Friday, November 30, 2007

Joining the H&M Hoopla

Okay, so I wasn’t apart of the H&M hysteria surrounding Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney or even the recent Roberto Cavalli. Waiting in line for hours to purchase any designers clothes and possibly being injured in the process is not my idea of fun. Go figure. However, I’m totally excited about the upcoming collabo of H&M and Finnish textile firm Marimekko. Marimekko is known for their vivid prints and bold color usage and has been in the fashion game for decades. In fact, H&M execs plan to include popular patterns from the Fifties through the Seventies in this collection for Spring 2008. The line is slated to hit H&M stores internationally in April of next year and will include looks for men, women and children.

I’m super excited about the above illustration of the designs and hope I’m not disappointed with the real deal. There is an understated sex appeal to this sketch that I love. All the brown models definitely have something to do with my excitement as well. Will it be worth waiting in line for hours? I don’t know, but something tells me there won’t be nearly as much hoopla surrounding this collection since Marrimeko isn’t a household name like Cavalli and Lagerfeld. More cute sundresses for me!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Who’s Been Naughty; Who’s Been Nice?

South Africa Dreamin’

This is just the time of year I would typically distribute my Christmas Wish List as a child. It was a tradition in my household while I was growing up and I continued it until I was well into my 20s. Yeah, I can be that chick. I knew no one was really paying me or the list I gave them any attention post high school but it was habitual I guess.

No matter that I wasn't going to get half the things on my wish list because my parents were struggling to keep me in a private elementary/junior high school and my older brother in a private university. Struggling to make sure I could participate in Girl Scouts, attend dance classes and take piano lessons while sacrificing things like new furniture for themselves. Those wish lists encouraged me to dream, to have the audacity to ask for more.

A post will soon follow with items I would like to give to my loved ones this year. Don’t worry, I no longer leave milk and cookies out on Christmas Eve. But the Charlie Brown/Peanuts Christmas song is officially in my CD rotation.

Drumroll Please… Presenting My OFFICIAL 2007 Christmas Wish List!

An iPod. Notice that I just mentioned playing CDs. I do not own, nor have I ever owned an iPod. Tragic, I know. And I honestly haven’t missed having one until this year. But, my last few airplane rides with the cumbersome CDs, CD player and CD case were just a plum mess. As if traveling via airplane hasn’t become complicated enough. I also have a daily commute of close to 3 hours (round-trip) so the convenience of owning an iPod will make my life just a little easier.

Tickets to a Stevie Wonder concert. I missed the most recent show at NYC’s Madison Square Garden. No real explanation needed for this one. He’s a musical genius. Funny, I’ve met him but still haven’t seen him perform. Right behind Stevie are Earth, Wind & Fire (Note to Diddy; they are a band.) and Prince - another musical genius.

A v-neck cashmere sweater in black, grey and/or orange. Staples, staples, staples. It’s a no-brainer. Perfect paired with slacks, a pencil skirt or even denim.

A Louis Vuitton classic monogram speedy bag. I normally stray away from items that every other female in NYC owns. But, it’s compact (unlike my shopper tote) yet roomy enough for a squirrel like me and the cost per wear will actually make it worth the money in the long run. Plus, I love that it looks just as chic with a pair of stilettos as it does with sneakers. The Fendi ‘Spy’ bag, the Chloe ‘Paddington’, the Hermes ‘Birkin’ - all too trendy for this working girl. The LV Speedy stands the test of time.

A plasma flat-screen television. I don’t know much about electronics so I have a little more research to complete before picking one out. (Ben, HELP!)

A fish tank. And fish for the fish tank. What a sleek addition to my bachelorette pad, right? I owned goldfish growing up but now I think I want tropical fish. I know they require a lot of work (I can barely manage my apartment now.) but I’m up for the challenge. I think the fish would add such a relaxing element to my home. Perhaps this desire has something to do with me being a Pisces?

