Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Last Thursday, on what would have been designer Ossie Clark’s 74th birthday, I said I would wear one of my Ossie pieces to dinner on the weekend. Here’s the dress I chose for an evening at Lincoln Ristorante at Lincoln Center.
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Vintage Ossie Clark (possibly purchased in 2006 or 2007)
Cork Shoes: Christian Louboutin (probably from 2008)
Cork Clutch: Diane von Furstenberg (bought same time as the Louboutin shoes)
Collecting Ossie Clark designs from the 1960s and 1970s helped me realize that I don’t need to “purge” my closet as so many people recommend. If I can re-wear a 50-year-old dress, I can certainly keep wearing one from last season!
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
I usually don’t share photos of a work in progress because a lot can change while a jewelry design is being completed, especially with intricate pieces that take months to finish. I like to wait till the work is done, then backtrack and show some of the steps I took along the way: rough sketches, wax models and so on. I’ve even been known to alter designs after I think I’ve completed them, the way I did with the Bull and the Bullfighter Maneater ring. As you can see, I moved the bull up, so that he towers over the bullfighting arena, rather than standing in it.
At times, I’ve regretted sharing the “before” photo for that Bull ring because people have grabbed it and used it in stories about my work. The final result is so much better than the original look.
Despite that, I’m throwing caution to the wind and giving sneak peeks of new designs (or the gems that will be part of my new designs) over on Instagram. Follow me here to see what’s coming up!
Monday, June 13, 2016
Cate hasn’t called me to tell me if the dress was comfortable, but the Vuitton was sufficiently controversial for USA Today, which called it a “rare red carpet misfire.” I had already chosen Cate as the winner of my coveted Best Dressed/Wear What You Want combo award for the Tonys, which honor Broadway’s best, but it was nice to have USA Today validate my choice. Don’t forget, my award isn’t for those who look merely beautiful because that’s too damn easy! You must dare to be different to get in my good graces.
My first runner-up is my new favorite style icon, actress Judith Light, who once again out-posed everyone else on the red carpet, while wearing what appears to be a jumpsuit with a train. (If anyone sees identifying information on Judith’s outfit, let me know!)
If Judith started giving lessons in fierceness, I would sign up in a hot second.
My second runner-up is Cynthia Erivo, who won the Tony for leading actress in a musical for her role as Celie in The Color Purple. Her Roberto Cavalli dress had a helluva lot going on — my often-minimalist designing friend Stacy Lomman was like, “Noooooooo!” — but she owned it. I was also crazy for her hair and ear piercings, and she gave a gorgeous acceptance speech too.
Props to the Tony Awards for paying tribute to those killed in Sunday morning’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.; to the cast of 11-Tony-winner Hamilton for again paying tribute to Rent; and to Broadway in general for offering up so much diversity that it puts the movie business to shame. Seriously, movie executives should have the bell-ringing Shame Nun from Game of Thrones by their side until they repent and change their ways.
The Shame Nun is a glamour puss!
Sunday, June 12, 2016
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog in the past two weeks.
- Monday, May 30: I was on my way to the big jewelry trade shows in Las Vegas.
- Tuesday, May 31: I still hate a “crisp white shirt.”
- Wednesday, June 1: June has several birthstones, but my favorite is the pearl.
- Thursday, June 2: Remembering past JCK Las Vegas adventures.
- Saturday, June 4: New emojis are coming, but my emoji-inspired jewelry came first!
- Monday, June 6: If I win the lottery, I’m getting these opals.
- Thursday, June 9: Designer Ossie Clark would have been 74 on this day.
- Friday, June 10: Muhammad Ali’s funeral was worthy of The Greatest.
On Friday, I promised some more Ali links. In 1964, when he was still called Cassius Clay, Ali defeated World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston and gave a victory speech for the ages, including: “I’m king of the world! I’m pretty! I’m a bad man! I shook up the world! I shook up the world! I shook up the world!”
I meant to do more Ali research, but the horrible shooting of 50 people at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlanda, Fla., has me distracted. So I’ll just end with a link to Ali’s famous refusal to fight in Vietnam.
Friday, June 10, 2016
I’ve been wanting to put together a list of Ali links the way I did for David Bowie and Prince, but there is so much good Ali content that I’m overwhelmed. I mean, the man accomplished amazing things in 10 seconds.
I’m going to do my best to pull together a reasonable amount of highlights though. Check back with me on Sunday!
Also in the news today: It’s eighth publishing anniversary of ProPublica, the non-profit, non-partisan and non-ideological investigative-journalism organization. Yay!
