Posts by: Tonya Mezrich

Anne Fontaine with Valery Freland (to her right)

BOSTON – French and Brazilian designer Anne Fontaine recently joined with Valéry Freland, the Consul General of France in Boston, to kick off Forest Day 2018 with a fundraiser at the consul’s home. The swanky event raised more than $12,000 toward the goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2022 to reforest the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, the Mata Atlântica.

Boston’s most famous Brazilian supermodel, Gisele Bunchen, was not able to attend, but donated a 15-pound (not a typo!) sparkly, designer, green mini-dress to the Foundation that she wore in San Paolo many years ago. The Anne Fontaine Foundation [/] will auction it off at an upcoming event in Washington, D.C., to raise more money for the cause.

We attendees were invited to meet with Anne and her foundation chair, Dorothee Charles, to hear more about the mission as well as tour the new collection at the Anne Fontaine boutique, located at The Heritage on the Garden on Boylston Street in the Back Bay. (Anne also has a luxe boutique in Beverly Hills.)

Anne, charming as ever, spoke to me about how she is always connected to nature in her collections, so much so that in 2011 she decided to create the Anne Fontaine Foundation in order to save the Amazon Rainforest.

Tonya Mezrich with Anne and attendees.

It was lovely touring the new collection, as Anne showed me her very first pair of jeans. Lots of blues, such as a fun flirty blue sweater and of course her signature white shirts which bore the floral theme. Anne raved about a pair of white floral trainers that are flying off the shelves.

I was drawn to the sleeves on this crisp white shirt in the center of the store and the floral lace shirt that the store manager was wearing. Laces are French and from Calais, Anne indicated, from production houses who have been producing lace for more than four generations.

Anne beamed about her new collection: Anne Fontaine Casual. These pieces have a price point of $200 to $300 per shirt rather than the higher boutique of $350 to $395 price point. I respect designers who find ways for those watching their budget to have access to beautiful designs and invest in significant pieces. I fell in love with a mesh jacket with floral appliqués on the sleeves. Apparently all of her staff want this jacket as well! Check out the AnneFontaine site and tell me what you think?

It was a pleasure to spend the afternoon with Anne again, two years later after my first visit and interview with her! She has 52 stores to visit year-round, and Boston is happy to boast being the first stateside store of the brand, and as store manager, Amanda, puts it, “We are the mothership of Anne Fontaine!”

 

Fashion designer Charles Neumann

I spent the morning of the dress rehearsal chatting with costume designer Charles Neumann, who was handpicked by director James Darrah of the Boston Lyric Opera to bring the characters to life through his signature costuming. Having known each other from working together at Central City Opera in Colorado upon Neumann’s graduation in 2011, their long history afforded the BLO with a treat in costuming rich in background, design, and story that will be a true delight for the audience in the upcoming production of “The Threepenny Opera” this Friday at the Boston Lyric Opera House. (I’m entranced by the description of one character’s costume, which turns out to be Neumann’s fave as well.) Read more to find out the ins and outs of what goes into developing a costume wardrobe for a full-scale opera production and how a ready-to-wear fashion designer makes the jump from clothing design to costume design.

What is your background in fashion?

I graduated in 2011 from Lasell College in Newton with a BA in apparel design and production and went from graduation to Central City Opera in Central City Colorado for their summer season. I have been working since then on project commission work for smaller opera companies. I do a lot of ready-to-wear, but wanted to transition to costumes.

How would you describe your brand?

Women’s ready-to-wear, separates, mix and match separates, geared towards an “eye on the past”—a weird forward-thinking retrospect. My style details are pulled from fashion and apparel history. I like to use modern silhouettes, mix them. For example, if you had your two favorite people, what would they wear if we were on a date? I came up with long silhouettes with a heavily distorted hounds tooth. I love to create jarring juxtapositions favoring bohemian, or earth wanderer aesthetic. I use lots of hand beading and have a sharp eye for high quality production. It has to be 100 percent perfect. If you were to describe my brand in three words it would be: sharp, nostalgic, bohemian.

Police Chief Tiger Brown

How does this tie in to your costume design choices for the BLO?

James Darrah approached me to do it—I met him at Central City, he was an [artistic director]. He followed my work, and came to me and said I’m doing this opera. Imagine existing in this world where your clothes are the only viable option for these people. I was immediately intrigued. He described this world that exists without a time or place. It feels new, and interesting, but also feels very familiar. It has an eye on the past. When you see the opera you’ll see that it’s my signature brand. There is lots of attention to handwork, mixed materials, lines very similar to what I typically work with.

 

 

How would you describe the aesthetic of the costuming for ‘The Threepenny Opera’?

