Wednesday, March 18, 2015
I love redesigning old jewelry, especially engagement rings. A lot of my female customers didn’t have any input into their original rings. Others — like me — felt pressured to go with a style that was more traditional than what they truly wanted. Redesigning the old rings gives those wimmins a chance to express their personal aesthetic through the jewelry they wear most often.
The mother of all redesigning opportunities literally landed in my hands last week. My own gorgeous mother, BarbaraB, had to have her engagement ring cut off her finger when it couldn’t be budged ahead of a minor medical procedure. (All is fine, health-wise.)
When I visited my parents in Florida last week, BarbaraB gave me her ring to “fix,” but I said I could do better than that. I’ve been envisioning a particular new engagement-ring design for the past several months. I wasn’t going to create it for my inventory though. My bridal-jewelry customers want everything customized, from the stones they choose to the overall design. Their needs are so personal that I don’t keep any rings in stock. I wait until I get an order to add a new look to my gallery, at which point one ring often inspires another one. For example, the Siobhan perma-stacked stacking ring from my regular collection …
… inspired Susan’s engagement ring design …
… which, in turn, inspired Heather’s engagement ring.
As you can see, all three rings share the stacking-ring look (though, really, the various bands within each ring are attached in back). There’s even one band design that appears in all three rings. But each ring is unique.
I asked BarbaraB if she’d be up for a whole new look and she said yes, as long as it is ready for my parents’ 50th anniversary in December. I’m going to start on this ring next month and you can expect to see it on this blog later this year. All I can say for now is that BarbaraB’s new engagement ring will make as big a statement as my own ring does.
If you’re thinking about becoming engaged sometime soon, prepare to be inspired!
Monday, March 16, 2015
While visiting my parents in Florida last week, my gorgeous mother and I scoped out ultra-chic store Marissa Collections. I wanted to see if my jewelry designs would be a good fit for Marissa’s luxury jewelry department (yes!) but, of course, we couldn’t resist browsing the shoe department. I’d been keeping an eye out for a backup to a pair of black Prada wedges that I got in 2011 and have worn heavily, and there, in Marissa, was the same shoe. It was disguised by stripes and slightly tweaked straps, but it was still my shoe. I had to buy these.
I’ve always liked a striped shoe and so, apparently, do a lot of other people. These shoes got compliments everywhere I went. Even my father was thrilled by the shoes. “Wear the striped shoes!” he said every time we went out. He also tried to get me to wear one striped wedge and one black wedge, but I didn’t think Florida was ready for deliberately mismatched shoes yet. Mix-and-match earrings, yes. Shoes, no.
I was wearing the new shoes when I found a scrap of red carpet to pose on outside a movie theater playing 50 Shades of Grey. This photo and “I Know You,” Skylar Grey’s song from the soundtrack, are the closest I’m getting to that movie. The sign behind me read, “Are you curious?” Um … not at all.
If you check those credits, you’ll see that those shoes are by Dolce & Gabbana. But I’m not going to burn them (too expensive) or return them (too worn) despite the strange and stupid interview Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana did with Italy’s Panorama magazine. In case you missed it, they spoke out against gay adoption and complained that in-vitro fertilization produces “synthetic” children. This isn’t the first time that the designers — gay men who were romantic partners for many years — have said something self-hating: In 2013, Dolce laughed off the idea of gay marriage. I’ve always felt a little sorry for the duo for having internalized such anti-gay sentiment, though I’ve also wondered if they just like to say these things to be provocative. If it’s the latter, they’ve certainly achieved their goal by provoking feud-loving Elton John. Elton doesn’t play when it comes to his kids — who were conceived through IVF — and went off on Instagram, calling for a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana, while simultaneously giving the label what must surely be the most attention it has ever had. I’m dying to know if sales will go up or down. Maybe the brand will now be embraced by hordes of anti-gay-marriage customers … though that might be a little awkward what with Dolce and Gabbana being gay and all. Hmmm. These guys sure did paint themselves into a corner here. And who is even upset about IVF in 2015? The first “test-tube baby,” Louise Brown, is turning 37 this year! Get over it!
