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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Recently, tall and gorgeous Monica Stephenson of jewelry blog iDazzle reminded me of an interview she did with me in 2010. We agreed it held up pretty well, though it was amusing to see that I was just embarking on my post-swear-ring ring sets: LOL, OMG and NYC ring. Those ring sets were the first designs in my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes silver diffusion line, pre-dating all the emoji stud earrings and word necklaces. A lot has been added to the line since then!

Monica’s interview inspired me to look up some other old interviews for Throwback Thursday.

In 2007, Jennine Jacob of Independent Fashion Bloggers interviewed me just a few months after I started blogging. She asked how I’d gained a lot of followers in a short period of time. I answered:

“I’ve reached out to people by reading their blogs and leaving comments to let them know that their efforts are appreciated. My insomnia helps provide the many hours of free time needed to do this. I knew that sleeplessness would come in handy someday! Anyway, those bloggers tend to reciprocate. I’ve encountered a couple of bloggers who have complained that they were blogging furiously but getting no reaction. I’ve told them that they need to interact with other people to get readers. There’s nothing like starting your own business to make you realize that you can’t sit around and wait for an audience to come to you. You have to hunt people down and drag them back to your lair.”

I still say that interaction is everything no matter what you’re selling, but these days it goes down on Twitter and Instagram rather than blog comments.

In 2008, Mademoiselle Robot asked me which of my creations or accomplishments I was most proud of. I said:

“I’m proud that I continued my jewelry business on my own after my business partner died. She kept the information on our manufacturers secret from me, so I really had to start from scratch. The whole story is here. It took me about a year to rebuild, which I managed to do right on time for the global economy to go to hell in a handbasket. I plan to persevere once again. That’s all one can do, right?”

Still true!

And in 2011, You’re a Tulle asked me if the jewelry industry was as competitive as the clothing industry. My answer was:

“Yep! Every industry is competitive. And if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon an entirely new field where you have no competitors, you’re still going to encounter challenges. People might think they don’t need your new product.  It’s never smooth sailing. Remember, even Apple Computer was once on the verge of bankruptcy.”

Also still true.

You can read more of my online-only interviews here, though I really have to go through that page and delete links to defunct blogs. I keep procrastinating on that because it makes me miss all my old blogging buddies!




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

According to the astrological calendar, the sign of Cancer rules from June 21 to July 22.  Cancer is the Latin word for crab, which is why the zodiac sign is represented by a crab and why my Jewels of the Month are my crab emoji designs.

You might not be familiar with the crab emoji because it’s not available on your phone — only in Gmail. It’s ridiculously pixelated but, on the plus side, it runs back and forth on the screen, clicking its claws.

crabemoji

My gorgeous ex-employee Eryn is very fond of the crab. She often uses it in lieu of iPhone’s dancer emoji, who wears a red dress and holds one arm aloft. Sometimes Eryn uses the dancing crab in a celebratory way. Sometimes she uses it in a sarcastic way. Sometimes I think she uses it to say “WTF?!” because you can kind interpret the crab as shrugging. I initially made a tiny rose-gold crab ring just for Eryn.


Then I got a lot of requests for crabs from people who’d seen the ring on Eryn or on Instagram. So here’s my crab emoji single stud earring in silver …

$35 for a single. Click to purchase.

$35 for a single. Click to purchase.

… and my crab emoji ring, also in silver. Please note, this crab is slightly larger than Eryn’s. Measurements are on the website.

$90. Click to purchase.

$90. Click to purchase.

If you or someone you know is celebrating a Cancerian birthday this month, I’ve got several crabby earrings available for immediate delivery. There’s one ring available in size 6. (Obviously, I can do other sizes upon request, but you might not get it by July 22.) I’m also happy to do these designs in 18K gold; I recommend rose gold to mimic the red emoji. Email info at wendybrandes dot com to make a request.




Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I honestly doubted that I would live to see something like last week’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.

I remember the summer of 2000, when Vermont legalized “civil unions,” which allowed gay and lesbian partners to reap the legal benefits of marriage, albeit without using the word marriage. Some people argued that civil unions in all 50 states should be the new goal, rather than marriage. The idea was that the term “marriage” was too explosive and, if it was pushed too hard, the anti-marriage people would get so riled up that all progress and rights would be lost in the backlash.

Well, it’s a good thing that no one settled for the first sign of progress! It’s amazing what has happened since then. As NPR put it in 2013, “… Vermont’s pioneering law is viewed by many as an artifact.” (Vermont itself legalized gay marriage in 2009, eliminating the need for civil unions after a mere nine years.) It’s like the civil unions served as tiny cracks that ultimately shattered prejudice and habit.

