November 9th, 2012
Now, a few days after Hurricane Sandy, I've snagged some time to reflect upon a few disasters, natural and unnatural, in my life. It's a blessing of age that I don't get as flustered as I once did, and I have devised some sort of routine about “what to do". Of course being a normally emotional person and being a business owner with over 250 employees has its own complications. My mind tends to go straight to survival and to preserving our organization.
When Sandy hit the ground in NYC 8:30 pm, I headed down the hill from my home in Brooklyn Heights to the factory where we produce our jewelry. As I reached the neighborhood referred to as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass) I saw that it was clearly a disaster. The Hudson River had engulfed two city blocks of DUMBO lowland. Across that river, the south end of Manhattan was to have no electricity for a week. Unprecedented. Having grown up in NYC I have seen a few hurricanes and seriously nasty weather but never anything as epic as this.
The next day I had to assess the damage to the business and lay a game plan for my staff. In the end we had to shut down the entire NY operation for a total of 5 days. Our stores and offices had no electrical power. Some of my staff had damage to their homes. NY was stunned. People came out to see the wrath of the storm, but overall there was a sense of community that engulfed the city after this great shock. It's one of the amazing and unexpected features of NYC. "The city that never sleeps" is known for its stock market traders, screaming cab drivers and Sex in the City girls frenetically shopping. Weirdly and wonderfully, in times of crisis all demographics pull together instantly and reflexively. This is not true solely of NY; it seems to be an amazing universal human trait.
Both slowly and quickly, NYC has rebounded and resumed a healthy dose of normalcy. You kind of wish you'd run into a surly cab driver, a screaming Rite Aid clerk, or a subway commuter with sharp elbows to remind you that everyone has truly shifted back to type. Hopefully, the 20,000 people who were displaced by the storm will find shelter and normalcy in their lives asap. My thoughts are with them. We are at back to work at Alexis Bittar Inc and oddly enough I've never seen my staff so happy to be here. The sense of purpose that work provides, shutting the door on the constant TV destruction saga, has made our workplace a happy place to resume life.
This year I was the judge for ELLE's annual FIT fashion competition. I was along side judges
Christina Ricci, Alexa Chung, Brad Goreski, Steven Alan and Ken Downing from Neimans, who were all the co-judges of the competition. There were about 20 contestants and each were tutored by Anne Slowey and Joe Zee from Elle.
The top honors are ELLE's FASHION NEXT Design Award ( $25,000), Maybelline New York Design Awards ( $25,000) and a third prize, the People's Choice Award, worth $10,000, is being chosen by users on ELLE.com.
It's always a horrible feeling judging someone's talent, but at the end, I try to analyze their skill, craft, color sensibility and long term potential in the market place.
Here are a few pictures from the event:
(In order of photos posted)
1) Me on the step and repeat.
2) Ken Downing and I.
3) Some of the pieces that walked down the runway
4) Some of the judges.
I designed a crown for Lady Gaga's new tour. I wanted something futuristic and we slammed it!
Her styling is INCREDIBLE in the interview, the juxtaposition of her looking like a California girl from 1989 with a massive spike crown on her head is provocative and memorable.
Lady Gaga rocks Miss Havisham earrings. They were made from hand sculpted wood and are accented with gold metal bird beaks.
Pink's new video Blow Me (One Last Kiss) just came out and she's wearing 3 necklaces designed for the video. She's gone very feminine and is looking incredibly elegant. Basically, she looks great.
Here are some still's from the video:
In Milan we just debuted the collaboration between Alberta Ferretti and I for Spring 2013.
Alberta Ferreti is known for her amazing detail and execution of ready to wear. There is always a sense of femininity to the collection which also reflects the modernity of today. We decided to sculpt clear Lucite so that it resembled the way the fabric would be pleated. Each bracelet was encrusted with inlaid rectangular and square crystals, which accented the curves and angles of the bracelets. The clothing combined metallic’s with a softness for the season. Below are some shots and the reviews from WWD which just got posted.
Get the look:
Here's the write up from WWD:
That the buzzwords bandied about backstage before Alberta Ferretti's show included “sensual”,"feminine" and “luminous" was not a news ash. Throw in “ethereal" and ”goddess" and you've got Ferretti's aesthetic vocabulary virtually covered. This collection, too, sprung from the designer's well of hyper-romantic beauty, which never seems to run dry. Puns aside, a wet look was intentional in the lineup, where the goddesses were more like sirens, the kind lonesome sailors shipwreck over in fairy tales or Ice Capades, in the case of a short, skaterly blue dress with nude tulle embroidered with lace. (There were also hints of McQueen in the aquatic.) The liquidity was conveyed in a couple of ways.
