scent- It's a Personal Thing

7:21 AM 3 Comments

In my on-going quest to be fully in the present moment I do several “exercises” throughout the day involving the five senses. My favorite sense (if there can be one) is smell. I love to pause during my day and smell things. It may sound odd, but it is a sensory experience that I believe is very powerful. I’ll smell the ground coffee before I put it in the pot. I’ll smell the beautiful rose that I see on my way to work. I’ll smell my shampoo before I wash my hair. I love taking in scents! After all, I don’t want my nose to think I take it for granted!

When it comes to personal scent- it’s a very personal thing. Up until now, I happened to be very loyal, using the only perfume that worked for me: “Stella”, by Stella McCartney. I LOVE this scent! It is evocative of roses and works so well with the chemistry of my skin. I would try samples of other perfumes when I went to Sephora or a department store but nothing ever got me like Stella did.

I was, however, fascinated by those women who seem to have several perfume bottles displayed on their vanity. Did they wear each and every one? My question was answered the other day when speaking with a co-worker of mine. We greeted each other and she mentioned that I smelled delightful. I told her it was “Stella”, the only perfume I wear. She was in shock. “How could you only wear one perfume?” she asked me in earnest, “What about the changing of the seasons? Or going from day to night?”

These were things I had never though of before with regard to scent. I guess Stella, if it were to be classified into seasons, would be a spring/ summer fragrance. I have worn it year round for the last four years! Even in England in the dead of winter! My co-worker, who happens to be fashionable, fabulous and European, went on to tell me she is addicted to perfume and collects it. She changes perfume depending on the occasion and feels like a different person with each scent.

This really got me thinking. Well it wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried new perfumes. I had. Actually a few months ago I bought Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Lovely” because I had smelled it in a magazine and was impressed. I never thought I’d buy a perfume by a celebrity but alas, I had. I only wear SJP’s scent about once a month. It is, in fact, lovely, but it isn’t the type of scent that moves me profoundly. And as a daily connoisseur, I need to be moved profoundly.

Then, a few days ago I finished reading a book on beauty that I HIGHLY recommend. It is called “Beauty Confidential” by Nadine Haobsh. She is a former beauty editor, turned beauty blogger and I loved everything she had to say as well as her style of writing. In fact, I realized that she and I had a lot in common when it came to products. Some of her personal favorites are also mine! So when we got to the chapter on perfume, I was interested to see what she had to say. She gives a thorough and comprehensive list of modern classics as well as classic classics. She also goes on to list the qualities that these perfumes have (woodsy, vanilla, floral, musk).

Her all time favorite perfume is Narciso Rodriguez, “For Her”. So seeing as how I tended to agree with her other beauty choices, I went to Sephora yesterday to try it out. I knew I couldn’t just buy it online because scent is such a personal thing. For example, so many people rave about how they love Chanel No. 5. I’ve tried it so many times wondering if I’m crazy but I can’t stand it! So I knew I couldn’t go on recommendation alone. I sprayed my wrist and then walked around the shop for a half an hour (which wasn’t hard. I LOVE Sephora). I kept smelling my wrist and it was amazing how this scent evolved. Needless to say, I bought it and smelled my wrist for the rest of the day. It is my new favorite! This doesn’t mean I’m kicking “Stella” to the curb! I’m going to find room for both in my scent library.

I would be interested to hear what perfumes you daily connoisseurs wear. Let me know!

Spiritual Practice: Smell! Smell! Smell! Smell things throughout your day. It will calm your nervous system and bring you into the present moment.