Thursday, September 23, 2010

They're not borrowed, they're free! Oprah Winfrey gifts 50 brides-to- be Vera Wang wedding gowns

sk any bride what they want the want to wear as they walk up the aisle on their big day - and you can bet Vera Wang will be at the top of the list. And television's fairy godmother Oprah Winfrey delighted her audience once again by giving away exclusive Vera Wang bridal gowns - but don't worry these are from the designer's cheaper collection. The talk show titan made the lucky ladies screech when she announced they would be given the dress of their dreams for their wedding day.

Wildest dreams: Oprah and Vera Wang surprise 50 brides to be with wedding dresses from the exclusive designer's new collection - but it's her budget line!

Wang, 61, sat by the chat show host as she unveiled the surprise. But these dresses aren't from her usual super expensive line but the more affordable range that will be available in department stores. Her new White collection which will range in price from $600 (£385) to $1,400 (£900), go on sale at David's Bridal next year and were designed for brides on a budget. The segment was part of Oprah's Ultimate Wildest Dreams show on Friday and it seems she's determined to go out with a bang in her final season.
Confetti couture: The audience goes crazy when Wang's dresses are brought out. In true Oprah style confetti started falling from the ceiling in the lavishly decked out studio

Tears of joy: The brides who are walking away with the freebie dresses didn't care it was from the cheaper line - they seemed chuffed to be getting a dress from the coveted designer
On her season premiere on Monday she wowed the audience by given them all a free trip to Australia - on a plane piloted by John Travolta. Countless celebrities have worn Vera Wang dress including Chelsea Clinton this summer, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Garner. Wang's Luxe Collection starts at $6,000 with some dresses costing as much as $12,000 or more. However, most of her dresses range from $2,000 to $7,000.

Wallet conscious Wang: A sample of the dresses that brides who don't have celebrity budgets can wear on their big day were showcased on Oprah

Wang also designed the bridal gowns Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson wore in the film Bride Wars.
The pret-a-porter dresses range from one-shoulder crinkle mikado with swirling draped skirts to a strapless taffeta bodice dress with a full ball gown skirt.
Oprah also lavished the brides with a $4,000 (£2,500) gift card to spend on their honeymoon hotel and free airline tickets.
Vera Wang's bridal empire was born when she got frustrated shopping for her own wedding dress 20 years ago.
She said she became annoyed with the poofy Princess Diana-inspires dresses in stores.
She took matters into her own hands and created a simpler, more modern silhouette for her walk down the aisle. 
Two decades later she's the most coveted bridal dress designer in the U.S.

Friday, July 23, 2010

chanel handbags

Last night, we traveled to Upper East Side boutique Samantha Thavasa, a Japanese handbag brand and store, for a sneak peak at Tinsley Mortimer’s Fall 2010 handbag line. We admit we only found out Mortimer’s line for Thavasa existed by watching recently-canceled guilty pleasure reality show High Society. It turns out the Tins has been designing capsule collections for Samantha Thavasa for a few seasons. This one was inspired by 1980s rock bands. The reason for the ’80s inspiration? Tinsley says she’s a product of the ‘80s and loves ‘80s music. The bags were also a little inspired by lingerie and corsets, she explained, which was a lot more evident than the ‘80s rock band thing, aside from the names of the handbags, which were “Poison,” “Guns N Roses,” “White Snake,” “Metallica,” and “Def Leopard.” We weren’t huge fans of the collection, except for a couple of cute, simple quilted purses with long chain link straps that were, well, Chanel knock-offs in quirky colors. We were also wondering why, of all brands, Tinsley would be designing for this Japanese handbag line that only has one store in the U.S.? Also, who is Tinsley’s customer? Who is buying these bags? Then, we realized: Japanese people. Apparently, Samantha Thavasa is huge in Japan and American celebrities like Beyonce, Paris Hilton and Victoria Beckham have all starred in ad campaigns for the cutesy upscale handbags. And we all know the Japanese go crazy over pretty, blonde, American socialites, especially those with small faces. We’re actually sort of impressed that Tinsley was able to identify this market for herself.