First came fringed dresses, some of which featured fringe embroidery, veiled in a layer of sheer, pale organza that resulted in a foamy iridescence. Then, at the end of the show, Ferretti worked slick lamés in black, blue, green and ivory on her signature fluid gowns, here done with an artfully tattered sensibility. There's almost an absence of gravity," she said preshow. “As if the fabrics are floating around the woman." That was precisely the effect on pretty cutaway chiffion tops worn over cropped pants - Ferretti's newest proposition for evening and the array of tattoo lace-on-tulle gowns that seemed to melt off the body.
The New York Times used this necklace I designed, a multi strand floor length necklace, for a photo shoot recently. Apparently the theme was "fish" and "ocean"...
So Coldplay's new video featuring Rihanna just premiered. I was psyched to be able to work with her and help do the jewelry. She's giving serious 80's China glamour.
She's wearing Elements Gold Woven Earrings, and Elements Ring and some Miss Havisham bracelets there in the background.
Here's the video and then some still shots below.
I'm a lucky guy to have inherited several surrogate mothers. Rachael Zoe is a well known American fashion stylist and a friend. On Monday, I got to catch up with her Mom. Both mother and daughter are fans of our jewelry and occasionally we'll get a rushed phone call from Rachel asking us to put together a gift for her Mom. This is always a pleasure. I like seeing her Mom, who's the obvious source of Rachel's personality (solidly grounded, charming, and warm.) She seems like the ideal person to spend a holiday dinner with.
Bergdorf Goodman had an honorary dinner to celebrate Iris Apfel, and her contribution to the University of Texas. She's been recognized as an official professor at the university. She was in full regalia in her ombred monkey coat. I spent the night with her husband, Carl, who just turned 98. He was giving me lessons on love and relationships. They've been married for over 60 years, so my ears were perked up.
In the photo below, Iris with Joanna Mastroianni.
As much as I adore Iris Apfel, it’s important to shine a light on her other half, Carl Apfel.
Carl just turned 98. Check out the smile on his face and those floral pants! He calls me "his son" and I feel blessed to have him as an honorary Father.
This Sunday we were having dinner at Marea and he gave me the best relationship advice. I was asking him if he and Iris have ever had a bad patch and what was the longest that it's lasted during the last 64 years. I was expecting something like a month or two... Wrong!
His answer, "Never go to bed with your partner mad at each other. It just builds up. Better to get to the bottom of it that day, so you can move past it. Don't go to sleep until you are both in agreement."
Oprah let's her natural hair down on Sept issue sporting Miss Havisham earrings.... she's getting wild!!
Here is the link to the article in the Huffington Post.
About 8 years ago I got a call on my first cell phone. I know, I was really late in the game. A faint
voice introduced herself as Rachel Zoe. She wasn't someone I knew. I wasn't dialed into Hollywood. She was working with Cameron Diaz who had recently purchased a piece of my jewelry on Third St in LA. Rachel was styling Cameron's press junket for an upcoming movie.
Rachel and I have worked together ever since. She's been a huge supporter and I've been impressed with how she's parlayed her styling into a brand. Not many stylists have been able to do that. My hat goes off to her! Here are some shots of her last week wearing some Miss Havisham pieces. She's with her husband and Anne Hathaway. Looking fierce, girl!
Who would of thunk it. From selling on the street with my first designs to getting to work with the AbFab gals for this ad and now seeing it plastered on the West Side Highway... This is CRAZY INCREDIBLE!! The crazy coincidence is that it's on a building that used to be a club in the early 90's called MARS. My dance partners were Lady Bunny and Miss Kier who became Dee Lite...hit single "Groove is in the Heart"...just in case you forgot. Sadly, it has sat empty for the last 10 years, but I got to breathe some life into it with this ad. Thanks to Sam and Pascale (from our PR Dept) for braving the below zero temperatures and arctic winds to shoot this video at 6am on the side of a highway on the dirty Hudson River.
Watch the video here!
They come in all shapes and sizes at Barbie! For New York Fashion Week Barbie threw a bash
across from Lincoln Center. I went super early to avoid the crowds. So far, I have had the opportunity to design 2 Barbies. Being sort of a "dude", I don't get around to bragging about it.
Here is the pictorial rundown of the night...
(In order of photos posted)
1) Barbie and I
3) Cross dresser from Vienna who was VERY excited waiting online.
4) Brainwashed young girl DYING to get in to see Barbie.
