Monday, June 30, 2008

From Beach to Bash to Bar, Sea Bags for All Occasions

June 30, 2008

Made from recycled sails and made in Portland,Maine, these authentic Made-In-America totes can give those L.L. Bean bags the run for their money. Durable enough for the beach but adorable enough for the ballet or benefit bash yet chic enough for the clubs and bars afterwards, Sea Bag is a great lifestyle item that can carry you through the day.
A product of Yankee thrift that became Eco Chic, this All American bag can be the perfect companion for the 4th of July parties or anytime during the Summer where most people will start the day on the beach then end up in a party or picnic watching the fireworks.
This nifty bag made from good old canvas to Kevlar, hold beverages, sunscreen, towels, magazines, and sandwiches up and down the East and West Coast.
Since it's inception by a sailor's daughter in 1999, it surprisingly gained a cult following among fashionistas in the the know, an insider alternative to the L.L. Bean tote bag.
The Large tote can carry the needs of a whole family while the Small tote is chic enough to swing around the ballet then the bars at night. The Medium bag is great for shopping excursions.
Sea Bags are carried in small boutiques but you can easy get one at their website at or just call them at 1-888-210-4244.
They'll help get your Summer Celebrations started.

Yes Virginia, Preppies Do Exist In Los Angeles

by Laura Medina

June 30, 2008
Can’t think of a better way to make merry the 4th of July than with a Pink and Green Lilly Pulitzer Fashion Charity Bash. Even though it was held on June 21st at Los Angeles’ most exclusive beach club, The Jonathan Club, it’s a unique yet a quintessential way to celebrate All-American Style.

As Jane Seymour, the celebrity guest host and a twenty-year City Heart supporter, said, “A little of East Coast style goes a long way on the West Coast.”

This flamingo pink pique shift dress is glamorized when a white lace crochet collar is encrusted in crystals and baubles of various sizes and shapes, making an impromptu necklace. Lilly herself would had praised this cute and clever design.

The Hollywood Male Prepster is Sunset Blvd. Rocker meets Connecticut Navy Blue Blazer. With deft tailoring along the princess line, the boxy blue blazer and the Kelly green trouser had the frumpiness deflated out of them, making the ensemble sleek and sexy. Preppy Male for the 21st Century.

It seems like that rare species, the Hollywood Preppy, has come out in full force for this charity event, totaling in a few hundreds.

This beach party/fashion show/pop-up boutique isn’t for fashion sake. It’s a fundraiser for City Hearts, an after-school arts program for disadvantaged kids. Following Lilly’s philosophy of giving back while having a good time, 20% of that day’s sale goes directly into the foundation. Practicing Lilly’s "Barefoot Elegance" of ease and entertainment, this is also the Fiftieth Anniversary of Lilly Pulitzer getting into business, starting off with her juice stand then her classic shift dress to disguise the juice stains. It's been a legacy from then on. Expressing their hearts, this three-part fashion benefit is modeled by hot and healthy teachers from the City Hearts Program. Yes, real people can and do wear Lilly.

The show celebrates the past, the present, and the future of Lilly Pulitzer. The first part was the Vintage Collection showing the first collection that debut in the first Lilly store in La Jolla, California fifty years ago and making a comeback, as well as the re-opening of the store.

Obviously, the middle capsulation is the Present Collection with plenty of cute and sexy crochet knits and sporty ready-to-wear tops and trousers.

The finale is the more glamorous and sophisticated eveningwear of the Future Collection, consisting of shimmering caftans and beaded appliquéd gowns, think of Lilly growing up from beachwear to cocktail party.
Following the “Essentially Lilly, Guide to Colorful Entertaining,” the gourmet buffet was practically lifted from the recipes in the book, from the succulent poached salmon to the gooey s’mores roasting on a fire pit on the beach. According to her, green stands for life, bounty, health, and of course, earth while pink represents for hope, romance, and flawlessness. Put them together, you get perfection.

Have a Pink and Green Lilly 4th of July! Let’s the celebration begin!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Monkey:Journey to the West or Curious George Finds Enlightenment

June 9, 2008
The show itself is a metaphysical journey, challenging what it means to be an opera at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Monkey, Journey to the West is a very ancient Buddhist folk tale passed down for 1,400 years. Over the centuries, people basically took a young monk’s trip in collecting Buddha’s sacred text from India to China then spin it into a children’s fairy tale, embellished with humanistic animals, fairies, and demons. Here is how Monkey is born.
Actually, the producer/director, Chen Shi-Zheng gave birth to the production as a “circus opera.” He wants to showcase the best of traditional Chinese marital opera but enliven it for the twenty- first century by making it contemporarily relevant when Blur’s/Gorillaz’s Damon Albarn and illustrator James Hewitt came on board to compose the techno-rock composition and design set, costumes, and makeup. The main character, the Monkey King or just plain, “Monkey,” was decked out in a yellow Adidas tracksuit with black racing stripes, identical to what Uma Thurman wore in “Kill Bill.”

