Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A-LIST: Skin Musts for Men

Caring for men’s skin and caring for women’s skin goes beyond opting for darker colors on packages if you possess more testosterone. For starters, most men shave, and most women wear makeup. Although both genders need sun protection and benefit from anti-aging formulations, picking products that address the composition and daily rituals of your gender, help you get the most of your product. Here are four to consider:

1. Clinique: Skin Supplies for Men “Shave Aloe Gel” (Clinique.com; $13.50)
Though a little scruff gives a man the sexy edge (think Justin Timberlake and George Clooney), some occasions require a smooth shave. To avoid razor burn and dry skin, try Clinique’s men’s line. The facial cleanser preps your skin for shaving and the aloe gel prevents bumps. Men who use the products say it’s worth the extra splurge because it hydrates and leaves skin feeling smooth.

2. Anthony: Logistics for Men “A Clean Start Kit” (Sephora; $40).
This is a starter travel kit for any man who needs direction for his morning routine. This brand attracts a cult following and this kit offers a great way to test-drive the products without making a full-size commitment. For additional exfoliation, interchange the facial cleanser with the scrub a few times per week. Both prep the skin for shaving. A man can’t forget about his lips either. This lip balm is unscented, perfect for any man’s man.

3. L’Oreal Men’s Expert “Vita Lift Anti-Wrinkle And Firming Moisturizer SPF 15” (CVS; $11)
Men and women share at least one thing: their skin reveals much about their age. But it’s rare to overhear a conversation between men about the best way to get rid of crow’s feet This firming face moisturizer targets men beyond 45, but don’t let that scare you away if you still get carded on Marshall Street. That extra diligence now spares face years later. It goes on thick because of the sunscreen, but the SPF protection is worth it.

4. Zirh: Men’s Skincare “Scrub” (Sephora; $17)
Most men don’t need any frills to get the job done. Same goes for face wash; fragrances and fancy packaging is totally irrelevant. Zirh understands the “less is more” attitude, and it doesn’t get simpler than “scrub” or “clean” to name two. Users like this product’s fragrance-free status and its soft consistency, which avoids skin that feels abused after use.

HOW TO: Save Your Shopping Sanity

Forget club-member discounts. What you really want to save on is the stress of the season. Do so with this guide.

1. Check it Twice. Write down everyone you want to get a gift for, how much you intend to spend, and where you want to shop (consolidate stops and avoid zig-zagging across town). Plus a master list saves you running out to the mall on Christmas Eve when you realize Uncle Rick lacks a present under the tree.
2. Brand Yourself. You don’t want to be known as the aunt who only buys Old Navy sweaters. Opt for some quality items. Yes, that means more work on a tight budget, but it is possible. Just this past Black Friday I snagged a pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans that retailed for $198 for $47.45 from Costco.
3. Retain Your Identity. There can be many amazing deals online, but make sure it’s a secure site (the icon of a lock is a good clue) when you enter in your credit-card information. Companies like PayPal keep your personal information safe, but make sure you always do software upgrades when your laptop prompts you (waiting creates “holes” in your system that identity thieves capitalize on).
4. Save Paper. Especially your receipts (even if you know it’s the perfect size or exactly what they wanted). Someone else in the family may share your gift genius and do a repeat performance. Most stores only offer you store credit or the current selling price if you return sans receipt. Make an envelope to hold all 2008 receipts and make a record of the presents and recipients on the outside.
5. Rest on the Weekend. Avoid the stores on Saturday and Sunday. Keep those days to wrap gifts, decorate the house, bake cookies. Most stores offer the same deals on weeknights as they do early weekend mornings. Limit the hassle to the days of the work week.
6. Seek Special. Yes it’s true everyone loves a gift card from crazy Aunt Barbara who only shops at Tuesday Morning, but gift cards signal impersonal. Opt for something that demonstrates how much you know the people you love.

REVIEW: Digital Discounts

I admit it. I’m a sucker for any kind of discount. I refuse to pay full price for almost anything. Honestly, it’s like a game for me. One day I stumbled across this website privatefootwear.com. It offers more than a thousand brands, and most of them are discounted by at least 50 percent. They don’t charge sales tax, and there’s more than just shoes, including everything from Tiffany and Co. jewelry to Abercrombie and Fitch jackets. And thanks to the holiday season, they offer free shipping worldwide and other promotions. Check out my steals:

I bought my sister the Tiffany Mini Heart Tags Bracelet that retails for $198 for only $84.