How to dress: Clutch control

You can tell the exact moment when a wedding reception hits its stride by the sudden appearance of stray handbags on tables, like starfish at low tide, while their owners are off having fun. A clutch bag is a fabulous prop for posing with. So much more elegant to be stood on a lawn, hands clasped serenely around a jewelled bag, than to show your nerves by fidgeting, one hand tugging at imaginary fabric caught in your knickers and the other absent-mindedly worrying at last weekend's mosquito bites. And while clutch-addiction can hit your bank account hard, it won't damage you, so it's a healthier social crutch than a wine glass or a cigarette. But fast-forward a few hours, and the clutch becomes an impediment. You cannot clutch and have fun at the same time; it's a physical impossibility. And the conventional short-strapped evening bag isn't much better. What generally happens with the snug over-the-shoulder bag is once you put stuff in it, it wants to fall off, so has to be clamped to your side by means of a tensed upper arm. And once you've got the arm tensed, your body language is all nervy-late-night-walk-back-from-bus-stop, rather than night-of-your-life. Enter this summer's going-out bag: the long-strap, boxy-bag. The strap means it can bounce around on your hip and it won't fall off; the boxiness gives it a kind of treasure-trunk mystery. A metal chain and a squared off shape give it a hint of Chanel 2.55 heritage, which is never a bad thing. Too nice to be left on a table; thankfully, you won't have to..

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No Handbags at Dawn

A few months ago, one of my friends went to have dinner in a restaurant in London. As always, she carefully placed her handbag by the wall, under the table by her feet. Now that should be fine right?
Wrong. Ten minutes later the bag was gone and no one had been seen passing the table. Fully suited and booted, she proceeded to check all the bins in the neighbourhood. (I know what you’re thinking: if it wasn’t so bad it’d be funny.) Nothing there, so off home to change the locks, cancel the credit cards and the mobile phone, and call the police. In that order. The bobby was very nice and took a report over the phone, then proceeded to make sure she had indeed called the locksmith and was safely at home. Total damage restricted to a £50 phone bill, £300 for the new locks and a wounded ego. Few weeks later, the police called her back to say they were closing the case, and needless to say she’s never gone back to the restaurant.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself in DC deciding where to go for dinner. I finally settled on a bar/restaurant attached to a bookshop just off DuPont. Brilliant choice, specifically since I was on my own and it’s so much easier to sit at a bar pretending to read a book while watching the world go by. I got my book out of my bag, closed it up and put the strap around my leg. (Having one purse stolen a few years ago was more than enough to my liking.) Another diner came in, let’s call her M, sat down two stools away from me, and proceeded to put her purse on the floor. This obviously was none of my business, but it did briefly cross my mind that it was not particularly sensible. Another single diner comes in - we’ll call him T - obviously looking for a bit of company in a strange city, and started a conversation with M and myself. All great fun and we proceed to discuss all the main taboos of bar conversation, including politics and religion. Another few drinks later M, decided to call it a day. She reached for her purse which is no longer there. No one had seen it happen. The police were called and she wasn't allowed to leave until they had spoken with her. They were nice enough, really, but certainly not to be messed with and in a way very authoritative. The bar staff were brilliant and gave all the support she needed, but then started beating themselves up about not having warned her. Apparently they stopped warning people a long time ago since so many customers would get snooty and they would lose their tips.

Even more recently, I was gallivanting around the Middle East and came across multiple instances of expensive handbags sitting open on tables. Phones, money, passports and everything else you may expect to find in a handbag on full display, but no owner in sight. It made me think. Nine out of ten times, these bags sit there untouched until the owner shows up, or are returned to them fully intact. Perhaps this whole naming and shaming in the local newspapers with full names and pictures - as they still do around that part of the world - has some advantages.

Well, that and, of course, the fact that the likelihood of being caught is very high and the punishments are, to use an understatement, very harsh.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Toyota Black Box Tests Show Driver Error Caused Crashes

The U.S. Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of data recorders from Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration and found that the throttles were wide open and the brakes weren't engaged at the time of the crash, people familiar with the findings said.

The early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes.

But the findings — part of a broad, ongoing federal investigation into Toyota's recalls — don't exonerate the car maker from two known issues blamed for sudden acceleration in its vehicles: "sticky" accelerator pedals that don't return to idle and floor mats that can trap accelerators to the floor.

The findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involve a sample of the reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing.
A NHTSA spokeswoman declined to comment on the findings, which haven't been released by the agency.

The data recorders analyzed by NHTSA were selected by the agency, not Toyota, based on complaints the drivers had filed with the government. Toyota hasn't been involved in interpreting the data.

The initial findings are consistent with a 1989 government-sponsored study that blamed similar driver mistakes for a rash of sudden-acceleration reports involving Audi 5000 sedans.

The Toyota findings appear to support Toyota's position that sudden-acceleration reports involving its vehicles weren't caused by electronic glitches in computer-controlled throttle systems, as some safety advocates and plaintiffs' attorneys have alleged. More than 100 people have sued the car maker over crashes they claim were the result of faulty electronics.

