Saturday, September 29, 2007

cell phone drama

I'm so mad!!! So this morning, I thought I'd do myself some good, meeting up with a friend to go for a long walk, get some grub at a local diner, then walk some more. Well, we didn't walk very far. Probably 10 minutes in, I lost my cell phone. We walked back three times to retrace our steps, but to no avail. Somewhere out there, an a-hole of a non-samaritan has wandered off with my phone! The thing I miss most are the photos I took with my phone. That's the biggest thing. Plus, the phone itself was a unique version that I bought during my trip to Hong Kong; a purple Motorola Razr.

So now, I have to buy a new phone. This is an additional expense that I don't really need, but I'm changing plans, so maybe I'll get a decent free phone, or a nice upgraded one at a discount.

I was with AT&T/Cingular, but am thinking of changing to Verizon or T-Mobile. Of the phones available, the following looks good. Any thoughts out there?

I like the Verizon phones a lot more than the T-Mobile ones, but at the end of the day, the plans have to be good, too. What to do, what to do?

I must be in girly mood, 'cause I'm gravitating to all the feminine

T-Mobile doesn't seem to have as many choices, and I'm not in love with the Samsungs, which seems to be rampant among the company. Here are the ones that I kinda like.

I think I want either another Razr or Chocolate...

Motorola Razr

LG Chocolate

Friday, September 28, 2007

Keira and Chanel, Together at Last

I wanted to post about this sooner, but allow to me say how much I'm enjoying the new Chanel Coco Mademoiselle campaign, featuring Keira Knightley. Directed by Joe Wright, it's Pride & Prejudice all over again! No complaints here! (He did after all direct her in P&P, and again in one of her latest films, Atonement. They must love working together. And if you didn't know already, P&P is one of my all-time FAVE films. I've seen it at least 12 times, not including the BBC version. Matthew Macfadyen! But I digress.)

Smile, Keira!!! :P

The film, as Chanel prefers to call it instead of a commercial, is lush, fantasy-driven and immaculate. Unlike the Nicole Kidman ad for Chanel No. 5, which was based on Moulin Rouge and required her to talk at the end, Keira simpers and pouts through the clips, dabbing a bit of the Coco Mademoiselle on a male model, prancing through a soirée, and coming up all radiant smiles and bubbles at the end. She makes us believe that with the right perfume, everything is beautiful and perfect in the world.

I have never tried Coco Mademoiselle before (my favorite fragrance of the moment is Christian Dior's Lily, which was limited, so sadly, is no longer produced), and I'm picky about my scents, but if CM does indeed smell like jasmine, I'm all for trying it.

Joss Stone sings Nat King Cole's version of L.O.V.E. This is also one of my all-time favorite songs, and I think it befits the ad. The ad is about all kinds of love; love for the perfume, love for luxury, love for men, parties, love yourself!, and love for life.

Luxury Lost

I was so excited when my book from Amazon finally came! Been waiting forever so I can read this. I am talking about Dana Thomas' "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster." It also ties in nicely with my recent post on shopping/fashion fatigue. I'm only on the first 20 pages, since I started the book late last night, but already, the introduction carries a theme of cynicism and suspect in regards to what the current luxury industry is all about.

The book starts off by introducing Xi'an, once a major metropolis in China's history whose significance lies in its relationship with the Silk Road, and foundation of the arts, music, poetry, and architecture of ancient China. (I was just there last year, so the memory of the dusty city is still with me. The Terra Cotta Soldiers really are a sight to behold!) The historical synopsis on the city that was two thousand years ago segues into the counterfeiting industry, a foreshadowing of things to come in future chapters. As a Chinese-American, I do find myself sensitive to the idea that people's perceptions of Chinese people could be that we all love counterfeits. Not true! I am completely against it, and although I haven't read far enough to know how the author plans to portray this segment of the population, I hope that it's a fair assessment. The thing is, these Chinese people are so talented and smart, if they could only come up with their OWN brands, and train their artisans to fashion their own one-of-a-kind creations, the counterfeiting might slowly decline. But this is for another post...