The kung-fu acrobatics are breathe-taking but the cheeky humor keeps this action-packed musical warm, light-hearted, and understanding for the audience. Monkey is not only marital arts powerhouse but a mischievous imp who gets himself in all sorts of scrapes. His straight-forward honesty is hilarious.

Watching the 60 plus cast of the Dalian Acrobatic Troupe flinging and flying through the air in harnesses and contorting themselves into pretzels and hats while singing Mandarin arias to a rock lullaby is a rare spectacle unto itself. Because of the physical tenacity, Chen specifically hires teenagers limber enough to twist then tumble, packed with adolescent energy required for this opera. He auditions them at fifteen, trains them for two years, then they’re ready to tackle the stage at 18. By the time, they’re seasoned but sore and stiff professionals, he has no choice but to retire them by 20 or 21. This is more rigorous than Cirque du Soliel, the troupe that defined “circus opera.” At least, they give twenty-somethings a chance.

The opera is split into two acts. The birth and introduction of Monkey then Monkey’s redemption and the actual journey. The first act was the premise of Monkey. The opening animation montage of his birth out of a stone egg then the whimsical live acts sets his impetuous character and personality. The funniest scene was when he went shopping for weapons in a undersea workshop of his own selfish quest of immorality. He rejected every spear and bow. The sea monster/shopkeeper even suggested a guided missile. But Monkey settled on a chain mail crop jacket, a helmet, a magical rod, and cloud-hopping shoes before he located the Peaches of Immorality at the Queen Mother’s party then trashed it. He slays sword-wielding guests on unicycles and scared off flying fairies on harnesses. With the Queen crying out for help, Buddha reaches out his 15 ft. long hand to Monkey, asking him to surrender without harm. Uh-huh, said the Monkey. Flipping over, Buddha traps him in his palm and keeps him there for the next 500 years.

The second act and the real action start when Monkey is paroled if he escorts a young monk in getting Buddha’s sacred text in India. Thus, the “Journey to the West” begins. Monkey’s fighting prowess shines in fight scenes with deceptive Cannibals who want to munch on the monk for their own immorality. The funniest scene is when Monkey reluctantly saves the monk’s virginity from the sexy silk aerialist Spider Woman, ensnaring him in her web. The real battle was when they had to cross volcanoes of Fiery Mountain. To get Iron Mountain Princess’ huge fire-proof fan, Monkey had to battle every marital arts weapons conceived, from whirling chain whips to double-edged swords, with his magical rod. The athleticism and agility ought to be applauded for the high levels of skill and endurance. Doing these advance, complicated stunts for two hours on nightly basis for two whole weeks isn’t for the prim and proper faint of heart. This is why Monkey is an extraordinary, rare treat. No everyone can do this. Mentioned earlier, even these performers can’t do this forever before their bodies break. Monkey is a glimpse of an athlete’s brief peak performance in their late teens.

After crossing the volcanoes, they reach India and found the sacred texts. The 35 ft. tall Buddha rewards them with well-earned enlightenment. The young monk becomes a priest. Proving his bravery and self-sacrifice, the more mature Monkey was appointed Buddha of Military Victory.
The following thunderous applause and uninterrupted sold-out performances for two weeks straight is a good sign that this is a hit and a crowd-pleaser that reached a wide swath of age groups, from eighty-years old to eight. This is the much-needed boost to Spoleto USA’s financial bottom line which has suffered a deficit throwing tried but tired reproductions of classic stand-bys that jaded Charlestonians has seen repeatedly for the past thirty years that some become Spoleto clichés. “Porgy & Bess,” anyone? Monkey and the new audience it brings is a fresh infusion of new blood that the organization needs. By throwing Monkey, Spoleto proves it can throw cosmopolitan showcases and compete on the greater world stage. For a Spoleto production, it was awe-inspiring and a fresh breathe-taker.

Red Hot Tango

June 13, 2008
In conjunction with the bigger Spoleto USA, Piccolo Spoleto offers Charleston Ballet Theater's "Twisted Tango" as it's centerpiece.
Fermenting since January 08, “Twisted Tango,” has been tantalizing audiences in smoky bars and intimate nightclubs, growing a loyal fan following for this new, “cabaret ballet.” Taking off the stiff tutu, strapping on the high heels, Charleston Ballet loosens up and brought ballet to the people.