I don’t buy Dolce & Gabbana products in enough quantity to make a grand statement of personal boycott very meaningful, and I’m not giving up any of my old pieces unless Elton John reimburses me for them. Fortunately, I don’t have any items emblazoned with Dolce & Gabbana’s name that will need to go to a thrift shop lest I look like the guys’ No. 1 apologist. At the same time, I doubt I’ll be drifting toward the Dolce & Gabbana department in any high-end stores anytime soon. Fashion is supposed to make you feel fabulous, and thinking, “They’re the ones that said that dumb thing,” as you browse is not a fab feeling. Who can say how long such a distaste might last? I do believe John Galliano has changed his life since disgracing himself in 2011 and that he deserves his new chance at Margiela. On the other hand, I’ve never gotten over Elton’s own 2012 rant about Madonna, in which he said she looked like a “fucking fairground stripper,” and that “Her tour is a disaster and it couldn’t happen to a bigger cunt.” (Her tour was the top-grossing tour that year.) Oh Elton, you know all about being a bitch with a big mouth.
Maybe that’s why I imagine that, eventually, Dolce and Gabbana will look at the world through kinder and more accepting eyes; everyone will kiss and make up over a family meal with Elton, his husband and kids; and this story will be added to some website’s slideshow of “Elton John’s Top 10 Feuds.”
Thursday, March 12, 2015
I didn’t get around to finishing my Oscar posts in a timely way, but it’s never too late to talk about jewelry and men’s fashion, right? Anyway, it’s Throwback Thursday so I’m going to go there.
My favorite piece of jewelry at the 2015 Oscars was the Piaget ear cuff and matching stud worn by Scarlett Johansson. I always love mismatched earrings, plus that design was the perfect accessory to Scarlett’s new, Miley Cyrus-worthy haircut. (Remember how controversial Miley’s punkish haircut was in 2012? You might not, now that everyone’s doing it.)
There’s no need to wear staid jewelry on the red carpet, and Scarlett proves it. She looks so good overall — face, hair, body — that I’m not going to say anything about that mess of green beads on her neck. Well, I guess I just said something. Anyhoo, jewelry expert and editor Marion Fasel got to see the Piaget design close up. Here’s the picture she took for Instagram.
There are some good size stones in this piece. I wonder how much it weighs!
I was also a fan of the big-ass chain that John Travolta was wearing right under his collar in lieu of a bow tie.
I just wish he’d go au naturel with the hair. He looks good without a piece, no?
A lot of men were looking good on Oscar night, continuing the recent trend of guys being more adventurous than women when it comes to big-event fashion. Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeff Goldblum, Jay Z, Eddie Murphy and Adrien Brody all wore white jackets, while Kevin Hart wore head-to-toe white. Just a few years ago, the fashion police would be cracking waiter jokes about that look, but the dudes have persisted with it and, thanks to the “Never Is the Next New Thing™” tendency in fashion, a white jacket is now the height of chic.
Now that I look at this outfit again, I think I should have given him my coveted Best Dressed/Wear What You Want combo award, along with Lupita and Gaga. Looking gorgeous while your outfit screams, “I don’t follow your old-fashioned rules” always gets my seal of approval.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
I’ve always thought my New York City taxi ring needed a few accessories.
I finally found some! You can get these 1980s vintage Moschino shoes on 1stdibs.
I also found a taxi purse at a store called The Wind in the Willows in Naples, Fla.
I was a big fan of The Wind in the Willows book when I was a kid. Mr. Toad of Toad Hall was my favorite character. My sister didn’t feel the same way because during a trip to Disney World when she was very little, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride scared her half to death. Today, in a much less frightening toad/frog moment, I posed my Frog and Prince ring on a real lily pad.
I always thought it was great that in that book characters are simply known as “Mole” and “Rat” and “Mr. Badger.” It made it all very clear.
