The sharing and caring of the season is swell, but some of us get joy from coveting stuff. With that in mind, we present part one of our holiday gift guide, highlighting vanity-table delights as well as snacks and sips. Tomorrow: Books and DVDs.
On the radar: ‘The Artist’ and inspiration; ‘Chinatown’ kicks off series; long gone Hollywood; Crawford goes a little crazy
Great ideas spring from necessity and what’s more crucial than a perfect-fitting skirt?
That’s the thinking behind Los Angeles designer Kristen O’Connell’s latest venture, No.2, a site where couture shopping becomes easy and affordable. You pick the color, style and details of your dream skirt, then enter your measurements and wait for the skirt to arrive on your doorstep.
The Measure Yourself page shows how to obtain accurate measurements and you’ll have a chance to select a surprise lining, which means O’Connell chooses a special contrast fabric to line the skirt. If you need help, or need a measuring tape, O’Connell will walk you through the process and send you a tape. A skirt runs about $88, depending on what you choose.
I recently caught up with O’Connell to learn more.
Q What is it about providing this service that appeals to you?
A I want to see more skirts in the world! I think every woman looks absolutely stunning in a skirt.
Skirts can be fun, sophisticated, casual, formal and funky all depending on the user. Wearing a skirt that fits your body well and represents your personal style is quite possibly the greatest feeling in the world. I want to spread this feeling and eliminate torturous shopping excursions of searching for skirts and not finding the right style or color.
I want to end dressing-room disappointment by providing women with skirts that fit, skirts that are made specifically for their measurements. I want women to turn to No.2 to provide them with skirts that they love; skirts that make them feel confident and comfortable. I want to offer every woman something that represents her unique style and body.
Q Why do you think clothing manufacturers have been slow to recognize that, as you say on your site, we are much more (and less) than sizes 2-12?
A This can get deep . . . Most companies are doing their best. But, times and bodies have and are changing and this is the one of the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry. It is totally unrealistic to put every possible size combination into production; companies must narrow their size focus down to an average that they feel represents their customer.
They do lots of research on body types and measurements in order to come up with that average that they feel best represents the women they are targeting. With all this averaging it should work for some, but mostly it works for none. It’s something I give a lot of thought to, and I’m trying to help the best I can one skirt at a time.
Q What is the best part and hardest part about owning your own business and creating something that is unique?
A I very much enjoy drinking coffee in my pajamas while organizing my production schedule for the day.
Creating something unique is the best part for me. I’m a nonstop dreamer and ideas, creation and design are constantly running through my mind.
The hard part for me is to stop creating and concentrate on one creation long enough to nurture it and turn it into a reality or a product – preferably, a profitable one that people like.
Q Any advice for transitioning a pencil skirt from a daytime look to evening?
A The perfect thing about the pencil skirt is it needs no transitioning, it is always appropriate and always in style. In general, exchange the flats for heels, add jewelry, spray perfume, swipe on eyeliner, and add lipstick.
Q Who are your favorite designers and/or style icons?
A I love everything that is fashion! Fashion is my art. Tom Ford is my King, John Galliano paints my dreams and I love the trampy princess feel of Betsey Johnson.
Q What inspires you on a creative level?
A Absolutely everything. The colors of my torn-up mail in the trashcan, my boyfriend playing guitar, train graffiti and the sound of owls outside my bedroom window are a few of my favorites.
This fall, there’s much to covet at perfume counters.
My No. 1 choice: Givenchy’s Dahlia Noir. The first fragrance developed under creative director Riccardo Tisci, this floral chypre scent, in a decidedly unfussy bottle, is based on rose, iris and mimosa with woody facets such as sandalwood, patchouli and tonka bean. The 1.7 ounce eau de parfum is $90.
Says Givenchy: “Dahlia Noir embodies a mysterious and atypical woman.”
Full-on floral: Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde is “a new scent for a new era of feminine glamour” as represented by model Lara Stone. Compositional elements include violet, of course, along with pink pepper, mandarin, iris, jasmine, musk, cedar and vetiver. VB is $100 for 1.7 ounces of eau de parfum; available exclusively at Saks. Through Sept. 18 or while supplies last, online customers will receive a Violet Blonde eau de parfum mini with any Tom Ford purchase.
