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ACCESSORIES Does Handbags! The New BFF Bag Collection is Here

    handbag, the BFF Bag Collection, Moves Into the Handbag Arena

    Something really exciting is happening at HANDBAGS! Their new BFF Bag collection is launching today in three styles, the comrade, the amigo, and the sidekick. BFF Bags are all about friendship and how a handbag can easily become your best buddy, part of your support system, or your #1 partner-in-crime.

    handbags, BFF Bag Collection, handbags, BFF Bag Collection, handbags, BFF Bag Collection,


    Their introduction brings one step closer to becoming a head-to-toe lifestyle brand, and marks the beginning of their accessible luxury line. They give the girl that designer handbag experience without the huge price tag. Each style is available in four shades: rose, onyx, punch, and seashell. Prices range from $55 to $95. Bags available for purchase on


    Get The Perfect Satchel Bag Without Losing Your Eco Creds

    satchel bag, sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, handbags

    Your Perfect Satchel Bag Awaits

    Are you trying to find your “It” satchel bag while hoping to keep your sustainable fashion creds? Maiyet’s Como Large Satchel Bag is that handbag. This large satchel bag is très chic. It has an ample inside set to carry your work files or double as your weekend bag. It’s part python and part napa leather with an organizational pouch and zip pockets to hold just about everything you need to get through your day.

    Como Large Satchel Bag by Maiyet

    Available at: Maiyet

    7 Questions for Designer Samy Abdella of Sammy Ethiopia #sustainablefashion (Nolcha Shows Edition)

    Sammy Ethiopia, Preserving Ethiopia’s Weaving Tradition

    Samy Adbella
    Sammy Ethiopia

    Our hearts tingle when we hear a story about a designer who is not only looking to create sustainable, handmade products. But a designer who is determined to preserve his country’s long history of weaving, while infusing the tradition with new inspirations. That’s what Samy Abdella is doing. The result is Sammy Ethiopia, contemporary pieces hand-woven, dyed, and embroidered by skilled local artisans. We are so happy to learn more about the man and his mission.

    1. Tell us about yourself. What are your fashion creds?

    It was all really by accident how the Sammy Ethiopia brand started. My desire was always to create a method or work in a field that lets me help and better living conditions in Africa, and specifically Ethiopia where I was born. I studied international relations since I wanted to be a diplomat. After graduation I didn’t see this type of work as being effective in a very grass root level. So in my earlier career stage thought it might be better to study business and studied international marketing. This way I can do a business that has meaning, really benefit underprivileged population and of course profitable. I came to Ethiopia and saw that there were skills and resources, and materials that were unique that can appeal to the rest of the world.

    2. Why did you decide to venture into fashion? Tell us about the products, the artisans who make the products, and how pieces are produced.
    We produce hand woven textiles and leather skins all sourced locally with traditional means and talented artisans.

    3. What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry?
    It’s very competitive but you have to be selective also to work with people that understand your ways and end products. Not everyone can work with you. Of course, there are many people that are encouraging you. That makes your work worthwhile. The creative process and the need for change always keeps you going.

    4. Describe your personal style.
    Easy, simple, casual and neat.

    5. Who are your style icons and why?
    My parents always had great taste. They were always dressed in colorful fabrics and just knew how to put outfits together well. Especially my mom’s love for traditional/cultural wears. The aesthetic and various cultures of people of Ethiopia, their ideas and my experiences in Ethiopia have influenced me greatly.

    6. What’s always in your frig?
    Water, beer and cheese.

    7. What three things can’t you live without?
    Family, sleep, our work and friends.

    Addtional Information
    Sammy Ethiopia has been in many major international print and online magazines including Glamour, Instyle, Marie Ilaire, Lucky and to name a few. Designer Samy Abdella has also collaborated with Eileen Fisher and has worked with Toast UK, Barneys, Anthroplogie, Le Bon Marche, Takashimya and many more.

    7 Questions for Sherlly Ontiveros of Marshelly’s Jewelry #sustainablefashion (Nolcha Shows Edition)

    Marshelly’s Jewelry, A Sign of the Times

    Sherlly Ontiveros
    Marshelly’s Jewelry

    As a child, Sherlly Ontiveros loved visiting her father’s jewelry manufacturing business in New York City, where she was exposed to the craft. After a brief stint as a chef, Sherlly realized that her pull towards jewelry-making was no coincidence. She worked hard to hone her craft.It’s that determination from which Marshelly’s was born. We touched base with the jewelry designer to learn more about her and her love of creating edgy and eclectic pieces that speak volumes.