It’s our 8th publishing anniversary! Things have changed a bit since 2008. pic.twitter.com/rTLTVMA6qv
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) June 10, 2016
Speaking of anniversaries, it’s the 25th anniversary (OMG!) of the final episode of Twin Peaks, one of my all-time favorite shows. The Twitter Moments page says the finale “has been deemed one of the weirdest and most disturbing finales in TV history.” I’ve been laughing to myself all day about that, thinking that one of the weirdest and most disturbing moments on television PERIOD was the Twin Peaks scene in which the Horne brothers devour brie-and-butter baguettes in a peculiarly lewd way. I can remember laughing in disbelief at the sexually charged sandwich scene.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Thank you to vintage-fashion expert Liz of Vintage-a-Peel for pointing out that June 9 is the late Ossie Clark’s birthday. Ossie would have been 74 today. Tragically, Ossie was only 54 when he was murdered in August 1996 by an ex-boyfriend.
Ossie has been a big favorite of mine for a long time. I first wrote about him just a month after I started my blog in 2007.
In honor of Ossie and Liz, here is a 2010 throwback photo of an Ossie dress I bought from Vintage-a-Peel in 2009, paired with a photo of the same dress worn this year.
Now I’m inspired to wear one of my Ossies out to dinner this weekend. The question is … which one?
Monday, June 6, 2016
I’ve been at JCK’s LUXURY trade show since last Monday, and I’ve hardly left my booth! However, I did sneak out yesterday to go through the American Gem Trade Association’s ballroom because I need an aquamarine for a work in progress.
To my surprise, I never got to the aquamarines. When I walked in the door, the third booth I saw was the one where I got the black opal I used in last year’s FitzRoy the Cat necklace. I couldn’t drag myself away.
I got several beautiful stones that I will show you soon(ish). In the meantime, here’s what I DIDN’T get.
I used to dislike opals. They’re soft and therefore difficult to set in jewelry. If you squeeze them too tightly in the setting, they can break, but if there’s not enough tension in the setting, they can pop out. My mother had an opal cocktail ring back in the day, and its stones were always going AWOL. Plus, a lot of opals that are used in jewelry are very light-colored composite stones called doublets or triplets. That almost-white type of opal doesn’t appeal to me. But these opals with lots of color? I love them … too bad I can’t afford the most exciting ones!
Saturday, June 4, 2016
With everyone from Blac Chyna to Steph Curry coming up with their own popular emojis, the original emoji providers are stepping up their game. The Unicode Consortium — aka Emoji Headquarters — officially unveiled 72 new emojis this week, scheduled for delivery later this month.
I’m impressed by the quick turnaround, because, in the past, it took ages to get new emojis. For example, people were begging for a middle finger from Day One of emoji popularity. Out of desperation, in 2013, I created my own emoji-like middle finger-earring (inspired by Eminem’s famous bird-flip) and reached out to Unicode saying, “You guys can use this for free … just do something already!”
No answer. In 2014, Unicode finally promised a middle finger and over 200 other emojis, which didn’t hit phones till 2015. (To be fair, Apple and other providers share responsibility for that. Unicode can create the emojis but can’t add them to other companies’ operating systems.)
That 2015 update also included the “sign of the horns” emoji, which I introduced as an earring in 2013 …
… and the Vulcan salute, another two-year-old earring design for me.
When I wrote about that 2015 update I said:
“So far, I don’t see any new emojis that I feel are jewelry-worthy, but I will have more emoji jewelry coming. As I’ve done before, I’ll be making up my own and waiting for Unicode to catch up with me! I’m actually surprised they didn’t do the crossed fingers this time; maybe those will arrive next year as originally reported. If you want a crossed fingers emoji right now, I’m your woman.“
Sure enough, the crossed fingers emoji is finally coming. Here it is, next to my 2013 earring version.
A “call me” gesture is expected too.
At first glance, I thought that was the shaka sign, but Emojipedia says this is “not to be confused with the sign of the horns or the shaka sign (which does not yet have an emoji representation).” Oh, but the shaka does have an unofficial emoji presentation!
Unicode has listed some tentative candidates for a 2017 emoji release. I know my handsome friend Seth, a curling enthusiast, will appreciate the curling stone.
I suggest that Unicode add the American Sign Language sign for “I love you.” I introduced that as an earring three years ago, and it’s one of my most popular emoji-inspired pieces, second only to the middle finger.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, I bet you’re not at all surprised that my customers say “fuck you” more than “I love you”!
By the way, if you want more risque and hilarious emojis, the Kimojis from Kim Kardashian are awesome. To use those, you download the Kimoji app and copy and paste the Kimojis into your texts. Unfortunately, they don’t work on Twitter. That makes me sad.
If I could use the Kimojis on Twitter, I might never use a Unicode emoji again!
Thursday, June 2, 2016
I’m still at the LUXURY jewelry show at JCK Las Vegas (if you’re here, come see me in Elite Enclave, booth LUXEE 28!).
