Thursday, January 24, 2013

Have cosmetic bag will travel

In Mexico

I had the same hangable Eagle Creek travel cosmetic bag for about fifteen years. I finally had to jettison the thing, as much as I loved it and as well as it worked, it was getting a little too shabby. So I searched and searched for a similar one or better. Like Goldilocks, I felt they were either too little, too big or didn't have the features that I needed. And then I found this Travelon bag. It's been to Paris, Germany, New Orleans and several trips to Mexico and I have no complaints. It's compact when zipped, easy to hang, has quick access and enough compartments to separate things into categories.

I keep it packed with duplicates of my daily cosmetics and toiletry items so I'm ready to travel at any time and never worry about forgetting anything. I also throw in a handful of perfume samples, it's fun to try new scents when in a new place.

Friday, January 18, 2013

DV DVD: The Eye Has to Travel

Another "It" girl having a major moment is Diana Vreeland. A fantastic documentary about her, The Eye Has to Travel, will be released on February 12 and is available for pre-order now. My fashion friend Karen and I saw it last year at the San Francisco Film Festival and loved every minute of it. The film is rich with fashion, style and personal inspiration. I can't wait to see it again.  There's also a terrific companion book to the documentary that I wrote about here.

To paraphrase Vreeland's outrageous and fun column in 1930's Harper's Bazaar, "Why don't you dress all in red (DV's favorite color) and have a girls night to watch "The Eye Has to Travel?"

In a recent article WWD called her the "Fashion Goddess" and in her just published, critically praised biography of Vreeland, author Amanda Mackenzie Stuart calls her the "Empress of Fashion." She is definitely fashion royalty. I haven't read the bio yet, but it's next on my list.

A Vreeland quote that I love: "I need a lot of fanfare, no question about it."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It Girl: Grace Coddington

Seemingly all at once, there are several books and movies featuring longtime Vogue creative director Grace Coddington. And one she has written herself, which I read over the holidays, Grace: A Memoir. Admitting that she's probably only read two books in her life, Grace is more surprised than anyone that she has written a memoir. But public appearances and interviewer questions stirred thoughts and memories after the release of The September Issue. So the woman who spends her life behind the scenes orchestrating fashion photoshoots became a celebrity, answering questions about her life story. In the film, Grace's forthright manner and passion for her creative vision was in direct contrast with Anna Wintour's cool, sometimes Arctic, demeanor. This made for great drama and the audience couldn't help but relate to and root for Grace. Especially when Anna was slashing an entire fashion spread dreamed up and made real by Grace, who very vocally and emotionally fought back.

Born in 1941 on Anglesey, an island on the north coast of Wales, she grew up in a hotel run by her parents which she describes as "a plain building with whitewashed walls and a sturdy gray slate roof, long and low, with the understated air of an elongated bungalow." Grace says she grew up with "sand dunes, rugged monochrome cliffs, druid circles and bleakness", seeing "beauty in the bleakness." At fifteen, she spent her days drifting in her little sailboat named Argo "in grand seclusion." All of which makes perfect sense today, that she appears to be down-to-earth but creates such elaborate fantastical fashion spreads. And always interested in clothes, she made most of her wardrobe on a Singer sewing machine using Vogue patterns. I can certainly relate to that. And she says that as a child, she read her older sister's Vogue saying she liked it for the fantasy of looking at beautiful clothes and getting lost in its pages.

At eighteen, she knew if she stayed on the island her only career choices were "working in a clock factory or a snack bar", so in 1959 she ventured to London with a girlfriend to try modeling. Grace enrolled in the Cherry Marshall modeling school. (A quick search and I learn that Cherry has an interesting story too, one that I plan to explore.) Grace had early success with modeling, winning a Vogue competition and posing for the top photographers like Norman Parkinson.

And so with modeling, her adventures into the fashionable world begins. Casually and anecdotally, Grace mentions the names of friends, lovers and co-workers, all celebrities today. Names like Mick Jagger (she made out with him), Vidal Sassoon, all the fashion photographer greats and her first husband Michael Chow. Then in her late twenties she was told that she was getting too old to be a model and that she should be a fashion editor, so she got her first editing job at British Vogue.

The book has great photos, capturing the feeling of the time. Above is a 1981 photo of Grace with hairstylist Didier Malige, colleagues on fashion shoots then, but now life partners for over thirty years. I love her look in this photo.

Grace's sketch of the front row who's who at a fashion show. 

