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Archive for the ‘designer’ Category

I love Manhattan — and living in Manhattan — you can really find everything you could ever want in the city. Problem is, it takes a hell of a lot of money to get there! I have taken some time off to buy furniture for my newly renovated place – no easy feat in Manhattan! I don’t have a single piece of furniture except for some chairs, and a tiny entertainment center. Wires are all over the floor, and I want to find something functional that keeps wires hidden.

I decided to conquer Manhattan. There are three main buildings to visit for remodeling and redecorating – Architects & Designers Building (A&D) on 58th & Lex, Decoration & Design Building (D&D) on 58th & 3rd, and New York Design Center (NYDC) on 33rd & Lex.

D&D and NYDC sell to trade only, and entry is restricted. Last year I was not allowed to enter. This year, I took my architect’s company name and entered the building. None of the stores shared prices – they said I should select pieces and leave my architect/designer’s contact info, and they would send prices to her. A lot of designers make money from them because they (designers) mark-up the prices – even if they don’t mark it up, in some cases shipping & handling charges wipe out the discount.

A&D: The building is primarily for people looking to remodel and can find appliances, tiles, shower enclosures, bathroom fixtures, closet organization, kitchens, and cabinets. The building houses brands such as GE Monogram, Miele, Wolf & Sub-Zero, Davis & Warshow, Woodmode, Hastings Tile & Bath, Poliform, Poggenpohl, Valli & Valli, and Artistic Tile. It also has furniture stores such as B&B Italia and Holly Hunt on the first level. I love Holly Hunt, but my architect has warned me of their prices – not as high as Cassina, but much much higher than Crate & Barrel.

D&D: The building is primarily for people who have tons of $$$ and looking to do custom work such as custom upholstery, curtains, and rugs. D&D mostly houses showrooms with textiles and fabrics. High-end Donghia and Holly Hunt are housed there. The Holly Hunt furniture in D&D is very different from the one a block away in A&D – D&D has a lot of traditional furniture stores so Holly Hunt has traditional pieces there, while its A&D store has very contemporary pieces. For contemporary furniture, a few of my favorite showrooms were A. Rudin, Donghia, Kravet, J. Robert Scott, Stark, and Missoni Home. David Sutherland was mostly outdoor furniture, but the decor of the store was excellent. It had seagrass limestone tiles, and as soon as you enter you feel as if you can smell the sea or beach, and the limestone tile with exotic sea shells added to the look. A. Rudin had the softest leather furniture – a few pieces were made of lambskin leather which had the softest feel, and I felt as if my fingers would melt in the buttery feeling. Stark had very good carpets of all kinds – contemporary, transitional, and oriental. I enjoyed visiting D&D but was very overwhelmed due to the numerous stores and fabrics. It is very difficult to pick colors and fabrics unless you go there with a designer. Not that I intend to return – the prices are too high.

NYDC: The building mainly houses furniture and rugs, with some lighting and home decor stores as well. The furniture is both traditional and contemporary, with more contemporary stores contrary to D&D. A number of showrooms specialize in contract furniture for offices. Some stores seemed sterile with few people and furniture lying around as if deserted. I wanted to check out Nicoletti Italia for Natuzzi sofas but it closed down a few months back (Natuzzi needs to update its site). I liked a number of stores including Dennis Miller Associates, and need to return because I tried to do all 16 floors in 1 hour!! I really liked some contemporary furniture, and need to go back to complete all the floors. It is good to visit NYDC because they have many furniture stores, which gives a good idea of how to redecorate and which colors to use together if you are looking for ideas.

I visited a few stand alone stores as well. Cassina is a high-end Italian furniture store, and has great sofas and chairs. A friend had bought something from there but told me of their ridiculously high prices. I liked one leather chair and it cost over $6.3K!!! They have an annual sale event every year, and this year they have it on Sep 24. I will wait for sale. Lazzoni is a contemporary furniture store located on 18th St. I liked their beds and mirrors, but it was very expensive. A simple side table cost over $1.5K. The furniture comes from Turkey, and at this time people in Turkey were on a 1 month holiday so usual lead time of 4-6 weeks is now 16 weeks! Roche Bobois is located on Madison Avenue a few blocks from the NYDC building. It is a French company and has very good beds and coffee tables. I really liked the furniture, but it costs $$$$$! Coffee tables cost around $3K, and each dining chair is around $1K. Eight years back I bought my coffee table for $200, and it is still intact today!

Jensen Lewis in West Village has good quality furniture. I liked their Calligaris beds, dining tables, chairs, and entertainment centers. Their walnut wood pieces have a warm feel and combined with black lend a very contemporary look. If they weren’t so expensive, I would have bought the entire Calligaris walnut set. Modani on 19th St is okay, with nothing new to offer. The showroom has a black-and-white feel and few pieces. I visited B&B Italia in Soho and in the A&D building. The A&D store is much better with a larger collection, but is open on weekdays only while the Soho store is open on weekends as well.