Their outerwear selection excels: sweatshirts from D Squared and coats from Burberry. I bought the Dolce & Gabbana leather jacket for $229 in black for my rock ‘n’ roll uncle who’s the lead singer in a small Los Angeles band.


Why should corsets have all the fun? We think heels and boots deserve a little lace action.

These Joie Vintage Oxford Booties can be dressed up for nighttime or dressed down with a pair of tight jeans. You can either tuck the laces inside the boot or let your flirty side show with a little bow on the top. Find them at Neiman Marcus for $350.

Uggs adds a twist to their classic pull-on boots. A little lace-up detail sets you apart from everyone in the Salt City. These Uggs retail for $230 at Uggs.com

Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s patent-leather stilettos lace up at the top with a simple bow. It adds a bit of fun to another pair of classic iconic black pair of pumps. Find them (but not the price) at: alessandrodellacqua.com

OBESSION: Liquid Line

Most girls shy away from steady-hands-only liquid eyeliner. But Mac’s new Fluidline is a fool-proof option for only $15. The gel formula gives a softer, silkier finish with an easy brush. It lasts from day to night without smudge and comes in black, brown, green, purple, silver, and blue.

Perfect Partner: Mac’s Mineralize Eye Shadow works well underneath the liner. Use Danger Zone for the perfect holiday/cocktail party look.

REVIEW: Rhino Records

“This is the most over-explained concert of my life,” a voice stage-whispered from behind me. Obnoxious, but that audience member had a point. David Byrne took the stage on Saturday night, November 29, at the Landmark Theatre inexplicably dressed in tennis whites and before playing a note launched into a presentation about the evening’s proceedings that lacked only PowerPoint.

Then Byrne and the band – also inexplicably head-to-toe in white – got to it, launching into “Strange Overtones,” the first single from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, the first collaboration between Byrne and Brian Eno in over 25 years. It’s been out since the end of summer, but I haven’t picked it up yet so I fatigued rather quickly. Apparently, so did the pundit behind me, greeting the lyric, “This groove is out of fashion. These beats are 20 years old” with a hearty, “I’ll say.”

But then something amazing happened. The song ended, the reddish orange French fry lighting bathed the stage and Byrne and company launched into a raucous version of “I Zimbra” from the one of the three Eno/Byrne collaborations with Byrne’s band Talking Heads. His backup singers grabbed their mike stands and lined up in a row behind Byrne. Three dancers – also dressed in white with one notable exception to the dress code: one of the gamine numbers was wearing shorts! -- joined the fray. All hell had broken loose.

Byrne has always been an innovator. Anyone who remembers his band will remember “the big suit” from the Jonathan Demme’s concert film Stop Making Sense. The white ensembles matching Byrne’s now snowy white hair and Twyla Tharp-ish dancers who were now rolling across the stage in office chairs were starting to grow on me. Damn it, who says one can’t be in their middle-fifties and still push the fashion envelope?

With that the company launched into a song from an album that marked the last Talking Heads/Eno collaboration, Remain in Light. “Houses in Motion alone made this gig worth the ticket price, $37.00. Apparently, the Sotto voce critic behind me was won over as well. “David Bowie my ass,” he bellowed.

REVIEW: Get On The Bus

What does the underground world of drag balls -- an LGBT subculture in which primarily queer youth get up in either makeshift or stolen couture and walk the runway, garnering trophies for their houses -- have to do with Syracuse? Ask the three "homo-thugs" on the Centro bus. They declared themselves as such, snapping fingers over their heads, snapping the illusion that they were gang-bangers. Ride that bus to Manhattan, walk a "realness" category at a ball, or just take in the new play Wig Out!

Terrell Alvin McCraney's new drama plays at New York’s Vineyard Theater. This piece owes an extreme debt to Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning and also takes as its master shot the drag ball competition, dressing it in a fairy tale so labored one spends the evening waiting for a queen to throw down her weave from the catwalks now lining the Vineyard space.

