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Thursday, July 10, 2014

I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer day, complete with everything I loved about summer in the 1980s: pool floats, snake-patterned bathing suits and teased-up hair.


Me in the mid-1980s.

Well, maybe not the teased-up hair. That never went well with pools.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Chicken on Nest necklace has been Jewel of the Month before. You might remember the smaller-than-a-dime, sterling-silver chicken …


Click to enlarge.

… that opened up to reveal three gold-plated eggs.


Click to enlarge.

If you’ve always wondered, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” I have the answer. My egg locket came first, inspired by a work I saw in the Royal Treasury in Copenhagen. The 18K-gold egg opens up to show a tiny silver chicken similar to the one seen above. However, in that limited-edition, luxury design, the chicken has diamond eyes and sits on three 18K-gold (not gold-plated) eggs.


Click to shop.

The “Hen in the Egg” locket is one of my high-end items and costs thousands of dollars to make.  Of course, it sells for thousands of dollars too! So, years ago, I made the silver chicken into its own necklace, sans egg, for people who wanted to enjoy a piece of my mechanical jewelry for a more modest $150.

Before I even made the chicken, I had started developing my social-media-inspired WENDYB by Wendy Brandes diffusion line. In the past couple of years, that line has grown enormously: I have 80 styles of stud earrings alone! The WENDYB by Wendy Brandes line is mostly silver and ranges in price from $35 for a single stud earring, to $1,600 for the 18K-gold Mud Flap Jill necklace seen on Rihanna. As the line expanded, I realized I liked having my more budget-friendly work completely distinct, design-wise and inspiration-wise, from the 18K-gold high jewelry line. That line — my signature line — is inspired by queens and other powerful women and ranges from $3,000 to $30,000. I was never comfortable with trying to modify the extremely complex, luxury jewelry in order to offer a few pieces at somewhat gentler prices. Most of my luxe designs don’t convert well to silver and, even when they do, the work is so intricate that the pieces are still quite expensive.  I could simplify the designs further, but that takes away the reason I did them in the first place. They lose all their meaning! Therefore, last year, I decided that the luxury line would stay luxurious — and, actually, get even more so — while the lower-priced diffusion line would have its own separate identity. There would be no more in-between. As a result, I put the silver chickens on sale over the holidays.  Well! I really appreciated the love, but I got so many simultaneous orders that my website couldn’t keep up. It tried to sell more chickens than I had and I wound up feeling just awful that some chicken-loving wimmins thought they had a necklace and had to be told otherwise. I hate disappointing people — especially over the holidays! — so I promised I would look into creating a few, final chickens. Voila!


The original chickens were produced in New York City, where I like to do my manufacturing. But it’s expensive to make things here. In order to get the chickens down to $50 each (plus $6 domestic shipping), I will produce this order in Thailand, where there is a minimum order of 100 units. I’m doing a pre-order on Kickstarter because this is really for you gorgeous customers, not for me. I am firm about not doing less-expensive versions of the luxury line and do not want to carry a lot of chickens in my inventory. I would much rather continue inventing new emoji jewelry if I’m going to invest in silver. That’s why I want to have the entire minimum of 100 chickens assigned to loving homes before I place an order with the factory. (I can do more than 100, and if there is enough demand, I will.) As always, with Kickstarter, if I don’t get the full amount of my financial goal met — in this case, $5,000 — I don’t get the money, meaning no chickens. It’s either all the chickens or no chickens, so don’t chicken out if you ever pondered buying this piece!  It’s now or never. The pre-order will be open for 30 days. After that, it takes Kickstarter a little while to process the money, after which I will place the order. Add in the eight to 10 weeks it will take the factory to fill that order and I expect the necklaces to arrive in October. Perfect timing for you to wrap up some necklaces and put them aside for the holidays — get your shopping for jewelry-loving/chicken-loving friends and family done in advance.

I have lots of customers overseas — hello, Australia! — but the Kickstarter pre-order is available only for the U.S. Don’t worry! If you’re not in the U.S. and would like a chicken, email me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com and I will put your name on my waiting list. If the minimum is met, I will get back to you and take your order.