5) Through Barbie's technological advancement, I get to dress like her in her "Dream Closet". This is my "making pies" outfit.
If I didn't know Jeremy Scott was American, I would have definitely assumed he was a Brit. He is known for his outrageous designs and has worked with everyone from Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Victoria Beckham to Miss Piggy. Karl Lagerfeld has said that Jeremy is the only designer that could succeed him at Chanel. So, you Chanel Ladies, better take a good look at the wackiness! You may be wearing this in the future.
I teamed up with Jeremy to design jewelry for his Fall 2012 show for the New York Fashion Week.
Here are some photos from the show...
One of my FAVORITE stylists in the whole world is Patti Wilson. She is one of the godmothers of styling and has taught so many stylists, including George Cortina (who is now the head of Japanese Vogue). For this shot (which Patti styled for Numero Magazine's November issue) I hand sculpted a lucite mask. I wanted it to look like a liquid mask.
Here are some antique jewelry pieces that I think are aesthetically interesting.
(In order of photos posted)
1) 1920s Depression-era Homestead Pin. In all of my 30 years of looking at antique jewelry I have never seen a piece like this. It's simplicity in the depiction of a house, the comfort of a home, and the time in which it was made, make this pin a real collectable art piece. The fact that during the Depression someone chose to romance a cottage home says a lot about what people were dreaming about during that time.
2) Hand Pin and Earring Set by Coro. I'm always a fan of jewelry that uses hands as a motif. They've been used as a theme for centuries. It's rare to get a complete set like this that has stayed together throughout time. Coro designed a lot of great costume jewelry in the late 1930s through the 1950s.
3) Indian Head Pin. Here is another great costume piece by Coro. I thought it was particularly rare because it glorifies an American Indian in the 1940s. In addition, the bright color of the enamel makes this super chic. This piece has been featured in vintage jewelry books.
4) Punk Cuff. This Mexican hinge bracelet is a great example of Mexican sterling from the 1950s. Mexico produced some of the most contemporary and forward sterling designs during the 1950s-1970s. It is hollow but is backed and is very light weight. I thought the “punk" aspect of the design made it very cool
Hello Miss Drew!
I helped accessorize Miss Drew Barrymore for the recent cover of Instyle magazine. I remember Drew when she was 10 and I was 16 clubbing at Danceteria-scary, right?! She has definitely landed on her feet. I adore her acting. She always makes me smile. Her ease at being humorous and self deprecating while remaining so attractive and adorable is pretty remarkable.
We are finally styling Meryl Streep! She just won the Golden Globe for her performance in The Iron Lady. It is pretty controversial since Margaret Thatcher is still alive. Nonetheless Meryl landed the part and she's incredible in it! Meryl loves putting on an accent and generally does it impeccably well, except when she played a Rabbi in Angels In America. Her performance in The Iron Lady has made me forgive her for that. Go see this movie!
We are proud to introduce our Spring 2012 Ad Campaign with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. As the years have rolled by, the expectation rises each year when we chose the face for our ad campaigns. We're always trying to outdo ourselves and we put a lot of thought into this one. We thought that these girls were the best candidates.
Here are the reasons why:
1. I've watched Absolutely Fabulous, my jaw dropped, and I watch it still when I'm in a bad mood just to cheer me up.
2. I love how they depict the chaos and frivolousness of fashion and I still want to be a part of
3. They're completely politically incorrect!
4. This is their first endorsement and we feel honored to be a part of it.
5. They just re-launched the show and are about to do a movie so the timing is serendipitous.
6. I want Edina to adopt me!
7. I got to style them wearing my jewelry and did the art direction for it in the shoot.
As you all know, I'm a big fan of using a mature woman in our ads. For political fashion reasons,
I think it's important to never have enough images of mature women in the market place. As I look at advertising I'm amazed how so many advertisers use models between the ages of 18-24. But the consumer in higher luxury stores is 35-65. I feel the message that's being given to women is that they should try no matter what to try to look 18. It seems like a setup. The most impressive women I know have moved well beyond their teens. They are able to offer a faceted view of their lives and the accomplishments which contribute to their beauty.
The shoot was hysterical from the beginning. It was shot by John Swannell who does mostly portraits for the Royal Family, fashion photography in the 80's, and is a master in his own right. It was amazing for me being such a fan of the show to see the ladies come in as Jennifer and Joanna and then transform into Edina and Patsy. I felt myself getting nervous and star struck because I've been such a massive fan for so long.
We shot a short video of the making of the ad that is great fun, I hope you guys will enjoy it.
PS. Don't hate me when we use a younger model for one of our ads, because we probably will
Here's the link