There are grace notes of brilliance, mostly courtesy director Tina Landau, who utilizes the radically reconfigured theater beautifully. Everything builds toward a second act drag ball in which jungle beats pump and the characters prance to the end of scenic designer James Schuette’s extreme thrust stage that literally intersects the audience.

The problem is that intersection never really merges. Where actual pier queen lingo still zings — witness Livingston’s drag ball judge tell two battling contestants: “If you touch, I’m chopping you” — McCraney’s language is so florid it sounds straight out of Lord of the Rings.

Add to that a heavy-handed “homage” to Livingston’s film that seats the aging mother of the House of Light before her lit makeup mirror ala Paris is Burning’s legend Dorian Corey, a Greek chorus of three Dreamgirls and a stagey “face” demo in which “unpainted” queens wipe their visage with a white handkerchief and this house of blusher sinks.

The cast is uniformly excellent. Daniel T. Booth’s Playbill bio is slim, but his outsized alter ego Sweetie makes an entrance. And nearly mops — pier lingo for stealing: remarkably absent from the universe of Wig Out! — the show as Serena, mother of the House of Di’Abolique. His chinoiserie lip-synch to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” alone makes this play worth the trip.

BITE: Paris Is Burning's My New BFF

In 1990, documentary filmmaker Jennie Livingston released her seven-year labor of love Paris Is Burning. The film chronicled disenfranchised members of a New York subculture composed of various houses, or loose familial amalgams of young queens miles away from Fashion Avenue, yet close enough to hold a mirror up to its gorgeous excess.

These queens walked the runway in elaborate drag balls where members of competing houses would imitate everything from high fashion models to urban roughnecks in the category “banjee realness,” or as its explained in the film, “looking like the kind of girl that walks her little brother to school.”

Livingston’s film grossed almost four million dollars domestically, gangbusters for a nonfiction feature. Three months before Livingston’s Toronto International Film Festival debut, Madonna’s song “Vogue” hit the top of Billboard’s Hot 100. That song, and accompanying David Fincher video, provided a slick backdrop for the intricate gesture and tableaux freeze movement vocabulary approximating the titular fashion magazine come to life.

Over the course of one summer, two white women loosed the perfect storm, unleashing queer black culture on an unsuspecting pop landscape. Over the next fifteen years, New York’s landscape changed so dramatically that drag queens and hustlers fronting pier culture — so named for the abandoned West Village piers on which houses would gather to “do shows” — were replaced by manicured Rollerblade paths trafficked by aerodynamic, three-wheel, jog strollers. Paris had burned.

Cut to 2005. Livingston’s film has its long-awaited DVD release ($23.99) and a full-on Vogue resurgence fires up in London, bringing piers queens back like phoenix from the flame. Maybe. There are still aerodynamic, three-wheel, jog strollers, but some of the children are vogueing.

REVIEW: Gothic Girl

“Death, destruction, and decay.” Not exactly words associated with fashion, unless one happens to be standing in line for a Marc Jacobs show. But this morbid platter is exactly what curator Valerie Steele promises in the exhibition catalog for “Gothic: Dark Glamour.”

“This is the first museum exhibition devoted to the gothic style in fashion,” Steele writes. It presents more than 75 sinister looks from designers as diverse as Anne Demeulemeester and Yohji Yamamoto.

She displays them astutely over tableaux ranging from ruined castle to mad scientist’s lab in the unassuming, but state-of-the-art basement museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

But who, precisely, is wearing this stuff? The local mall turns up plenty of Goths (check out the teens loitering in the black nail polish section of any Hot Topic store), but Urban Dictionary defines this subculture as: “Morbid, wearing black clothes almost all of the time, and wearing makeup regardless of sex.” This teen demo is not exactly a group known to don Alexander McQueen originals, but that’s the beauty of Steele’s show: it gives these kids a chance to dream. And maybe even pull themselves up by their Doc Maarten bootstraps and off their gloomy road to fashion hell.

Entering the exhibit is like stepping onto the set of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. A ghostly pirate ship hovers in the distance and a wrought iron fence pointed with fleur de lis displays fashion behind bars. This show’s real triumph is its unexpectedness. On closer inspection, Thierry Mugler’s fur neckline is revealed as ‘faux monkey fur.” Hot fashion house Rodarte – the sister act of Kate and Laura Mulleavy – play with the gothic trope of skulls, burying theirs in delicate, red Spanish lace turning out their fiery Senorita perfectly for the Day of the Dead.