It’s lovely, but it’s NOT lovely. It has a weird back and forth. Everyone exists on the same social level. No one is higher than anyone else. But everyone is scheming and planning to step all over everyone else. Your personal visual can take a step backwards when you have slipped away. The clothes become tattered, thread bare. Imagine a trunk in attic, filled with Victorian clothes, that when you touch they fall apart. You can tell they looked very beautiful at one time. “The Threepenny Opera” costumes feel like “all things forgotten,” melancholic, dark, and sad. Jarring, because the music is sharp and aggressive but also sad, and soft. A great example and signature piece is Lucy’s yellow velvet coat: sharp harsh lines, but contrastingly very organic.

How did you get into the design mode for this opera? What was your inspiration? Did you watch other productions or read the script, listen to the music?

Definitely a combination of all of the above. I read the script 100 times. It was really important for me to think about: Who’s going to wear these garments, what are they like? It’s harder than [ready-to-wear] because clothing is a signifier, a personal billboard to tell people this is how I feel—this is who I am. I had to do this for each of the characters in the show. Who were you? What did you do? How did you get where you are? Psychological profiles of how they see themselves and how they would show others how they see themselves. I watched 1920s versions of the show, as well as ’30s and ’40s. Used some of the elements from notable productions for the main character Mackise.

 

Jenny Diver

Which character did you relate to the most?

There were two. Jenny Diver, had this long history with Mackise, the villain. She’s sort of removed, aloof, always watching always seeing. She sells him out not once but twice to the Peachums to get him hanged. She has a similar aesthetic to mine, she wears this beautiful lace dress that has been worn and worn the hemline is tattered. She feels nostalgic and melancholic. It’s the main signifier of my look, by aesthetic and brand. The second one is Lucy Brown, the daughter of the chief of police. She’s certifiably crazy. Wearing yellow velvet coat with big portrait collar, sharp angular lines reminiscent of designers Viviene Westwood and Yoji Yamamoto. She’s driven crazy because she fell in love with this person who doesn’t love her back. That’s how I am with my work.

Macheath (aka Mac the Knife)

I know this has been your first large-scale commission for the performing arts following your work with MetroWest Opera. How has it been working for such a large-scale production and what were some of the challenges?

It’s been wonderful. The people at BLO have been a dream to work with. We are all vibrating on the same frequency, the director, lighting, set designer, all existing on the same frequency. What’s been tricky is I’m typically committed to an image, and to a process, but with opera things are always evolving. You get a lot of “This doesn’t work lets change this.” And you have to run with the punches. And, you’re running EVERY second. Like getting a call at 8 p.m. the night before the dress rehearsal (last night) with a “We need XYZ, can you get that?” It’s definitely made me become adaptable to change.

How many people are on your production team?

Quite a few: a project manager, an assistant, Costume Works in Somerville—they are a costume company for BLO, Disney— a patternmaker, and Liz Perlman who owns Costume Works and built and fabricated the yellow coat. It’s a team of about 12 to15 people working with me from fittings, pattern making, assembling, and altering. We’ve been working together for six weeks. Actually, today is the first day we will see all of the clothes living in the set, on the actors and under the lighting. It’s exciting, intimidating, and joyful all at the same time. I’m waiting to see these clothes exist on stage. If anything needs to be altered or changed luckily, there is time before the show opens.

Were there budgetary constraints on the wardrobe?

BLO had a great budget to work with. I had designed the show before I knew what our physical budget was. It was submitted to the costume shop. They did a price breakdown of what it cost. Our principal costumes if they have something specific, those things we build from the ground up. With the supporting and chorus, those are pieces we pulled and bought and altered. It wasn’t a challenge. I’m very thrifty anyways. I’m good at getting a great look for not a lot of money. I do this in my own designs for my clothing line—I don’t think that fashion should be isolating. I feel like it should be accessible.

What is your favorite costume of the show?

A couple. Lucy’s yellow coat. It’s so beautiful. It was a triumph in making it. When I suggested this coat at our initial meetings at BLO everyone was wanting this coat. …When it came to how are we going to make this, Liz Perlman, she was like “I got this.” She was able to take what existed on the page and turn it into reality. It’s super soft, very hard, draped structured. It was an achievement to make this coat. This velvet is covered in all these custom dyed chiffon flowers. I built one dress for the opera—the dress to be worn by Jenny Diver. It’s a chiffon dress with open work on top made of gray lace. It has shine with its asymmetrical bodice. It’s beautiful, very well built, floor length with a small train. I used several bones in the bodice. The whole bottom of the dress is cut away leaving a soft organic hemline. The best part was we submerged the lower half in water and painted into it with browns, grays, blacks, all dirty tones so it really looks like someone was wearing this beautiful dress for years, walking through back alleys and streets. We built and added all those years into the dress by distressing and staining it. It feels beautiful but sad. It is one of my favorite pieces. There is high melancholy in it. A dress with a long history.