UPDATED TO ADD: Thanks to commenter Marguerite for pointing out Kate Spade’s taxi collection.
Cute, but my heart belongs to the Moschinos!
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
At the end of last month — in between New York’s numerous snowstorms — I wore this 2004 sweater-and-skirt set out to dinner with friends.
What Wendy Wore in the Cold
Sweater: Alexander McQueen (2004, purchased at Bergdorf Goodman)
Skirt: McQueen (2004, purchased with sweater)
Boots: Prada (2008 or 2009, recently seen here)
Purse: Louis Vuitton (2011)
This week, while visiting my parents in Florida, I wore this outfit to dinner.
I prefer option No. 2. I’m anti-snow and anti-cold. What am I doing in New York? Sometimes I wonder!
Monday, March 9, 2015
Did anyone catch Damon Darlin’s article, “America Needs Its Own Emojis,” in the New York Times Sunday Review section? As he reminds us, emojis originated in Japan, so they don’t cover all of America’s emoji needs:
“Indeed, the Japanese vocabulary is most notable for what it fails to offer Americans. For example, there is no middle-finger hand signal. Or the good-luck signal of fingers crossed. No Vulcan salute to live long and prosper, which would have been much appreciated following the recent death of Leonard Nimoy, who played a Vulcan on ‘Star Trek.'”
I liked that paragraph because, in 2013, when I started making emoji stud earrings, two that I did right away were the middle finger …
… and the Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” salute.
It took me a couple more months to do the crossed fingers, but it was still pretty early in my emoji career!
… inspiring vast numbers of uncool white people to do the same.
Here’s a sneak peek of my Westside emoji stud.
It’s not on my website yet, but you can email me at info at wendybrandes dot com to order.
The Eastside sign never had as much cachet as the Westside sign, but I made an earring for it in the interest of balance.
The New York Times story says, “Apple is expected to release a revised set of emojis for the iPhone and iPad in the spring.” Is that this spring? I thought we were getting new emojis last summer. Last thing I heard about that was from New York Magazine, which reported in November that the Unicode Consortium, which creates emojis, encoded the designs last year as promised, but Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc., had yet to add the new emojis to their operating systems. At the time, Apple declined to comment on when the emojis might go live. One thing I do know is that the newest batch won’t include any gang signs!
Friday, March 6, 2015
You never get over your first love. I don’t mean your middle-school crush or high-school boyfriend/girlfriend. Who cares about those people?! Damn, I can’t even remember any names. The romantic feelings that last are your first music and fashion loves. Even if you don’t listen to those bands or wear those styles any more, I bet you can remember how excited you were by them back in the day.
I, however, have truly have never gotten over my 1980s passion for Day-Glo colors. I have a pretty extensive collection of neon clothes. I think it all stems from this neon-pink Guess top, which was so special to me that I wore it for the first day of school in 1984. You know how you always had to wear your best look on the first day!
As a result, my 1984 self freaked the hell out after coming across this vintage Ozbek dress on Shrimpton Couture.
Cherie of Shrimpton Couture dates this amazing velvet piece to the 1990s, but it’s got such an ’80s look. In addition to the Day-Glo, which was popularized by designer Stephen Sprouse during that decade, check out that ultra-short hemline! When we weren’t wearing buttoned-up, boxy blouses and granny boots, we were wearing mini minis! I don’t wear anything that short now, but I’m still drooling over this Ozbek. Literally drooling. The obvious solution: I must borrow Stewie Griffin’s time machine and go back to high school with this dress in hand.
Speaking of Stephen Sprouse and his neon designs, I’ve posted several Sprouse pieces on this blog. (I didn’t own them originally, but bought them at vintage stores and on eBay in recent years.) The 1988 “Hardcore” skirt is my favorite. This photo was taken after I wore it to a Madonna concert in 2012.
