Friday, February 29, 2008

Indulge me one last Posh ...

Just got some photos from the V.B. P.A. via email from one of the women I met at the reception (she and her gorgeous RICHARD PRINCE bag are in one of the photos). This is the LAST TIME I will mention Posh, I promise. This weekend I will try to write-up the giant tub of Nars bath salts that I just got in the mail ("I get the most wonderful things in the mail" -- Andy Warhol, as translated by Barneys, 2006)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Memo to Big Tobacco: Don't Disrespect Swag! (And leave our girls alone!)

Dear Camel Execs:

Smokes and runway fashion often go hand-in-hand. We get that. And we understand you're a business, albeit one that kills people.

But the InStyle spin you've put on your latest branding and marketing push hits below the Hermes belt. I resent that you've shanghaied the swag bag to fill it up with Camel-branded stuff (stuff that I might add is not even cute -- case in point, a tragic record-shaped purse [see link below]). Most egregious, however, is the intended audience for your swag: young girls.

I'm not alone in my suspicion that you're enticing girls to smoke -- read this:

Because if you were serious about courting the of-age, fashion-forward female market, you'd ditch the pink-and-black/cellfone bling approach and go for something a bit more, well, refined -- perhaps a black-on-black color scheme or color-on-chocolate brown. And fill those swag bags with aromatic soy candles and Creme de La Mer.

Sincerely, Swagulous in the City

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How Do I Love Victoria Beckham? Count One More Way ...

I just got a thank you from VB's publicity dept. for the story I wrote:

"I wanted to thank you for the incredible piece that ran. It was perfect! The Chicago PA was a tremendous success and I have no doubt your interview contributed to the success."

The note closed with a nice offer to be of assistance if I ever needed info on VB or dVb for a story.

Attention Business Owners/Celebrities/Wanna-Bes: THIS is how you run a business. As a reporter, time is money, and if I know I can get hold of someone fabulous very quickly (as I am often running on deadline), I know they'll respond and actually be *helpful,* well, I have to say that, for many of my markets, this determines whether someone gets my ink or not.

Not only is VB personally lovely and amazing, but she values that in her team members. Did I mention I was a fan? Double that.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Great Posh-Off! Victoria Beckham PA at Saks

There are hundreds of people in Chicago right now who love Victoria Beckham more than they ever thought possible. On Friday, the Girl-Group Chanteuse-turned-Lifestyle Brand appeared on the fifth floor of the Michigan Ave. Saks Fifth Avenue to promote her new denim line (editor's note: You can't call them jeans when the average price is $300).

And what a line it was: About 1,000 people strong, snaking around each bank of shut-down escalators, down to the bottom floor. And she met with as many as she could in about a two-hour period. And I say "met" -- she greeted everyone, had an assistant who comped at least 100 polaroids (until they ran out), hugged most everyone, chatted a bit, and signed everything from canvas portraits to Marc Melanoma Ts (these folks got special treatment) to a girl's forehead.

There was a kid there who had driven 12 hours from Florida to meet her, another girl there had VB's signature tattooed on her upper back. Still more had her books, products, that infamous W magazine, many issues of her cover turn on Elle, and bouquets galore. There were club kids, young women and even a big dork or two, but surprisingly, everyone appeared to be of the age and income bracket to at least buy something that she could make -- and they weren't dipping into their babysitting money to buy it, either. Which is good news for the longevity of her brand, I predict. Not to mention that everyone she interacted with had to have walked away a die-hard fan.

Even better: She didn't just allow photos to be taken as she interacted with her fans, she POSED for photos with almost everyone -- AND let her fans gather their wits for a moment to pose along with her. It was so great to watch the Posh pose in action, whipping her hair forward, chin lowering, eyes narrowing,, and see it TIMES TWO, as everyone mimicked her signature pout, was amazing. VB even allowed fans to lean close in to her, as if she were just another clubbing buddy mugging for a myspace album pix. Even after VB started visibly losing steam after about an hour, she pressed on and was still going strong long after the event was supposed to have ended. I don't know how many jeans were sold that day, but she earned every penny from that promotion.

PS -- Did I get my VB experience? You bet I did, at the VIP reception before the signing. She was lovely, lovely, lovely. I may not shell out three hundred clams for the denim, but yes, I became a fan forever.

And yes, I did get my picture taken with ... wait ... that's my phone ... it's my agency on the line. Not the passport agency, honey, the modelin' agency! (Name that song and I'll send you something fabulous)

Friday, February 15, 2008

NY Fashion Week: Tales of Starvation & Swag

Last night, a foodie friend of mine -- actually, Juliette Rossant of the amazing -- asked me to regale her with the details of where I ate when I was in New York. I had to laugh. Juliette, I said, I was there for FASHION WEEK. I ate mints and drank vitamin water! Actually, not totally true. At the Zac Posen after-party, in the VIP balcony, I snagged a hamburger the size of a quarter (it's true!) and two crostini. And on Thursday afternoon, I ate the banana that I had put in my bag that morning around 4 am.