The next chapter of the book talks about the history of how the current luxury industry came to be, starting with Louis Vuitton (as the most successful of all the luxury brands). From its ignoble beginnings, and ending in some very frank quotes from Marc Jacobs about LV as a business, there is a certain downtrodden message that I hear when I read about LV's history. Aside from the illustrious heritage the company has painted for itself via current marketing campaigns, the reality is that unless you order something that is truly unique and unavailable to anyone else, it is like buying something from the Gap. Mass-produced, with an inflated price that is thirteen times the cost of production, it is mind-blowing how they have managed to sell sell sell SO much, and no one ever calls them out on it. I guess there's no way to call them out unless you just boycott them, which doesn't say much if you've only bought a wallet here or there. The nouveaux riches, as is expected, are the ones who are buying LVs in an onslaught. Hence, another reason the book starts out with China. This is the mecca for the next generation of buyers who will buy buy buy.

So far so good, the book is easy to read and filled with interesting facts. One interesting factoid? LV was in with the Nazis! Well, not in. But they sold to the wives of the Nazi party to stay alive as a business. Very sketchy...! Will write more as I go through the book.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dancing my heart (and fat) away...

So this morning, I got up at the crack of dawn to play a dancing game on my XBox 360. You may think that this is a little off-topic on my normal gushing of my latest purchases/dream commodoties, but I assure you, I am very much on the same agenda here.

Let's face it, we all want to look good, and in order to look good, regardless if you plan on donning a one-of-a-kind frock or a big ol' potato sack, you need a good foundation to build on. I am ashamed to admit that I've been letting the foundation go to shits. I have exactly two months to get my body back in shape in time to attend a wedding in Bermuda and to celebrate my honey's big 3-0, so now is the time to put some effort into this embonpoint I call my body.

I am a creature of my environment, so although I can't quite pinpoint what it is exactly, I hate going to the gym. I hate the sterile and monotonous feeling, of being around other sweaty people, of having to lug my body out there for hours, away from my creature comforts. I'm an all-or-nothing kinda gal. I either fanatically go to the gym for hours on end, or if I feel like I'm only going to devote half an hour to something, I'd rather be doing something else, like taking a walk through the neighborhood, or even better, hula hooping while watching my fave TV shows. (My longest record non-stop on the hoop? 45 minutes, baby!)

So other than keeping my gym membership so that I have the option on hot days to take a dip in the swimming pool, the best activity that you can do, at home, for cheap, for fun, and in the privacy of your own home, is to play DDR. I am committing myself to include DDR as part of my full workout.

XBox 360 came out with Dance Dance Revolution Universe, and my, has the game improved on itself. For one, the music is SO much better now. They actually have hits you've heard of that are dance-friendly, instead of all that Euro-trash-pop that spat out synthesized chanting over uproarious bass beats that made no sense. I played for only 40 minutes this morning, having tried out 13 songs. I want to ante up the difficulty level, and maybe even try the Workout mode (I stayed on Game mode this morning 'cause I want those Achievements!), so overtime, my cardio workout will be more complex, and hopefully, will start to slim down my waistline.

I'll let you know if I see any effects over time, but considering all the personal accounts of little tubby boys losing tons of weight after playing DDR for hours, do I have any reason not to believe?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Origami Delight

I am dying with excitement! No sooner have I posted on being tired of buying expensive bags that I don't even use do I come upon the latest glorious piece that I am absolutely salivating on, and it's available for pre-order! Behold, the Bottega Veneta Origami Knot clutch. It's gorgeous! And cute! I'm the queen of origami to my friends, so how appropriate is this perfectly and cleverly designed concoction of art. Somewhere on the web I saw a black version, but I think the lighter colored version shows the texture of the leather much better. Such an intriguing take on their usual basket weave. The price tag is just harrowing; NO way can I justify it. But I can dream, and maybe if I get that new job I've been holding out on, I will treat myself. For now, another dream piece. I want this more than the Prada clutch, yes.