ABC Home & Carpet on Broadway & 19th St is a large store of 6 floors, and has a Calvin Klein section. It is super expensive, more so considering that the pieces were not that good or new. One recycled bar stool cost around $800. A Calvin Klein sectional sofa cost $18K. AM almost had a heart attack and looked for pieces to criticize specifically with respect to their prices. We walked across the street to Sitdown NY which had decent pieces but looked very cheap. After ABC, AM found the prices to be quite refreshing! Moss is another store in Soho, but specializes in novelty pieces. Not my style. I visited Raymour & Flanigan, but it is too traditional for my taste. There are so many traditional and barn-like furniture stores in NYC, which I found surprising because I thought New Yorkers like contemporary furniture – guess I was wrong. I like all things European.

Bo Concept is another store I quite liked. It has very good and sleek contemporary pieces, but the quality does not seem up to par with Crate and Barrel even though prices are comparable. I am having second thoughts about getting a Bo Concept walnut bed set because its nightstand costs over $500. Its so ridiculous that two nightstands at $1K cost more than the bed at $900! I mean, why is the nightstand so expensive even though its such a tiny thing? Of all the stores, Crate and Barrel has the best quality for the price. West Elm seems okay with reasonable prices. Design Within Reach is another store I visited, but am not too crazy about the quality. Its red Eames chair has appeared in several blogs and is comfortable, but very low. AM did not like it.

I have to yet visit department stores such as Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. I don’t have high hopes though, because Home is not their specialty. Since we liked Natuzzi sofas, I plan to visit Natuzzi in Soho. I also plan to make a trip to Calligaris and Concept Furniture in Brooklyn, and Room and Board in Soho.

I also made a trip to Paramus, NJ. I visited Ashley furniture, Huffman Koos, Jennifer Convertible, and Ethan Allen in Paramus. Ashley has very traditional furniture, totally not my style. Their rugs were not bad though. Jennifer Convertible was okay, and Google had bad reviews about the quality. I loved Huffman Koos – they had lots of Natuzzi sofas on sale, and it was a good deal because you could get the entire floor model set for $1,200. AM was sold on Natuzzi. I love burgundy and fell in love with a burgundy sofa, but it was being discontinued and I would have to buy the floor model. I found out yesterday that there is a Huffman Koos in Manhattan – yay! Ethan Allen was too country-like and traditional.

I did not go to Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware because they are too barn/coastal looking and not my style.

I am exhausted and cannot wait to get this over with. Its so difficult to make a decision – every contemporary store has a white sofa – how do you decide which one is the best? Once I decide on furniture, I will make a decision on rugs. Most of the showrooms featured neutral colors like beige, cream, brown, and white, with neutral contemporary rugs and low mood lighting. I intend to do simple neutral furniture and have a colorful oriental rug with Indian/Pakistani/Turkish colors and dark base. I love oriental rugs, and although I liked neutral contemporary rugs I think a splash of color would make it look less sterile.

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I saw several blog posts about Chanel’s “Le Vernis Black Velvet” nail polish. It is a gorgeous color, and if you go to Chanel’s Makeup page, the model is wearing the nail polish. It is PERFECT for Fall!! It looks absolutely gorgeous, and Chanel is minting money off of it. It costs $25!! Essie bottles usually do not cost more than $6, and this is $25 for a small bottle of nail polish! No wonder Chanel’s PR team is on it – they can clearly pay for the team!

I first came across the color on nymag.com. Blogdorf Goodman has also written about it, but the nail polish in their photos is messy and looks terrible.

Recent studies show an increase in the sale of nail polishes. Due to recession, people did not go to mani-pedi places as frequently and preferred to do it at home, which increased the sale of nail polishes. Essie and Opi are the most commonly seen nail polishes in salons. A few months back, Essie was acquired by L’Oreal. Sephora has come out with its own collection in partnership with Opi, and you can get very tiny bottles from Sephora.

In Spring, Chanel came out with the Jade nail polish which became a top seller. Its insane because people were selling it on eBay for $100!! It’s so contradictory! Sales of nail polishes increased because people cut down on salon visits, and there were some who were willing to pay $100 for a small bottle of nail polish! Really, Jade was not that good. You could easily replace it with MAC’s green color with 3 coats.

Anyway, I am off to buy the Chanel Black Velvet nail polish because I really really like it. This will be the most expensive nail polish I have ever owned. It better stay fresh for at least one year or so.

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE Catherine Malandrino’s clothes.I first heard of her when Blair Waldorf wore the marroon dress in Gossip Girl, and I checked out CM’s website for gorgeous clothes.

I chanced upon the store in Meat market, and fell in love with absolutely everything. This is what you call design and fashion. Gorgeous use of pleats, fabrics, and vision. While I loved everything, I found three to be very interesting. I had seen them online but these clothes you have to see in person and touch and feel the fabrics to get complete pleasure of fashion. The first one is of using hands on her dresses. The hands feature on the shoulder and one side of the waist. In one case it looks as if someone is grabbing the breast, but it is done so tastefully that it comes across as more elegant than sleazy. The second is of an eagle. The eagle’s wings are across both shoulders that meet just above the waist and join to form the head, which extends to the waist. The eagle was used on another dress where the wings formed the sides of each waist and met majestically at the back of the waist. The third was of a face… the face was on the side of one waist with pleats coming out of the lips. I had the vision of water springing out of the lips and going in all directions which is where the pleats went.

