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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Have you downloaded the cool new shopping app called Spring? Just search for “Spring shopping” on your iPhone (Android is coming!) and you’ll find it in your app store. It looks a lot like Instagram except you get to tap on pictures of jewelry (and shoes, clothes, etc.) that you like and buy them! You can find my store on Spring by searching for “Wendy Brandes” — I’ve been on the app for a couple of months now.

I recently added my Halloween-worthy chainsaw and hockey mask earrings to my Spring store. The fun peeps at Spring then made this animated gif for Tumblr.


Love it! Follow Spring’s Tumblr here.

Spring doesn’t ship internationally yet, but I do, so if you’re outside of the U.S., you can buy the earrings — and all the rest of my designs! — on my site. Feel free to email me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com to discuss shipping options before you order. Recently, I’ve sent jewelry to Canada, Australia, Ukraine and Germany. Gorgeous customer Eva in Germany has posted great pictures of her serial-killer studs on Instagram.


Click to read her comments.

Eva is a huge fan of singer Skylar Grey, so she also got the ax-logo necklace I originally made for Skylar. Eva’s version is gold-plated silver.


The necklace on Eva. Click for source.

Note to Skylar fans everywhere: I’m now doing a few of these necklaces on a case-by-case basis, so if you’re interested, email me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com for pricing information. I can do these in silver, gold-plated silver or 18K gold.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

OscarPRGirl, the Twitter account for Oscar de la Renta, has been one of the most engaging fashion-house social-media accounts. In fact, when I turned over my business Instagram account to my right-hand woman Eryn a year ago (nearly to the day!) I said, “Basically, she’s going to be my Instagram version of OscarPRGirl.” I had to compare her to the best!

I’ve been waiting to see what would appear on the official Twitter account after Oscar’s death and there are now two posts. The first linked to this photo on Instagram. The second linked to the Oscar de la Renta website, on which is posted this lovely letter written by his stepdaughter, Eliza Reed Bolen, and her husband, Alex Bolen.


Click to enlarge.

The note, dated today, reads:

Colleagues —

We write to let you know that Oscar passed away last night at home in Connecticut surrounded by family, friends and more than a few dogs. He died exactly as he lived: with tremendous grace, great dignity and very much on his own terms.

While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us. Oscar’s hard work, his intelligence and his love of life are at the heart of our company. All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit. Through Oscar’s example, we know the way forward. We will make Oscar very proud of us by continuing in an even stronger way the work that Oscar loved so much.

We are working on the formal arrangements to celebrate Oscar’s life. As those plans are finalized, we will let you know.

In the meantime, thank you for your friendship, loyalty and support.


Alex and Eliza

As New York Magazine wrote in a story 10 years ago, Oscar de la Renta the company had become a family affair. Alex is the chief executive officer and Eliza is executive vice president. (They spoke about the business in this joint interview in June.) The recently named creative director of the company, Peter Copping, was to report to both Oscar and Alex. Copping must be feeling a lot of pressure now to make his first show next February a worthy tribute!

Here are some additional links to good Oscar de la Renta stories and tributes:

  • Don’t miss the New York Magazine story I linked to above; Oscar was mulling over a succession plan at the time.
  • This 2012 Wall Street Journal story was pegged to the company’s expansion plan, but also showed a lot of Oscar’s personality — he said that the family’s eight rescue dogs “rule our lives.”  I also like what he had to say about retirement: “The most abused word in the world is ‘retirement.’ Every single day for me is a learning process. Why should I stop doing something that brings me so much pleasure?” And the story ends with this interesting fact: “Astonishingly, [de la Renta] has never kept a single archive. ‘Why should I?’ he asks. ‘I love now and tomorrow. What I did in the past doesn’t interest me.'”
  • This 2013 interview in the Telegraph, written by Lisa Armstrong, similarly notes that “looking back is not de la Renta’s style.”
  • Andre Leon Talley, who met Oscar in 1974, wrote a tribute for Vogue here.

And bloggers Tom+Lorenzo tweeted this video of Oscar serenading Sarah Jessica Parker with a mariachi band in 2011.

Another thing I noticed on the de la Renta Twitter was the announcement earlier this month of some lovely watches designed for Detroit-based Shinola. They will be available on Shinola’s website soon.

Monday, October 20, 2014

ABC News confirmed through a family member that fashion designer Oscar de la Renta has died, aged 82. The news comes a week after de la Renta announced the hiring of his first creative director, British designer Peter Copping. As fashion journalist Robin Givhan wrote:

“… at Oscar de la Renta, an era seems to be nearing a fine and tidy end as the designer prepares his company for its next chapter – one without him. De la Renta has hired his first creative director. And he has at last won over Michelle Obama. His work is done.”