It is unknown how many data recorders NHTSA has read so far. The agency's investigators have been reading the data only since Toyota provided the agency with 10 reading devices in March.

Since then, investigators have responded to accidents involving sudden acceleration when the driver claims to have been stepping on the brakes.

Because the data recorders can lose their information if disconnected from the car's battery or if the battery dies — as could happen after a crash — the agency is focusing only on recent accidents, said a person familiar with the situation.

NHTSA has received more than 3,000 complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas and Lexuses, including some dating to early last decade, according to a report the agency compiled in March. The incidents include 75 fatal crashes involving 93 deaths.

However, NHTSA has been able to verify that only one of those fatal crashes was caused by a problem with the vehicle, according to information the agency provided to the National Academy of Sciences. That accident last Aug. 28, which killed a California highway patrolman and three passengers in a Lexus, was traced to a floor mat that trapped the gas pedal in the depressed position.

Toyota has since recalled more than eight million cars globally to fix floor mats and sticky accelerators.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Models Hit The Hamptons, Victoria Beckham Takes The Wheel, And More…

Looking for the models this Fourth of July? Try the Hamptons. Ginta Lapina (left), Hilary Rhoda, Tiiu Kuik, and Eniko Mihalik will all be on Long Island, while Doutzen heads for Holland and Alexandra Richards home to Connecticut. (Pity poor Jacquelyn Jablonski—she’ll be working Couture in Paris.)

Victoria Beckham knows a thing or two (or three) about luxury, so we guess from that vantage point, her new appointment as a “creative design executive” for Range Rover makes sense.

Get your sneak peek at the costumes from the new season of Mad Men—and a peek beneath them. No surprise here: Sultry secretary Joan Holloway stays on message all the way down to her lacy, jewel-toned slip.

Rumored yesterday, confirmed today. Anne Christensen has resigned her post at T; new EIC Sally Singer is officially on the hunt for her replacement.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grace Kelly exhibition features famous battered handbag

A V&A exhibition celebrating the fashion icon and Hollywood star Grace Kelly includes a battered handbag once used to hide an early pregnancy bump in 1956.   

An employee poses in front of outfits worn by Grace Kelly that form part of an exhibition of her wardrobe at the V&A in London. It also includes her famous handbag. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters.  

A Van Cleef & Arpels diamond tiara, a Chanel suit, an Yves Saint Laurent dress, a Balenciaga jacket and several pairs of Christian Dior sunglasses all feature in the exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon, which opens at the Victoria & Albert museum tomorrow. But the star exhibit is a battered brown leather handbag.

On loan from the palace archives in Monaco is the original Hermès handbag with which Princess Grace tried to shield her early pregnancy bump from photographers in 1956. One photograph made the cover of Life magazine – and by holding the bag prominently Princess Grace made it so famous that the style, which had been known since 1935 as the Sac à Dépêches was renamed "the Kelly" in her honour.

The scuffs and marks on the handbag are evidence that, despite her high-maintenance image, Grace Kelly was surprisingly thrifty with her wardrobe. The signs of wear and tear make it clear she continued to carry the same handbag for many years – a sharp contrast to the habits of modern celebrities, who avoid wearing the same outfit twice. Victoria Beckham is believed to own more than 100 Hermès Birkin handbags in different sizes, styles and colours, a collection with a retail value of over $2m (£1.3m).

Kelly became sentimental about clothes she associated with good memories, and the exhibition includes several more examples of the surprisingly hard-working wardrobe which underpinned the Grace Kelly fairytale. A pale blue gown made for Kelly to wear to a 1954 premiere by Edith Head, the legendary Paramount studios costume designer, is the very same dress which Kelly wore to collect her Oscar for The Country Girl the following year, and then again for a cover of Life magazine. Jenny Lister, the V&A curator of fashion who has worked for 18 months to put the exhibition together, admitted she "thought very carefully" about giving the title of "Style Icon" to the show. "It's an overused phrase. There are very few people who really deserve to be called a style icon – but Grace Kelly is one of them."

The exhibition is already attracting international attention, a testament to the enduring appeal of Kelly's classic, feminine style of dressing. Lister predicts visitors will be surprised by some of Kelly's later wardrobe, which includes a brightly coloured Yves Saint Laurent "Mondrian" dress from 1965 and flowing, bohemian-era gowns by Christian Dior. "The look which Kelly fixed in the public imagination in the mid-1950s, the era of Rear Window and High Society and of her spectacular wedding, was so strong she will always be remembered looking the way she did at that moment," notes Lister.