Madonna is another one of those early loves that I’ve never gotten over. I haven’t missed one of her tours, ever, starting with the Radio City Music Hall concert I attended in 1985 in lieu of my high-school prom. I won’t miss her this year either — I already have tickets to the Madison Square Garden and Barclays shows that she’ll do as part of her Rebel Heart Tour in September. Because the Garden show is on September 16 and Barclays is on September 19, I’m expecting Madonna to add to shows in between. Maybe I’ll see her three times this year, which means my Madonna locket earrings will get a workout.
Now that I reflect upon it, I deserve a new neon outfit for the concerts … don’t I?
Thursday, March 5, 2015
MrB, of course, was crazy about this short, tight Herve Leger bandage dress.
I’m so not crazy about it that I only wear it as a layering piece.
I view this beaded, ’20s-style dress much more favorably.
Finding a vintage navy slip to wear under the sheer dress took me a couple of years, so I first wore the dress in 2009. (I had Jean of Ghost Tailor hem the slip to match the asymmetrical hem of the dress.) Here’s a more recent photo.
My boa and pearls in the 2013 photo were actually party favors from the ’20s-themed event I attended that night. I think they look quite good, considering they started the night as table decorations!
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
I got to see my gorgeous rapper friend Gangsta Boo while I was out in Los Angeles for the Oscars a couple of weeks ago.
As you can see from the photo above, I found another vintage Moschino word dress. I’m fonder of my “You Can Dress Me Up But You Can’t Take Me Out” dress because of its message and its maxi length, but this “Not Just a Pretty Dress” piece is cute too.
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Vintage Moschino (possibly from the 1980s, acquired in 2014)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Clutch: Sequoia, from Galeries Lafayette (2011; previously seen here)
Boo’s got a new EP called Candy, Diamonds & Pills coming out this spring. I love that title. I told her I can help her with the first two items and as for the third … well, I have some Tylenol! Maybe in return she can give me some posing lessons. I’ve been admiring the results of a recent photo shoot she did.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
I usually feature my newest design as the Jewel of the Month, but for March, I was inspired to take another look at an old favorite.
After struggling home through snow and sleet this evening, I was happy to throw myself into FitzRoy the cat’s favorite chair and watch a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 marathon on Pivot TV. Coincidentally, today my right-hand woman Eryn posted our first Instagram video of my one-of-a-kind 18K gold Vampire Diana ring with the removable silver stake. Thanks to our friend Grace for the excellent modeling job!
The #WendyBrandes Vampire Diana ring is 18K yellow gold, with a removable sterling silver “stake.” Perfect for #VampireDiaries, #Buffy, and #Twilight fans looking for a little luxe. Or as @thejewelryaltar pointed out around Valentine’s Day, a punctured heart could be the ultimate #statementring for a happy divorcee! #LoveGold #instavideo #video
I can’t believe I never did a video of this ring before. I’d always had great still photos, including this one showing the piece assembled …
… and this one, showing what happens after you pull the stake out …
… but I’d never shown it in action.
This design concept came from another Buffy binge in 2010. The Billy Idol-style vampire Spike was always my favorite character on that show (if you’ve watched the show, you know the joke is that Billy Idol stole his style from Spike).
I liked the sensitive/troubled/helpful Spike who emerged later in the show, but Spike being evil — or at least a little sassy — was always the most fun.
I decided to do some Spike-worthy pieces, starting with a non-mechanical version of the ring all in silver with a blackened-silver stake.
I still have one silver vampire stake necklace with “wood” details available for immediate delivery.
I might make more of the silver stake necklaces in the future too, but there’s only going to be one gold ring. I currently have it on sale on my site, but I’m going to put it back up to the regular price by the end of this week because it is a supernaturally special piece and I was clearly deranged when I marked it down. In other words, act quickly if you want to get it for less!
You don’t have to be a Buffy or Spike fan to wear this fab ring, of course. It’s good for Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and all other vamp fans. As a bonus, if you happen to run into an unfriendly, unhandsome real-life vampire, you can whip out that little silver stake to defend yourself. Stay safe from bloodsucking fiends and look good — no garlic breath required!