Friday, October 31, 2008

OBESSSION: Nuclear Arm Candy

Both political candidates Barack Obama and John McCain say “it’s time for a change.” I agree — especially when it comes in the form of techni-color arm candy. While pursuing new watch options, I came across the ToyWatch and fell in love. ToyWatch, designed in Italy, and first introduced to the masses in 2006, proved so popular, the manufacturers opened a flagship store a year later in Milan. As seen on the wrists of high-profile celebrities like talk show queen Oprah, pop-princess Madonna and even the likes of the notorious Li-Lo, the trend continues in 2008, creating a new type of anti-luxury statement. These oversized, plastic, watches inspired by designer timepieces, are sure to hold their own against any superluxe heavy weight. A precision quartz fuels the movement, and the water-resistant case and tritium-laden hands and markers offer protection and nighttime visibility. The Neon Plasteramic Collection, ToyWatch’s newest line of light-weight, fluorescent watches, brighten any look ($195 from Inspired, perhaps, by nuclear-fallout, the collection colors include: Kryptonite Green, Plutonium Pink, Ultra Violet, Cobalt Blue, Yellow Submarine and Atomic Orange. "Hollywood is obsessed with this Italian-made chronograph wristwatch" shouted Life & Style Weekly. Consider it your chance to Hollywood even without that movie deal.

LOOK FOR LESS: RocknRolla Runway

Balmain rocked the Fall 2008 runway in Paris with an eclectic mix of slick ‘80s references and punk inspired animal prints. From snake graphics, loose white tees and tanks, lace dresses, blazers, drop-crotch trousers, and lace-up fringe moccasin ankle boots, Christophe Decarnin’s collection possessed an edgy, downtown, cool vibe — not often associated with the French house. While Fall 2008 is almost a thing of the past, Balmain’s eclectic style remains au currant. Unfortunately, the complete collection is not available in the U.S. (You can buy some pieces, but expect to pay $1,025 for the fringed leather boots and $1,535 for the cheetah crop jeans at

Opt to try this look for less:

Step into fringe detailing. Exaggerated fringe proves the perfect accent for this flat suede ankle boot (also available in taupe). Sam Edelman Ursula Fringe Ankle Boot; $158,

Fall prey to the animal-print phenomena. These statement-making leopard print skinnys come in purple and grey. Grab yours before they become extinct. Leopard Skinny Jean; $80,

A classic black blazer anchors a Balmain-inspired look. It also tops any fall wardrobe (with or without the rockandrolla attitude). Allora LS Pinstripe Blazer; $27.80,

A minimalist accessory compliments any outfit. This simple, faux-leather option captures effortless chic. Mix and match with multiple looks to ensure the highest return on your investment. Studded Skinny Black Belt; $7.80,

Just as Decarnin chose to pair much of his standout collection with simple white or black tees, temper your bolder Balmain-inspired pieces with an understated top like this basic LNA tank. Basic White Rib Tank; $57,

LOOKS FOR LESS: America’s Best Dress Crew

When Michelle Obama appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, she demonstrated her anti-Palin, non-Neiman Marcus approach to fashion by wearing a yellow sweater, skirt, and blouse she ordered online from J.Crew. For the rest of us, J.Crew exists as a label of financial aspiration — not what we order when we want to signal “everywoman.” So until your run for the White House, consider these three near-Crew pieces.

  1. Double Take:The J.Crew Double-cloth Greta coat in black ($365) vs. Forever 21’s Pleated Knit Coat ($33)

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing, and this little black coat offers it all for the fall. Save hundreds of dollars by taking style cues from the J.Crew design like the double breasted buttons, color, scoop neck and cut.

  1. Prima Ballerina: The J.Crew Jane crackle-metallic ballet flats in pewter ($150) vs. AE’s Bounce elastic ballet flats in silver ($20)

These colorful J.Crew flats graced the holiday catalog cover, sparkling like unwrapped presents. But $150 makes for a pretty poor holiday. The American Eagle flats maintain the sparkle and shine of the J.Crew beauties for a portion of the price.

  1. Cashmere Mafia: The J.Crew Cashmere hoodie in snow ($188) vs. Old Navy’s Cashmere hoodie in white ($80)

Cuddle up in time for the first snowfall with Old Navy’s cashmere hoodie. It offers all the warmth and appeal of its J.Crew counterpart for $100 less. Besides, the cold weather is setting in, and Gossip Girl’s steamy scenes are the only things keeping us warm.

HOW-TO: Coming Clean

Going green for beauty is as easy as
one, two, three

1. Covet Cruelty Free Choices

Animal testing for the sake of beauty is a definite no-no, so look for labels that advertise animal-friendly products. David Babaii’s new line for WildAid holds your style and your torch for a better world with pet-free tested products and exotic renewable ingredients. We love the Bohemian Beach Spray, a non-aerosol mist that mixes everything from Israeli sea salt to South Pacific volcanic ash. It adds texture and volume to dull winter strands, creating the perfect sun-kissed waves months before you even have to think about squeezing into a tiny bikini.

2. Skip the Trash Talk

Make an impact on the environment by collecting old makeup cases and returning them to companies that offer incentive programs. Each year more beauty companies are jump-starting programs to recycle used cases to cut down on crowded landfills. Try MAC’s bronzing powder in "golden" for a sheer coverage that highlights your features and maintains your long-lost summer glow. Once you collect six primary packaging containers, return them to your nearest MAC counter or pop them in the mail to get a free lipstick in exchange for your good deed.

3. Go Au Natural

Before you put anything on your face, consider the possible dangerous ingredients lurking in your beauty favorites. Makeup and body products can contain anything from mercury and plastic to sodium chloride and egg whites. Physician’s Formula Organic Wear is the first natural-origin makeup line in the U.S. and offers an entire line of eco-friendly choices ranging from eyeliner to tinted moisturizer. Each product is 100-percent free of synthetic preservatives and harsh chemicals, and the packaging contains 93 percent less plastic than a standard compact.

EXPERIENCE: Fierce Fundraising

Paris went up in flames on October twentieth, at the Syracuse Stage Guild Annual Fashion Show Fundraiser at the Delavan Center. The night celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fashion fundraiser for Syracuse Stage. The bare warehouse gave the gritty feel of a Chelsea gallery opening minus the over priced drinks. The fundraiser featured an array of boutique designers such as the bold Michelle Darin (, whose chunky, nature inspired jewels sparkled in the dwindling factory lights. Before the show I grabbed a quick word in with Giovanna McCarthy, chair of the fundraiser. She epitomized style with a spunky blonde bob and midriff-baring black dress, something not every 42-year-old could pull off. Giovanna described herself as a go-getter and shared how she hoped to create a fashionable environment with the fundraiser. She scanned the packed gallery and smiled. “We need a collective group of creative individuals to revitalize down town,” she said. We took our seats as young models began their slinks down the runway. The show featured Syracuse staples such as Eva’s boutique, Rhoda Dendron, Show off, and Headlines. While Some Girls Boutique rocked the runway with striking neon jersey dresses, Hats by Priscilla stopped the show. Madonna’s Vogue boomed for the display of elaborate church hats. As a metallic cap sauntered by, my neighbor turned to me and said: "Now that’s a Jiffy pop hat." Hat’s by Priscilla ended with a dazzling gold Cleopatra beaded bonnet. Project Runway contestant and Syracuse native Jennifer Diedrich’s Spring/Summer collection delivered a grand show of pastel-infused art deco constructions. A sassy gold chain purse caught my eye. A strip woven dress forced me to crane my neck as it sashayed away. The show ended with cupcake confections and a warm thank you from Giavanna.