Fashion Week is just. that. hectic. You're standing in line, you're trying to figure out where the hell the line starts, you're trying to figure out how to get a seat assignment if you don't have one already, and if you have an off-site show, you're trying to figure out how to get there -- or get back to the tents in time for another show. The shows are always late, but the rub is, you never know HOW late.

Also, I was talking to other friends -- shout out to Liz and to Molly of virtualfarmgirl (except she's kind of a real farm girl, the girl really owns a farm!) -- who asked, have you blogged about the swag yet? Which is funny because my blog is called Swagulous in the City. And yet, I have written nothing on the swag. The reason? Next to no swag. I am serious, NY Fashion Week was as UNswagulous as they come. I got pieces of paper printed with descriptions of the outfits (helpful) but in at least one case (you know who you are Custo Barcelona), I got but a single sheet with a paragraph-long mission statement on it. I blame Ben Bernanke. Ben, lose the Grizzly Addams beard and start fixing this economy so a hardworking girl can load up on product thanks to corporate largesse!

When there was swag, it tended towards the unfabulous. The press bags this year topped last year's droopy Snoopy duffel only in their heinousness. Think clunky rectangular tote in thick navy plastic with wide straps and some zippers on the front. I am afraid this IS your grandmother's gimme tote. The American Society of Pocketprotectors must have been thrilled when they unloaded their convention bag overstock!

What was inside? Prepare to be underwhelmed:

-- A bottle stopper

-- A bottle opener

-- Another bottle opener

-- a tiny blue plastic OB tampon purse holder, avec tiny tampons

-- Judith Ripka gift cert. for $250 (bringing down the per-bauble cost to only few thousand $)

-- Bliss Spa body cream, actually great stuff that smells yum, so I am v. excited about this giftie!

-- A kind of cool spiral notebook (although sadly the cover's printed with a LadMag-worthy cheese shot of a leggy model straddling a Mercedes)

-- A nifty American Apparel T-shirt (size M -- thank you whoever ordered these, for knowing AA runs microscopic) that is printed with the DHL logo and is, sadly, DHL orange (why not red?)

-- Strivectin stretch mark cream (a hint, forsooth?)

-- Two samples of cream (one of which looks like Smurf-blue frosting, see post below)

-- A nice MAC make-up bag with a brush, a lipgloss and liquid eyeliner inside. Bravo MAC!

-- Two small booze bottles, Chambord & Bombay Sapphire.

Other than that, I got a small gift bag with a NARS compact and two nailpolishes in it from the Willow show (only given to the folks in the front row -- and yes I did snag such a seat, thankyaverymuch!), a Bumble & Bumble fabric tote that's kinda nifty from the Rad Hourani show (filled with a bottle of vitamin water and a notebook, which was cool and very much appreciated). But the best swag bag award goes to ... cash-register-caching chorus please ...

P. Diddy! Everyone at Cipriani -- and that was a whole lotta folks, let me tell you! -- got a big black gift bag with two packages of his fragrance, Unforgivable for men, and Unforgivable Woman for, er, women. Plus two samples of another fragrance, Unforgivable Black, which may be coming out soon. Oh, and some vitamin water.

Oh, and I got a bottle of BORBA skin water at the Zac After Party -- some chick was handing out Borba fabric totes with the bottles at the coat check (a logical swag distribution point, right!?). The Borba tasted like watered down Kool-Aid, which was fine, but the bottle used so much plastic it made me feel like an environmental criminal, and the color was this odd blue usually reserved for the type of cheap kiddie candy that incorporates "blueberry," "fizzle" and "blastoff" into its packaging. Is my skin better for it? Maybe. But I will back Amore Pacific to the end.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Puffy taking a celebratory lap at his Sean John show. He led all his models, which was a pretty cool way to do it.

