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Thursday, August 13, 2015

We left London for Paris on Monday, August 3. Paris empties out in August because so many Parisians take a nice long holiday. (Several of our Parisian friends were in New York while we were in their city.) I think everyone who was left in the city was sitting along the Seine that night.

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Peeps sitting by the river. Click to enlarge.

Whenever we’re in Paris, MrB and I head to the Bateaux-Mouches for a cruise down the Seine. It’s our tradition. We tune out the noisy busloads of tourists and the tour-guide narration that we’ve heard before, and admire the city. This is the first time we’ve done it at night. I’m always amused by the way people — whether on dry land or another boat — wave at other people on boats. What is that about? There was even more waving at night than there usually is during the day. My arm got tired from all the waving back. I said to MrB, “I’m glad we don’t have to do this in cars!” People would be crashing left and right.

We were on the Seine at about 11 p.m. and the river banks were lit up so we could see all the folks picnicking, dancing, schmoozing, waving at boats, and smooching.

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See the smoochers? You can click to enlarge.

I’m not sure that there’s any place in New York City like this. Where can you stay out late, for free, and socialize over an open bottle of wine? You try that here and you end up inspiring a Law & Order: SVU episode.

Anyway, I never get tired of taking photos of the Eiffel Tower.

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Beautiful.

Notre Dame was looking lovely too.

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No hunchback in sight.

Here’s my boating outfit (not photographed on the boat).

parisoutfit1resizeWhat Wendy Wore
Top: Zang Toi (2015)
Shorts: Zang Toi (2015)
Shoes: Prada (2011)

The next day we went to the Louis Vuitton Foundation. We hadn’t planned on going, but we were told we had to see the boat-shaped, Frank Gehry-designed building. I’m glad we took that advice. I also enjoyed the Pop art exhibit that was on display, but the architecture is the most compelling reason to go. We paused for an outfit photo on an upper level. If this top-shorts-gladiator-sandals combo looks familiar, it’s because I wore it in Las Vegas at the beginning of June.

parisoutfit2resizeWhat Wendy Wore
Top: Versace (probably pre-2005)
Shorts: Current/Elliott (2014)
Sandals: Purchased in Greece (2014)

After we viewed the art, we went outside to take a closer look at the Foundation’s cascade of water.

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The grotto outside the Gehry building.

Then we wandered into the Bois de Boulogne, the huge park that is the Foundation’s backyard. I’m not sure I’ve ever explored it before. There’s a Coney-Island-style amusement park for kids, and a supercilious peacock.

Another place that we had to go to was the Jean-Charles de Castelbajac store near Boulevard Saint-Germain. I discovered it in 2009 and go back every time I’m in Paris. I’m addicted to Castelbajac … and it looks like I might be going through some bad withdrawal because I got there and discovered an empty storefront. Same as with Opening Ceremony in London! I’m starting to take this personally.

Another thing I’m starting to take personally is the abuse Poodle Maps is dishing out. Literally, that app had us walking in circles on Wednesday. I kept re-entering our route to make sure I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I hadn’t. It sincerely wanted us to circle endlessly around all our destinations. Despite Poodle’s best efforts to thwart me, we made it to an interesting exhibit on designer Jeanne Lanvin at the Palais Galliera fashion museum. We also saw how Céleste Boursier-Mougenot had flooded part of the Palais de Tokyo for a work called Aquaalta, after the annual flood in the Venetian lagoon. We didn’t have time to row through the water on a little boat, but we were able to observe. MrB didn’t appreciate the art very much, and my saying, “Look, the observer is part of the art!” fell on deaf ears. Such a philistine.

We dashed through the Rue Saint-Honoré to peek in all the fancy shops, including the fashion-forward concept store Colette. I’ve never bought anything there, but I like to look in the fine-jewelry cases and show MrB exactly where my designs would fit in. Then we dashed back to the hotel to change to meet Alyson the author from England. She and her family were taking her 82-year-old mother on her first trip to Paris. So nice! Mum assured us that the city lived up to her expectations. We sat in a beautiful hotel courtyard …

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Can I go back now, please?