There’s a maximum of four chickens allowed per customer. The chickens measure less than 1/2″ tall and will be on 18″ chains.

Tell all your friends and family. Hell, tell total strangers who seem like they might like chickens! And feel free to email me or leave a comment on this post if you have a question or need help.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ten years ago today, I was going to Madonna’s Re-Invention tour at Continental Arena in New Jersey.

throwback 1
Continental Arena is now called the Izod Center. But, to me, it will always be the Brendan Byrne Arena, where I went to my first concert (Journey!) in 1982.

I had already seen Madonna at Madison Square Garden during this tour.


For a long time, I’ve gone to see two shows whenever Madonna is on the road. I might have started that habit during the Re-Invention tour; I have a vague memory of that, but I could be wrong.

I’ve blogged a lot about Madonna. My favorite posts are about the impact she had on me in the 1980s:

Also, Madonna’s 1984 performance on the MTV Video Music Awards came up when I was writing for the Huffington Post about Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance last year. That appearance is now considered iconic, but it was thought to be a disaster at the time.


There are some more great ’80s quotes about Madonna here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I’ve been loving the ear jewelry that’s emerged in the past year. There are so many options! But the trend that’s (thankfully) replaced the statement necklace started, as many trends do, quite slowly. Miley Cyrus flaunted her ear cuffs in 2012, when she cut her hair short. But Miley’s style is risky — her short ‘do was too punk for a lot of people. For a trend to go mainstream, it needs mainstream acolytes. Actress Emma Watson fits that bill perfectly. She looked pretty — with just a dash of edginess — when she wore diamond ear cuffs to the premiere of The Bling Ring in June 2013.

Similarly, I added single earrings to my line back in October 2012, inspired by the style that I wore in the 1980s.


Me, wearing a single black earring in the mid-1980s.

But the style didn’t go mass-market till this January, after guess-who made a splash at the Golden Globes with her single earring? Yep, it was Emma Watson again. While quite a few of her peers opted for ear cuffs for that event, she was already experimenting with something else. The jewelry industry has definitely taken note of the buzz. At the big JCK Las Vegas jewelry trade show that I attended at the end of May/beginning of June, it was “all about the ear,” as JCK Magazine senior editor Jennifer Heebner reported. She wrote that “nearly every firm had a funky ear offering,” including ear cuffs, climbers (longer earrings that curve up the ear lobe rather than hanging down) and jackets (decorative backs that hang below the earlobe). Mismatched studs — including “front-back” earrings, like the one Watson wore at the Globes — are also hot, as US Magazine recently reported.


From the June 30, 2014, issue of US.

This look has fashion editors hitting the piercing parlors so they can load up on more studs. If you’ve done the same and want to add to your collection of mismatched studs, you’ve come to the right place. I have about 80 stud earring styles on my website now!


My gorgeous customer Rebecca recently purchased my sterling-silver letter R stud and my gun emoji stud.

I wear four studs regularly (usually my screw earring, middle finger earring, gun earring and skull earring, all in 18K gold) but lately I’ve found myself craving something else. The last time I felt this craving was in 1998, long before my jewelry-designing career began. I woke up one day that year with a desire for giant gold hoop earrings — 2″ in diameter or more. Off I went to a store I used to like, to ask for the biggest hoops they had.  I still remember the snotty and very tall saleswoman literally looking down her nose at me while she said, “No one is showing earrings like that.” She was so rude that I persisted just to drive her crazy, making her take me  through practically everything on that jewelry floor. She finally came up with 1″ diameter hoops. That was the best she could do. I still have them.


My hoops from 1998.

They weren’t really what I was looking for, but it was better than nothing.

I thought of that saleswoman a year later, in 1999, when Jennifer Lopez released her debut album On the 6. Hoop earrings like the ones she wore in her “If You Had My Love” video soon become a signature look for Lopez — and for a lot of other people too.


