Monday, September 15, 2014
MrB and I went to California on Labor Day weekend to visit family and friends. We stayed near the beach in Santa Monica and it was so beautiful, daytime …
… and nighttime.
The buildings were pink, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky …
… and the Champagne sangria was delicious.
MrB and I had a good time on the Ferris wheel …
… and in the Pacific Ocean.
I always have a good time with Boo!
Right near where we were staying, in the Brentwood Country Mart, is Broken English Jewelry, which carries my jewelry line. I stopped in to take a look at some of my pieces there. Pantone has declared aquamarine to be the #1 color for women for Spring 2015, so it was a good time to take a few photos of my one-of-a-kind, 18K-gold-and-aquamarine Livia poison ring.
Before we went home, we drove to Hollywood …
… to have our traditional brunch with the L.A.-based portion of the family: MrB’s two eldest daughters, two grandsons, one son-in-law, and one first wife. This time we also enjoyed the company of MrB’s son, who flew out from Chicago. Basically, we were only missing one daughter and one second wife. MrB presented Wife #1 with a nice bottle of Irish whiskey because it would have been their 50th wedding anniversary … if they were still married! Wife #3 (me) took celebratory photos. We have a very civilized extended family. Later, I wore a large plastic spider as a hat, courtesy of my eldest grandson.
That day, I was wearing a t-shirt that I had been dubious about.
I got the top because it has safety pins on it and, thanks to my love for punk music and fashion, I have an enduring passion for safety pins as decoration.
When I bought the shirt, I was so excited about the pins that I barely registered that the lettering behind them says, “In Love We Trust.” Ugh! I am not about the word “love” in fashion or jewelry. Hearts are fine with me, because they can be made visually interesting, but writing out “love” makes me think of those script nameplate necklaces that read “Love” and “Breathe” and “Faith.” Those are everywhere; you can get them from any Chinese jewelry manufacturer at any price. So unimaginative! When it comes to word necklaces I prefer funny, edgy concepts like IDGAF, TWERK, BOSSY and NINJA. But, seeing as I was stuck with the shirt, I chopped off the short sleeves and finally wore it. I was gratified when my son-in-law said, “Cool safety pins.” He didn’t notice the text either!
Speaking of safety pins, one of the first pieces I wanted to create when I started designing jewelry in 2005 was a gold and diamond safety pin. While I was playing around with my idea, I decided that so many people had already done safety-pin jewelry that I was “too late.” Since that time, I’d say hundreds, if not thousands, of new safety-pin designs have come out. I learned a lesson there. Trends can last a decade and some jewelry themes — snakes, for instance — are eternal. Even the expression “There is nothing new under the sun” is ancient! (It’s been around since Old Testament times.) Now I go where my inspiration takes me and trust that my interpretation of a theme is what will make my version special. Hmmm. Now that I think of it, even the “Love” necklace concept could be Wendy-ized. Stay tuned!
Sunday, September 14, 2014
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week:
- Wednesday: What I wore to Zang Toi’s 25th anniversary show. Plus, People blames the celebrities affected by the nude-photo-hacking incident.
- Thursday: The thirteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
- Friday: The Jewel of the Month is the PUSHY necklace, as seen on journalist Jill Abramson.
By the way, People has not responded to my request for a comment on the awful item it ran. The magazine has ignored me on Twitter and I’ve already contacted the public relations office by phone (once) and by email (twice). I look forward to contacting them again tomorrow!
Friday, September 12, 2014
Zang Toi’s Spring 2015 runway show this week reminded me that I had an outfit photo with a Zang dress that I’ve been meaning to post since May!
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Zang Toi (2007?)
Purse: Prada (2007)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
I’d have to ask Zang exactly what season this dress is from, but I probably got it in 2007, seeing as the first photo I have of it is from September of that year.
I wore it to a dinner for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. RCFP provides free legal assistance to journalists.
The dinner took place five days after the controversial firing of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson — the first woman to hold that job at the paper. One of the dinner honorees happened to be New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger. (Note: MrB and I know both Jill and Arthur.)
The dinner attendees were quite titillated by this, but, while Arthur praised Jill as a “powerful and outspoken advocate for a free press,” he didn’t say anything specific about recent events in his speech. (Looking back through my email from that night, I see that I emailed myself that short quote from Arthur just a few minutes after emailing a friend at a noisy nearby table, “Tell your table to be quiet! You’re like the bad kids in the back of the classroom!!” My friend replied, “They’re all lawyers, what do you expect.”)