    1. Tell us about yourself. What are your fashion creds?
    I am Founder and Lead Designer of Marshelly’s Jewelry. My work is about emotion. The designs inspired by life, music, and art, symmetry, pattern, and precision. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida and moved out to the Big Apple seven years ago to pursue both my passions, Culinary Arts and Jewelry Design. Marshelly’s Jewelry have been featured in Cosmo Latinas, People Magazine, Family Circle, ELLE, Latina Magazine, Seventeen, InStyle, Nylon, and many more.

    2. Why did you decide to become a jewelry designer? Tell us about your line.
    I have been surrounded by jewelry for all my life. Growing up I would visit my father’s jewelry manufacturing company in New York City’s diamond district. I had always been fascinated with it. In 2012, I graduated from the New York Jewelry Design Institute and began to work with my father while beginning to craft my own designs. Originally, I wanted to be a chef and actually did that for a while after graduating from the French Culinary Institute in 2010. I still love cooking today and I’m such a foodie. But after coming to work in my father’s industry, I realized jewelry was my calling. I had been avoiding it for so long. But my father had always insisted that I’d take over the family business someday. Once I got better insight into what it was like being in the jewelry industry, it grew on me. I wanted to create wearable art. That’s simply what Marshelly’s Jewelry is.

    3. What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned about the fashion industry?
    That you need to bring your A game. Say ‘yes’ to every opportunity given, be original, and never give up. Stay organized along the way because things can get hectic.

    4. Describe your personal style.
    I’m very much all about comfort. Living in NYC and having to walk and take the subway all over, I’d rather wear sneakers and sandals than get blisters wearing the latest high heel trend. I love my jeans and t-shirts which are the blank canvas to my jewelry. I also tend to wear a lot of dark colors which I blame on New York City. When I used to live in Miami I always wore colorful clothing.

    5. Who are your style icons and why?
    The Olsen Twins. They are so effortlessly cool. My style derives from them. I’m all about that dark colored, comfort, messy bed head hair.

    6. What’s always in your frig?
    Whole Wheat Bread (yes, us hispanics put bread in the fridge for longer lasting), Organic Eggs, Almond Milk, Vegan Butter, Coconut Water, Siggis Drinkable Yogurt, Queso Fresco, Lemons, and Cucumber.

    7. What three things can’t you live without?
    My iPhone, wallet, and coffee.

    7 Questions for Jewelry Designer Michelle Pajak-Reynolds #sustainablefashion (Nolcha Shows Edition)

    Michelle Pajak-Reynolds, Jewelry Designer to the Stars and the Modern Woman

    Michelle Pajak-Reynolds

    Michelle Pajak-Reynolds, the woman whose parents met and fell in love over a jewelry case, was destined to be a jewelry designer. Her jewelry is highly sought after by fashion stylists, celebrities and collectors.  Her pieces are extraordinary and have worn by celebrities including Sophia Bush, Jillian Barberie, Nona Gaye, to name a few. The beloved jewelry designer tells us a little about herself and her quest to make women feel beautiful.

    1. Tell us about yourself. What are your fashion creds?

    I started designing jewelry at 5 years old after being inspired by Wonder Woman’s power bracelets.  My formal jewelry design and precious metals training began in a 10th grade jewelry class at Mentor High School. After high school I continued my art and business studies via a BFA in Jewelry from Kent State University and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Baldwin Wallace University.

    I launched my business in 1999.  Since then, my designs have been exhibited internationally in galleries and museums and worn by celebrities including Sophia Bush, Jillian Barberie, Nona Gaye, Dina Manzo, and Miss Brazil Debora Lyra.  My collections have also been featured on the cover of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, LA Brides, and Created Woman magazines and the runways of New York Fashion Week.

    My work has also been recognized with a Distinguished Sales & Marketing Award from Sales & Marketing Executives International, an Arts Business Challenge Award from the Council of Smaller Enterprises and in 2010 I won the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) Old Becomes New Design Challenge.