De la Renta had been diagnosed with cancer in 2006, and the New York Times described him as looking “frail” at his fashion show in September. Copping was scheduled to start work on November 3, with his first de la Renta collection to be shown during New York Fashion Week next February. He was still supposed to report to de la Renta, however. Oscar worked right up till the end and it wasn’t just busywork. He was still nabbing headlines, most recently with his bridal-gown design for lawyer Amal Alamuddin’s wedding to George Clooney. (An Amal-inspired gown is part of next year’s de la Renta bridal collection.)  Last year, he hired disgraced designer John Galliano when no one else would and, in 2012, he indulged in a meat-themed feud with New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn. This year, Horyn wrote in Harper’s Bazaar that she was still friendly with the designer and shed some light on his motive:

“… if there’s one thing I know from covering Oscar for three decades, it’s that he’s intensely competitive. A good fight, even a phony good fight, magnifies power. It also creates a ton of publicity, as Oscar reminded me with a grin when I saw him a few weeks later.”

Over the years, de la Renta dressed many First Ladies, which is why it was news when Michelle Obama wore one of his designs this month. Another recent de la Renta design I liked was the one Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala. The ballgown’s skirt was adorned with Oscar’s bold red signature.

Speaking of SJP, one of the great fashion moments on Sex and the City was when her character Carrie was given a coveted pink de la Renta cocktail dress by her artist boyfriend Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov). Carrie faints outside Lincoln Center and winds up wearing the dress as she and “the Russian” dance and dine at McDonald’s instead.


Courtesy HBO, via InStyle. Click for source.

That episode aired Jan. 11, 2004. I was so struck by the de la Renta that, by the next month, I was wearing a full-skirted vintage cocktail dress to a big party and having an exceptionally fun evening thanks to a dress that attracted everyone from Renee Zellweger to a local official’s hooker friend. I feel that de la Renta would have enjoyed that story, considering what he said at an event at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan last year, when his cancer was still in remission. Fashionista.com quoted him:

The only realities in life are that you are born, and that you die. You have to appreciate every single day that you’re alive. Life is a little bit like a garden—you have to find time to plant the seeds for beautiful flowers to grow. I’m having a fantastic time.”

A fantastic time — you can’t ask for anything better than that.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why was today better than all other days? Because Marcel the Shell With Shoes On has a new video out, at last.

“Life’s a party, rock your body!”

Sunday, October 19, 2014

In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

There must be something in the air — maybe it’s the new Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit called “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire” — but a number of people have asked me when the silver version of my 18K-gold acorn-and-squirrel locket will be back in stock.

Here is the gold locket they’re referring to shown closed …


Click to see on my website.

… and open.


Click to see on my website.

As I explained in 2008, this design was inspired by antique mourning jewelry, in which the hair of the deceased was woven into bracelets or earrings or kept under glass in brooches and lockets. Acorns were a common theme in hair jewelry, because they were associated with immortality. The acorn cap was often woven in a crosshatch pattern, which reminded me of a cage. My cage thought made me envision an acorn-shaped prison for a squirrel. (When a big catalog company knocked off my exact acorn style in brass and tried to claim it was their own, I asked them, “What inspired you to do it this way?” They couldn’t answer and wound up paying me a small percentage of their sales. Mourning jewelry for the win!)

I’ve been amused by the inquiries about the return of the silver acorn locket because there never was a silver locket in the first place! While I did make a silver acorn necklace, it was a regular pendant. The cap didn’t unscrew like the gold version and no squirrel popped out.


What you see is what you get.

I generally don’t do my most complicated pieces in silver because so much $100-an-hour labor goes into making a very limited quantity of a design like this. If I put that kind of labor into silver, I have to charge people for it, and we all wind up with rather expensive silver jewelry. I even planned to discontinue the regular silver pendant, but before I could take it off my site last month, a gorgeous customer in Australia ordered it. I didn’t want to let her down so I thought, “Okay, I’ll make one more silver acorn.” Just as I was about to start work, I stumbled across the original silver sample for the gold locket — meaning I had a working silver locket in hand. (My 2010 post on custom design explains why I sometimes make silver samples for my more elaborate jewelry.) I told the customer it was her lucky day: Not only would she get her acorn, but she’d get one with a squirrel inside.