… where MrB bravely ordered a drink called “In Bed With George,” despite our laughter. I’ve never been one to order cocktails with names like “Screaming Orgasms,” but MrB is made of sterner stuff.

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In Bed With George is on the left, with the rose petal. My less embarrassing drink is on the right.

While I didn’t care for this trip’s theme of “favorite store shutdowns,” I did enjoy the theme of “meeting friends in different cities.” First, I saw Monica of iDazzle — who lives in Seattle — in New York and London. Then I got to see Aly in London and Paris.

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We had to have photographic evidence of this, naturally.

Monica and her family overlapped with us in Paris too, and if we didn’t have to race out of the city to get to St. Tropez, I would have met up with them again.

Here’s what I wore on our last night in Paris, which also seen above with Aly.

parispinchresizeWhat Wendy Wore
Dress: From Patricia Field (2015)
Slip: Spanx!
Shoes: Prada (2011)
Necklace: My new arrowhead design in silver

As you can see, I’m pinching a flower in the photo. I haven’t done it in years, but once a flower pincher, always a flower pincher.

Next post, St. Tropez.




Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I’m in need of a vacation … from the vacation I just took. MrB and I like to spend our off-time in other cities, especially London and Paris. We wind up dashing from dinners with friends to the theater, from the theater to concerts, from concerts to museums. Last year, we got in some relaxation on Greek beaches after all the urban activity. This year, we missed the restful part, so now I’m back home, feeling like I need to go some place peaceful. Calgon, take me away!

I did love every crazy minute of it. Our first appointment in London, on Wednesday, July 29, was with my gorgeous blogger friends Kate, Aly, Liz and Margaret. (We really missed you, Sharon!) I’ve been meeting up with bloggers in London since 2008. We (or I) like to drink Pimm’s, but it’s getting harder to find at the places where it’s convenient for all of us to meet. We settled for rosé wine, tapas and Nutella dessert pizza at Polpo in Covent Garden this time.

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Me, Kate, Aly and Liz. Margaret had to leave early.

The Agnes B bag I’m holding in the photo contains my autographed copy of Aly’s adorable new book, Style Forever. I’m looking forward to throwing her a book party in New York this fall, when the official American edition comes out. But you can already buy the English version on Amazon.

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Click to purchase. It makes a great gift!

The ladies tried on my 18K gold, full-finger, barbed wire ring.

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Kate being sassy; Aly being shy.

It looks so good next to Liz’s own ring!

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Nice manicure too!

I went back to Covent Garden the next day to make my regular stop at the store Opening Ceremony.

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Seen on the way to Opening Ceremony.

There’s an Opening Ceremony in New York, but I only seem to go to the one in London, where I buy lug-soled shoes. This time, I found an empty storefront for rent. Noooo! I kept staring at the space, waiting for my store to reappear. When that didn’t happen, I took out my phone to figure out a new plan, and I saw this tweet.

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I thought, “Hmmm. Sneakers with bunny ears,” and looked up where they were sold. Harvey Nichols. I grabbed MrB and ran off to Harvey Nicks. Voilà!

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I don’t like wearing white sneakers. #allblackeverything

As a bonus, the upstairs bar at Harvey Nicks makes a good Pimm’s Cup.

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Pimm’s and rings at Harvey Nicks. That’s the platinum version of the full-finger barbed wire design on my middle finger.

On Friday, we wangled tickets to one of the final days of the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibit was being kept open 24 hours a day due to demand, so, as a night owl, I was hoping to get some crazy 2 a.m. tickets, but ours were for the civilized hour of 3:15 p.m.

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Wearing my platinum and diamond thumb ring a lot lately. But it’s really a wedding-ring design!