She got more extreme after “If You Had My Love.” Click for the full video.

Big and bigger hoops had their biggest moment since the 1980s heyday of the bamboo “doorknockers.” The trend continued for years.


Lopez wearing hoops in her 2001 “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” video.

Hoop earrings were so hot that they were reserved for the queen bee, Regina George (played by Rachel McAdams), in the 2004 movie Mean Girls. Her sidekick, Gretchen (Lacey Chabert), complaining about Regina, said:

“If only you knew how mean she really is, you’d know that I’m not allowed to wear hoop earrings, right? Yeah, two years ago she told me hoops earrings were her thing, and I wasn’t allowed to wear them anymore. And then for Hanukkah my parents got this pair of really expensive white-gold hoops and I had to pretend like I didn’t even like them. It was so sad.”

You can glimpse my white-gold hoops in this photo from 2002.


This was taken in Hong Kong.

Big hoops were a surprisingly long-running trend, like other trends I wrote about for the Huffington Post last year. J. Lo was particularly devoted. Here she is wearing a giant pair at the premiere of the Michael Jackson This Is It movie in 2009.


But you can tell she was a bit of an outlier at that point from this 2010 blog post about the return of the hoop earring. Beyonce, another celebrity devotee of gigantic earrings, made a political statement with a pair of oversize Obama hoops in 2012. But even Beyonce couldn’t make big hoops de rigueur that year, during which the statement necklace ruled. When you’re wearing a big-ass J. Crew bubble necklace, you can’t risk having your giant earrings get tangled up in that shit.

Now, with all the emphasis on the ear, it’s time for the huge hoop to make a true comeback. Racked NY warns against looking like late ’90s J. Lo., but I say go for it. After all, that’s the look I whipped up for myself recently.

These hoops are 2 1/4" in diameter. I might make my next sample a little bigger.

These hoops are 2 1/4″ in diameter. I might make my next sample a little bigger.

I wore these when MrB and I went to see the limited run of tick tick … BOOM! at New York City Center on June 28. tick tick … BOOM! was originally performed as an autobiographical, one-man show by the late Jonathan Larson. In it, he fretted about turning 30 while still working as a waiter at a diner as he struggled to find success as a theatrical composer. The Jon in the play, like the real Jon, was trying to make something of his futuristic musical, Superbia, which, in real life, was never fully produced. That was disappointing to Larson, but the work he wrote to vent his disappointment was seen by a producer named Jeffrey Seller, who later went to a workshop performance of Larson’s next play: Rent. Of course, Rent went on to be a massive hit, winning a Pulitzer Prize, playing on Broadway from 1996 to 2008, and becoming a movie in 2005. The tragic thing, as you may know, was that Larson didn’t live to see his success. He died on Jan. 25, 1996 — the day of Rent‘s Off-Broadway preview — of an aortic dissection caused by Marfan Syndrome. He went to two different hospitals in the days before his death, complaining of severe chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness, but, in both cases, the doctors he saw failed to diagnose his problem Aortic dissection continued to be frequently overlooked by medical personnel until 2003, when the death of actor John Ritter and a Pulitzer-Prize-winning series of articles in the Wall Street Journal drew attention to the condition.

tick tick … BOOM! is often funny, but in a bittersweet way because of the back story. After Larson died, it was expanded into a three-person piece. At City Center, the role of Jon was played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who, having worked as an English teacher while he wrote the Tony-winning musical In the Heights, can certainly relate to the Larson-based character. Karen Olivo, who starred with Miranda in In the Heights, played Jon’s girlfriend, Susan, who wants to leave New York City for a more civilized life in a slower-paced place. Leslie Odom, Jr., played Jon’s best friend Michael, who had given up the artistic life to enjoy the riches of a Madison Avenue job even as he struggles with a recent diagnosis of AIDS.