Ten days later, both Jill and Arthur attended the Pulitzer Prize lunch. MrB — who was a member of the Pulitzer board from 1999 to 2007, and the chairman of the board in his final year — accompanied Jill. After, he told me that a photographer had corralled him, Jill, Arthur and Stephen Adler of Reuters for the journalism equivalent of an awkward family photo. It wasn’t released to the Columbia Journalism Review until about a month later.
“On May 28, Columbia University photographer Eileen Barroso captured a historic, if uncomfortable New York Times moment at the Pulitzer Prize luncheon: the last portrait of former Executive Editor Jill Abramson and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. in public together for what will likely be a long time.”
Every time I look at this photo I laugh out loud. Look at MrB’s face! He’s like, “OMG!!!! I CAN’T EVEN!”
Speaking of Jill, I wrote in May that her experience gave me the inspiration for a new word necklace: PUSHY. I did indeed follow through on that and sent Jill a gold-plated silver necklace as a gift. I was very excited when she emailed me last week to tell me she had worn the necklace for a video interview she did at Re/code‘s Code/Media New York event. On Re/code’s site, the introduction to Jill’s interview reads:
“Jill Abramson says she can’t explain, precisely, why she was fired from the New York Times’ top editing job in May. But she’s happy to talk about it.
And she’s happy to wink at her situation as well, by showing up to an interview with Re/code’s Kara Swisher wearing a necklace with charms that spell out ‘Pushy.'”
Woot! Here’s a screen cap that shows the necklace.
Jill had a very interesting conversation with Kara (I also know Kara; in fact, I once tumbled through a hole in the floor of her under-renovation house). I recommend you watch it all 35 minutes of the interview. Jill’s just a cool, smart, groundbreaking, badass lady. And I love that she’s flaunting her tats in the sleeveless dress she wore.
I figure this makes it the right time for the PUSHY necklace to be my Jewel of the Month. The piece is made to order and available in silver …
… and 18K gold.
Here’s how the gold version looks on my gorgeous right-hand woman Eryn.
If you’re a badass woman but PUSHY isn’t your thing, you might be interested in May’s Jewels of the Months: my BOSS and BOSSY necklaces. I also do custom word necklaces, so if you don’t find what you want among the 22 (and counting!) word necklace styles on my website, holla at me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com with your request.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
I have not yet been to 9/11 Memorial Museum, but acquaintances who have gone photographed a display that tells the story of the Wall Street Journal’s Sept. 12, 2001, issue.
That quote across the top — “I want a six-column headline!” — is from MrB. He was the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal from 1991 to 2007. In 2001, the paper’s offices were in the World Financial Center, across the street from the World Trade Center. I was in a different part of the World Financial Center, working for Lehman Brothers. When I heard a tremendous explosion at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, I ran to a window and saw debris falling down, but I couldn’t make out what had happened. As I’ve written before, I hurried back to my desk and started sending emails, locating my employees, and checking CNN online. I also called MrB and asked, “What was that explosion at the World Trade Center?”, hoping that his journalists would already have the answer. MrB asked, “What explosion?” I said, “The one that shook this whole building! I think you better go look out the window!” and hung up to continue searching for news. Reports that a plane had hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower started popping up on the web. At first, there was speculation that it was an accident, but then, at 9:03 a.m., the second plane struck the South Tower. I called MrB again while I tried to get my few employees organized to leave the building. He and I agreed to meet between our buildings, but when I walked outside, I was blocked from going towards our meeting spot. I didn’t have a cell phone then, and, even if I had, cell phones weren’t working. I had a working (non-phone-enabled) BlackBerry, but MrB didn’t have one, so that was it for communicating with him.
Instead, I emailed with a colleague in London, who was watching the news on the BBC. He told me about the attack on the Pentagon and advised me to head uptown quickly. Thanks to him, my group was safely away when the first tower came down. I said nervously to the people around me, “I’m sure MrB is okay. We left at the same time and we’re okay, so he must be okay too.” I figured he would have been heading north, away from the WTC, like us. I didn’t realize he had been forced to exit south. The Trade Center and surrounding buildings were on the tip of Manhattan, right next to the water, so there was no way for MrB and thousands of other people to put any distance between themselves and the catastrophe. The choking dust and debris from the collapsing buildings rained down upon them. MrB covered his mouth and nose with his tie. Later, he said:
“I remember saying to myself, ‘You don’t die of smoke inhalation in the open air’ … It’s not always true, I knew, but it was a nice thing to tell myself at the time.”