Speaking of small beginnings, I also didn’t expect to see the Confederate flag fall out of favor.

I never understood how that flag (literally) hung in there for so long. So many people have pointed out the racism embodied in the symbol, but I also love the plain common sense with which Run the Jewels rapper Killer Mike addressed the issue in Fader magazine:

“That side lost, and you do not fly the flags of losers over the winners’ country. It’s just that simple.”

Of course, as a reaction to the rash of racist killings that culminated with the terroristic massacre in a Charleston church, getting rid of a flag is such a little thing. But, now, I have hope that it will be one of those tiny cracks that ultimately destroys the old, bad ways. And Bree Newsome, who climbed the flagpole outside of the South Carolina statehouse to remove the flag? What a hero!




Monday, June 29, 2015

I was in Chicago over the weekend to visit family and attend the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Ill. The festival’s website says Ravinia (named for the Ravinia Park grounds where it is held) is the oldest outdoor music festival in North America. Who knew?!

Ravinia isn’t a stand-all-day-to-see-Eminem, Lollapalooza-like event. It’s very civilized. You can sit in the 3,200-person Pavilion open-air theater or picnic on the lawn. If you do the latter, you can’t see the stage, but the music still sounds superb. We tried for Pavilion seats but ended up on the lawn, because we were there to see Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and the Pavilion tickets sold out instantly. The duo caused quite the frenzy over at old Ravinia.

My sister, Terri Berry, organized a party of 15 and was first in line to get our lawn spot on Friday. With the help of her friend Mitch, a Ravinia veteran, we staked out a spot under a tree with two tarps.


With rain in the forecast, Mitch knew we’d appreciate a leafy canopy. Too bad he wasn’t able to provide a a roaring campfire as well, because the low temperature that day was 59°F. I wound up wearing jeans, a t-shirt, arm warmers, a Ravinia hoodie, a rain poncho, a shearling vest and a free hat (from Discover) with little lights on it. And I was still chilly, especially during the sudden downpours.

A photo posted by Wendy Brandes (@wendybrandes) on

Terri and I — the earliest birds — had a four-hour wait for the performance, which gave us plenty of time to admire Ravinia picnic style. People had big tables with tablecloths, floral centerpieces and candelabras. No one was phased by the rain. They just put up their umbrellas, put on their Discover hats, and poured their wine. The lawn was absolutely packed, and we really did have a choice spot right near the Pavilion. Good job, Terri and Mitch!

The rain finally stopped in time for the show, and Gaga and Tony sounded great.



I highly recommend the experience, though you might want to bribe the weather gods to smile upon you if you take the picnic route.

The next night, we had dinner at Cibo, a new restaurant in Glencoe, Ill., in which Terri and her husband have invested.

A photo posted by Wendy Brandes (@wendybrandes) on

Everything we tried was good, but I was especially addicted to the pesto quinoa. And I was trying to be healthy with my kale Caesar salad but I kept sneaking my nephew’s Parmesan fries. Hey, he shouldn’t have looked away and left them unguarded!

I revisited the striped Zang Toi shorts that I posted last week, but this time I wore the complete outfit, right down to the socks.

socksandheelsWhat Wendy Wore
Top: Zang Toi (2015)
Shorts: Zang Toi (2015)
Socks: Zang Toi (2015)
Shoes: Karl Lagerfeld (1994)

That’s not a typo above: those suede shoes are truly 21 years old. I can take them to a bar and buy them a drink. They’re really not in good condition but it’s hard for me to part with them. We’ve had such a long and fulfilling relationship!




Thursday, June 25, 2015

I am STILL looking for that photo of me and Roger Daltrey in England in 1983. I keep finding more photos from that trip, but no Roger yet. WTF. I must have put the picture in a “safe place.” I wish I’d stop putting things there, because the “safe place” and the “Bermuda Triangle” are apparently one and the same. Things just disappear forever.

Anyway, I did find another picture of me, in England, wearing the white Capezio jazz shoes that were wildly popular in ’83.

jazz

I remember that white top with the puffed shoulders so well. What I don’t remember is why I or anyone else thought those shoes looked good. I still love tons of ’80s fashion, but not those white jazz shoes. Capezio’s website now doesn’t even have them in white, just black and beige. I think those are better choices!




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

MrB and I went last night’s Gerald Loeb Awards, which, as the Loebs website explains, “honor excellence in business and financial journalism that both informs and protects the private investor and the general public.”

