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Thursday, May 26, 2016

In honor of my debut next week at JCK’s LUXURY jewelry show, here is some of the editorial coverage that JCK the organization and publication has given me over the years.

Last year, Brittany Siminitz, JCK Marketplace Manager, chose my NYC Taxi and Passenger Maneater ring for the Editors’ Picks page of the Jewelers’ Choice Awards supplement.


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Her colleague, Jennifer Heebner, had featured my Bull and Bullfighter Maneater Ring the year before. Jennifer’s story starts: “Who would’ve thought that a $10 trinket from a New York City street vendor could influence an artist for decades?” Read the rest here.

I had a ton of fun doing the “JCK Asks …” interview in 2012. (“We’ve all felt the urge to tell someone to STFU,” reads Melissa Rose Bernardo’s intro.)


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And FitzRoy the Cat, aka #thecatinthebowl, became a true supermeowdel when he and I were chosen for the “Jewelers & Pets” series last year.


Earring jackets inspired by FitzRoy. Click for original post.

My shoulder-brushing Cleopatra earrings in 18K gold made it to the JCK cover in 2013.


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As you can see, JCK and I are old friends so participating in the show is long overdue! If you’re going to be in Vegas, I’ll be in the Elite Enclave ballroom, booth LUXEE28. Read all about the virtual-reality project I’m participating in here. Want to make an appointment? Email me at info at wendybrandes dot com and I’ll get you on my calendar.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Love history? Love fashion? Love fashion history? Then I hope you can still grab New York Magazine’s “What We Wore” special issue (May 16-29, 2016) from the newsstand.  At least some of it is online starting here, but this is one of those editorials that works fantastically in print.

The cover line’s subtitle is “Centuries of Peacocking in the City,” so I expected the great photos but there’s so much more. I’m obsessed with the “What I Wore …” bite-size essays about clothes that bring back memories, including Bette Midler’s “…As a Go-Go Girl” (1965); Diane von Furstenberg’s “…When I was Ready to Give Up Everything” (1973); and Gisele’s “…As a Starving Model” (1997). The one closest to my heart is “…To Feel Invincible” by artist Robert Longo (1977) because that’s the quality I look for in all my clothes (and jewelry and lipstick).  It’s like the armor I put on every day.

There’s an essay by Amy Larocca on why New Yorkers have always worn black, with photos that date back to 1900, though other photos — such as Amy Arbus’s 1983 picture of a cheetah/leopard print outfit — prove we don’t always wear all black all the time.  The list of important stores warmed my heart with the inclusion of Paraphernalia, Charivari, Patricia Field, and my beloved Fiorucci.

I'm pretty sure my 1985 denim dress was from Fiorucci ... but who knows. I can barely remember what I did yesterday!

I’m pretty sure the denim dress I’m wearing in this 1985 photo of me and mom was from Fiorucci … but who knows. I can barely remember what I did yesterday!

Other essays celebrate fashion icons such as Diana Vreeland, Nan Kempner and Tina Chow. There’s a lineup of legendary sneakers; a recollection of clothes that scandalized; and a selection of runway shows that pushed fashion forward. As a bonus, there’s a previously unpublished 1966 shoot that Larry Fink did of Andy Warhol and his Factory crowd, including Edie Sedgwick, whose bio by Jean Stein I read over and over again in the 1980s.

But my favorite photo is one from 1926 that’s more evidence (in case we needed it) that trends we think are brand new are often anything but.  As I like to say, “Fashion repeats itself” and this lady has the choker and the anklet to prove it, as well as a type of faux tattoo. She didn’t stop there, though. You must read the description of the whole outfit to fully appreciate how wild it is.

I didn't want to poach the photo from New York's website and I couldn't find an embeddable version on Getty, so here's Edward the dog posing with the magazine. Click this photo and scroll down to view the original.

Here’s Edward the dog posing with the magazine. Click him, then scroll down to view the original photo.

New York quoted the photographer’s original caption:

 “This girl has all of [the] trends and she’s not loath to wear them at once: bell earrings, a dog collar worn as a necklace, a large beauty spot on her cheek, an ivory cigarette holder, a design to cover the vaccination mark on her arm, heavy bracelets, an anklet, a photo of a boyfriend on her stocking, an anklet watch, fancy garters worn below the knee and a mirror fastened to her wrist.”