This is my first time exhibiting my designs at the LUXURY show, but I’ve attended before. The highlight of any JCK show — even better than the concerts in the wave pool at the Mandalay Bay hotel — is getting together with my “Vegas Gems” gang. This group of fabulous women includes all kinds of jewelry professionals who are very supportive of each other. It’s because of them that I’ve been nominated for a Women’s Jewelry Association Award for Excellence this year.
For Throwback Thursday, here are some photos from past shenanigans with the Vegas Gems. In 2013, I was invited by JCK to speak about social media, and how to use it to attract the “next generation” customer. That year, Maroon 5 performed in the pool and I was like, “OH MY GOD ALL CONCERTS SHOULD BE IN POOLS FROM NOW ON!” Here I am striking a pose with jewelry designers Erika Winters and Shamila Jiwa. As you can see, Erika and I weren’t really prepared for a pool party.
That year I came prepared for the Rob Thomas concert in the pool.
Last year, we got totally out of control in a limo.
The 2015 concert was Gavin DeGraw. I didn’t know a single song, but I enjoyed the pool as usual.
I’m looking forward to the 2016 Gems dinner on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s pool concert featuring Train. But I’m sad as well because we lost a special Gem this year: jewelry industry icon Cindy Edelstein died in January, at the young age of 51. (Cindy is standing on the far right in Barbara’s photo from 2014.) Cindy was an upstanding, honest, gracious person, and I’m going to make sure we pour out some Prosecco for her this Saturday. We miss you, Cindy!
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Picking out birthstone jewelry for people born in June is a Choose Your Own Adventure experience. The American Gem Society lists pearl and Alexandrite as June’s birthstones. The Gemological Institute of America opts for pearl, moonstone and Alexandrite. I’ve seen other sources that say pearl and moonstone are the two June gems, and others that say moonstone and Alexandrite. I say that when it comes to jewelry, more is more, so you June babies should go with GIA’s threesome.
It might surprise you, but the concept of the birthstone wasn’t dreamed up in the last century by a jewelry company selling those chintzy birthstone stud earrings that grandparents buy for tween girls (you know the ones I’m talking about!).
Birthstones go back at least to the Bible and the 12 gems adorning the priestly breastplate of Moses’ brother Aaron. The 1st-century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus — who, by the way, has a fascinating life story — linked the gems to months, or the signs of the Zodiac. It’s difficult to tell what those original stones were though. In this subject, as in others, the Bible is subject to different translations. Over millennia, the idea of birthstones stuck around, but the list was in flux.
In 1913, in the U.S., a jeweler eventually did kick off a new birthstone trend, though he didn’t mean to. Tiffany executive George Frederick Kunz wrote a book on gemstones that included “natal stones” and the powers they were thought to have. A quick-thinking jewelers’ organization pounced on the idea and released its “official” list of birthstones. Since then there have been various substitutions and additions to the list, meaning the one thing you can count on with birthstones is that the definitive list will always be changing.
When it comes to June birthstones, you might find it hard to get your hands on Alexandrite, which is a rare color-changing stone. Personally, I’m very fond of moonstones. I bought a chunky silver ring with a moonstone in it during a trip to Dublin in 1997.
A year or two later, MrB bought me a silver and moonstone bracelet at an arts and crafts fair.
I made a one-of-a-kind moonstone poison ring, which has been sold …
… but you can order luxurious — not chintzy! — cabochon moonstone stud earrings from me any time you like. Holla at me at info at wendybrandes dot com for those.
I do think I love a good pearl even more than a moonstone, though. Good pearls to me are any that are NOT standard-issue white pearl studs or strands. Give me silvery or black pearls and irregular shapes! My own silver pearl pendant isn’t a perfect round, nor is it surrounded by traditional white diamonds. I set it with green garnets.
You can’t buy that necklace, because MrB got me that pearl … plus he has the matching cufflinks.
However, I do have a stunning black-pearl ring that’s available for immediate delivery. I call this ring “Luna” because it made me think of the dark side of the moon.
The South Sea pearl is set in platinum that’s been given a matte finish. The sparkle comes from 1.90 carats of high-quality diamonds. And now, suddenly, I can’t stop wondering how many songs rhyme the words “moon” and “June.” I might need to discuss this with IBM’s Watson, because I doubt a human is capable of counting that high. Soft Machine’s late 1960s piece, “Moon in June,” is an obvious one, but I prefer Eminem’s 2010 “Space Bound”:
“I’m a space bound rocket ship and your heart’s the moon/
And I’m aiming right at you/
Right at you/
Two hundred fifty thousand miles on a clear night in June/
And I’m aiming right at you/
Right at you/
Right at you”
Did you know the moon is not at the same distance from earth all the time? The average distance is about 238,800 miles, but at the moon’s apogee, the distance is 251,968 miles, meaning the “Space Bound” lyrics stay on the right side of science.
I didn’t expect to get from Biblical birthstones to Eminem’s astronomy in this post, but I did!