I missed this McQueen exhibit when it was at the Metropolitan Museum of New York in 2011, but it still changed my life. I had procrastinated about going till the final weeks, when there were three-hour lines to get in. It was August and there’s no shade in front of the Metropolitan Museum and I was just like, “Nope. Not waiting in the sun for hours.” Then I started to feel regret, but it was too late: I was going out of town for the last couple of days of the exhibit. I was headed to Chicago for Lollapalooza and I was so annoyed with myself for refusing to wait a few hours for an interesting McQueen experience that I overcompensated by waiting 9 1/2 hours to see Eminem from the third row. Since then, I’ve become an expert on waiting anywhere from eight to 12 hours to be in the first couple of rows at concerts big and small. I owe it all to McQueen. And, now I’ve finally seen the exhibit, so I feel complete.

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This is how I feel.

On Saturday, MrB and I did something else that we never got around to in New York: seeing Miss Saigon. The musical — set during the Vietnam war and inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly with a whole lot of Cabaret‘s Emcee thrown in — played on Broadway from 1991 to 2001. Over four thousand performances, and I didn’t catch a single one! In this case, I wasn’t very interested during the original run. I had heard the music and it didn’t do anything for me. But, because London theater was experiencing an August lull and nothing else intrigued us, we figured we’d check out Miss Saigon.

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Oh, okay, because you twisted my arm. I’ll see it.

The actors were stellar, the singing was superb, the helicopter-evacuation special effect was impressive. The book and songs were “meh,” and, seriously, the character of the Engineer WAS the Emcee. I feel very strongly about Cabaret, and disapprove of anyone trying to bite its style. That said, we were entertained for the afternoon before we ran off to meet gorgeous jewelry blogger Monica Stephenson of iDazzle. I had seen Monica five days before at the Women’s Jewelry Association’s 2015 Awards for Excellence Gala in New York, where Monica won the award for excellence in editorial media.

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Getting all black and white at the WJA gala. From left: Monica, our gorgeous friend Barbara Palumbo, and me.

That night, she mentioned to me that her family was leaving for London the next day. “So am I,” I said. “We’re on the 7 p.m. Delta flight,” Monica replied. “So am I,” I said.  We got to say hi to each other on the plane and later made arrangements to have dinner at the River Cafe, next to the Thames.

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It makes sense to find a place called the River Cafe next to a river.

During dinner, guess what Monica did? She tried on that full-finger barbed wire ring! Everybody tries on the barbed wire ring. This is the platinum version.

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From Monica’s Instagram. Click for source.

We had a wonderful time with Monica, her husband, two kids and her mother. Here’s what I wore.

londondress2015resizeWhat Wendy Wore
Dress: David Dalrymple for Patricia Field (2015; note the Keith Haring print!)
Belt: Patricia Field (2015)
Shoes: Onex (2015. Gift from Mom. Thanks, Mom!)
Jewelry: My own designs, as always

On our final full day in England — Sunday, August 2 — we followed suggestions to visit Bath, the spa town frequently mentioned by Jane Austen. The lesson I learned from Alexander McQueen and the Metropolitan Museum came in handy once again.  There was construction on the train line that runs from London to Bath, and one train employee warned us that it would take three hours to get there. MrB and I were off to a late start, as usual, and three hours there and three hours back seemed like an ordeal. Then again, three hours was the expected wait time for the McQueen exhibit in New York. I realized the weather was beautiful, we had nowhere else urgent to be — having, in addition to all the above activities, already squeezed in separate dinners with two journalist friends and my Ossie Clark friend, Al Radley — and why not go to Bath? I am a big fan of Chaucer, after all.

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A souvenir. Click if you don’t know who the Wife of Bath is.

The train took 2 hours and 15 minutes. Not bad.

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A view of the abbey at Bath.

Bath is named for the Roman baths built around its natural hot springs, though ancient Celts and Britons also made use of the springs before the Roman invasion that started in AD 43. The site has been excavated and is quite fascinating.

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The baths at Bath.

The Roman bath complex included a temple, and curse tablets are among the artifacts that have been discovered at the site. People inscribed their prayers for vengeance on lead alloy. I appreciated the one translated in the upper right corner of the photo below for the specificity and severity of the requested punishment.