I made it to my friend Kevin’s apartment and used his home phone to leave messages for MrB. Eventually, MrB, who’d gotten home by foot and bus, called me back. I’d been fairly calm till then, but as soon as I heard MrB’s voice, I bawled, “I CAN’T FIND RANDI!” Before I left the World Financial Center, I had darted back and forth between my office and my employee Randi’s desk several times, but I didn’t see her. I called her extension and got no answer. I thought she might have left ahead of me, so I went to the lobby to meet my other people, but I kept worrying. When I got to Kevin’s apartment, I tried to call Randi at home, but I didn’t have her number, and when I called information, it turned out she was unlisted. MrB told me he’d take care of everything and he did, calling 411 and telling the operator that during a national emergency, she simply had to give him the unlisted number. She did and then we all took turns calling Randi’s home answering machine to enjoy her outgoing message, recorded in her fabulous New Yawk accent: “Randi and Ross are safe from the explosion.”
It’s still amazing to me that MrB took the time to do this while helping to coordinate the Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning next-day coverage of the terrorist attack. Thank you, MrB. You’re my hero.
To fully understand the huge effort the paper’s staff put in to cover the the news after having to abandon the New York office, read this 2011 story by Roy J. Harris Jr.:
And, as I’ve mentioned before, one of the standout stories in the September 12 issue was written by John Bussey, who was still in the Journal’s office when the Twin Towers came down:
- “I Thought Everybody Else Was Lost”
- 10 Years Later: “Essential Acts of Witness”
- 10 Years Later: The Weak Horse
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I was managing editor of People Magazine’s website in 1999, and I’ve subscribed to the magazine ever since I left that job. Today, I was flipping through the Sept. 15, 2014, issue and came across an item about the recent celebrity nude-photo hacking. Because it slut-shamed and blamed actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton for their own violation, I initially thought it was a story about comedian Ricky Gervais, who was criticized for “joking” on Twitter (in a totally matter-of-fact and humorless tone) that celebrities who don’t want their nude photos exposed shouldn’t take nude photos. But no! It was an editorial comment from People itself — interestingly, the only item in the magazine’s Scoop section that was minus a byline — declaring that celebs should “Just Say No to Naked Selfies.”
This piece reminds me of the time on Family Guy when Peter Griffin says, “Yeah Brian, you’re doing the same thing that Mia Farrow did to that Chinaman that Woody Allen brought home from the circus!” and Lois responds, “Peter, hold on to that thought, because I’m gonna explain to you when we get home all the things that are wrong with that statement.” There are THAT many things wrong with People’s short item.
For a start, despite trying to protect itself with a “rightly so” aside that feigns a modicum of sympathy for the victims, the magazine says the celebrity women claimed a violation and blamed a hacker, as if those things were in doubt. Then there’s People’s uneasy relationship with technology. People Magazine couldn’t deal with the Internet when I was there in 1999 — four years after a top executive called the corporate parent’s Internet operations a “black hole” — and it still can’t. The Scoop item puts the word “cloud” in quotations, like it’s not a real thing that its own employees use all the time. Then it compares the cloud’s security to the rhythm method for birth control and, in case you missed the point, quotes the definition of as atmospheric, weather cloud from the Oxford Dictionaries. OMG! All our Internet security depends upon water vapor!
The capper is the last line about Upton:
“…and Upton will go back to doing whatever it is that Upton does, which — as far as we can tell — involves taking almost-naked pictures for magazine covers.”
I. Am. Astonished. First, Upton is a professional model and if she chooses to disrobe partially or completely in order to make a living in front of the lens that does not mean her body is up for grabs at all times. I mean, I sell jewelry, but if I say a particular piece is not for sale, that doesn’t make it legal for you to take it from me by force.
Additionally, those “magazine covers” People refers to so derisively include Sports Illustrated.
Sports Illustrated is a Time Inc. publication, as is People. People’s staffers are throwing shade at Kate for doing business with their own corporate colleagues! (Earlier this year, People celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue by calling it a “landmark development for … the magazine industry” and selecting the 17 most memorable covers. Not a word about the long-running criticism of the swimsuit issue, which has been called sexist by numerous critics over the decades.)
Making its anti-woman attitude crystal clear, People included a shirtless photo of actor John Stamos — one that the actor willingly shared with the public — with the caption, “The exception to this public service announcement is John Stamos … who should continue to post shirtless pictures on Instagram anytime he wants.” No slut-shaming for John; apparently, men’s bodies just aren’t inherently bad like women’s. There’s some kind of Adam and Eve original sin stuff going down here.