I don’t go to enough theater in New York, because I missed Karen Olivo in In the Heights AND in her Tony-winning portrayal of Anita in the 2009 revival of West Side Story. Shame on me, because she has one of those powerhouse, bring-the-house-down, Idina Menzel voices. (Menzel has a Larson connection too — she originated the role of Maureen in Rent.) Someone get Karen Olivo an animated Disney movie so she can have her own “Let It Go” moment! Why has Hollywood been sleeping on her? Yeah, she had a gig on the television show Harry’s Law for a while, but last year, like Larson’s Susan character, she left New York for Madison, Wis., because she was so sick of what the New York Times described as “…plenty of defeats … on both coasts: demoralizing auditions, readings and workshops that paid little and went nowhere, periods when she barely worked the minimum number of weeks to keep up her Actors’ Equity health insurance …” I guess starring in a hit musical and winning a Tony can leave you with the “fame doesn’t equal fortune” scenario. That’s too bad and I demand someone fix this immediately.

Anyway, here is the rest of my outfit from that night. I’m leaning against the Robert Indiana Love statue on 6th Avenue in this photo (click to enlarge).

loveWhat Wendy Wore
Dress: Patrick Kelly (acquired in 2009, probably)
Shoes: Prada (2011)
Purse: Prada (2007)
Hoop earrings: My own design

You can see more of the sculpture in this picture.


As for the earrings, if you’ve saved your old ones — as so many of my friends have! — it’s time to bring ‘em out again. Jennifer Lopez had hers on for a television appearance in June. Super-moody singer Lana Del Rey wore a giant pair when she performed at the Glastonbury music festival in England on the same day I was wearing my hoops to the theater. Lana and I are really thinking alike lately.


If you need to buy something new, my barbed-wire hoops will be coming out shortly. Whatever you do, don’t go for nameplate bamboo earrings unless you’ve got serious personal style.

She can get away with it.

She can get away with it.

Unless you’ve got the over-the-top flair of a big pop star, you risk looking ratchet in that style — and not Beyonce’s type of perversely chic ratchet!

Beyonce's "ratchet" nameplate hoop earrings, from her Instagram via Necole Bitchie. Click for source.

Beyonce’s “ratchet” nameplate hoop earrings, from her Instagram via Necole Bitchie. Click for source.

That said, I kicked myself when I saw those “ratchet” earrings back in 2012, because I’d been toying with adding “ratchet” to my collection of word necklaces. For some reason I hesitated, and then these earrings popped up. Lesson learned. I’ve never again hesitated on a word-necklace idea! I’m following my instincts with the hoops too. You gotta go where inspiration takes you!

UPDATED TO ADD: For my gorgeous commenters who are anxious to note that giant hoops never left us entirely, I hope it is clear that my reply is, “Of course!” Telling you that hoops are back is the same as pointing out that stud earrings or, going outside of the jewelry category, sneakers are hawt right now. They were always around — they just weren’t a la mode. But now, for instance, sneakers are on the Chanel and Dior runways and fashion-forward people want new and different sneakers. Same with hoops, and I’m going to have some good options, so start saving up for those!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

In case you missed anything on the blog recently, here’s what I wrote since my last “Week in Review” post. There’s a lot!

Damn, June flew by!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

MrB and I had a 4th of July dinner with our designing friend Zang Toi last night. Zang and I made a nice red, white and blue pair.


Zang wore one of his trademark, self-designed mini-kilts. (I love those shoes he wears with them; I’m noticing a lot of menswear looks in women’s shoes for the fall.) I wore my Castelbajac sailor pants. I would normally wear my matching Castelbajac top, but, to my dismay, I found that top slumped on my closet floor, looking even more wrinkled than the pants. A quick substitution was required.

What Wendy Wore
Top: Splendid
Pants: Castelbajac (2010)
Shoes: Castelbajac (2012)
Purse: Prada (2007)
Lip color: RiRi Woo by MAC

Zang told me he did some sailor pants in previous collections. I’m hoping he digs a pair out of the archives for me. I love this style!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Hope your 4th of July weekend is the …



Have fun!


Confession: This photo was taken in Paris on Bastille Day. Hee hee.