    2. Why did you decide to design jewelry? Tell us about your line, materials you use, and how pieces are produced.

    My art is my life.  I can’t remember a time when being an artist or creating jewelry wasn’t a major part of my day. I love the creative process and sharing my work with others. To do anything else doesn’t feel right.

    I design feminine ethereal piece for extraordinary women with a unique sense of personal style. My collections feature gemstones and recycled sterling silver from trusted USA based suppliers.  I carefully handcraft each piece to ensure the highest quality and to last for many generations.

    3. What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry?

    Trusting my gut instincts when opportunities present themselves and having the confidence to gracefully turn down opportunities that are not a right fit for me. There are a lot of people in our industry who “over promise and under deliver” and end up taking advantage of inexperienced designers. There’s so much truth to the cliché “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

    4. Describe your personal style.

    I have a one-year-old daughter so my mommy duty wardrobe is really casual in order to keep up with her. The rest of the time my wardrobe is filled with an eclectic mix of unique pieces from smaller independent brands that are great for highlighting my jewelry.

    5. Who are your style icons and why?

    Jewelry designer Charlotte Lynggaard, musician Tori Amos and actress Tilda Swinton, each of these women have a unique personal style that reflects their artistic vision.

    6. What’s always in your frig?

    Almond milk, peanut butter and jelly (my husband’s favorite snack) and fresh fruit and veggies.

    7. What three things can’t you live without?

    My husband, my daughter, my pets and my studio.

    7 Questions for Melissa Urfirer of Riley Versa #sustainablefashion (Nolcha Shows Edition)

    Riley Versa

    We’re excited to spotlight several sustainable designers who will be showcasing their designs during the Nolcha Shows NYC, September 12-15, 2016. Riley Versa is the brainchild of Melissa Urfirer. On a weekend trip to Miami, she noticed that her brightly printed clutch that she packed in a moment of pre-beach excitement clashed with the contents of her suitcase, which contained prints, textures, and colors that demanded a solid bag counterpart. In this moment of clarity, Riley Versa was born.

    1.  Tell us about yourself. What are your fashion creds?

    I’ve always loved fashion, and knew that I would work in the industry in some capacity, but I never thought I would be a designer. It really all started with the idea for the bag (which I’ll get into more detail about in the next question). I learned about the industry interning at Conde Nast’s W Magazine and Saks Fifth Avenue.

    2. Why did you decide to design handbags? Tell us about your line.

    I decided to design handbags because I wanted to own a product that didn’t exist at the time. I went on a trip to Miami and packed a brightly printed clutch for the weekend. I didn’t realize until I arrived that the bag clashed with everything I had packed. I had one of those “wouldn’t it be great if…” moments, and decided to actually make it happen.

    I dreamed of having a beautifully crafted bag with removable magnetic covers; one where I could easily switch the style (i.e., swap my brightly printed bag for a neutral one) without having to pack multiple bags and waste precious carry-on space. As the idea evolved, I realized the bag could solve other problems as well. I love some of the funkier high-end bags that I see, but it’s too expensive to buy an entirely new bag every time a new trend comes around. I knew I wasn’t the only women who felt this way, so I decided to go for it and create the bag.

    Riley Versa bags are constructed with the highest quality leather, fabrics and hardware to deliver a product on par with the top international luxury handbag brands, but instead of buying an entirely new bag every time – you simply purchase a new cover.  It saves time, money and, most of all, valuable space in your closet or suitcase!

    3. What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned about the fashion industry?

    It gets a bad rep, but I’ve found that people are actually incredibly nice. As someone just starting out, I’ve reached out to a lot of more established individuals in the industry and, for the most part, everyone has been very gracious with their time and advice.

    4. Describe your personal style.

    Classic with a twist. I love starting with jeans and a white t-shirt and then adding accessories. And of course the finishing touch is always a Riley Versa bag.

    5. Who are your style icons and why?

    Alicia Vikander, Olivia Palermo, Kate Hudson and Erica Pelosini Leeman. They all have very different styles, but they are all effortlessly chic and exude confidence.

    6. What’s always in your frig?

    Fruit (especially now that it’s summer time and everything is so fresh!), hummus, wraps, yogurt and eggs. I’m a big snacker so I try to keep the fridge stocked!