I wrote about the Loeb Awards in 2010 when my gorgeous friend Alix Freedman — formerly of the Wall Street Journal, now of Thomson Reuters — won the Minard award for editing. This year, the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Blumenstein won the Minard award. Rebecca is a deputy editor in chief at the Journal and the former China bureau chief; back in the day, she worked for MrB, who was the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal from 1991 until 2007. During Rebecca’s inspiring acceptance speech, she said:

“Women too often these days hear about what that they CAN’T do — be the perfect mom, work a full-time job, be a good daughter, wife and friend.  I think that young women — and men — don’t hear enough that they CAN DO IT. Yes, there are rough edges.

But with the right support, I believe that it’s possible – and even preferable to – to combine it all. And to make it possible for others to follow.”

Rebecca gave MrB — and the Wall Street Journal culture during his tenure — a nice shout-out. Noting that “I was promoted every time I was on maternity leave,” Rebecca said:

“I remember going to Paul Steiger after learning I was pregnant with a third child, worried that it would push my career onto a slower track. I found myself apologizing and offering assurances I was still serious about my career. He cut me off and put me at ease with one simple observation: “I’ve been watching this for a long time. If you come back after one child, you will be fine. If you return after two, you may as well have 50.”

For some crazy reason, Rebecca stopped at child No. 3, instead of trying for 50.  Think of all the promotions she would have gotten if she kept going!

MrB and I were sitting at lucky table 22 at the dinner at Capitale with our friend Jesse Eisinger, a senior reporter at ProPublica, who won a Loeb for commentary.  (ProPublica is an “independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest” and MrB was its founding editor-in-chief.) As a bonus, our tablemates from KNTV won the Loeb in the video/audio category for their story, “Inside Sysco: Exposing North America’s Food Sheds.”

I wore my favorite old Versace dress.

loebawardsresizeWhat Wendy Wore
Dress: Versace (likely from Spring 2003 collection; seen here in 2008 and 2014)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Clutch: Sequoia, from Galeries Lafayette (2011)
Jewelry: My own designs, plus some vintage
Hair: Blowout by Julie Matos, mullet cut by Keith Carpenter
Makeup: Josie Torres

I loved the blue eyeshadow that makeup artist Josie Torres used on me, but Purrkoy the kitten wasn’t as impressed with my beauty choices.

wendyandpk

Angry kitteh didn’t want a kiss from meowmie.

On the other paw, FitzRoy the cat was quite entertained by the lifetime achievement Loeb Award that MrB received in 2002. I took it off the bookshelf to show him.

fitzloebresize

Iz big cat toy!!!

The big crystal globe spins … just like the lapis lazuli globe in my Empress Wu dragon ring. Great globe minds think alike!




Monday, June 22, 2015

I got a pair of striped shorts from my designing friend Zang Toi’s Spring 2015 collection and I’ve been wearing them all the time.

zangshortsresizeWhat Wendy Wore
Top: Splendid
Shorts: Zang Toi (2015)
Shoes: Prada (2011)

Here’s how the shorts were styled for the runway.

zang

Photo courtesy of The Cut. Click for source.

I didn’t get the jacket but I do have the long-sleeved top and cute socks that match the shorts. I need to find the right moment to wear the whole ensemble. And … hmmm… maybe MrB needs the matching man jacket?




Sunday, June 21, 2015

Because it is Lana del Rey’s 30th birthday (ah, youth!), it’s time for me to post a few photos of her performance at the Governors Ball music festival earlier this month.

The three-day, four-stage festival takes place on New York City’s Randall’s Island, and I was there for two days with my concert-going friend Jessie. We spent Saturday, June 6, pretty close to the front of the big GovBallNYC stage. I loved that set-up. There was an aisle down the middle which meant that there was a whole lot of fencing to hold on to. Having a barricade to lean on is great when you’re spending a long day on your feet. Also, we were able to lean over the fence and into the aisle, which gave us an unobstructed view even though we weren’t in the front row.

That day, I was psyched to see Marina and the Diamonds do a longer set than the mini-performance we caught at the Rough Trade record store in Brooklyn in March. I’m getting really obsessed with Marina’s new Froot album, and I enjoyed her matching Froot headgear.

marina5cap

Check out the cool yellow eyeshadow.

It’s been a pretty cool summer in New York and it was quite pleasant on Randall’s Island that day, but it did get a little hot during Marina’s set and, as you can see, her backing musician was as amazed as I was that Marina didn’t sweat through her shiny, skintight catsuit.

marina6cap

“How is she doing that? I’m totally shvitzing in this black outfit!” — keyboard man.