New obsession, check. Bank account, not quite there. Insane asylum, soon to be a patient. :P*

Bottega Veneta Origami Knot Limited Edition Clutch - $3,680

Fashion Fatigue

Is it possible to be just sick and tired of shopping? I started off this blog by mentioning how in the past five years I've allowed myself to indulge in whatever designer bags catch my fancy. I believe some of my friends even thought me strange, going through a retail addiction phase so manic they could not relate anymore. As you grow up internally as a person, and allow yourself more luxurious options in life, there is also the general rift that can come with hanging out with your friends who may think you un-wise and wasteful, shallow or pretentious, especially if there is a significant income level between you and the others. This is why friendships are best when money is not of particular focus.

But I digress. For years, the Louis Vuitton obsession took over me like a druggie. I bought into the Marc Jacobs fantasy like a born-again Christian, frenetic in my chase of the next limited collaboration. More often than not, I got really good at keeping track of the newest items that didn't even show up in their customer service's computer database yet. So I would call back, or ask to be added to some waiting list. By the way, one thing I've learned is that the waiting list is open to everyone. The idea of VIP depends on who you ask. A local SA may not know me from Joe Schmoe, so maybe I won't get my ass kissed as much, but I have in my collection enough of a variety of limited pieces that if I had any sense, I'd sell it all so I can easily buy a new car and maybe put down enough to almost pay it in full. A car, or a closet full of unused purses? Which one would you choose?

So even though I started this blog only about a week ago, I have to admit that I'm now experiencing shopper's fatigue. I buy fashion magazines by the truckload, and am almost a bit tired of the mimicry that shows up in all of these glossy pages. Everyone gushes over the same designers. If I could paint a clear metaphor of what a fashion magazine is, it's that it's the equivalent of the high school newspaper, and all the popular people made it into the pages.

And what is luxury, anyways? Is it the materials, the design, the length of time it takes to create the creation? I grew up making a lot of jewelry. I have had compliments paid to a bracelet I made while shopping at Saks. If I had been smarter, I would have sold them on it and tried to get a buyer to look at it, but I wasn't business-savvy enough. When LV tried to sell their canvas bag with their logo in beads, I loved it, but could not substantiate the price in my mind, no matter how high the LV myth was elevated in my mind. Something told me that if I spent enough weekends sitting with glass beads purchased from A.C. Moore, I could do the same with my own initials, and aren't custom items more of a luxury than a mass-produced item? How blurred are the lines between luxury and DIY?

The last two handbags I purchased were both limited pieces. While on a business trip in Las Vegas, I wandered into the LV store there, and besotted, I purchased the LV Monogram Dentelle Batignolles Horizontal, with the lace in silver. I lugged it through the airport in its box, not ready to use it just yet, and now that I'm back home, I've used it just ONCE. It's not because I don't think it's fabulous, and I definitely would not sell it, but I can't think of when to use it. I work in the boonies, so no one at work even cares or appreciates designer pieces. So it sits in my living room, untouched. I really should put it back in its drawstring bag, but if I don't keep it out, I might forget that I even own it.

The other bag I bought was also one of those "If I get it, great, if not, that's ok, too" purchases. I first saw this Montaigne purse in Bottega Veneta's spring 07 campaign. Loved it!!! I pre-ordered it on the website, and was told it may or may not be available, because it was SOooo limited. So months later, after I had even forgotten that I had pre-ordered it, I get an email from the SA that it was available. Did I still want it? Of course I said yes. It arrived in all it's girly pink glory, the leather so soft, the bag as romantic as the advertising promised. I pictured myself using it on bright sunny days, when I went shopping or brunch with the girls. But I never did. I have NEVER used it. The rainy spring and unpredictable weather of summer prevented me from wanting to leave the house with it. I didn't want it to be ruined; it was so pretty! So now it sits unused, in my bedroom waiting for that perfect moment when I can expose it to the (kind) elements. Will it ever be utilized?

Since my BV purchase, I have not bought another designer purse. I've been buying cotton shoppers, which are lighter to carry, and I've been drifting back to my classic LVs, and not the ones covered with cartoons or other limited accoutrements, which was such a draw for me in the first place. The last few things I've purchased were 2 Proenza Schouler for Target suede clutches, a Devi Kroell for Target faux-python clutch, and 2 faux-leather Simply Vera (Vera Wang for Kohl's) bags. Yes, I'm going cheapskate here, but still getting the designer touch.