I love a woman who knows that more is more. It’s also very interesting to learn that 1970s punks weren’t the first to wear dog collars as chokers. My question is: When are we going to bring back wearing photos of our significant others on our legs and mirrors on our wrists? Those things are due for a comeback!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

If you’re a jewelry professional attending the big Las Vegas trade shows next week, come visit me during my debut at JCK’s LUXURY show! I’ll be at booth LUXEE 28, part of the INTERVISION experience in the Elite Enclave Ballroom at Mandalay Bay. You’ll be able to see my Maneater rings in person.

dragoninviteYou’ll also see them in a virtual reality “Store of the Future,” which will be presented by CEEK VR and Richline. You’re going to feel like you’re in a futuristic jewelry store, as 3D versions of the jewelry pop up and spin around to give you a view from all angles, along with background information, audio commentary, and video of me talking about my inspiration.

Image converted using ifftoany

The virtual reality store. Click to enlarge.

An “augmented reality” experience also provides information about a design when users place their phones or tablet over the jewelry.

I’m excited to be involved in shaking up the retail scene.  These days, it’s so easy for people to shop at home — or, increasingly, by mobile — that brick-and-mortar retailers have to start offering something special. And not just special, but something useful that takes into account how people live/act/shop now. What I really like about the CEEK VR/Richline concept is that it incorporates our phones. From the retailer’s point of view, if people won’t put down their phones, why not use those phones in a meaningful way? As for the shopper, it’s brilliant. Let’s face it, most sane people don’t enjoy going into stores and encountering bored salespeople who act like you’re dirt looking for something to soil. On the other hand, it’s stressful when you walk in and overeager salespeople swarm everywhere, asking, “Can I help you?” before you’ve even had a chance to look around. With augmented reality, you can do online-style researching IN the store while you get our bearings and then have the sales associates on hand for immediate assistance and purchasing gratification. No “live chat,” call to an overseas help desk, or post-purchase shipping necessary.

This is an especially good match for my jewelry because there’s a LOT of back story to each one of my designs: elaborate inspiration concepts, challenging manufacturing processes, hundreds of gems, unexpected heft, and moving parts. I’ve always said that you can’t quickly eyeball one of my pieces and totally appreciate it. (That’s why the gorgeous clients who buy from my website frequently write to me to say the jewelry is even better than they hoped.) You have to experience the design. The more you get to know a piece of my jewelry, they more you’ll love it. Guaranteed.

I’m looking forward to meeting some industry folks in Vegas who are ready to do this thing!


Monday, May 23, 2016

I was planning to write about the fashion at last night’s Billboard Music Awards, but Game of Thrones is the only thing I can think about.


If anyone can find social-media accounts of the person who created this, I’d like to give credit!

My designing friend Stacy Lomman, who watched the show with me, was doubly traumatized. Not only did we learn that poor Hodor had been unable to voice anything but his slurred version of “Hold the door!” for most of his life, but then I insisted on talking at her for an hour about whether or not Bran Stark’s time-travel abilities make him the accidental supervillain of the show.

As an Apple ad warned us recently, time travel is dangerous …

… especially if you get caught in a causal loop. It’s like that episode of Family Guy where baby Stewie’s time machine accidentally sends him (and Brian the dog) out of the space-time continuum. While trying to get back into the continuum, Stewie creates the Big Bang, which in turn creates the universe … which ultimately leads to the creation of Stewie Griffin … who then causes the Big Bang … which creates the universe … Ugh! It’s best to stay away from time travel entirely. At least Stewie creates a whole universe! Bran Stark’s irresponsible time traveling made poor Wylis the stable boy lose his mind and wind up repeating “Hodor” for decades until he finally gets to the moment in his life in which he has to “hold the door” … to save Bran from the zombie attack precipitated by Bran. Thanks for both everything and nothing, Bran!

There are so many good recaps of this episode online but Slate’s is my favorite.


Speaking of time travel, I felt like I had stepped back into the 1980s when I saw Rihanna on Billboard’s pink carpet. At first glance, her dress reminded me of the Parachute vest I wore in ’85 and ’86.

This might be the sole surviving glimpse of that Parachute vest.

This might be the sole surviving glimpse of that Parachute vest.

Close enough! The big-shouldered mini dress was from Thierry Mugler’s Spring 1988 collection.

I think Rihanna looks better in that oversize style now than any of us did back in the day. Further proof that she can wear absolutely anything. I do wish I kept that vest from Parachute though. If only I’d had my “homegrown vintage” epiphany sooner!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

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

And on Instagram, I did a whole series of videos featuring my jewelry designs with moving parts.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The gorgeous Trace Shelton of InDesign Magazine followed up April’s “Five Questions” online interview with me by featuring my Maneater jewelry designs in this month’s print edition.