Apparently, that sample acorn has taken root and led to growth spurt in acorn-locket demand.  As a result, I’m now considering making a few silver acorn-and-squirrel lockets. I hope they will fall into the $500 to $600 range, though I’m not sure yet. If you’ve always wanted a silver acorn-and-squirrel locket, this is your chance! Hit me up now with your request via wbjewelry at hotmail dot com; I’ll price the piece and then do all the special acorn requests at once before discontinuing the silver design.  On the fence? Sophie, the lucky Australian customer, emailed me today to let me know her necklace had arrived safely. Her verdict: “It is stunning.” I love getting emails like that. I also love making custom orders happen whenever I can, so let’s do this acorn thing, okay? Holla at me before the end of this month!

UPDATED TO ADD: The silver acorn lockets will be $500 each. I’ll start all orders by the end of this week, so let me know ASAP if you are interested!

Friday, October 17, 2014

A big thanks to Sarah Louise Jordan for including my emoji jewelry in her story called “TRENDS: Jewels go POP!” in Professional Jeweller magazine!


Sarah calls my pieces “wearable” and says they’re “aimed at a tech-savvy and feisty customer base.” (I agree!) In an interview, I highlighted my personal favorite:

“One of the first emoji designs I did was a middle finger. The fact that it didn’t actually exist on the emoji keyboard didn’t stop me. I created my own design because that seemed like the most important emoji of all.”

Am I right or am I right about the middle finger being the most important emoji to have? (And where the hell are the new emojis we were promised for this summer?)


Gorgeous Jennifer Gandia of Greenwich Jewelers split a pair of middle finger earrings with her friend. From her Instagram.

My most recent “they should be emoji but they’re not yet” designs are the serial-killer chainsaw and hockey mask earrings, which are perfect for Halloween. I have just a few left for October 31 delivery, so order immediately if you want them this month! (As I’ve also pointed out, that pair is great for Eminem fans and what better day to buy those than today — Em’s 42nd birthday?) I’ll be introducing two more badass emoji designs in November.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I owe a big, belated thank you to my California-based Twitter friend John Laurente.  Early last month, he asked me if I wanted his tickets to a September 27 Jay Z concert in New York that he wouldn’t be able to attend. I’d already seen Jay Z twice, but I was up for a third concert, so I said, “Sure!” John transferred the tickets to me via Ticketmaster.

Between work and travel, I never looked into what the concert was all about. I came back from a trip to Paris two days before the show and was vaguely thinking, “I better find out where this thing is,” when I got an email from Ticketmaster. I wasn’t going to any old Jay Z concert — I was going to see Jay Z headline the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, which was also going to include performances by Alicia Keys, the Roots, Fun., Carrie Underwood and No Doubt. The event was general admission — no assigned seating — and 60,000 people were expected to attend. I was like …

I’m all about being right up front at general-admission concerts and I’m prepared to suffer to make that happen. But who would suffer with me? I contacted my new friend Jessie, veteran of many general-admission concerts, whom I met while waiting in line to see Eminem and Rihanna’s Monster Tour in August. As I expected, she already had a ticket, but it was one that required entrance on the west side of the park. The east-side entrance gets you closer to the stage, so we agreed to use my east-side tickets and meet outside the park at 8 a.m. for a concert that would get underway at 4 p.m. When we got there, there were maybe 50 people in front of us and a lot of cute dogs going for their morning walks. At about 1 p.m., the line was marched very briskly through the park to the Great Lawn where — thanks in part to Jessie’s Olympics-worthy sprint down the entire length of the lawn, past the security guards yelling “No running!” — I ended up in the second row. I can’t remember where this overhead shot of crowd came from, but the arrow shows where we were.


I still can’t believe it!

We sweltered in the heat until the show started with DJ Tiësto. At that point, all of us in the front learned an important lesson about the need for ear plugs on any occasion when one is standing right by the speakers while EDM is played loud enough for 60,000 people to hear. I like EDM but I’m positive no music ever needs so much bass that the air visibly vibrates. We were relieved when he went away and Alicia Keys came out.

She's pregnant!

She’s pregnant!

In between acts, there were speakers — ranging from celebrities such as Jessica Alba, Olivia Wilde, Hugh Jackman and Katie Holmes, to the many world leaders in town for U.N. week — talking about Global Citizen’s efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030. I was impressed by the focus on the needs of women and girls and the fact that people cheered enthusiastically for that. The major fundraising topic of the day was running water and toilets. While health problems stemming from lack of sanitation are serious for everyone, there are special risks for women. The organization WaterAid reports on its website:

“One in three women worldwide risk shame, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. Sandimhia Renato from northern Mozambique … has no access to a toilet. She walks 15 minutes every day to defecate in the bush, having to cross a dangerous bridge where she knows women are attacked at night.”