What are the differences between creating costumes for an opera versus designing a collection for fashion show?

It’s really the target audience. When designing a collection for the runway you come in with a concept, create an image. With a runway show, you’re in a tighter avenue. You know who your ideal customer is, your target audience. With an opera you are creating an image aesthetic, but it’s like real life, everyone has their own style, so it’s not necessarily the same, so it becomes harder because you’re trying to work in an overall aesthetic, but be true to each character’s personality. You must do intense psychological breakdowns of each character but be true to this world you created. It’s more involved doing costuming.

What are the plans for the costumes after the show ends?

They will go back to Costume Works. They will be cleaned and get packed away. They go into the BLO stock. For any future shows, they can be pulled. There is an opportunity if BLO is in love with the show, they can freeze the show and the costumes don’t get broken down, and it can get rented to other productions all over the country. In any event, the BLO owns everything.

What is your next project?

I am working on a fall collection inspired by Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep and the image of the world in which he dwells—a cave filled with poppies, where the river of forgetfulness stems, a world without light or sound.

For more information on tickets to the performance go to https://blo.org/the-threepenny-opera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Necklace in platinum with aquamarines of approximately 61 total carats and diamonds from the Tiffany Blue Book Collection Price Upon Request

Gal Godot relaxes before the big evening. Earrings in platinum with diamonds $580,000.00

The 90th annual Academy Awards was not an exercise in shyness, though we did feel a strong throwback to old Hollywood glamour in many of the fashion choices. (Editor’s Note: Tonya was one of the few who predicted that the color palette would lighten up from the darker colors worn in protest earlier in awards season.)

There were lots of red, white, and blue as well as touches of the requisite shimmer. Necklines were plunging, asymmetrical or even turtled as in Maya Rudolph’s interesting choice of a billowing red gown. My favorites and top picks includes Gal Gadot in a plunging silver dress with an exquisite encrusted 27 carat aquamarine lariat drop necklace with more than 1000 diamonds from Tiffany & Co.

Also top on my list was Allison Janney in the stunning red low V-neck with draping kimono sleeves. It was very similar to Meryl Streep’s red in color and cut, but was simply stunning when she took the stage to receive the Oscar for her performance as Tonya Harding’s mother in “I, Tonya.” My third top choice was Laura Dern in a captivating white, one-shoulder dress by Calvin Klein. She doesn’t typically wow me on the red carpet, but definitely brought her old Hollywood A game to the Oscars.

With all of these top picks the bottoms are always interesting to explore as well. Top on my list of misses was Nicole Kidman in Giorgio Armani. The blue bow at her hips was distracting and just plain bizarre. It looked like a functional booboo, with nowhere for Nicole to place her hands.

 Another miss for me was Salma Hayek. Her lavender paillette gown with excessive garland like beading read more like Bollywood not Hollywood to me, but not in a successful way.

Was anyone else wondering what was Eiza Gonzalez wearing?  Her yellow “bodycon” gown looked like something you would wear coming back from a day on the beach. But it was a contouring couture from Ralph Lauren. (Note to the House of RL: What were you thinking? The material was all wrong for a black tie event, and almost insulting! I get it, she’s new to the awards, but please, next time have a publicist line up a designer for that girl!)

My last miss was Margot Robbie. This girl is so gorgeous that she could wear a Christmas tree and look good. The bad thing is, that’s exactly what she did! The beaded shoulder draping and neckline was just too holiday and not enough Hollywood for me. Sorry Margot, Chanel just wasn’t scoring high with this judge.

            Local connections to the award show are always fun to keep track of. David Fialkow of General Catalyst and producer of “Icarus,” winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature rocked the red carpet with red Ferragamo shoes which added a fun punch of color to his navy tuxedo. So glad he made it on stage to accept the award! Local designer, Beth Miller, bejeweled Natalie Morales with her signature pearl rose gold earrings and diamond rose gold ring.

What were your favorites and misses of the evening? Let us know in the comments or on social media.

Best Documentary Feature Film Oscar winner David Fialkow and family

Natalie Morales wearing Beth Miller

 

SOMERVILLE – A couple of nights before “Phantom Thread” opened in theaters styleboston’s Tonya Mezrich hosted an exclusive, special screening of the Paul Thomas Anderson movie that stars Daniel Day Lewis as a detail obsessed head of a London fashion house.

Here is Tonya’s report: Hosting an advance screening of this Paul Thomas Anderson 1950s drama last night was a real treat. Sixty-five of my dear friends and fashionphiles dressed in their hottest phantom threads gathered at the AMC theater in Assembly Square to get a sneak peek of the film. Touted to be Daniel Day Lewis’ last–he was brought out of retirement and his 10-year cobblership to get back together with Anderson to make this movie together.