    7. What three things can’t you live without?

    My iCal, ice coffee and Instagram (follow us @RileyVersa!).

    The Ultimate Statement Necklace from #Dylanlex

    statement necklace, statement necklaces, sustainable fashion, ecofashion, ethical fashion, handmade, jewelry

    FOUND: The Most Fabulous Statement Necklace

    Sigh. I am the queen of statement necklaces. When I am out at events, people either notice my shoes or my necklace. I have an addiction to both. There is something so neutralizing about accessories. You can wear the simplest white shirt and add an over-the-top statement necklace and your outfit just went up ten notches. It’s such an easy thing to pull off. So imagine my surprise to learn about Dylanlex.

    Now, I may be a little behind the curve on this one since this amazing heart-stopping brand has been seen on the likes of Beyoncé, Kendall Jenner, and countless other celebs. But I’m all caught up now. These jaw-dropping designs are made from oxidized silver with Swarovski crystals and are all handmade in New York. Since I had to pick a favorite, the Tatum is the clear winner for me. It’s so outlandish that I just have to have it.

    The intensively creative mind behind Dylanlex is jewelry designer, Drew Ginsburg. She took to documenting her unique jewelry creations in an Instagram photo journal which immediately garnered an almost cult-like following. Justifiably so. I’m in love. Are you? Find your favorite Dylanlex piece on her website, Dylanlex.

    #SUSTAINABLEFASHION: The Five #Ethical Jewelry Brands You Need To Support

    sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, ecofashion, ethical jewelry

    Five Amazing Ethical Jewelry Brands

    The fashion world is full of brands that sell jewelry without any consideration to sourcing materials, using producers who are being treated ethically, or even just giving back to help others. This selection of jewelry brands are focused on all three of these highly important points of interest. Get your credit cards ready to buy! These are our favorite pieces from each brand: Read more

    Henri Bendel Celebrates 120 Years As A Beacon Of Style

    Henri Bendel Celebrates 120 Years

    Recently, I joined Henri Bendel at their Tysons Galleria store to celebrate their 120th Year Anniversary as a brand. To commemorate this milestone, the VIP event also served as a launch for the release of their new fragrance, Suite 712.

    Henri Bendel is known by its nickname ‘The Playground’ by any fashionista familiar with their must-have signature handbags, jewelry, and accessories. It’s been over 100 years since its inception, and the brand still generates excitement & anticipation among fashionable women eager to have ‘The New and The Next’ by Henri Bendel. Since 1895, Henri Bendel has been a mecca to the generations of women who come to New York to interpret and reinvent themselves. It celebrates their efforts by consistently doing the same.

    [one_third]crystalring[/one_third][one_third]henri bendel, fashion, accessories, jewelry, handbags[/one_third][one_third]henri bendel, fashion, accessories, handbags, jewelry[/one_third]


    This season’s accessories were on-point. I gravitated toward the rose gold collections, and simply had to have the ‘Luxe Midi Crystal Ring Set’ (image 1) and ‘The Madison Head Wrap‘ (image 2). The store was filled with Bendel’s signature stripes, with many chic totes and beach accessories ready to go for summer. I was also introduced to the beautiful Limited Edition Chelsea Handbag (image 3), of which there are only 130 in the world (as of this post, number 9 resides at Tysons Galleria).

    Champagne flute in hand, I was at last introduced to Suite 712. The name of the fragrance pays homage to the iconic address of Bendel’s flagship store, 712 Fifth Avenue in New York, NY. As soon as it’s floral notes hit my nose, I knew I had to have it. It combines all of my favorite scents, specifically woodsy amber notes. I recognized the light mandarin blossom and white sandalwood almost instantly. It was a stunning combination. At times woodsy notes can be too musky or heady. But mixing the fresh sandalwood and light blossom scents took the perfume from powdery to powerful.

    The fragrance lends itself to polished sophistication and captures the essence of the Park Avenue woman and The Old Guard of New York. It’s the aroma of quietly reveling in concealed affluence while maintaining a tasteful appreciation for luxe. It’s a gift to generations of New York Bendel’s girls who have regarded the Park Avenue store as a beacon of luxury for over 100 years.