Running concurrently with the growing interest in traditional Argentinean tango, the Charleston Ballet mixed in the more grounded, sweeping steps with pirouettes and arabesques. Especially the arabesques, they’re made more masculine-sexier-by the male dancers. Due to the high heels and longer, tighter dresses, the female and male dancers are dependent on each other for support than traditional ballet. As they say in tango, the partners are dancing for each other. Therefore, the couple works together as a unit. Unlike in ballet, where the male dancer supports the female dancer, the spot-light and the central story are focused on the couple. This is what makes the tango sexy. The audience witnesses the couple’s attraction and spats then reconciliation.

Since ballet involves a whole troupe, Twisted Tango, fleshes out a relationship into a whole story. The first act is about the battle grounds of dating when the troupes of the supporting male and female dancers interact. The second act focuses on a couple-and the woman’s lover watching from the sideline. As usual, it starts with a lovers’ spat, rebounding with a third lover, reuniting and fighting off the spurned lover. It wasn’t the movement itself that make this production hot. It was the intriguing story development arc that kept the audience glued to its seats. Tango’s passionate drama heating up ballets’ reserved gracefulness is what makes Twisted Tango spicy.

La Cenerentola: The Real Cinderella

June 9, 2008

At the opposite end of the spectrum, is the more classically European “La Cenerentola” Gioacchino Rossini’s follow-up to “The Barber of Seville.” Before Charles Perrault (the father of the literary genre, fairy tales) sprinkled it with a fairy godmother, a pumpkin carriage, singing mice, and a pair of glass slippers then Disney cliché it, Cinderella or Cenerentola was distilled into its bare essence of abused girl being pushed around by her narcissistic stepsisters and step-parent. Instead of a hag of a stepmother, it’s a wrinkly, greedy, but financially-strapped step-father, Don Magnifico, desperate to unload his frumpy daughters onto wealthy husbands. He views Cenerentola/Cinderella as an unwanted excess. A scholarly royal tutor, Alidoro, is the fairy godfather. The pair of glass slippers is replaced with a pair of simple but elegant bracelets.

In Rossini’s hands, he took a sweet, simple fairy tale and turns it into a farce of double identity, wacky enough for the Marx Brothers. Instead of a prince magically appearing at the end of the tale, we got a picky royal, Prince Ramiro, shopping for that particular wife who will love him for him, not the title and the money. “The fairest in the land” is a woman with a kind heart.

A couple of trials were sent to Don Magnifico’s home. First, Alidoro came disguised as a beggar to test the family’s generosity. Only Cenerentola took pity on him and fed him bread and coffee. When he told Ramiro about her kindness, the Prince wants to know more about her. So, he sent in another test. He sent his servant/butler, Dandini, as him and Ramiro disguise himself as Dandini, successfully fooling the greedy Don Magnifico’s family. The dumpy stepsisters thought they hit the lottery with Dandini and he had a hoot playing the prince. While the girls chased after the servant, Ramiro meets Cenerentola and talks to her. Appalled by Don’s harsh treatment, Ramiro asked Alidoro how to get her out of that house.

While Dandini plays and teases with the girls at the palace, Alidoro snuck Cenerentola out of the run-down house. Don gets drunk in the royal cellar. When the ball started, people were awestruck by this beautiful, mysterious, veiled stranger. It’s Cenerentola! She’s so cleaned up and coiffed that not even her own family recognized her. They viewed her as threat.

The next day, Prince Ramiro and Servant Dandini arrive to the Don Magnifico’s household, revealing their true identity. Angry, they accused the royal entourage for misleading them. Without a thought, Prince asked Cenerentola to marry him.

At her wedding, she asked Prince to forgive her crude family. Touched by her charity, he forgives his in-laws. Don Magnifico rejoices as part of the royal family household.
Due to the lack of theater space, the opera had to employ a huge video screen projecting moving montages to change the background and scenery. Even in this traditional opera, multi-media was used as twentieth-century efficiency.

This silly, lighted-comedy was a good time for all.

Guayaberas & Dreadlocks with Cotton Candy

The Reggae Slice Band

June 13, 2008

In the celebration of international culture and Caribbean roots, Piccolo Spoleto marches to a new Cuban beat while keeping its Reggae soul.

It was a fun and free time for all, for two Saturdays. Piccolo Spoleto launches with it’s beloved Reggae Block Party at the new Marion Square Park location. It’s a tradition among loyal festival goers to party at the free block party and let loose with gallons of beer-and the long line at the port-a-potties. The Reggae Block Party celebrates Charleston’s Caribbean-African roots. In its long history, people come to expect to catch major stars and emerging talents on their way becoming international stars. People chilled out to the Slice Band.