The ultimate absurdity is that People thrives on getting private information about celebrities. If celebrities don’t cooperate, the magazine does “write-arounds,” interviewing other sources and running the story anyway, “writing around” the lack of a real interview. (Write-arounds can be great investigative reporting at certain publications, but I don’t recall seeing many of those in People. A People write-around signals a lack of access, not an important expose.) Basically, People WANTS to get its hands on celebrities’ private stuff but then mocks celebrities for having anything private.
This is big bucks for Time Inc. People was the biggest part of the company when I was there and in the ensuing 15 years, despite all the new competition online, the magazine is still the most important Time Inc. property. Last month, in a story on new People editor Jess Cagle, the New York Times reported:
“People generates more revenue than any of the company’s more than 90 magazines and 45 websites, bringing in $1.49 billion in 2013, according to estimates from the magazine industry consultant John Harrington.”
That’s a lot of money dependent on celebrities’ private business. If I were a famous female, I wouldn’t cooperate with People in any way until Jess Cagle publishes an apology and promises to review the coverage of women by both People and Entertainment Weekly, where he is editorial director. Until then, let his reporters reduce themselves to calling your local Starbucks and interviewing your barista for a write-around. Watch them wind up writing about what size chai tea latte you order while you publish your wedding photos elsewhere!
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Last night, I went to my designing friend Zang Toi’s Spring 2015 runway show at Lincoln Center. The show was also a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Zang’s line. That’s a long run in fashion! You have to multiply fashion years the way you would dog years. Like, 25 years in fashion is at least 100 years in another industry.
As the show started, someone in the audience yelled out, “Happy anniversary!” and the whole crowd applauded. (Some fashion shows end with applause, but I haven’t been to too many of them that started with applause.) Zang, who grew up in Malaysia, called his new collection “The American Dream,” as a tribute to his adopted country.
I liked the sporty pieces that started the show, including the way they were styled with socks and heels. That’s a sex-ay combo. In fact, I’ve had a socks-and-sandals photo from Beyonce’s Tumblr sitting on my desktop since April.
If you’re not bold enough to do knee socks with your sandals, Zang’s ankle-sock style with booties is a little less intimidating.
A coat with a hand-painted “25th anniversary” lining was a hit.
But Zang’s gorgeous gowns are always the highlights for me. The “Palm Couture” shirt-waisted gown with silver accents is something I could easily see myself wearing.
This flowing orchid-printed halter gown moved beautifully.
The black-and-ivory, hand-beaded “All American Stripe” strapless gown really brought the drama. Hmmm … I think this is my favorite. I think I want this!
Jacqueline Zenn, who saw the photo above on Instagram, fell in love too.
I like your style, Jacqueline!
I always wear a Zang Toi design to Zang’s show. This time, I wore a green dress from his Spring 2010 collection.
You can see my hair better in this post-show photo with gorgeous model Deborah Fenker.
It was nice of Deborah to crouch down for that photo in order to make me look less midget-like. But, because I’ve previously posted a photo of us with the height difference on display, I think I should make that kind of picture a tradition.
Imagine how short I would look if I didn’t have two hairpieces piled on top of my head!
You can see a number of the looks from the show in my video of the finale. Watch till the end to see photographer Richard “Totally Cool” Renda chase Zang up and down the runway to present a cake and lead the other photographers in the singing of “Happy Anniversary.” Zang has an exuberant personality, yet he also can be very shy. Normally, at the end of shows, he’ll go to the end of the runway to take his bow — seeming totally comfortable in front of the big crowd — but he’s really anxious to get backstage. I thought Richard was going to have to pick Zang up and physically carry him back to the photographers! It was a great moment.
Congratulations to Zang Toi on 25 successful years and best wishes for at least 25 more!
UPDATED TO ADD: The combination of my reading glasses and strapless dress entertained several people, including my dear friend Debra.
I really have to become more adept with my new-ish contact lenses!
Sunday, September 7, 2014
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week.
- Wednesday: Thoughts about privacy and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
- Thursday: I think I need red overalls and a pink elephant at New York Fashion Week inspired me to share a sneak peak of a new design.
- Friday: New emoji jewelry designs, including “smiling poo” necklaces and lips earrings, are available at Story.
- Saturday: A Kardashian is wearing one of my favorite Moschino dresses and RIP, Simone Battle.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
I’m shocked and saddened to read that Simone Battle, an X Factor finalist who went on to become part of the group G.R.L., has died aged only 25. The cause of death hasn’t been officially confirmed but TMZ is claiming it was a suicide by hanging — the same as Alexander McQueen, L’Wren Scott and Robin Williams, all of whom I’ve also regretfully memorialized on this blog.