There is also a big impact on girls’ education. As WaterAid says:

“Many adolescent girls … frequently miss school, or drop out altogether, because of a lack of private toilets. Sabina from Nepal told us: ‘Before the school had latrines we used to go to the bush – we used to hide under the bamboo. During menstruation it was really difficult, so we used to go absent and stay at home instead.'”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who has pledged to end open defecation by ensuring that every household and every school in India will have its own toilet by 2019 — spoke to reaffirm his commitment. Vaccinations were the other big issue: Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, pledged more than $1.2 billion over six years for vaccinations in poverty-stricken countries.

After the show, I came across some comments by self-identified right-wingers complaining about the festival, and I had to LOL. You’re against toilets? Really? We lefties are the only ones who want to poop privately? Okay then. No toilets for you conservatives! By the way — because I check these things — Global Citizen doesn’t spend all its money on the festival, which is now in its third year. The entertainers donate their time, while the big costs of the event are picked up by corporate sponsors and private donations. VIP tickets can be purchased but vast majority of the tickets are won in a drawing after people earn points by taking social actions on GlobalCitizen.org, including signing petitions and emailing world leaders. You can also earn points by buying Global Citizen’s IMPACK Action Pack for $27, which includes this sassy bathroom sign.


I appreciate a charity with a sense of humor.

For more information on how Global Citizen spends its money, check out its annual reports here. (According to the 2013 annual review, admin and fundraising was a very reasonable 14% of the organizations spending.) In response to my emailed inquiry, Global Citizen’s director of communications told me that the organization isn’t yet on charity-evaluator Charity Navigator because that requires three years of audited accounts and Global Citizen hasn’t been around that long in the U.S.

Anyway, back to the show! You can glimpse Questlove’s hair behind the drums during the Roots’ performance.


Click to enlarge.

Fun. did a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

And it was sometime after that — around 6:30 p.m. — that Jessie and I looked at each other in a “How are we going to make it to the 9:30 p.m. end of this” moment. I mean, I knew I WOULD make it, unlike the couple of fainters we had in the front rows early on, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen. Fortunately, Carrie Underwood gave me a second wind. She’s a performer I wouldn’t have gone to see normally, but I really enjoyed her.

Her No. 1 fan there was a 6’8″ guy (I asked!) who slept out overnight to make sure he could be up close for her. He had the decency to fall back a couple of rows early on rather than hang onto the first row where he would have blocked everyone’s view, but we all cleared a path for him to get up front for Carrie. You can hear him yelling, “I love you Carrie!” at the end of my video above. Earlier in the day, he yelled “I love you, Jessica!” at Jessica Alba so loudly that she looked right at him and said, “Thanks!”

I was super-excited for No Doubt. I’ve seen Gwen Stefani as a solo act, but never saw the whole group before. They opened with “Hella Good.”

I loved Gwen’s Terri Nunn-style platinum and black hair.


Gwen looking gorgeous. Click to enlarge.

I also loved seeing bassist Tony Kanal emote next to Gwen, particularly because I once fell down a rabbit-hole of Internet comments that were slamming Gwen for writing songs about her relationship and breakup with Tony back in the ’90s and “forcing” him to perform them with her.  To me, he looked like a guy who was fucking thrilled that he could play rock star rather than working a straight 9-to-5 job.


A few breakup songs for this? Why not! Click to enlarge.

But the highlight was Sting coming out to perform “Message in a Bottle” with the band. I took this photo — like all the photos in this post — by zooming in to the stage. It is NOT from the big video screens! My inner photojournalist is proud.


Click to enlarge.

You can see the rest of my good No Doubt photos here.

Finally, Jay Z came out with his instantly classic “Empire State of Mind.”

The audience went crazy for him.


Hiya, Hova. Click to enlarge.

All day, the kids around me (for real, some of them were 30 years younger than me) had been speculating about Beyonce turning up, and when she did, they nearly exploded.


Click to enlarge.

Beyonce actually did explode right out of her shirt, but she handled the wardrobe malfunction calmly, like the pro that she is.

beyonce collage

Showing a little more bosom than she meant to. Click to enlarge.

I’ve got some more Jay Z photos in this Flickr album.