I would really like a black BV; I find that might be more useful for everyday use, where if the leather is scuffed, at least I can't see it, and there's something very confident in myself to not carry a bag that has logos and instant recognizability all over it. But I don't feel compelled to go out and buy one right now. I got the Gucci catalog in the mail the other day. I only own one Gucci purse, and I got a lot of use out of that bag (and a lot of compliments), but the new Gucci designs seemed redundant, desperate, and not very mind-blowing. Plexiglass on leather? I obviously DON'T need another purse when I have new ones that I have never used. And plenty uses out of the cheaper bags.

So you may see more posts from me pining for the latest fashions. But will I be buying anything? Maybe I just need a break from all of this retail therapy.

Louis Vuitton That's Love Canvas Tote - $1,720

Louis Vuitton Monogram Dentelle Speedy - $1,420 (a cheaper alternative to the $1,720 for the Batignolles Horizontal)

Bottega Veneta Montaigne - $1,980 (brown for fall, but inquire for other colors)

Target (for the latest GO deals)

Kohl's (for the latest Simply Vera deals)

Paintings Du Jour

Continuing on my adoration for the latest Bottega Veneta fall campaign, I think the one reason I love the ads is because it reminds me a lot of the paintings by one of my favorite artists. I'm too poor to own any originals, but Spanish artist Nydia Lozano paints these gorgeous portraits of young women in mid-states of pensiveness, conversations, preparing for a party, or sitting in their gardens. Take a look below and you'll see what I mean. I hope to one day be able to buy an original. Prints just don't capture the beauty that an original has.

Nydia Lozano Official Website

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bottega Veneta is my Dream Fantasy

I am in love love LOVE with the current fall campaign for Bottega Veneta. The photos are by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. When I look at these ads, they don't look like they are selling just purses and shoes. They are selling a lifestyle. Set in an intimate setting, where all the ladies look like ladies and are swaddled in feathers and furs and gilded in gold, it is an absolute perfection that only BV can promise.

Doesn't the male model look like Adam Levine, the lead singer of Maroon 5? :P

This is my favorite photo! The models look like they are almost ready to head out, and have some last minute primping to do. This photo looks like a painting!

Capture the mood at Bottega Veneta.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What was the big deal anyways?

So I fluttered over to Target the other day to check out the Alice Temperley collection, and what a disappointment. I don't think any of the fashions looked quintessentially British (which is what exactly?), or even Temperley-like. I thought she was famous for all the beading and gilding and tunics and such. Or did I confuse her with another designer? The looks felt so old and dowdy. And French looking. What's with the berets, bows, and ruffles? I just checked her official website, and it seems that this season, she was inspired by Paris and Russia. OH-KAY...but was this the best representation of her work for the mass audience?

There weren't that many things that I wanted to try on, but I did try on these four items.

The first was this ivory cropped jacket. Online, it looked fun and whimsical. But in person? The fitting felt off. It was short, and puffy. I felt like a misshapen mushroom. Also, the material didn't feel like wool. It felt like a very soft felt or fleece material. Wasn't very awe-inspiring. So unfortunate.

What I really wanted was to try on the blue version. Maybe that would've looked better.

The next item I tried on was this dress. It was cute in concept, but I'm more of a busty girl, and the ruffles were far from flattering. Also, the cotton material felt like it could wrinkle easily, so I didn't think it would work if you run around a lot. Especially for someone like myself, who commutes for over an hour each way to work every day, by the time I get to the office, there would be wrinkles all over my ass.

This dress was cute, but not very special. I guess this is considered one of the few pieces that have that pop of color, but the print itself wasn't especially stylish. Especially since this season is all about the geometrics, the floral pattern felt off, neither classic nor trendy. Also, why would I pay $40 that looks like something I can get for $10-$15 bucks at like a Tello's or something? :P The one redeeming thing is that the fabric is nice, much better than the dress above.

This shirt was by far my favorite. The version I tried on was gray, and it was a very nice, muted piece. The shirt I tried on was the last one left, and it was smaller than I'd like, so I didn't buy it, but the fabric was nice and flowy, the ruffles actually work really well on this piece, and I could see it matched with jeans and heels for a night out. I couldn't even find the gray one online, so maybe I'll be able to catch it in another Target.