After Marina, we got Little Dragon, a Swedish electronic dance music group. I was hyp-mo-tized (as David Letterman might say) by singer Yukimi Nagano‘s origami-looking skirt, cropped jacket and cool hairdo. Those were much more appealing to me than the ear-destroying bass that brought me back to the trauma of being next to the speakers for a performance by DJ Tiësto last September. This time, at least we had earplugs. Thanks for providing those, Jessie!

dragons1cap

Doesn’t Yukimi look fabulous?

Bjork was up next. It was the third time I’d seen her this year, and the first time I was able to take photos of the performance. You know I love my concert photos! This time, Bjork was dressed as a fuzzy butterfly. I heart her!

bjork2cap

She’s a must-see.

Jessie and I got to the stage around 2 p.m. and Bjork finished around 8:15 p.m. The headline performer of the evening at GovBallNYC stage was electronic music superstar Deadmau5, who was coming on at 9:30. After Bjork, I was a little like, “Nooooooo,” about staying longer because it was starting to dawn on me that I don’t like EDM all that much. Jessie was like ,”Yessssss,” and considering that Deadmau5 is THE famous EDM guy, I decided to give it a try. Besides, he has that cool dead-mouse helmet, which I figured was worth seeing in person.

deadmau51cap

The Mau5 emerges from his pod.

The set was unexpectedly interesting because Deadmau5 kept losing power. At various points, he had words with his crew, walked to the front of the stage to do an ironic Ashlee Simpson style jig and killed time with a few pushups while girls around me yelled consolingly, “We love you, Joel!” (Superfans like to address artists by their birth names to show how intimate they are with their faves.)

pushup

Might as well squeeze in some exercise.

Jessie and I stayed till the bitter end and, as we walked back across the bridge connecting Randall’s Island to Manhattan, I thought, “Okay, I’ve seen the mouse king. That’s enough EDM for me.” My aversion to EDM started with that Tiësto set last year. I used to like this shit! Even in 2002, as Eminem rapped (incorrectly, as it turned out), “It’s over, nobody listens to techno,” in his song “Without Me,” I still liked Em’s target, Moby, a little, and English DJ Fatboy Slim a lot. I mean, how can you not love Fatboy Slim’s video for “Weapon of Choice,” which starred Christopher Walken and was a six-time winner at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2001.

Admittedly, I never saw Fatboy Slim live while standing right in front of his speakers, and I’ve recently seen a lot of EDM in that situation, so maybe that’s why I feel like the previous techno generation didn’t rely on stupid-loud bass that drowned out anything interesting about the music. Maybe the old-timers would suck as bad as the new ones under those concert conditions. All I know is that I once liked this type of music, and now I hate it, and that was before I was exposed to a lot more of it on the last day of Governors Ball.

On Sunday, Jessie and I were completely focused on seeing Lana del Rey (happy birthday, girl!) Jessie got there super-early — around 8:30 a.m. — to be one of the first 10 people on line for Lana’s 9:15 p.m. performance. I joined her at 11 a.m., to wait for the gates to be opened around 12:30 p.m. We were very concerned about getting a good spot because Lana was relegated to a smaller stage, with no center aisle, so the only clear view was going to be from the front row. And then … scandal! It turned out a bunch of fans sneaked in early and took up the whole front row. First, security said they’d be expelled from the festival. Then different security moved the sneaky peeps away from the stage, but kept them well ahead of the rest of us, meaning that as soon as doors were officially opened, the gatecrashers would be right back on the barricade. (Governors Ball security! You suck!) When the gates opened, Jessie ran like the wind, as she’s done before, and secured for us and our new friend Britt the last front-row spots on the far, far stage-right side, directly in front of the gigantic speakers. It wasn’t ideal but it was better than nothing … and we only had about 9 hours to go.

waiting game

While we waited, I was privately cracking up that so many “experts” said Lana’s career was dead in the water after her much-criticized 2012 Saturday Night Live performance. At the time, pre-disgraced news anchor Brian Williams said it was “one of the worst outings in SNL’s history.” Just think! If we had known what a bullshitter Williams was, we would have known to expect that Lana would develop a gate-crashingly passionate fanbase and that her 2014 album Ultraviolence would debut in Billboard’s No. 1 position while, in 2015, Williams would be delivering a crap apology for making up stories.