Sexy strength: The new fragrance from Francis Kurkdjian, Aqua Universalis forte, combines bergamot, Sicilian citron, white flowers, Egyptian jasmin, Moroccan roses and light wood notes. It’s citrusy and fresh, regal and sophisticated. $155 for 2.4 ounces of eau de toilette.
Elegance inside and out: Kurkdjian was also the creative force behind Elie Saab’s first fragrance, which has notes of orange blossom, jasmine, patchouli, rose and cedar. I love the bottle, designed by Sylvie de France; $90 for 1.6 ounces of eau de parfum. The ad campaign features Anja Rubik.
I did not receive product or compensation for this post.
Even if you’re a makeup minimalist, every femme fatale worth her revolver needs a signature scent to call her own. The holidays are always a great time to see if your perfume collection could use a few new pretty bottles. And of course fragrances make wonderful gifts for fellow vamps and virile fellows when you have an idea of the recipient’s taste. Dig in!
Norell eau de toilette This retro scent reminds me of an old friend of my mother’s who ran her own business, liked to eat Haagen-Dazs Swiss almond vanilla in the middle of the afternoon and always had her nails done in Jungle Red. Norell was one of her favorites in the late ’70s. Notes of musk, vanilla, moss and myrrh meet sassy florals jasmine, rose and ginger lily.
As long as we’re on memory lane, Norell also reminds me of a handsome senior financial editor I used to know who always complimented me when I wore a little Norell behind my ears. It’s a formidable fragrance for a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. $25.49 for 3.3 ounces at Target
Victoria’s Secret Sexy Little Things Noir eau de parfum Winner of the 2009 FiFi fragrance of the year award, this fruity floral blends nectarine, amber and cattleya orchid, according to the company. Put a little of this on and then try not to flirt. It will put you in the mood, period. The black bottle and retro pump with tassel (what a cute gift!) would do Lana Turner proud. $29 for .85 ounces; $39 for 1.7 ounces; $49 for 3.4 ounces
Michael Kors Very Hollywood eau de parfum True, this fragrance is more starlet than Stanwyck, what with its soft feminine notes (mandarin, gardenia and vetiver) and clean, dare I say wholesome, finish. But even tough ladies are tender sometimes and when you feel the need for a light and luscious confection, Very Hollywood should do the job nicely. $45 for 1 ounce eau de parfum; $65 for 1.7 ounces; $85 for 3.4 ounces
Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir cologne Fruity with a smoky edge, this cologne, inspired by a red silk dress and that jewel of the desert, the pomegranate, is sure to bring out your wily side. And Jo Malone’s light singular scents are designed to be used in “the art of fragrance combining.” I like to mix Pomegranate Noir with French Lime Blossom or Vintage Gardenia. I’m also partial to the woody Wild Fig & Cassis, on its own. The black and white packaging is so clean, simple and elegant, Jo Malone is a must on any girl’s vanity table. $55 for 30 ml cologne; $100 for 100 ml cologne
Gucci Guilty eau de toilette “She’s got something on her conscience,” says Raymond Massey in “Woman in the Window” from 1944. “But what woman hasn’t?” Just ask Gucci, maker of this oriental floral fragrance with top notes of pink pepper, a heart note of lilac and base notes of patchouli and amber. Playing on neo-noir appeal, Evan Rachel Wood and Chris Evans heat up the screen in Gucci Guilty’s commercial, directed by Frank Miller. Mmmm, bring it on! $55 for 30 ml; $75 for 50 ml; $95 for 75 ml
D&G L’Imperatrice eau de toilette Fresh and clean, yet sophisticated, you could wear this just about anywhere. Dolce & Gabbana says the inspiration for this fragrance collection came from personality types. L’Imperatrice stems from The Star: “Flamboyant and energetic, for L’Imperatrice life is a movie and she is its heroine.” Notes are watermelon, kiwi and pink cyclamen with a musky base. $65 for 3.4 ounces
Guerlain L’Heure Bleue (The Blue Hour) eau de toilette, et al “Why do they still make perfumes like Bouquet des Fleurs as if things still happened in flower gardens?” Van Heflin asks Joan Crawford in “Possessed” from 1947. Seductions might not take place in rose gardens any more, but flower power hasn’t diminished one iota.