"With Anna at a Versace show. Photo: Arthur Elgort, 1998"
In the book's introduction, Grace modestly says "I'm always surprised that people who've seen the movie (The September Issue) respond to me in such a positive manner. Maybe it's because I come across on-screen as so emotional. It makes me appear idealistic, in contrast to Anna, who is by nature much more determinedly and quietly controlled. Or maybe it's because I appear to be put upon." Grace is loyal to Anna, writing about "the creative push and pull of the way Anna and I work together." Her thoughts on The Devil Wears Prada?: "its portrayal of fashion is utterly ridiculous".

The memoir contains a selection of Grace's fashion spreads:

British Vogue, shot by Helmut Newton, 1971.
That's Grace in the pool above and below in the black bikini.

Grace's elaborate and fantastic Alice in Wonderland multi-page creation for American Vogue.
Photos: Annie Leibowitz, 2003.

Coinciding with Vogue's 120th anniversary, In Vogue: The Editor's Eye, an HBO documentary about the fashion editors premiered recently, not having HBO I haven't seen it, but I'm hoping to soon. And of course, It-girl Grace is featured. And the same for the gorgeous companion book, Vogue: The Editor's Eye, which is on my wish list.

In her memoir, Grace takes the reader up to the present day when she celebrates her 71st birthday at a party thrown by Anna Wintour. Nearly everyone important to fashion was there. In a toast to Grace, Anna says "To me you will always be the heart and soul of the magazine, its guardian at the gate, its beacon of excellence..."

Grace is an inspiration for sticking to her passion and vision. Having worked in the fashion world for over fifty years, it must be pretty cool to be an "It" girl at the age of 71.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to Make Your New Year's Resolution Stick

After two weeks of popping corks, celebrating with friends and family and eating and drinking all the rich delicious things I love, it's back to work today. And I mean that in a couple ways. The most obvious is dutifully sitting in my cubicle, logging on, responding to emails, going to meetings with a smile and hopefully adding an intelligent comment or two.

But more personally and internally, it's back to work on my big "A" Agenda. My good friend Debra Lamfers taught me this concept. It means focusing on the important life items and not the little "a" agenda list, like mundane chores. Which are those things that make me feel like I'm busy and accomplishing things, but once I've picked up the dry cleaning, made a pot of vegetable soup and done the laundry, then what? I have to remind myself, life is not a to-do list! Which brings me to my resolution for 2013: do my priorities first. What's my priority now? It's writing first thing in the morning. Such a simple and doable idea, but it does take daily practice. Given time at home, I can happily putter till the day is done, but always with a story idea in the back of my mind and I feel restless and unsatisfied until I get that story down on paper. So the trick is to write first thing and see where it takes me.

Over the holidays, Debra sent the following letter to her friends and clients on how to make resolutions stick and I found her ideas so helpful and straightforward that I wanted to share them with you.

Dear Friends,
I've been thinking about how we make our New Year's Resolutions stick. Here are some ideas that have come up for me. I look forward to hearing yours, too.

1. Start without judgment towards ourselves. Let's begin the year without guilt if we didn't accomplish last year's goals. Instead, write down our breakthroughs as well as what didn't get accomplished. Consider reading our list aloud to a trusted friend. It's also helpful to ceremoniously burn them and watch the smoke go up into the air to begin the year with a fresh perspective.

2. Choose an inspiring theme. Make 2013 the 'Year of ____'. Ask yourself what's meaningful at this time in your life. For instance, 2012 was the 'Year of Good Choices' for me and the 'Year of Renewal' for a friend. 

3. Now choose and write down your new intentions. With your theme in mind, what do you want to see happen in the coming year? Be specific. Instead of 'Make more friends' choose 'Call Charlotte for a lunch date.'

4. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Instead of starting a new exercise routine by training for a marathon, aim for a 20-minute walk each day. And if you break your resolution today, try again tomorrow. 

5. Ask for help. Enlist a friend, spouse or sibling to do the above together. It's more fun than doing it alone! If you can't find a partner, consider hiring a coach or joining an accountability group to keep you on track. 

Thank you for being a part of my journey and helping me learn and grow. Here's to you and a nourishing new year filled with ease, openness and laughter! 

I'd like to hear your ways of making lasting changes. 
Contact me at

My theme for 2013 is the 'Year of Daring'. When I started this blog nearly two years ago (March 7 is the anniversary!), I learned that a dare is a great motivator for me. I have some ideas about what that means to me, which I'll share in the coming months.