When the show ended, Jessie and I walked back through the Great Lawn saying to each other, “I can’t believe how many people were here … I can’t believe how close we were!”  A sea of concertgoers swept us out of the park and deposited us on 79th and 5th Avenue, right next to Jessie’s car, and she gave me a lift home. Our next concert is FKA twigs in November. That will be much smaller, but the weather will be colder, so it will be a new kind of general-admission challenge for me. I’m game though!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

At the beginning of this month, I went to my friend Shawn Love’s one-woman play, My Private Revolution. Shawn describes her work asa rhythmical and powerful journey addressing social issues and celebrating the power of individual choice. It’s about overcoming abuse and finding healing and forgiveness. A thought-provoking, transformational and heart-wrenching play filled with drama, music and dance.”

I’m so proud of Shawn for putting this together: writing the script, finding the right people to work with, raising funds and performing. If you want to support an emerging artist, the next shows are this Wednesday through Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. The play is at the Davenport Theater at 354 West 45th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. You can buy tickets at the box office before the show, or if you’re going with a group, you can buy tickets here.

After we saw Shawn’s play, we walked by the theater showing Kinky Boots, and I took advantage of the opportunity to pose as Lola the drag queen.


I like this look for me.

In reality, I wasn’t wearing anything quite so interesting, though I am very fond of my pre-2005 hairy, purple Versace jacket.

shawnsplayresizeWhat Wendy Wore
Jacket: Versace (pre-2005)
T-shirt: Splendid
Jeans: Acne (2008)
Shoes: Vivienne Westwood (2011)
Purse: Prada (2007)
Teddy bear: Souvenir from Shawn’s show.

I’ve worn this jacket a lot, though I was most fanatical about taking photos of it in 2010.


Click to enlarge a bit.

I dressed up more for dinner in honor of my gorgeous mother BarbaraB‘s birthday at Cafe Boulud this Saturday, but I still didn’t get to Lola-worthy levels.

razordressresizeWhat Wendy Wore
Dress: Castelbajac (2014)
Shoes: Miu Miu (2010)
Purse: Prada (2007)

Like the New York City nightclubs described by Bill Hader’s Stefon character on Saturday Night Live, this dress has everything: barbed wire, scissors, screws, razor blades, studs, safety pins and brass knuckles! Plus an oversize zipper that amazed my father.


Mom and Dad smooch at the birthday dinner.

When I came home from dinner, I realized I had missed Stefon’s return to SNL! Thank goodness for YouTube.

I found the line, “That TV channel at the hotel that’s like … about the hotel” to be particularly highlarious. I’ve always been weirded out by that channel, especially because it seems like the remote is deliberately hidden somewhere to prevent you from turning it off. Congrats on the pregnancy, Stefon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It was 20 years ago today that Pulp Fiction was given a wide release. Time flies when you’re a bad motherfucker!


Click to buy a Bad Motherfucker wallet.

The movie was the first independent film to gross more than $200 million. When it came out, critic Roger Ebert gave it four stars and called the screenplay (which won an Oscar) “so well-written.” More recently, Vanity Fair summarized Mark Seal’s story on the making of Pulp Fiction this way:

Pulp Fiction was a shot of adrenaline to Hollywood’s heart, reviving John Travolta’s career, making stars of Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman, and turning Bob and Harvey Weinstein into giants.”

The “shot of adrenaline” is a reference to the scene that became notorious when it supposedly caused a man to faint during the movie’s screening at the New York Film Festival.

If you want to pay tribute to that scene with your earlobes, I’ve got the perfect studs for you.

Needle and anatomical heart earrings are sold separately on my website. Click to shop.

Needle and anatomical heart earrings are sold separately on my website. Click to shop.

Hey, it’s better than expressing your Pulp Fiction love with a watch!

Rolling Stone has organized interesting facts about the movie into an A-to-Z list here. And New York Magazine’s Vulture blog has a lengthy interview with Steve Hibbert, who played the masked sex slave known as the Gimp. I feel like a Gimp expert now. I’d rather think about blueberry pancakes, so here’s a great scene that doesn’t get as much love as some of the hilariously violent ones: pancake-loving Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) talking to her boxer boyfriend Butch (Bruce Willis) about pot bellies and oral pleasure.

Now I’m thinking of all the other great Pulp Fiction moments I’d like to mention here. There are too many! If you haven’t seen Pulp Fiction (to my amazement, I’ve met people who haven’t!), do it: It’s a modern classic. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again! And again! This movie is like pie. To partially quote Fabienne, ” Any time … is a good time for pie.”

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