Tipping its hat to the growing Latino population, Piccolo celebrates its twenty-ninth birthday with something new on the second Saturday, a Cuban Block Party. Rousing opener, Garage Cuban Band, got people off their feet. Vendors peddle cotton candy between enthusiastic kids kicking it up in a conga line. Young, twenty-something men sporting airy guayaberas shirts, honoring Cuba, puff on Miami stoogies they picked up from the cigar store across the street. The women’s attire went from comfortably hippie at the Reggae Party a week ago to stylish babydolls and sexy camisoles with their strappy high heels digging into the soft dirt. Not bad, when all the hot clubs and bars are a hop and a scotch away. Couples rhumba and salsa to headliner, Garage Cuban Band, until the very end.

Piccolo Spoleto’s celebration of the new knocked people out of their complacent comatose of the predictable tried and true. It regenerates the idea of searching something fresh while exploring the possibilities of celebrating new cultures as the influx of new people, from other countries and California, spices up Charleston’s population and jazzes it the growing art scene.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Dolce & Gabbana than you can shake a stick at....

If you ever gotten around to making a trip to Hollywood. A good place to start is actually West Hollywood, a self-imposed big town of starlets and trendsters. Or, if you even want to try out your luck in Hollywood or just "Slumming" from your East Coast friends and family, what a better to immense yourself with the natives than dressing like them.
Better yet, dress better than them at a deep discount.

You wouldn't have to resort to cheap, sweatshop knock-offs. These are the real things.

At this yet-to-be discovered boutique, the Fashion Factory Boutique. Directly behind the behemoth Beverly Center Mall at 8601 Beverly Blvd, it houses Just Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana for the young, aspiring starlets and hunks at 40% to 80% off the regular price.

They'll have you covered from head to toe, literally. A table full of Valentino pumps. A wall of over-sized Chloe bags. Mind you, when you go upstairs to the women's department, there are ladylike fashions from Missioni and Dolce & Gabbana prim enough to have tea with your granny or breezy easy enough to impress your bffs or frenemies at the next Summer Soiree. You can easily fool them that you have the serious cash to pay full price.

But the best deal are the easy-to-pack kimono tops, ranging from $74 to $85 and 575 jeans at $99, the exact same things you can easily over-pay for in Mt. Pleasant, SC or downtown Charleston. What you pay for back home, can easily pay for two items at Fashion Factory.

Don't let that West Hollywood attitude intimidate you. The sales folks at Fashion Factory are here to help and find Southern accents adorable. Use it to the hilt!

Finally, souvenirs you can actually use or a quick way to fit in with the hyper-trendy West Hollywood crowd. Stuff to impress the folks back home.

Traci Bingham enjoying the Debut Party.

Fashion Factory is beautiful at night.

New Trend: Brown Leather

Hipster Brown Leather

Move over Eighties/Ninties Black. Here comes the more earthy and more ecological friendly, brown or tan leather jacket. Morphing out of the "Top Gun" flight/bomber jacket. It's made leaner and sleeker into military jackets, motorcross jackets, and for the resurge in the Maxi Seventies vibe, the blazer.

A more refreshing option that can be found at thrift and vintage stores if you look hard enough. Better yet, if you're a Gen-X offspring of a Baby Boomer, dig through your dad's closet then quietly "borrow" his. How ecological with history!

Honeyed Fashion

Honeyed Fashion
By Laura Medina
In celebrating the eightieth anniversary of Winnie The Pooh, Disney artists worldwide collaborated with Kidada Jones, composer/arranger Quincy Jones’ daughter and fashion designer/stylist, in creating a limited edition sportswear line using Winnie The Pooh in graphic prints. It lines up with Disney’s special art book paying homage to the soulful bear, “The Art of Winnie the Pooh,” where each artist interprets the bear and his friends in each artist’s unique style.
After reinterpreting childhood memories of Tinkerbell and Alice in Wonderland into hipster icons, Disney gave Kidada free rein in redesigning Winnie into a special collection of trendy streetwear for young grown-ups, proving you could never out-grow Winnie.
The Disney artists reflect their own tastes and personality onto Winnie, using him as a canvas conveying their more mature and complicated sense of humor, anxiety, loneliness, contentment, and joy. Some even poke fun at Disney culture itself. John T. Quinn’s portrait of an amusement park employee singing his lungs out in a Winnie costume is ironic as it is humorous.
These sketches aren’t mere animation cells but rare and one-of-a-kind artwork diving into the human soul. While, others distill the simplicity of joy that Pooh represents. The serenity of childhood was expressed in a cuddly painting by Elizabeth Ryazantseva and Ed Andaluz, a toddler girl snug in her Winnie onsie hoodie playing with Piglet. A touching comment on childhood innocence and joy.
The Joy of Pooh was further reflected in the yummy buffet of peanut butter and honey sandwiches and oodles of pastries, throwing adult diet anxieties out the window. The rainbow of candy would do a bear proud. A brief window of time where everyone can just be a kid.