And thanks to gorgeous Erika Winters for including my bomb emoji earring in her PriceScope story on Independence Day earrings!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

It’s July 4th tomorrow, so I have some red, white and blue styles from years past for Throwback Thursday.

The Jean-Charles de Castelbajac sailor outfit I got in Paris in 2010 always works for a patriotic holiday.

castelbajac collage

Click to enlarge.

The first time I wore it was in Mallorca — not for the 4th, just for fun. In 2011, I wore the outfit for the holiday weekend in the Hamptons. I updated the look in 2012 with flag shoes I received as a gift from designer Terry de Havilland. Here’s a closer look at the shoes.


These were made in 2004, as a recreation of a 1972 design.

I have another pair of patriotic shoes by Castelbajac.


They’re adorned with gold anchors.

My other key red, white and blue look is by Alexander McQueen. I like to wear it for Bastille Day — aka Le Quatorze Julliet — if I happen to be in Paris, as I was in 2010 and 2011.

mcqueen collage

Click to enlarge.

I’m going to have to go out tomorrow night, just so I have an excuse to wear one of these outfits! But which one? That is the question.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

As you can see, red lipstick runs in the family: BarbaraB and Nan on Aug. 1, 1996.

nan 4


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My mother’s mother, Ruth Kay, died last night. She was 95 years old. Her grandchildren called her “Nanny” when they were young, then “Nan.” Her three great-grandchildren knew her as “G.G.” for “great-grandma.”

Nan’s husband, Sam, aka “Papa,” died of a heart attack in 1983.

nan 3

Me with Nan and Papa in the 1970s.

Papa died just a few weeks before my 16th birthday. He must have felt it coming because he insisted that he and Nan give me the gold bangle they’d got me early. I still have it, of course.


The left frame shows the inscription. The right shows the bracelet on my arm today. Click to enlarge.

Nan had been unwell for quite a while. I think Mother’s Day in 2012 was her last good outing.


Mother’s Day 2012. Click for my original post.

Nan’s survivors include her two daughters: my mother, BarbaraB, and Mom’s younger sister Susan.  Her grandchildren are me; my younger sister, Terri Berry; and Susan’s son, our cousin Gary.


The ladies in the family, circa 2000. From left: Susan, Terri, Nan, me, BarbaraB.

Her great-grandchildren are Sammy, Sebastian and Sabrina. All the “S” names were inspired by Papa’s first name.

nan 1

Nan at my wedding in 2001.

I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do enjoy contemplating what the ideal one would be. I’ve decided that it would be an A+ version of a typical day. So, in my imagination, Nan is on her way to the local beauty parlor where she will get the Best! Hairdo! Ever! while having a good gossip. Then she’s going to go home and make excellent potato latkes and very dry sponge cake for Papa.  I explained this concept to my gorgeous friend Stacy and she said, “I hope your Nan figures out how to make her cake less dry!” I said no way — Papa won’t recognize her if the cake is different! Besides, it’s an A+ day, so he’ll praise it more than ever.

RIP, Nan.

UPDATED TO ADD: I guess I was so shocked by this news that I forgot to share my No. 1 Nan story. Luckily, BarbaraB reminded me of it. I was Nan’s first grandchild. After I was born, Nan was brought to the nursery to take a look at me. She then turned to my mother’s doctor and declared:


The doctor was all, “Um … I take it this is your first grandchild?” Nan was like, “Yeah, and she’s a genius.”

Nan must have told me this a thousand times during my childhood. Thanks for having faith in my smarts, Nan!

UPDATED AGAIN TO ADD: BarbaraB wrote, “She and Papa adored you. You used to sit on her back. When you got excited and kicked your feet, Papa would love it so. He said, ‘She just crawls into your heart.” Nan gave you a string to play with and it kept you busy while you marveled at it. She also sang ‘Us on a Bus.’ And gave you and Terri farmer cheese.”

She gave me farmer cheese right up until the day she had to move out of her house a couple of years ago. I still think farmer cheese is the best.


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