An all-expense paid trip to South Africa. I am already working on making this trip happen by my dang self in 2008 but who can blame me for trying? A little financial assistance would be most appreciated. Hoping to visit Capetown and Jo’berg. And ya know I’ll blog about it when I do.

I am compelled to add that I know gift giving is not what Christmas is really about. I’m a Christian (Although I’m starting to wonder what that truly means - Mom don’t panic.) and I feel that the commercialization of Christmas is just beyond. C’mon - Cyber Monday? Still, I enjoy this season and all it has come to mean to me and my family. This PSA is officially over.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


With a name like Rodney LoveJones, being cool just ought to be your birthright. Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Mr. LoveJones created Bill Jones Epicure Delights nearly four years ago. This boutique pastry company is known for confectionery treats like red velvet cupcakes with crushed cranberries and sweet potato cheesecake. For a recent wedding, he created a pumpkin squash armaretto cake with English coffee armaretto buttercreme. Oh, and the cake was topped off with white chocolate flowers that Rodney hand-painted to add a fresh floral look. How’s that for mouthwatering?

Before breaking into the world of sweets, Rodney developed a diverse resume having founded his own children’s talent agency and assisting with the launch of the now defunct Suede magazine. But, his true passion is baking and since completely diving in just a few years ago, his clients already include radio personalities Miss Jones and DJ Envy, corporate financial giant Goldman Sachs and the Clintons (as in Bill & Hillary). A true people-person, Rodney’s personal style is just as memorable as the delish delectables he whips up. He’s known for his signature bow-ties in funky colors or prints. Read on to learn why umbrellas are multi-functional, who’s porch is a must visit in Brooklyn and snag yet another reason to head up to Harlem immediately.

PPT: Who are your favorite stylish people?
RLJ: My grandfather William Samuel Jones got dressed to go to his factory job everyday in a suit, fedora, bow-tie and gloves. And he always carried an umbrella. He didn’t want his family to feel less than because he worked in a factory. The gloves helped him hide the calluses on his hands from hard labor. I later learned that the umbrella helped him keep his balance - my grandfather loved him some spirits!

PPT: Where are your favorite stylish places?
RLJ: Saint Germain in Paris, France because it reminds me of NYC’s West Village but it still has something romantic and quaint about it. It has lots of mom and pop shops that I like. Also, Solomon’s Porch in Brooklyn. You can listen to live music, get a great burger and be around nice people.

PPT: What are your favorite stylish things?
RLJ: Bow-ties, because of my grandfather. I got my very first one when I was six years-old from Alexander’s department store. It was velvet and way too big for me at that time but I was extremely excited about it.

PPT: What’s been your biggest splurge?
My Shun Knives designed by Ken Onion. I’m over the embarrassment of how much I paid for them - they’re my favorite knives!

PPT: What about your ultimate budget find?
RLJ: I got a wool camel Burberry car coat for $12 from a thrift shop in Harlem (135th Street & 5th Avenue). No stains, no rips, no missing buttons. And it was dry-cleaned.

PPT: What’s the last book you read?
RLJ: Hmmm. I read more than one book at the same time. For the third time I just read Our Kind of People by Lawrence Otis Graham.

PPT: Who are you listening to?
RLJ: I’m listening to Rahsaan Patterson’s new cd Wine & Spirits. My favorite songs [on it] are Stars and Higher Love.

PPT: Your last vacay (not work related) was to?
RLJ: I went to Paris last year.

PPT: What’s your definition of style?
RLJ: Besides my grandfather, I learned a lot about style from (celebrity make-up artist) Sam Fine. Sam always keeps an impeccably clean make-up kit because people judge him by that before he works on their face. Now, I apply that same philosophy to my utensils as a chef. Even down to how my wait staff presents themselves. Just being able to prepare good tasting food is often not enough in this business.