Pre-Sean Jean, some of the cast of Make Me a Supermodel.
Adieu, dear Bryant Park ... until September!
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Pix & Raves

@Bill Blass, a stunning turn from new lead designer Peter Som, who is actually quite good looking. Pretty, refined and feminine. This collection will put Blass back on the map, I am sure. Note on the right-hand side, front row: Nina Garcia and Rachel Zoe chatting about Zoe's oversized clutch.
Som's confections coming down the runway.
Tyson, giving interviews. Was a bit disappointing to see him taking up a front row seat, yet not able to get off the phone during the show. And he had his sunglasses on the entire time.
Cynthia Rowley showed lots of cool coats. Note P.S. Hoffman in front row, looking quite different from the sweaty, palid lump I expected him to be. He was actually sort of clean and normal-looking.
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Backstage @ Zac -- not sure what was up with the black cranial puffballs, but hey.
Backstage @ Zac. GORGEOUS!
Zac and his big velvet tie.
Rachel Zoe @ Zac
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My Fabulous Life (For Two Days): NY FASHION WEEK REPORT

Ah, where to even begin ...
I'll start with the details
Shows I attended: Bill Blass, Reem Acra, Cynthia Rowley (at Gotham Hall), Chris Han, Custo Barcelona, Zac Posen, Rad Hourani (At Bumble & Bumble Loft), Carmen Marc Valvo, Willow, Zang Toi, Sean Jean (at Cipriani).

Celebs I saw: ANNA WINTOUR!, Nina Garcia, Rachel Zoe, Grace Coddington, Veronica Webb, Hamish Bowles, Sophia Bush, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Parker Posey, Tyson Beckford, the cast of Lipstick Jungle, minus Brooke, Ellen Pompeo, Richie Rich, Dale from TopChef, Jack from Project Runway, the cast of Make Me a Supermodel, Christian from Project Runway (I think).

BIGGEST MOMENT: Watching a model bite it on the Zac Posen runway -- and watching Anna Wintour watching it.

BIGGEST MOMENT #2: Standing next to Zac Posen as he was getting interviewed backstage (thanks for the pass, Patti!).

BIGGEST MOMENT #4: When Richie Rich walked by me at the Zac Posen afterparty.

BIGGEST MOMENT #5: Just being there.

More later, I am immersed in deadline hell. I HAVE SO MANY PRODUCTS TO REVIEW -- including a moisturizer that looks like frosting (ew!), Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Leave-in conditioner and skin moisturizer (love it, it smells like the beach), Urban Decay goodies (the Brow Box is the BEST EVER PRODUCT!), Biotherm mega-moisturizer, and some Donna Karan Cashmere Mist moisturizer -- beware the moisturizer, in a pinch I put some on my hands and realized sometime later that the stuff is FULL OF GLITTER! Ack.

In the mean time, chew on this bit of info: Hermes on Oak St. is set to RAISE its already stratospheric prices. Yet the lip gloss stick at the Marc by Marc Jacobs store in Bucktown remains under $2.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Does swag make you bad? A response to the NYT story on beauty blogging gone stinky

The beauty blogosphere's been abuzz about the recent NYTimes story about supposedly unbiased Internet scribes losing their objectivity when treated to freebies, swag and junkets. Is it true? I hope not ... actually, I know it's not. There are a handful of sites like Beautychic 101 , run by Jamie Sanders, and the cadre of sites linked to hers that pride themselves on objectivity, regardless of how they source those objects. What does that mean for the readers out there? Same as it does when we talk about criticism in print media. Don't believe everything you read all the time, read around until you find a writer whose style you like and whose opinions you trust. There's good stuff out there, there's bad stuff out there. Beauty bloggers who are simply on the take will soon find their readers taking their eyeballs elsewhere. Does swag make you bad? Not necessarily, but it should make both a writer and a reader extra careful. Now, in terms of my swag -- do I accept it? Duh! My blog is called Swagulous in the City! But I am also careful to note that I am not getting swag as a result of my blog, it's in relation to my other editorial work. Here, on this blog, I post my true opinions, albeit anonymously. And the two are definitely related. If I don't write about it, it's because I haven't gotten to it yet. Give me a break -- the paid writing gets the priority, people! Also, I do happen to pay for a lot of stuff that I write about (which I do lament, because I really wish I didn't have to plunk down $400 for Amore Pacific!). I also share my celeb sightings with all of my readers. And you know who you are. Love you, Mom.

My Phone Convo with Victoria Beckham

Say what you will about the Marc Jacobs T-shirt, the slashedtothere Versace and her friendship with the Cruises. (And don't even THINK about slagging on her haircut because you KNOW you asked your hairdresser to copy it!). I spent 15 minutes on the phone this week with Victoria Beckham and here's what I have to say about her: nice, nice, nice, nice, nice, nice, nice, nice, nice. Another word? Sweet. Add to that smart, articulate and passionate about what she does. And I was mightily impressed that she had her kids with her and they weren't stuck with some army of caregivers back home. OK, so she was a bit rehearsed, but bottom line, she did not have to be so nice to me on the phone, and I was really, really impressed. Actually, everyone I dealt with on her publicity team was just as nice and professional as could be. And as a freelance journo given just 15 minutes to get the money quote for what they knew would be a short story, that felt, well, pretty nice.