When I wrote about Williams, I said I disliked it when people totally unrelated to the sufferer called suicide — the worst outcome of the disease of depression — a selfish act. I’ll just repeat what I said then:
“…it seemed the general public had an idea that repeating the “selfish” accusation at every opportunity would somehow make all depressed people ashamed to act on their urges. However, you can’t shame folks out of depression or bipolar disorder any more than you can shame them out of diabetes or cancer.”
If Simone did indeed kill herself not even a month after Robin Williams’s death, I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that the many people who flung around the word “selfish” about him didn’t do anything to deter Simone. So, again, I’ll say:
“Because “selfish” doesn’t help anyone who is suffering but does make the speaker/writer feel superior, using that word about the suicide of a total stranger is literally the definition of selfish. Just don’t do it.”
The five-member group G.R.L. was started as a reboot of the Pussycat Dolls before it evolved into its own identity. I was aware of G.R.L. but took a more personal interest in it after a stylist for Cosmopolitan used my G, R and L letter rings for a shoot with the group that ran in this March’s issue. Member Emmalyn was the one who wore my rings, but the thing that I liked the most on that page was a quote from Simone on her “best love lesson.” She said:
“Don’t look for the perfect man. Just eat the chicken, and spit out the bones.”
So hilarious and true! I still want to embroider that on pillows to give to all my female friends.
Simone Battle — funny, talented and gorgeous, and gone much too soon.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
On second thought, don’t answer that “Who wore it best?” question in the title of this post! I can’t compete with a girl who is young enough to be my daughter. But here is 17-year-old Kylie Jenner — part of the Kardashian family — wearing a vintage Moschino dress in a shoot for Miss Vogue.
That photo gave me a “Samantha Jones and Hannah Montana wearing the same dress in Sex and the City 2” moment because this Moschino happens to be one of my favorite dresses. Here is a photo of it in 2010 …
… and here is one from last year.
I feel like I look extra-happy in pictures when I’m wearing this dress. I have so much fun seeing people react to it. Just don’t call me “the original cougar,” as Glamour described Kim Cattrall’s Samantha character in a story on her SATC2 scene with Miley Cyrus!
Friday, September 5, 2014
If you lived in New York City in the 1980s, you might be familiar with a nightclub called Area. From 1983 to 1987, Area transformed itself every six weeks or so to express different themes, which included Night, Gnarly, Surrealism and Suburbia. (I went there just once while I was in college and I felt so cool when I was offered heroin in the bathroom. I did decline though.)
The Area experience has now been turned into a shopping experience by Story, which is described on its website as “a retail space that has the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store.” I found out about Story when I sat at founder Rachel Shechtman’s table at this year’s Fashion Group International Rising Star Awards. (Rachel won the 2014 award for retail; I won for fine jewelry in 2012). Because my jewelry designs are all about story-telling, I made it a point to stay in touch with Story. It worked out! On Wednesday, Story unveiled its latest theme, called “STYLE.TECH,” and you can find many of my pop-culture- and social-media-inspired WENDYB by Wendy Brandes designs at the store.
The STYLE.TECH concept, which runs through October 12 and was done in partnership with Intel, offers what the store calls “interesting new integrations where technology, fashion and product design come together.” Wearables are the hot story these days, especially ahead of Apple’s launch of its iWatch next week, and Story is on the cutting edge with Ringly, a collection of good-looking wireless cocktail rings (honestly, you’d never guess that they’d vibrate when an important email comes in). There’s also a baby monitor-meets-onesie from Mimo Baby for your little one and an automatic tennis ball launcher from iFetch for your pooch. I can’t wait to try out the free-standing S.E.L.F.I.E. station, a webcam-enabled mirror. And I think my caffeine-addicted, right-hand woman Eryn is going to be verrrrry interested in the TopBrewer by Scanomat, a wireless, app-enabled coffee faucet that serves up custom drinks — anything from lattes to sparkling water – on-demand.
Story is carrying a selection of my emoji designs, so if you’ve ever wanted to try them on before buying, this is your chance. And I did two new designs exclusively for Story. The emoji lips …
… are available as silver and gold-plated single stud earrings.
And for the people who have been asking me for “smiling poo” emoji jewelry …
… your dreams have come true in both earring and necklace form.
Here’s a look at both the sterling-silver lips and poo studs.
Story is at 144 10th Ave. at 19th St. If you’re not in New York but need smiling poo jewelry (and I know so many of you need that!), you can get in touch with Story by phone at 212-242-4853 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy shopping!
UPDATED TO ADD: Out-of-towners who are unable to place an order at Story should contact me directly at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com.