Karl Lagerfeld spins a spider web from feathers and beads while fashion’s enfant terrible Hussein Chalayan fashions a cape from carpet fibers. Goth is where you find it. Alexander McQueen (who claims ancestry dating back to a woman burned at Salem) here concocts her coming out dress: a black shell practically supported by its enormous, off-kilter cross that’s well on its way to inversion.

There are more big names like Chanel and Dior, and a vitrine that rheostats from clear glass to mirrored, showcasing more emerging designers. This reflective cabinet of curiosities is a brilliant touch. And a nice place to touch up your black eyeliner.

"Gothic: Dark Glamour" is free and runs through Feb. 21. An exhibit called "Seduction" joins it on Dec. 9. And if you're still smarting from that Marc Jacobs read in the lede, start primping now. Jacobs is sponsoring "Model as Muse" at the Met. This Costume Institute retrospective starts with Dovima and ends with Giselle. It also kicks off with the Met's annual gala on May 4 and Jacobs is hosting, along with Anna, Kate and Justin. Yes, that Justin.

A-LIST: Phaidon for Fashionistas

Nothing says holiday more than a big-assed, doorstop of a coffeetable book and we think Phaidon -- which specializes in gorgie architectural tomes -- does some of the best. We’ve rounded-up our five favs for holiday gifting:

Gothic & Lolita, $29.95
You don’t have to be Gwen Stefani to know that Harajuku Girls are out of their minds, but Tokyo’s hippest school girls have moved on from the early-Bri knee socks and are working a new look that’s part Morticia Adams and part pre-teen temptress. The pics are by cult photog Masayuki Yoshingaga.

The Fashion Book, $9.95
Vogue calls it this “the ultimate fashion reference book.” And if Anna likes it, you know the type is big enough to be read with sunglasses on. This A to Zed guide to fashion belongs on the desk or, frankly, in the purse of any fashionista worth her salty. It’s a steal for under 10 dollars and really is small enough to fit in your handbag.

Andy Warhol “Giant” Size, $125.00
Okay, this is our splurge, but it’s just the thing for the size queen on your list. The Sunday Herald compared it to the Bible, only with Polaroids of drag queens and male nudes. And the giant size means your little hipster can take that portrait of Nico and make his very own bangs stencil. You get everything from party invites to personal notes from Halston.

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion, $29.95
Full disclosure, this is one of the textbooks for the class that brings you Salty, but it’s also been one of the finds of my semester. Even fuller disclosure, I bought a used copy from Amazon for a lot less clam, but I don’t know where it’s been. This brand-new, insidery look at the fashion biz would look so smart tucked under your arm when you’re waiting on line for that Marc Jacobs show.

Wallpaper* City Guides, $49.75
For less than 50 magilla, you get London, Milan, New York, Paris, Tokyo. Just think of how handy these babies will be when you start the semi-annual fashion week schlep. This box set comes bound in a pretty ribbon that will probably let you get away with not gift wrapping. You can pick up individual guides like Kyoto or Delhi for less than ten bucks, but then, who cares about Kyoto or Delhi?

CRUSH: How to Get an A in Fingertips

Sleep deprived. Your head spins. The stress wears on your like the heaviest winter coat. If finals week is bringing you down and you’re sick of studying, skip the lattes and head to your local manicurist. Regardless if this study break leaves you feeling naughty or nice, get into the holiday spirit by adorning your nails in OPI’s 2008 Holiday in Toyland Collection. When all else fails, at least you know your nails are guaranteed an A!

Sheer Your Toys, You’re a Doll, and Glamour Game

Brand New Skates, Baby, It’s Coal Outside, and Play ’til Midnight

Girls Just Want to Play, Red Hot Gift, and Little Red Wagon

Rosy Missletoe-sies, A Ruby For Rudolph, and Don’t Toy With Me

HOW TO: Buy For The Boy

Tis’ the season to show him that you care. Consider these six investment pieces to amp his style (in an approximate order of relationship serious, give or take):

Make time stand still with this sophisticated, scratch-resistant, stainless steel men’s bracelet watch by Burberry. Features include: A minimalist face accented by silver hands and dials, water-resistance to 30 meters, a date window, and clasp closure. Only for those expecting something really outstanding come Valentines. $425, Nordstrom.com.