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Click to enlarge. Also, I didn’t even notice the reference to dyslexia in the upper left corner until I looked at this photo.

That’s what you get for stealing gloves. You’ll lose your mind and your eyes. Consider yourself warned.

The architecture in Bath is beautiful and benefits from the golden glow of the local Bath stone.  The whole city is a World Heritage Site.

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The Royal Crescent in Bath.

Before we took a bus tour with a sassy narrator, we stopped by one of the oldest houses in Bath, occupied by Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House, to get one of the famous Sally Lunn buns. You can’t go to Bath without getting a Sally Lunn bun. The place was packed so we got a bun to go.

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MrB holds the bun box in Bath’s square.

MrB said, “I could fit four hamburger patties on this.”

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The photo doesn’t do justice to the size of this thing.

We returned to London that night from Bath and the next day we headed to Paris. (That will be my next post.) But before getting on the Eurostar, we had our not-three-hour train ride back to London, during which we decided that we had enjoyed Bath so much that we want to return. My hope for next year is to go to nearby Stonehenge first. Then we’d go to Bath’s Thermae Bath Spa to “take the waters” like the Romans and Austen’s crowd; have a torchlit dinner at the Roman baths; and stay overnight at the Royal Crescent Hotel. I wouldn’t have this great plan if I’d let the gloomy train employee discourage us from going, and, again, my willingness to invest the time is due to the 2011 McQueen incident. Missing McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum is my own personal version of the butterfly effect.




Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I don’t know why this video from 2014 popped up in my Twitter timeline recently, but I’m glad it did.  We’ve got The Voice television talent show here — where judges initially face away from the would-be stars in order to focus on the voices — but other countries have The Voice Kids, for 8- to 14-year-olds.

Last year, a kid named Soufjan Ibrahim sang Lady Gaga’s “Applause” for his audition on The Voice Kids Germany. The judges were blown away, and now I can’t stop watching it.

Apparently, Soufjan didn’t make it to the finals. Alas!




Monday, August 10, 2015

Donald Trump is terrifying, but the story that Drew Magary wrote about Trump and his fans for GQ Magazine is laugh-out-loud funny. It starts with …

“The bus tells you everything you need to know because the bus is a piece of shit. You would expect a Donald Trump campaign bus to be MOST LUXURIOUS, MOST DESIRED, NUMBER ONE BUS in the world, with a solid-gold chassis and marble toilets and a rooftop fuck cabana. This is not that bus.”

… and it gets even better from there.

Click here to read “What Kind of Person Would Vote For Donald Trump? These People.”

Life is hard for women. The “Extreme Self-Care for Modern Ladies” guide by Jamie Lauren Keiles for Broadly has helpful tips to minimize stress. For instance, “To avoid having to rush in the morning, decide the night before whether you’d like to be judged harshly for being too sexy or not sexy enough.” Read it while snorting a crushed Plan-B tablet, per Keiles’s recommendation.

Finally, Reggie Ugwu interviewed Rebecca Black for BuzzFeed. Remember Rebecca Black? Four years ago, when she was 13, a vanity-production company spread shared her video of a weekend-lauding song called “Friday.” Rebecca became both famed and shamed overnight. Great news: She seems to be doing just fine. Click here to read “The Unbreakable Rebecca Black.”




Sunday, August 9, 2015

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

And over on Instagram, I’ve shared tips for untangling chains and a sneak peek of a new earring design.




Friday, August 7, 2015

I was in Paris this week. A few days ago, MrB and I were on the fancy shopping street Rue Saint-Honoré, making our way to concept-store Colette. I always visit Colette, though I’ve never bought anything there. I like to look at the fine jewelry cases and point out to MrB where my designs would fit in perfectly.

As we were walking, I was talking to MrB about some business issues. I said, “I know they can get me a deal, the question is, can they get me a BIG deal?”