Originally I promised to deliver a 9 Questions For… every month. My bad. Things happen. Life happens. Going forward, I’ll try my best to keep this feature monthly.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confessions of a Bulimic Shopper

Hello. My name is Bsquared and I am a bulimic shopper. The oh-so sick booties in the picture above are my latest victim. The moment I saw them while surfing online, I knew I had to have 'em. What’s not to fancy? The neutral pewter hue is anything but boring yet looks so much classier than typical metallic gold or silver. The heel is wearable, like all day I can even wear these out after work wearable. The silhouette is versatile. Thus, I imagined myself pairing these bad boys with dark tights and skirts or dresses, skinny pants - even trousers.

I originally saw them at but eventually scored them for thirty bucks lower at Mama ain’t raise no fool. Ha! But when I finally receive my BCBGirls ‘Tate’ booties and try them on, they’re too small. Phewy. I’m so annoyed. There’s no: Oh, they’re leather and will stretch after a couple of wears kinda comprising going on either. These jokers gotta be returned. I don’t need any more issues with my feet (that’s another post) - these boots aren’t worth it. I have no problem buying things and returning them when they don’t fit my needs or expectations. I’m truly a vet at it. My friends make jokes about my returning habits. But, I despise having to return things via mail. Which is why I didn’t want to even attempt exchanging them for a larger size. Too much hassle. The UPS pick-up, the re-packaging, etc. It’s just too much. Thankfully, I was able to return them at Macy’s (the brick and mortar store) - the old fashioned way. The transaction went smoothly considering I was at the zoo better known as Macy’s Herald Square. Such a tourist trap that place. Anyway, I was told that I wouldn’t be reimbursed for the shipping and handling costs since I purchased the boots online but were returning them to a store.

Huh? You must not know ‘bout me. That’s what the look I gave the sales associate who was helping me said. I quickly called my credit card company, while I was still at the register and had them refund the difference. Like I mentioned earlier, my mama ain’t raise no fool.

Truthfully, my bulimic shopping tendencies are decreasing. I’ve gotten so much better at shopping for me. I now understand that every "bargain" doesn’t require me to whip out my wallet. But the thrill that a new purchase brings, particularly a ‘find’ can be so exhilarating. However, after the guilt sets in: mortgage payments, savings obligations, ya know - grown up stuff; that high usually withers away. Sometimes, just trying something on at home sans the fluorescent lights can kill the high too. Did I really need another pair of boots anyway? Those booties, fly as they are, just weren’t meant to be. Period.

But dang I sure would be rocking them right now if they had fit.

Hey, I’m a work in progress…

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities

A few weeks back, I attended a book signing for Ralph Lauren. Held at Bergdorf Goodman, it was complete with champagne, fancy hors d’oeuvres and photographers to capture it all. A very tanned Ralph was there to sign copies of his gigantic new tome, Ralph Lauren which recaps his 40-year career as an iconic American fashion designer. It was a see and be seen soiree for the Upper East Side set. I actually enjoyed myself that night. My co-worker and I got a kick out of looking at all the rings with diamonds the size of a baby’s fist: ‘Look at that one. No, this one is bigger!’ In between my people-watching, I couldn’t help but to think about all the folks who fall into a completely different end of the economic-social ladder that would never be invited to such a shindig. (By the way, the only reason I was there is because I work in publishing.) Back in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, there was a crew that supposedly began in Brooklyn called the Lo Lifes because they all wore (you guessed it!) lots and lots of Polo gear. Now, many of these kids went off and did some very ugly things in the name of the Lo Lifes but from what I understand the original crew was pretty innocent - just looking for a way to express themselves in an environment that rarely understood them. Now, let me get this out of the way. I don’t condone anyone spending rent/mortgage money or college tuition dough on clothes for teenagers. Anyone who reads this blog (I love all 8 of you!) knows how I feel about living within one’s means.