Anyhow, I would say that altogether, the collection is a mixed bag. I would say that most of the collection was uninspired. Not a very successful GO collection from Target this time around. But check it out for yourself.

Alice Temperley Melton Wool Cropped Jacket - Ivory - $44.99

Alice Temperley Melton Wool Cropped Jacket - Athens Blue - $44.99

Alice Temperley Long-Sleeve Cotton Voile Dress - Cloak Gray - $29.99

Alice Temperley Short-Sleeve Floral Crepe Dress - Pink - $39.99

Alice Temperley Victorian Ruffle-Front Blouse - Antique White (but get it in Gray!) - $29.99

Simply Vera, Simply Fabulous

The Simply Vera collection by Vera Wang has barely made it out of the gates, but already, Kohl's is offering 30% of on most of their store, including the Vera pieces. Don't feel ripped off, though. If you were holding out on some of her signature pieces, most of them have already been sold out, and are now being held hostage in the land of eBay.

I was lucky enough to visit the local Kohl's early on and bagged several items, which aren't even on the website anymore. I bought the signature piece from the collection, the pleated navy blue dress with exquisite beading details. Love it!!! It fit me perfectly...I bought the last one that ran in the smaller size. I plan to wear it to a friend's wedding in Nov...I think it will look very cute and pretty!

This coat looks really nice in person. The black version was a tad dull, but the camel fabric shines in the light. You can also see the texture of the fabric much better in the lighter color. A perfect light jacket for fall.

I love these two purses. The monochromatic clasps really work for me. I don't like the hobo in the black, but I'm contemplating getting the clutch in black. Can be both dressy and casual, and black is always versatile.

I already wore my camel jacket once, and it's great. However, just because I found some pieces that I like doesn't mean that the entire collection was perfect. More about the not-so-great pieces in the next post.

Kohl's Simply Vera Collection

Crystal Paradise

Yesterday was my mom's birthday, so my gift to her? A Swarovski crystal flower, from their Flowers of Paradise collection. I have to say, out of Swarovski's entire collection of animals and figurines, these are one of their finer pieces. Colorful, vibrant, and eye-catching, I don't think they're kitschy at all. If anything, they're rather elegant. Personally, I'd rather wear something from Swarovski than have it on display, but if you're looking for a gift idea, and the recipient loves flowers, these will make a great present. My mom certainly loved it!

Swarovski Damboa - Blue Violet - $200

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gossip Girls - Dressed to Sell

I was watching the CW's Gossip Girl last night not because I thought I was going to see the best acting on television (although Blake Lively's performance was certainly enlightening and refreshing to watch), but because of the fashions! This is supposed to be Sex and the City Lite, where all the people are pretty, and the clothing, impeccable. There were some very pretty frocks featured, since in only the first episode, there were already TWO parties that took place. Throw in some preppy school uniforms that HAD to be accented with designer duds like Chanel, and this show can easily become a walking ad for all the fashion houses.

One piece that caught my eye was Serena's gold sequined top for her date with Dan. She dressed it down with a jacket and long scarf over it, so it was more boho-chic and not disco diva. Remove everything and only wear it with a gorgeous tan, and I think it's a dress for all seasons. I scoured the web to find out more about it, and only came upon this article. They mentioned that items from the show were going to be featured on their website and will be for sale, but the CW site doesn't seem to have this feature up and running yet.

Anyhow, I'll probably keep watching because the storyline is interesting thus far (I know that this is shallow drivel...this is why it's called "guilty pleasure" and no different from The Hills, imho), but looking forward to seeing all the fun fashions they're going to put on screen. At least, until the REAL Sex and the City opens up in the theatres.

P.S. Loved Serena's mom's looked like an ostrich Hermès Birkin

Tory Burch Sequin Tunic Dress - $450

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Wanna da Prada...

Over the weekend, I finally got to tour the new Neiman Marcus in Natick. My God, was the place delectable. It was like a very fashionable zoo. More tourists and window-shoppers than real patrons, perhaps some habitués from Saks or the old NM, but the items were all on display in shiny, gleaming, come-buy-me set-ups, and the sales people were very friendly (unlike some other locations, where if you're not dressed right, you're not treated right), so it was altogether a very lovely jaunt through the mall.