While I’m expressing my irritation with the smug know-it-alls who know exactly how to predict a career trajectory, let me add that I’m also annoyed by people who say Lana is a studio creation, with an emphasis on the fact that she apparently got her lips done and that she started using a glamorous stage name instead of her more prosaic birth name of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Grant. Look at some of the dudes I’ve mentioned in this post: Deadmau5 (né Joel Thomas Zimmerman); Eminem (Marshall Mathers); Moby (Richard Melville Hall); Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook); and Christopher Walken (Ronald Walken). And does anyone actually think that the guys in the Ramones were all relatives? Not a single one of them was born with last name Ramone; it was inspired by “Paul Ramon,” a stage name Paul McCartney used in his very, very early days. Most of the Ramones changed their first names too. Stage names are really common in the music business, so folks can just fuck off with criticizing Lana for using one.

The only act I appreciated before Lana showed was the rapper Logic (government name Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, for real).

Logic has a good stage presence.

Logic has a good stage presence.

Other than Logic, there were two bass-heavy rock acts and the rest was … EDM. Of course. All of us in the front row who had earplugs still kept our hands clamped over our ears for most of the performances. The security stationed between the stage and the audience occasionally offered their spare earplugs to fans who looked like they were about to pass out from bass overload. I swear, you can feel that bass in your heart; it might be contraindicated for people with pacemakers. But it was all worth it for Lana!

The beautiful #LizzyGrant. (Her fans hashtag her real name on Instagram to show how close they are to her. Mmm-hmm.)

The beautiful Lizzy Grant. (Her fans hashtag her real name on Instagram to show how close they are to her. Mmm-hmm.)

Jessie had warned me that Lana’s fans are some of the most ferocious around, and she was right. All that emo, “Born to Die” energy! The crush put the 2011 Lollapalooza audience for Eminem to shame. The fans screamed like banshees when Lana touched her hair, when she gave a little moan, when she lit up a cigarette …

lanasmoke.jpg

… so when Lana left the stage mid-performance to collect roses, notes and kisses from the other side of the front row, heads nearly exploded. I was hopeful she’d come to our side too, but I was a little relieved that she didn’t. I was already in a tight squeeze; I think if I’d gotten within touching distance, the fans behind me would have suppressed me like a guinea pig in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Zoomed in.

Zoomed in.

I definitely want to see Lana again … and I THINK I’d even suffer through another EDM act to do it. What am I saying? Hearing “Cola” live is worth death by bass.




Friday, June 19, 2015

I went to a party last night and, as you might have guessed from yesterday’s post, I wore my vintage Zandra Rhodes dress/caftan.

Hair-styling goddess Julie Matos of the Warren-Tricomi salon put a lot of thought into the right ‘do for my outfit. Zandra is famous for her bright pink hair …

… and Julie also took note of the towering hairstyles on the models in one of Zandra’s 2006 runway shows.

She combined the two ideas to give me a pink updo.

sideviewresize

Here’s how it looked from the front.

frontview

And here’s the full look.

zandratwirl1resizeWhat Wendy Wore
Dress: Vintage Zandra Rhodes (acquired circa 2006 at a vintage fair)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Jewelry: My own designs
Hair: Julie Matos
Makeup: Josie Torres

My designing friend Stacy Lomman came to the party with me, wearing a corset and skirt from her own Spring 2013 collection. We were a colorful pair.

wendyandstacyresize

Conventional wisdom says that gentlemen prefer blondes, but it seems to me like they’d rather think pink. I received all kinds of (polite) compliments on my hair last night. Stacy and I decided that it’s because pink is such a cheerful color. Maybe that’s why Zandra Rhodes has stuck with it so long. Pink hair: the unnatural anti-depressant!

The particular pink hairpiece I was wearing has an interesting provenance: Julie saved it from the 1992/1993 an early ’90s Chanel haute couture show that she worked on (we’re scouring YouTube to figure out what year it was). The hairpieces for the show were specially dyed to complement the clothes, and all the biggest supermodels were on the runway. I feel like my hair is famous by association!




Thursday, June 18, 2015

I can’t remember when I bought my hand-painted, vintage Zandra Rhodes dress, but the last photo I have of  me wearing it is from 2006.

zandra cropped

Click for the 2007 post that mentioned this dress.

I believe I wore it a couple of times that year.

While searching for some images of Zandra Rhodes, I came across this 2003 picture of Mary-Kate Olsen wearing a Rhodes dress to the Charlie’s Angels movie premiere in Los Angeles.

olsens-09_v_30mar12_pa_b_592x888

Photo via British Vogue. Click for source.

The Olsen sisters are known for their pouty poses, but they were quite smiley that night!

I feel like I need to wear my Zandra dress again soon … very, very soon.

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