The clothing had really experimented with ruffles and pleats, forming ringlets, rossettes, and ruffles in all areas of the dress. A lot of sheer fabric was also used as a top layer. I thought DVF dresses were good, but CM is MUCH MUCH better than DVF. This is what you call design, unlike DVF where the prints and fit do the job which has more to do with use of fabrics rather than design. Unfortunately most of CM’s clothing were sizes 2 and 4, which I could NEVER fit ever. Damn. I am sure she has more sizes online, probably just not in stores. I will go back to the store again, just to relive the fun and pleasure I had in just seeing the gorgeous designs come to life.

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Theory

Theory is a clothing (men & women), handbags, and shoes brand sold through department stores and its own stores. The brand is VERY pricey. Its USP is that its clothing is made of a lycra-like material that makes it stretchy and comfortable; the clothes last quite long. I wonder, will customers pay $150-$200 for clothing that is so basic when they can get something cheaper? Will the brand last in this economy? Its collection in Bloomingdale’s was better than the one in their store in Meat market. Good collection, I have eyed their clothing for a while but never purchased any. Most people buy the brand on sale. Its parent compeny is a Japanese company. I do wonder about its being a healthy going concern. If I had $300 to spend, I would spend it on  Caltherine Malandrino dress… also, Theory’s collection features suiting and wear to work, meaning people don’t buy it as frequently. However, I have heard that the brand has a cult-following, and I so did like their denim pants in Bloomies. I have not seen that color used often. I also liked their ruffle plaid dress which had a sheer black overlay and looked cute.

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Herve Ledger is hands down my favorite designer. I love his bandage dresses. He is extremely creative in adding different elements of color and style to make his dresses all look different. Gilt had them on sale, $2,ooo pieces for $400-$500. Not surprisingly, within a day they were all sold out. They were such gorgeous pieces and such a pleasure to look at, every one of them. I looked at all of them very closely. You have to have a to-die-for hourglass figure to carry his clothes off. They are very fitted. Blair Waldorf wore one on Gossip Girl with a cardigan and looked gorgeous. Bloomingdale’s does not have the gorgeous ones that were on sale on Gilt. Anyway, enough of my blogging. I have to go check out appliances and my patient husband is waiting in the next room. Hee.

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I LOVE Betsey Johnson jewelry. Her pieces are quirky and different, and you will not find something like it anywhere. I have two pieces from her previous collections and love them. I bought two more last weekend and did not like one as much. Unfortunately I bought them from her Soho store and they do not do returns or exchanges for jewelry. One complaint I have is that her jewelry does not stay in place. She has asymmetrical flowers and bows, and they keep turning around. Also, her jewelry gets entangled easily and you have to wear it with the chain a certain way to make sure it looks perfect. So many complications… I bought the tiered necklace with black bows and the double layered bee necklace. The bee necklace is 30% off online; I got robbed of $15 and paid full price. I sould have known. NEVER EVER pay full price in the US; everything will eventually be on sale.

This time BJ’s collection is not as good. Its not as quirky and doesn’t stand out as much. The two old pieces I have are the stars of my jewelry collection, and very different. One has an eagle pendant which is truly priceless, and the other has a vintage look with peacock feather-like design. She should make more gorgeous pieces like that instead of charm jewelry. Her charm jewelry is difficult to wear.

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Remember when I blogged about jumpsuits? Now this overgrown toddler trend is everywhere! Who brought this trend back? Models don’t look as bad, and neither did my co-worker who wore one today, but I am not changing my mind about this. Why oh why would you want to wear one of these? What if you wanted to pee – so uncomfortable. And what about the odds and ends of the body – they would show while walking and sitting. FYI if Gwyneth Paltrow, skinny as she is can’t carry it, nobody can.

I came across an article on jumpsuits that made me have to talk about them again. The YSL one looks dowdy and dull. Stella McCartney’s take makes the model look broad at the top and skinny at the bottom – not flattering at all. Where does the jacket end and pant begin? Zero + Maria is okay, but so shapeless down from the waist. Issa is not bad, but imagine the gathering of the flowing fabric around the thighs giving it an unflattering look. Maje looks skinny skinny skinny… Helmut Lang is also shapeless right at the start of the hips. Spiegel is actually not bad, while Target is so old fashioned and 80’s that the fad is best left dead. New York & Company, well, I am not going to say anything bad about my company… if you have to buy a jumpsuit buy it from my company. Seriously, you won’t regret it because the prices are so low that they accommodate all fashion mistakes that one is likely to make during the fadshion phase in one’s life. At least you will make fashion mistakes on a budget 🙂

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