I almost waltzed by this one display when my honey pointed out this gorgeous clutch to me. With all the purses I own, I only have one Prada purse, and one wallet, both of which I only bought because it was impulsive and on sale. Well, this has got to be one of the first Prada pieces that I ever thought seriously about buying at retail, only because as a fall bag, it might sell out, and anyhow, I can see this being a very classic piece that will never look dated. Isn't the ombre gorgeous?

The clutch comes in three colors: gray to black, beige/brown to black, and gray to red to black. I LOVE the red. I want it soooooo badly, but I have been spending a lot lately, and I can't justify purchasing this clutch, as much as I love it. So I'm going to sit on this for about a week. If after a week, I still want it, and it's still available, then I think I will get it. Argh...temptation! This will be the longest wait ever!!!

Prada Vernice Sfumata Clutch - $850

False Advertising?

When I saw this pic of the latest Visionaire venture, I almost fell in my seat! $375 is certainly not expensive to own a gold LV Monogram Miroir portfolio, including a beautiful tome of photographs. I was counting down the days until I could order from Visionaire's site. And I quote:
Guest Art Director Marc Jacobs teamed up with photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott on the newest installment of the coveted fashion quarterly, Visionaire, which comes housed this time in a limited-edition Louis Vuitton case designed by Jacobs. Alas and Piggott photographed a series of intimate portraits of today's most inspiring contemporary icons, traveling to New York, London and Paris in search of their personal muses. Subjects include actors Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson and Selma Blair; singers Jennifer Lopez and Lil' Kim; models Gisele Bündchen, Stephanie Seymour and Christy Turlington; New York City Ballet principle dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied; and fashion designers Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney, to name a few.

Then came this. I surfed onto the Visionaire site and they were accepting pre-orders. Except, the case is now not a portfolio, but a regular, probably-made-out-of-cardboard case!!! WTF?!? Is this sneaky advertising? Or did they decide that production-wise, it wasn't viable to make an actual portfolio?

Anyhow, I decided to subscribe to get an issue anyways, because I can't say no to Lou-ee, even if I know I'm being ripped off. This is the more affordable Louis that will go up in price over the years. And with a subscription, I get 3 other wonderful editions of Visionaire. I'll let you know what I end up getting in the mail. Crossing my fingers here. :P

Visionaire 52. Private - $375

Shopping to Save the Trees...!

If you've ever been to Asia or the UK, you will have come upon magazines that come with freebies. The freebies range from jewelry to small cosmetic bags, to keychains, a supplemental guide to the latest food/celebrity/fashion, or hair accessories. I'm a huge sucker for these little trinkets. Half the time, I end up buying the magazine just for the trinket! It saddens me that the US has not adopted this marketing ploy, but it might be better for me, since I already buy or subscribe to so many magazines in the given month that often, I'm months behind in my reading. Imagine if they gave me free shampoo for, I dunno, Cosmogirl. I don't know who reads that crap, but I'd prolly buy it for the shampoo. Lord knows I did when I was in HK...and I can't even read Chinese!

Anyhow, I digress. While in London, I bought some random magazine for a cotton bag. I don't even remember what the mag is called, but I remember thinking that the bag was cute, so I bought it. It's by Dorothy Perkins, whom I've never heard of, but a quick check on Google tells me that this is a very well-known fashion chain in the UK. I love my bag! Because it's cotton, and not even lined, after several months' use, it will probably wear away to nothing, but for now, the charming print makes me think of summer (how quickly the cold north wind hangs down in Boston), and I will use it for as long as I can.

I just checked the Dorothy Perkins website, and they are selling cotton shoppers to raise money for the Woodland Trust. This is my kinda company! Be in style, and save the environment while you're at it. Can't argue with that. Sadly, the one bag I have my eyes on is sold out (the lime green one below)...but there are two more styles for sale. So, get them while you can so that you can say your bag is helping the planet. I much prefer this than the overhyped Anya Hindmarch "I'm Not a Plastic Bag" any day, since it's so much cuter, and do I daresay, will have a more direct impact on the cause.

Dorothy Perkins Woodland Trust Shoppers - £10.00