    **Henri Bendel’s Signature Fragrance ‘Suite 712’ will be available for purchase May 1st, 2015**

    About Henri Bendel

    Henri Bendel moved to New York in 1895 and was known as a man of infallible taste. He quickly became a leading tastemaker and couturier to the city’s elite. He was first retailer in history to brand himself, therefore the first to “make his mark.” After registered his trademark in 1895, he created the now legendary brown and white striped shopping bag and hatbox. Bendel was the first luxury retailer with an upper Fifth Avenue address, the first to hold a semi-annual sale, the first to offer in-store makeovers, and the first to stage a fashion show. He was also responsible for bringing Coco Chanel to the United States. Henri Bendel is an iconic fashion destination rooted in the never-ending energy abundance and creativity of the city of New York.

    To learn more about the history or to shop online, visit Henri Bendel.

    Win A Gorgeous Piece of Handmade Jewelry for The Holidays

    Handmade Jewelry, Eilisain Jewelry, Jewelry Designer, Jewelry

    Beautiful Handmade Jewelry by Eilisain Jewelry

    We love a giveaway. Especially around the holidays. You are so focused on finding great gifts for your family. We’re giving you a chance to win something special for yourself.

    We have partnered with Designer Lisette Fee of Eilisain Jewelry to giveaway a gorgeous cuff from her forthcoming Hunted II collection (shown above). We heart her well-crafted, handmade jewelry. Lisette’s fabulous collections are handmade in her studio in North Carolina. This beautiful piece is made from owl talons and crow claws. Unique, right? So here’s what you need to do to win:

    1. Follow Eilisain Jewelry on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest
    2. Sign up for her email list
    3. Cross your fingers.

    Lisette will pick a winner on Monday, December 1st from her social media followers. The winner will be announced here! So enter and then check back with us on Monday, December 1st!

    If you are in the DC area, join Lisette for the launch of the Hunted II Collection on Thursday, December 4 at Redeem from 6-8 pm.

    Handmade Jewelry, Jewelry, Jewelry Designer


    Small Stud Earrings To Go With Everything

    Small Stud Earrings You Are Going To Love

    One of my favorite ways to add detail to a look is through small, delicate jewelry. There is something about ethereal jewelry that makes it so unique when it is artfully layered. That  perfectly curated mix of style is the hallmark of personal style. This fall season, I am really into small stud earrings. They offer such a clean look. While I was out and about, I noticed some inspiring, stylish women with multiple ear piercings rocking a variety of these small stud earrings. The effect was quite striking. For a moment, I saw myself heading to the piercing parlor to add a couple in my own ears!

    Small stud earrings are having a resurgence in popularity and are totally on trend right now. They are also a timeless. classic option. It is fashionable to be on trend. It’s stylish to mesh classic items with trendy items. What is really cool about this is that you get the best of both worlds. Small stud earrings are a reasonable investment, too. Their small size makes it easier to afford a pair made with high quality materials and craftsmanship. It is relatively easy to find a pair fashioned from gold for under $100 and under $300 with diamonds sprinkled on. At that price, small stud earrings can easily become an everyday staple of style. Those price points are right on point.

    There are so many options when looking for trendy small stud earrings. I love going on Etsy to search for treasures. I also love browsing through my favorite small, boutique jewelry sites to see what new delights they have in store. I have seen so many beautiful pairs. I just might need to go and get those extra piercings so that I can accommodate all of these gorgeous pairs. I have selected a few of my favorites to share with you: From left to right, nancy kraskin studs, gabriela artigas studsminicyn studssatomi kawakita studs, vrai & pro studs.

    Cartier Jewelry: Marjorie Merriweather Post & Her Dazzling Gems

    Cartier Jewelry and Marjorie Merriweather Post: A Match Made in Jewelry Heaven

    There are two things that are great equalizers for fashionable women: shoes and jewelry. No matter what your dress size, shoes and jewelry will never let you down. Marjorie Merriweather Post understood this fact very well. Although she loved clothes, she love jewelry even more. In her lifetime, she amassed an impressive collection of Cartier jewelry. She was one considered to be Cartier’s most important American client. To date, her jewels serve as one of the finest collections in Cartier’s extraordinary catalogs.