A voice loudly answered, “You’ll get the big deal!” I was like, “OMG, the universe is answering me at last!!!” but then I whipped around and saw a cheerful-looking, eavesdropping dude. “In fact,” the man continued in an American accent, “You’ll get the biggest deal. Bigger than you can imagine!” MrB and I laughed, and I thanked the man and said, “Now I feel very confident about this. I know it will happen!”

Then, as MrB and I headed on our way, the man called after us:

“ALWAYS REMEMBER, YOU DON’T GET WHAT YOU DESERVE! YOU GET WHAT YOU CAN NEGOTIATE!”

Totally true. (A variation on this tip is that when negotiating, ask for more than what you want, because you’re guaranteed to get less. I can testify to this because when I’ve agreed to practically nothing, I’ve gotten less than nothing, meaning I’ve lost money on “deals” with stores.) Anyway, there you have it. Words of business wisdom from a stranger on the streets of Paris. This one will have to go in my book.

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MrB and I on the Paris metro.

 




Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ten years ago this month, on a visit to Scotland, I learned it isn’t always wise to grab a bull by the horns.

Photo taken Aug. 15, 2005 (MrB's birthday!).

Photo taken Aug. 15, 2005 (MrB’s birthday!).

Meet Hamish.

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Nervous about the horns even at a distance.

Hamish the Highland cattle was one of several interesting animal-related sights in Scotland. I immediately sought out the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye terrier who supposedly spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner.

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At the Bobby statue. I still have that sleeveless turtleneck despite its sad history. Click to read the original post about the top.

I met some peacocks on the grounds of a castle. I love the ones with the traditional blue/green plumage …

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I still have that McQueen jacket and Prada purse.

… but white peacocks are pretty special too.

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Strut!

Certain city people get very excited about sheep.

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Free-range sweaters!

Unfortunately, I failed to find the Loch Ness monster. Poodle Maps was brand-new back in 2005, and nowhere near as sophisticated as it is now. Today, you can search for Nessie via Street View. Once you find her, you can take her for a 22-minute ride across the loch. Please ask her nicely!

There are so many fascinating historical sites in Scotland, including Edinburgh Castle, the standing stones of Kilmartin Glen

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Kinda like Stonehenge, but smaller.

… the ruins of Urquhart Castle (on the banks of Loch Ness) …

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I love a good ruin.

… and Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie’s home.

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A nice little pad.

I also enthusiastically took in everything related to Mary, Queen of Scots. (Two years later, I was designing jewelry inspired by Mary.)

When traveling, it’s important to stop and smell the roses pose with flowers …

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I got rid of those Jil Sander khakis just a couple of years ago.

… and take photos of entertaining signs.  MrB and I use the word “wee” a lot, as in “Gigi the dog is going to wee on the rug if you don’t walk her this minute!”

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If you drink too much at the Stagger Inn, you’ll be Staggering Out.

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Don’t tell me you’d be able to resist taking a picture of this street name in St. Andrews.

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As long as you can resist grabbing Hamish’s horns, it’s all good!

How about that hair style and those khaki pants, though? I was only six months out of my last corporate job, and my style had yet to adjust.




Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Every once in a while, while I’m poking around vintage-clothing websites, I see something that makes me go …

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Well, I have found my ideal headwear for the coming winter on 1stdibs.com. I dare you to look at this 1970s hat/rhinestone mask combo and tell me it isn’t sooooo me.

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Click to purchase this for me.

I swear on my cats that I would wear this.

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No, really, someone buy this for me.

Not only is it beautiful, but I believe it would keep me safe on the mean streets of New York City, because no one would want to mess with someone crazy enough to wear this. Seriously. I need dis.




Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Women’s Jewelry Association’s 2015 Awards for Excellence Gala took place last Monday. If you’re in the jewelry biz, it’s a great organization to join. WJA’s mission, as described on its website, is, “To help women in the jewelry and watch industries advance and develop professionally through networking, education, leadership development and the provision of member services.” Men can join too!