Tie him to your heart. A classic look, with a smart design, this new range of waterproof silk ties by Aquascutum proves a noteworthy addition to any guy’s wardrobe (especially those about to graduate and face stiff competition on the job front). $140, Bloomingdales.com

Don’t sweat the small stuff. This versatile, v-neck, lightweight, sweater features extra-fine merino wool (read: dry clean only). This is the perfect relationship hedge (it signals importance but avoids commitment associations). $85, Available at Nordstrom.com.

Get him a gift as “handsome” as he is. Genuine Ugg Australia shearling lines suede gloves for extra comfort and warmth. A snap closure at the inner wrist provides a snug fit. What this gift says: I know we’ve only been out a few times, but I’m smitten enough to drop a respectable amount of cash on you. $140, Uggaustralia.com.

Everyone loves (and needs) additional vintage tees. This comfortable cotton crewneck tee by Retro Sport also provides potential walk of shame material for you. $49, Nationaljeancompany.com.

Wrap him up in your love with this super-soft cotton loop terry robe. Consider this a small price to pay for marking your territory. $149, Saksfifthavenue.com.

D.I.Y.: Ripped and Racy

If dishing out $220 on a pair of Seven ripped jeans puts an unholy hole in your fashion allowance, let me solve your denim dilemma. Follow these simple steps and your wallet won’t feel a thing.

1.Start at home. Use jeans that have served as your trusty companion for years. Messing up new ones hurts, and the old ones know your body better than your boyfriend.

2.Wear and compare. Slip them on, and mark them with a piece of chalk or a faint pen mark. Aim for a line of a few inches that travels just above the middle of your kneecap when standing.

3.Rub it. Take them off, and rub the marks against a rough surface. Whether it’s the sidewalk, a cheese grater, or your pumice foot stone, make sure to rub hard, especially on the areas you marked.

4.Ripped perfection. Take your scissors and cut a small hole in the center of your marking. Then pull the fabric apart with your fingers, in the direction you want the rip to be.

5.Wash, Wash, Wash. This is the most important step. Washing creates the frayed look. The more you wash them, the more authentic the rip. Tumble dry, and voila — sexy scuffs at an even sexier price.

HOW TO: Nude No-No's, Red Rules

I refuse to squeeze into skinny jeans and slip on four-inch heels to feel sexy. I found a simpler resolution: dressing up my best asset — my pucker. Let the latest lip trends, which urge women to take one of two lip extremes (nothing nude or everything red), serve as your holiday secret weapon. Follow these three simple rules to pull off these dramatic looks. And don’t forget to re-apply after that piece of pie.

Nude Rules

1.I know I said nude, but when picking out a color stay away from beige shades, which create a washed-out appearance. Instead opt for pink or peach shades.
2.Before you put on the lipstick, do two things. First, apply some concealer on your lips. This gives your color staying power. Next line them with a natural-color liner, and then add the lip color.
3. Understated lips require dramatic eyes. Have fun, and go wild with the drama.

Red Rules

1. Test out a few shades. Finding the perfect red requires work. Fair skin: classic red is best. Olive skin: opt for more of an orange hint. Dark skin: brick is the way to go.
2. Trace your mouth with natural-colored liner, then smudge. Follow with your lipstick, using a tiny brush for precision if you choose.
3. Your lips serves as the main attraction. Tone down everything else. Mascara and primped brows will go a long way.

LANDMARK LOOKS: South Asian Style

The South Asian Student Association hosted their annual Mayur, a night of south Asian entertainment. Comedian Vidur Kapur headlined, members of Syracuse Orange Bhangra danced, others sang Bollywood ballads, Professor Tula Goenka showed a presentation on the flood relief mission in Bihar, and awards were given out to S.A.S.A. members and faculty. Most of the attendees wore only a few ethnic accent pieces such as scarves or ornate earrings, explaining the snowy climate prevented them from wearing their embellished silk saris. Props to those who braved the cold and represented South Asian pride.