So back to Bergdorf’s - as I watched all the chosen Upper East Side elite clink glasses and catch up on their yachts and Becky’s boarding school; I thought back to those kids who used to fiend to get their hands on some Polo. I still love the way inner city youth can flip a Polo outfit from preppy to gangsta. Many of them don’t even know what polo is. As long as that talent is channeled (not exploited) - and trust it is a talent - it’s a dope thing to observe/celebrate. But I digress -- I’ll post on that another time. Although Polo is a lower-priced line to Ralph’s other labels - it’s where he sees the most profit. I’m not mad at him for being a smart business man - how else would his precious daughter get her candy stores? But while I was at that event, I was forced to wonder what it would be like for those two very different worlds to collide. I don’t think either really knows the other exist. To some degree, I have a similar conversation with myself at most of the fashion events I attend because so much of high-fashion is influenced by what young people are wearing on the street.

A tale of two cities indeed…

P.S. - This post was just something I needed to get out. There’s no real ‘point’ to it. It is what it is - a random observation on my part.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Uptown, Uptown

Last night I saw the highly anticipated American Gangster. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, Denzel did a stellar job once again. His talent is downright overwhelming at times. No one else could have played Frank Lucas but Denzel. And dang that man gets more attractive as he gets older! Or maybe he gets more attractive as I get older… Anywho, I caught the flick in Harlem, went to Londel’s (also in Harlem) to eat dinner afterwards and then chilled at another uptown lounge/bar following that. It was all by design. I suggested to my girls that we spend the evening in Harlem after the movie to keep the sprit of the flick alive. Sorta like a theme night type thing.

Since I missed the advanced media screening in Vegas during the NABJ conference (sorry, I’m still a lil’ salty ‘bout that) I promised myself I would watch the movie in Harlem. On opening night. Like we used to do back in the day when movies first came out. See, although I’m Queens born and bred, I’ve always had a little fascination with Harlem. The Brooklyn bandwagon is full enough. Plus, I think I’m caught up in the romanticized Harlem Renaissance stories. From Langston Hughes and Romare Bearden to The Rucker. There’s even an entire line of sneakers nicknamed after the place. To date, whenever I head up to the Manhattan neighborhood between 116th and 155th Streets, river to river - I always, always check for what folks are wearing. Or more importantly how they’re wearing it. It’s really no surprise then that The Denim Library was born in this very place. (I know that was an awkward transition; sue me.)

The Denim Library is located at 2326 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. (at 135th St.)/212.281.2380. I was first put on to this denim mecca nearly two years ago. I wrote about it for a magazine when it was just a couple months old but the piece was cut from the issue. Since, The Denim Library has been recognized by The New York Times, Travel & Leisure and CBS News. However, it is still below the radar of most NYC shoppers outside of Harlem. Why should The Denim Library be on your radar? Well, the store itself is just exquisitely designed. The walls are covered with denim fabric and the jeans are stacked on the shelves like books. It’s a ‘library’ - get it? TDL carries hard to find brands such as William Rast to classic faves like True Religion. It’s also owned and run by a Harlem native, So Hunter who truly cares about his community. (That’s him at the store in the pic.) I have no doubt that if TDL were located in Soho or Midtown, it would have triple (or more) the business that it currently has. But, I’m glad that it has remained in Harlem, so residents there can enjoy an upscale but comfortable shopping experience in their neighborhood without going to a large chain retailer. TDL carries both men’s and women’s apparel, and sportswear to round out their extensive denim offering. I raved about it to one of my co-workers who went and said she experienced less than excellent customer service when purchasing her jeans. That’s not cool. But fortunately, I don’t think it’s the norm. (She loves her jeans, by the way).

That little word with the huge effects called gentrification has Harlem turned upside down as of late. For better or worse, the neighborhood is undergoing a major transition. I suspect more Denim Library type retailers will begin popping up in Harlem over the next few years. Regardless, Harlem’s swag is here to stay. Hopefully The Denim Library is too.

Now, if you haven’t already - go see American Gangster!