Click to enlarge.

Thanks, Trace!

If you’re in the jewelry business and are attending the upcoming JCK LUXURY trade in Las Vegas, you can see these pieces in person. You’ll also be able to experience them in another way at the same time, because they’re part of a “Store of the Future” virtual reality experience presented by CEEK VR and Richline. It’s going to be very cool! Email me at info at wendybrandes dot com to set up an appointment.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Here’s a political throwback: Anthony Weiner, the former New York Congressman and failed mayoral candidate who was brought down by sexting scandals. He’s the subject of the new documentary Weiner, by Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman, who were given extensive access because they were there to shoot a political comeback. Instead, they were flies on the wall for Weiner’s self-destruction. MrB and I went to a screening tonight and I highly recommend seeing this fascinating movie (and not just because Elyse is a friend of MrB’s.).

I was so amused by the "Vote Weiner" button party favor.

I was so amused by the “Vote Weiner” button party favor.

As the A.V. Club review of the documentary notes, Weiner seems to be addicted to arguing and attention more than anything else. His wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, comes off as pained but no one’s victim … usually. But the breakout star at my screening was definitely the campaign staffer with the “tick-tock plan” who sucks fiercely at a Jamba Juice, then a cigarette, while trying to cope with the latest disaster. Oh, and there’s a flat-faced cat!

My outfit had some throwback elements too.

weineroutfitWhat Wendy Wore
Jacket: Alexander McQueen (2003)
T-shirt: Splendid
Jeans: Those Madewell ones again (2016)
Shoes: Dries Van Noten shoes (previously seen in 2009; I have to figure out when I got them!)
Purse: Louis Vuitton (2001)

Here’s another throwback: I wore this McQueen jacket in 2010 in London, during which time I saw a play that was written all in verse. That inspired me to write a blog post in iambic pentameter. I worked for hours on that post … while I was supposed to be on vacation. Looking back at it, I think I did a pretty good job. Revisit it here.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press had its annual awards dinner at the Pierre Hotel last night, and MrB and I were there.

RCFP is different from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the nonprofit that MrB chaired for six years, though both are excellent organizations.  The Reporters Committee is focused on legal issues facing U.S. journalists trying to do their jobs. It provides pro bono legal representation and other legal resources to protect First Amendment Rights. CPJ monitors actions taken against press around the globe, very often in nations with nothing resembling our freedom of the press. As its website says, “CPJ reports on violations in repressive countries, conflict zones, and established democracies alike.” It also says, “Every year, hundreds of journalists are attacked, imprisoned, or killed. For more than 30 years, CPJ has been there to defend them and fight for press freedom.” In addition to offering legal assistance, it has organized successful mailings protesting the imprisonment of journalists; met with government leaders to demand the end to murders of journalists, which are often carried out with total impunity; and helped threatened journalists relocate to other countries.

At last night’s RCFP dinner, NBC’s longtime news anchor, Tom Brokaw, won an award for distinguished service. I shook his hand and ran away in order to avoid a repeat of my previous mortifying meetings with him. MrB stopped to chat though.

Tom had to give his speech and hustle out to catch a flight … maybe he was already on his way to France to receive the Legion of Honor later this week.

I kept imagining he was looking in my direction thinking, "Don't I have a restraining order against that woman?!"

Tom Brokaw is looking in my direction thinking, “Don’t I have a restraining order against that woman?!”

MrB was pleased to see Alberto Ibarguen and Eric Newton — his friends and colleagues from the Knight Foundation — recognized on the same day Knight and Columbia University (my alma mater) launched their $60 million First Amendment Institute. I sat next to Eric at dinner and he asked me if I remembered the first time anyone praised my writing. And I do! I wrote a poem about winter in the second grade. I asked him the same question and was puzzled when he said his freshman year of college. It turns out that he was good at math and science, unlike a lot of us future English majors, and his father wanted him to become an astronaut. As a result, he didn’t get into writing until he was out from under the parental roof. That change sure worked out well for all the current and future journalists who are going to benefit from the Knight/Columbia project! Eric gets bonus props from me for taking an on-stage selfie with Alberto.

Alberto and Eric were introduced by MrB’s old friend (and my newer friend) Marty Baron of the Washington Post and the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight, in which he was portrayed by Liev Schreiber.