When Guerlain, another perfumer with a kick-ass pedigree, created this scent in 1912, it was all about flowers. Says Guerlain’s site: “Jacques Guerlain … pictured this bouquet of roses softened with iris, violet and vanilla, which evoke his favorite moment of the day when, as he put it, ‘the night has not yet found its star.’ ”
L’Heure Bleue may be a bit intense for some, but I love its distinctive character. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue eau de toilette, $70 for 1.7 ounces; $97 for 3.1 ounces
And if, as a little girl, you saw a bottle of Shalimar at your grandmother’s house, used a drop and thought, “I’m so glad I’m a girl,” you have Guerlain to thank for that happy moment. Shalimar eau de parfum, $72 for 1 ounce; $95 for 1.7 ounces
Also, ideal for holiday parties: Guerlain’s Or Imperial Sublime Radiant Powder Face & Body – violet-scented iridescent bronzing powder – housed in Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne Impériale bottle, $85. Ooh la la …
Tom Ford Private Blend Noir de Noir Eau de Parfum Tom Ford is so brilliant, just wearing something he created makes you feel inspired. Take on the world? Sure, I can do it with my eyes closed. Maybe it’s the sleek clean lines of the brown glass bottle that seem to whisper at dawn, “shoulder pads, darling, and stand up straight!”
And then there’s the delight of inhaling and dabbing the provocative but dignified Noir de Noir on your skin. Designed for the fragrance connoisseur, it’s an oriental with notes of saffron, black rose, black truffle, vanilla, patchouli, oud wood and tree moss.
He had me at black rose. $190 for 1.7 ounces; $260 for 3.4 ounces; $465 for 8.3 ounces
Bond No. 9 Madison Soiree The company puts it this way: “Ultra-feminine elegance and unmistakable posh meet unabashed sultriness in this day-into-late-night-blooming floral bouquet.” Notes of gardenia, jasmine, oakmoss. Madison Soiree is one of many unforgettable Bond No. 9 fragrances with New York namesakes and each stunning bottle nearly bursts with the city’s inimitable energy. $215 for 100 ml eau de parfum
Creed Royal English Leather eau de toilette Creed has been crafting amazing fragrances for centuries and this example is uncommonly sexy. Oh and did I mention it’s from the men’s line? Maybe that’s why I like it so much. Top notes are mandarin and bergamot; middle note is ambergris; base notes are leather and sandalwood.
Not so sure re: leather? It’s definitely, pleasantly, different. According to Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of “The Secret of Chanel No. 5,” Coco Chanel liked that her English lover Arthur “Boy” Capel smelled of “leather, horses, forest, and saddle soap.”
You can share Royal English with the guys in your life or if you think you’ll spar over the jar, get him some Green Irish Tweed (sandalwood, ambergris, violet leaves, verbena and iris) which, the company says, was “created … for a film industry client who personified masculine style and elegance on the silver screen.”
Royal English Leather $150 for 2.5 oz/ 75 ml
Green Irish Tweed $130 for 1 oz/30 ml travel size; $270 for 4 oz/ 120 ml flask
Chanel No. 5 OK, I cheated, there are 11 top scents. So sue me. But surely you didn’t think I was going to bring up Coco Chanel’s name and then not mention the world’s best-selling perfume, Chanel No. 5. As author Tilar J. Mazzeo writes: “Reverently known among industry insiders as le monstre – the monster – it is arguably the most coveted consumer luxury product of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.”
Chanel No. 5 parfum $95 for .25 ounces; $155 for .5 ounces
Chanel No. 5 eau de parfum $80 for 1.7 ounces; $115 for 3.4 ounces
Product Source: From my own collection and store samples; I did not receive products or compensation from companies named.