All kinds of exciting things happened at the gala. It was great to know that one of WJA’s earliest — and oldest — members was there. Peggy Kirby is now 102 years old! My friend Peggy Jo Donahue posed for an Instagram photo with Peggy Kirby and noted that the latter “remembers what it was like to be a young working woman in the jewelry industry in the 1930s! Peggy endured … and led the way for the rest of us. I am proud to share her name.”

There were two award winners at my table. Deborah Nicodemus, the chief executive officer of online luxury retailer Moda Operandi, won for nontraditional retail, while my gorgeous friend Monica Stephenson won the editorial award for her website, iDazzle.com. I got to celebrate a second time with Monica later in the week, but that’s a story for another blog post. In the meantime, check out the very lovely and true comments from Barbara Palumbo of Adornmentality in this Instagram caption.


Barbara and I met up in the ladies’ room for our traditional duckface pose …

A photo posted by Wendy Brandes (@wendybrandes) on

… and also got in a snuggle.

In yesterday’s post, I shared a close-up of the peridot and diamond earrings that I wore. Now it’s time for the rest of the outfit.

wja2015resizeWhat Wendy Wore
Dress: Vintage Lillie Rubin (acquired 2006-ish)
Purse: Patricia Field (2015)
Shoes:  Badgley Mischka (pre-2005)
Jewelry: My own designs, of course!
Hair: Julie Matos of Warren-Tricomi
Makeup: Josie Torres

My ruffled/feathered/bedazzled 50 Shades of Green look (check out the matching eyeshadow!) was a bit over the top but I was determined to wear this vintage Lillie Rubin dress to something this summer. The last time I wore it was in 2007.  That makes it double vintage: Vintage by nature and vintage in terms of how long I’ve owned it. Here’s how it looked the last time I wore it.

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Click for original post.

And here’s how it looked on actress Gina Gershon when she wore it to a theater event in 2005.

That’s not the same style dress on Gina. That’s the actual dress that I now own. Gina borrowed it for her event and, a while later, I bought it. (Gina is clearly much thriftier than I am!) I bumped into her around the time I last wore it and we had a polite little chat about our mutual dress. Hey, Gina! If you ever want to borrow this again, holla at me!




Monday, August 3, 2015

How do the summers fly by, while one dreary month like March always seems to last a year?! At least August has a beautiful birthstone — yellow-green peridot. In celebration, I have a few new photos of my one-of-a-kind Susan earrings, which are back on my website after a hiatus. I’m making them my Jewel of the Month.

Thanks to Megan Knight for photographing these beauties …

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Click to purchase.

… and modeling them herself.

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Click to purchase.

This ultra-sex-ay photo of Eryn Patton wearing the Susan design is a favorite of mine. Earrings like these definitely deserve some bubbly!

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Click to follow me on Instagram.

I took the Susan earrings out for a spin myself last Monday at the Women’s Jewelry Association 2015 Awards for Excellence Gala. InDesign Magazine snapped this highlarious close-up. Look! I’m wearing 16.39 carats of peridot and 1.41 carats of diamonds next to my middle finger emoji stud earring.

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Talk about mixing high and low!

I created these 1 1/2″ long chandelier earrings several years ago as part of an auction to help a blogger who had been seriously injured in a small-plane crash. Another gorgeous blogger — Susan of Une Femme d’un Certain Age — was the high bidder who won blue topaz earrings, a specially engraved silver Diana necklace and immortality in the form of a namesake jewelry design. I asked Susan what kind of jewelry she’d want to carry her name and she expressed a preference for earrings and green gemstones. Voila!

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Click to purchase.

A lot of experts took a close look at these earrings at the Women’s Jewelry Association event, and all of them raved over the quality of the peridot.  The gems are set in 18K gold, and the earrings were handmade in New York by a jeweler whose work for other designers usually starts at around $150,000. In other words, these earrings are very, very special. You can purchase them from my website, and feel free to email me at info at wendybrandes dot com if you have any questions.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will show the rest of my WJA outfit!

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