Marty giving his introduction.

I think I can greet Marty with the words, “Hey, how’s the movie star???” maybe one more time before he joins Tom Brokaw and Bill Clinton in thinking that I’m totally awkward and inappropriate.

The awardee with the wildest cheering section was Hearst general counsel Eve Burton, who has famously gotten a lot of journalists out of hot water.

Eve Burton.

Eve Burton.

She was introduced by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who were reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle when they broke many stories on athletes who were supplied with steroids through a company known as BALCO. Baseball player Barry Bonds and track-and-field star Marion Jones were two of the most famous names listed as BALCO customers. Eve came to the rescue in 2006 when Mark and Lance were threatened with 18 months of jail if they didn’t give up their sources for the BALCO story. SMH. As the Los Angeles Times pointed out, that would have been more prison time “than the combined sentences of all the defendants convicted in the steroid scandal they helped expose.”

After the awards dinner, I made a new friend downstairs at the Pierre, where I posed for an outfit photo.

rcfpresizeWhat Wendy Wore
Top: Donna Karan (2015, previously seen here with the same skirt and shoes)
Skirt: Donna Karan (2015)
Shoes: Prada (2015)
Purse: Louis Vuitton (2014)

All the elements of that outfit are unusually recent for me, but they were balanced out by the coat I wore.


Unexpected limo rides should always be toasted with empty Champagne glasses.

I got that already-vintage-at-the-time Lillie Rubin coat from Allan & Suzi between 1992 and 1995. Here I am wearing it in Dublin in 1997.

Click for original post.

Click for original post.

Yesterday’s photo of it was taken inside a white stretch limo. MrB and I were trying to hail a taxi after the dinner — and I was just suggesting Uber — when the giant limo rolled up. I was like, “Nooooo, go away,” but the driver offered MrB a taxi-level fare, so we got in and drove home in style.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I recently read the following advice from portrait painter Chuck Close. He was talking about art, but it applies to a lot of life situations where we wait and wait and wait till the “right moment” to fulfill our dreams.

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

Chuck is like Nike, saying “Just do it.” But think about it! It’s true. Once you start trying you’re bound to get somewhere, so get to work.

(I can’t remember who pointed this out to me, so if it was you, let me know!)

Monday, May 16, 2016

If you’re one of those people who hate spoilers … too bad! Because the big boat sank in Titanic, “Rosebud” was a sled in Citizen Kane, and a naked Khaleesi (aka Daenerys Targaryen) reminded us why one of her many nicknames is “the Unburnt” by walking through flames again at the end of last night’s Game of Thrones.

I’ve always wondered whether Season One’s fire scene — the one that also led to Khaleesi’s “Mother of Dragons” moniker — was a one-off magical moment or proof that Daenerys was made of flame-retardant material. I’ve never read A Song of Fire and Ice, the George R.R. Martin books on which Game of Thrones is based, but readers are stressed out because Daenerys isn’t necessarily immune to fire in the source material. As those people point out, Martin wrote to a fan in 1999 that Daenerys would “probably not” repeat her original fire-repelling feat. Of course, that was 17 years ago and not a totally definitive answer, so let the show keep doing its own thing!

Anyway, I loved the scene, especially how powerful Daenerys looked in her nudity.

The only drawback was Daenerys is so very white, and the Dothraki who knelt before her in awe after she burned up their rape-y leaders all have darker complexions. Awkward, but at least the Dothraki are strong people and she ruled over a group of them before, so it was a homecoming of sorts. It was definitely less cringe-y than Daenerys’s white-savior crowdsurfing atop a mass of adoring, freed and very brown slaves at the end of Season Three. The second-hand embarrassment was strong with that scene.

Click for the whole awful clip.

Click for the whole awful clip.

Anyway, watching Daenerys kick ass reminded me that I’ve been meaning to share a kickass interview that Entertainment Weekly did with 18-year-old Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark on the show. While answering a question on feminism and Game of Thrones, she said:

“…I also feel like we should stop calling feminists ‘feminists’ and just start calling people who aren’t feminist ‘sexist’ – and then everyone else is just a human. You are either a normal person or a sexist. People get a label when they’re bad.”

I fucking love that! Out of the mouths of babes, right?

Finally, props to the person who put this together for Brienne of Tarth, another one of the show’s strong ladies. We all noticed how the Wildling Tormund checked her out!

Who could blame him? After all …

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