    Cartier jewelry, Cartier, Cartier gems, fine jewelry

    On Saturday, June 7th, the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens opened it’s “Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems” exhibit to the public. This beautifully curated exhibit takes you on an interesting voyage through Post’s very aristocratic life as told through her magnanimous jewelry collection. From the 1920s through the 1960s, Marjorie Post commissioned some of the most ethereal jewelry sets, accessories and jeweled frames. Each piece, mostly custom, has great meaning and represented various times in her life. Her design ideas for her Cartier jewelry were inspired by what was in vogue, her travels, and her own personal taste. She consistently turned to Cartier to adorn her with the finest jewels for all of the major moments in her esteemed life.

    Cartier jewelry, Cartier, Cartier gems, fine jewelry

    Included in this exhibit of incomparable Cartier jewelry are an exotic shoulder brooch made of seven carved Indian emeralds (my favorite piece in the collection), a glittering diamond and sapphire necklace, an amethyst and turquoise necklace & earrings, and a pearl and diamond necklace among other pieces. The exhibit also includes other collectibles such as a silver and enamel dressing table set, a beaded and platinum evening bag as well as fabulous portraits, paintings, and historic photos and correspondence. There are also several drop-dead gorgeous Haute Couture dresses that would make any vintage lover salivate. For me, the most interesting piece in the presentation was a vanity case that she wore as an accessory. The vanity case was worn on her finger which has a compact for powder and a case for lipstick (see above). So incredible.

    If you are a true fashionista, this exhibit is a must-see, particularly if you are also a lover of fine jewelry and beautiful vintage Haute Couture.

    Exhibit Details

    Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems
    June 7, 2014 – January 18, 2015
    Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens
    4155 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington DC
    Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm; Select Sundays, 1 to 5 pm.
    Closed Mondays, most holidays, and for several weeks in January








    Jewelry Makes A Statement This Spring

    statement jewelry, jewelry, statement pieces, beaded bib necklaces

    Statement Jewelry is All the Rave

    When spring rolls in, I tend to crave lightness and simplicity. I especially feel this way after this long, brutal winter. We were faced with piling on bundles and bundles and layers upon layers. So I am thinking that it’s time to get back to basics — jeans, soft, light tees, and thin sweaters. Keeping things simple can make pulling your early spring outfits together without much effort. Even though basics are your foundation pieces, the look can come off as a bit plain. So to keep a look fresh, I add an unexpected piece, like jewelry. Jewelry is an easy way to add interest and a pop of color to an otherwise simple outfit.

    The trend reports for the spring and summer seasons are all abuzz about global and bohemian-focused pieces. Global influences were seen all over the SS14 runways from NYC to Milan to Paris. That trend is very evident in this statement piece of jewelry. This gorgeous necklace is the “Sharlyn” by Marrin Costello. It is a hand-beaded applique bib necklace with very beautiful graphic lines. I love the intricacy of the design. I also love the idea of wearing a dusty red in the spring. Marrin Costello pieces are made by hand in Los Angeles. I adore a handmade piece of jewelry. There is so much love that goes into it. Costello focuses on trend-driven signature pieces. The Sharlyn necklace is no exception. This piece would give a basic look a punch while keeping the overall look on trend.

    Brands We Love: Headpieces by Anilu Oms

    Running has many advantages. Those who know me well know I use every opportunity to get to know those around me. One rainy run group day, I jogged alongside a man who upon learning about my love of fashion writing was more than excited to introduce me to a close friend of his, a designer and creator of couture headpieces. Later that afternoon, I had the pleasure of getting in contact with the beautiful Cuban-born, Miami-based designer Anilu Oms.
    What follows is our conversation:


    When  did you realize you wanted to become a designer?
    I have always leaned towards the arts and design. I studied graphic design, and have taken courses in architecture and interior design. When I was little in Cuba, I used to listen to classical music in my  house and I used to go to the opera and the ballet with my mother. Moreover, my grandmother had great manual skills. She studied art at a well-known school. I remember playing at her house when I discovered a beautiful collection of hats from the ’30s and ’40s, which years later was the inspiration for my first job as a costume designer.When I graduated, my husband asked me to be the costume designer for the film he was directing. This experience opened doors [in the] television, film and theater [industries] for me. But my career as a milliner is another story.


    Tell  me a bit about your work.
    My work is a manifestation of my background as a designer. My headpieces are eclectic and avant garde. I use many natural fibers, dried leaves, seeds, organza, plastic, crystal and feathers. Also, I include embroidery and twigs; I feel very connected with nature. Each piece is one of a kind, no two are alike. It is very emotional for me to create this and for the client, [each piece] is magical.


    Who  would you really like to wear your  designs?
    My client loves and appreciates art, knows that she looks good and [will attract] attention. My headpieces are sculptures. I create couture headpieces that [can] be used on your head and be displayed in a particular place in the house [for] everyone [to] admire. I design for every woman.

    Which  items from your collection do you tailor for clients and why? 
    All my headpieces are tailored to my clients. In the first meeting, I ask for their tastes, personality and I study the type of event. Fortunately, all my clients know what they want.

    How did you get here?
    This is the story of my career as a milliner: My daughter, the young designer Fabiola Arias, asked me to help her in a fashion show when she was still a student at Parsons, and I thought it would be good idea to create headpieces to complement the beautiful dresses, so I filled my bag with all sort of tools and materials and flew to New York. The result was fabulous. Since then I’ve made the headpieces for all her collections.

    Who would you say has influenced you the  most?
    I am not influenced by people, but by nature, texture,  colors, and shapes. I was born in Havana, Cuba, an island with bright sunlight and strong colors. The cinema magazines and the movies [from] Hollywood’s Golden Age were part of my daily diet at home. All of that background influenced me. However, I love Philip Treacy. My style is completely different, but he is an inspiration to me.

    What are some of your accomplishments?
    My headpieces have been exhibited in Tokyo Fashion Week, World Expo Shanghai 2010, Fashion Houston and several seasons of New York Fashion week for Fabiola Arias’s collection. I collaborated with Gloria Estefan for the video “Hotel Nacional.” Also, El Museo del Barrio (New York) auctioned two of my headpieces. But, my major accomplishment is the emotion I feel when I hear the reaction of the audience and the clicking of cameras in a fashion show. I still have a long way to go, but I’m enjoying all of this a lot.***This post was originally published on Adonia Prada | The Skinny and Quail Bell Magazine, and was re-posted with permission from the author, Raquel Lynne.***

    Shopping for Vintage: The Many Benefits of a Vintage Handbag

    vintage handbags, vintage, vintage accessories, accessories

    There are many benefits to buying a vintage handbag. The first one that comes to mind is access to quality, luxury items at a fraction of the price. For example, a snakeskin bag from a contemporary designer will start around $500, and upwards of $2000 for high end. The snakeskin bag seen here is a well-preserved bag from a high end designer to be had at a bargain price of $200!

    Another benefit of buying a vintage handbag is access to quality, luxury items from the past that are no longer made. The Louis Vuitton Cluny seen in the photo was discontinued in the early ’90s. It is made in the brand’s Epi leather. Louis Vuitton introduced the Epi leather line in 1985. Epi leather is dyed all the way through and has a grained texture. It is a good, durable leather for use in modern travel conditions and everyday life. The Epi leather is my favorite from the brand but I had a hard time deciding on a shape, until I saw the Cluny. I liked the idea of an adjustable shoulder strap and its simple yet unique shape and closure. The bag was understated and would fit so nicely into my wardrobe! I had to have it and, after some stalking, it was mine. I still have it and use it regularly.

    The final benefit that I will discuss here is access to styles that you would like to try but aren’t quite sure about. I like the idea of a frame handbag. It is a classic style that is formal enough for business and evenings but not too stuffy that you couldn’t use it on the weekend. The shape reminds me of what the Hitchcock heroines – Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Eva Saint Marie – would carry. These three bags seen here could fit the bill and they each ring in under $75. While $75 is nothing to sneeze at, it is much better than purchasing a frame bag which retails at around $250. Then, if you liked the bag, found it to be indispensable in your wardrobe, once it had passed its prime – you could replace it with a more lasting version.

    Check out Etsy for some great vintage handbag selections.

    From Rags to Retro: How To Prepare Your Closet for Spring

    retro, retro dressing, dress retro, spring clothes

    When the words “spring” and “cleaning” are used consecutively, I get nervous. There is no task more daunting than emptying junkie closets and choosing what stays and what goes. The sheer number of items to pick through is frightening. After the frustration comes the doubt. I start asking myself, “Should I keep this”, or, “Will this trend come back around?” When battling against yourself in this manner, always remember, style never dies and trends come and go. So hold on to your pieces with that retro vibe. I apply this philosophy to my spring cleaning rituals year after year and always come out on top. Here’s a list of things to hold on to after spring cleaning:

    1. Sports Memorabilia

    Remember that authentic Michael Jordan jersey you used to have? Or how about that commemorative September 11th Yankees dugout jacket? Nothing hurts me more than to go looking for some valuable piece of sports memorabilia that I no longer have. Keep the jerseys. Keep the warm-ups. Keep the shorts. T-shirts come and go, but authentic hand-sewn sports memorabilia should stay put.

    2. Sweaters

    Ugly winter or holiday sweaters are not so ugly when they come back in style, are they? I would kill to have my Ralph Lauren Polo bear sweater back. That’s so retro, right? I wish someone would have told me that snowflake embroidery would be acceptable in 2014. Every spring, we have to take a long hard look at our sweaters and ask, “Should I keep it?” Here’s my rule of thumb on the matter, if it fits and you look to avoid the cost of purchasing another bulky sweater in the winter to come, then keep it.

    3. Denim

    Denim can always present a sour experience when cleaning out the closet because the it serves so many purposes. Denim’s durability, however, makes it tough to let go. As humans, we grow, and as Sartorial Villains, our preferences change from year to year. We tend to like different washes, sizes and, fits. I say, cover all of your bases. Keep denim to suit different needs. Keep a pair of relaxed, skinny, and slim jean to be used for different occasions. Keep a light, medium, and dark wash as well. If your bases are covered, what you do from there is up to you. Any true man of denim only has about two go-to pair of jeans anyway.

    4. Boots

    Restore your boots. After a winter of pounding on snow, salt, and ice, any footwear would seem to be worth passing along or handing down. Before discarding your hardy footwear, give them a nice rinse and shine. I guarantee you will reconsider shipping them off to the Salvation Army.

    5. Business Attire

    Business attire is another sour spot for me. As we gain weight or lose it, the fit of a shirt, pant, or coat can change drastically. There’s nothing more hurtful than throwing on your favorite suit only to find that it looks or feels ridiculous. However, if the measurements are somewhat close to your needs, keep the items. A quick trip to your local tailor can correct any wrongs in fit or function, and if funds are tight, store the pieces in a safe, dry place. The extra pounds can be easily shaved to put you right back in your favorite trousers, and muscle can be gained to tighten the fit on your favorite blazer.

    “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. So, why let someone else reap the benefits of your awesome closet? Keep the good stuff for your retro pile and let the rest go.



    [Spring Cleaning image via]

    How To Wear A Vintage Statement Piece


    One of my wardrobe philosophies is that you should have foundation pieces, things that you wear a lot and feel comfortable and confident in, and a mix of signature pieces, things that reflect your personality and highlight your best features. Signature pieces can be an eclectic mix of things or a singular thing depending on your aesthetic. Think of a Julia Sarr-Jamois, who mixes bold accessories and textures, or a Anna Wintour, who favors classic sheaths. Both of these types choose pieces from a variety of sources to enhance their wardrobes. One source that can offer truly unique signature pieces is vintage. I love vintage treasure hunting. It is a great way to find special pieces that can change the direction of a look and add a personal stamp to your overall styling.

    I came across this vintage belt and it was love. The buckle is a botanical cloisonne design with pretty, natural colors set against a black background. Cloisonne is a design technique that uses metal and, usually, enamel. There is a metal base layer and metal is used to form compartments. The compartments are then filled with enamel, creating the design. In the case of my belt, the design is striking with its black background and colorful butterfly and flora and it is on a slight curve. The belt is a metal scale finish on a stretchy, thick fabric.

    This piece would work beautifully with foundation pieces grounded in black. It would allow the gold finish of the belt and the cloisonne to stand out. I’m particularly fond of the idea of pairing it with a black jumpsuit. Jumpsuits are great pieces and could be a foundation piece for your wardrobe if it fits your aesthetic. They are comfortable, easy, and, with the right cut for your proportions, can be quite flattering. Here are a couple (left, right) that I am considering adding to my wardrobe that would pair nicely with my vintage belt.