The period and the setting are depicted so realistically that you can imagine this fictional movie being based loosely on reality—think an over-the-top version of Christian Dior or Oscar de la Renta. Having developed and run my own fashion house (but on a much smaller scale) years ago, the realism of the measuring, the fittings, the backstage chaos of a fashion show and ruining your piece de resistance hours before its intended delivery is all so accurate that it makes it hard to believe that it is indeed fiction.

However, Anderson brings us back to reality swiftly—with the ending of the movie making it very clear that this is so. But not without the characteristic playfulness, quirkiness and even dark side of Anderson’s filmmaking style we are familiar with as we remember the tormented Tom Cruise in “Magnolia.”

Editor’s note: Keep checking our pages as we continue to partner with those who bring you the best in lifestyle, arts and entertainment. The Boston Globe’s review goes even further than Tonya on recommending “Phantom Thread,” you can read it here.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/movies/2018/01/10/phantom/QCiWWhRcqcQSDfduMTdVPK/story.html

Hair by Timothy at Salon Capri
Makeup by Tavi

 

Brendan Cieko and Elizabeth Dobrska

Brendan Cieko and Elizabeth Dobrska

The theme, “Something Blue” kicked off the Museum of Fine Arts annual summer party with fantastical lights that illuminated the beautiful gowns on the steps of the Huntington entrance. This best dressed crowd of 25-46 year old revelers gathered to celebrate artist Juan Travieso and show their support for one Boston’s finest cultural institutions. Guests raised the fashion bar even higher this year, influenced I’m sure by the fact that Valentino was the lead sponsor. Boston and New York designer Michael DePaulo created a beautiful black, full petticoat, hi-lo gown with feathers and leather trimmings pour moi, while Abby Cushman stunned the crowd in a Michael DePaulo Valentino-red, floor length, off the shoulder trumpet gown. Blogger babes Jessica Diaz and Alisa Kapinos both sported floral—Jessica in a beautiful low cut, floral Alice and Olivia gown, which was news to me since I had no idea designer Stacey Bendet was doing ball gowns. But this was obviously a trend because Pia Miller, one of the co-chairs, also chose Alice and Olivia—a beautiful gold and auburn print floor length gown.  Co-chair Dobrska had a gorgeous vintage white and lavendar floral gown. I admired creatives like jewelry designer Maria Stokalska, who put together unexpected fashion combinations for the evening with her emerald green knee length circle skirt and a silk animal top-perfect for the night.

Endangered Bird #55a

Endangered Bird #55a, Juan Travieso

Aside from the gowns, the highlight of the evening was Juan Travieso. An artist we claim as our own, he was trained at the MFA Museum School and has since moved to Miami, where I saw his beautiful murals on the Walls of Wynwood. Juan came to Boston for three days to create one of his signature murals  and he enlisted a team of 5 local artists, (@graves_miller, @bruceybluejeans, @pt35mm, @farzanehsafarani, @paulkotakis), who were his cohorts at The Museum School. Working around the clock, they helped him finish the mural, each one being assigned separate triangles to paint to ultimately construct his Picasso-like, brightly colored, cubist mural with a deer head bursting out of the center.

The Summer Party kicks off the season for young and stylish Bostonians. A social calendar highlight for over ten years, this annual event raises vital operating support for the Museum of Fine Arts. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Summer Party benefits an endowed Museum Council Special Exhibition Fund. I love supporting emerging artists and giving them this platform where art collectors, young and experienced, can bid on juried works of art. The event took place in the main gallery—50 foot ceilings, bodies bustling about taking pictures in front of the 10,000 pound, green glass Chihuly tree and partygoers snacking from the antipasto buffet. Ben and I snuck downstairs to view the Pupils of Hokusai Exhibit and unfettered by hoards of people, we sat in the calm, silent room, where our thoughts could roam as we pondered the beautiful Japanese paintings.

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Photography by Todd Mazur and Michael Blanchard

_H6A6879Have you heard of Jennifer Aniston’s line of beauty products called Living Proof?  I just learned that this uber cool brand is headquartered right here in our own backyard. Scientists from MIT got together with beauty experts and developed this brand with one simple ambition: “To challenge conventional wisdom to solve your toughest beauty problems.”

_H4C8561 _H4C8354Now this may sound like something rather simple to do, however, this lab has taken hair care and hair products to a new level, measuring out what works and what doesn’t on specific hair types, colors and textures.  Living Proof has done for hair what Mario Testino has done for fashion photography. There are a core group of testees who come in periodically to test out new products, see what works, what doesn’t. We got to play a little, and discover the inner workings of this lab the other night at the opening and debut of their Style Lab.  My favorite part of the tour was seeing a row of mannequin heads, hair of all different colors and textures, all lined up, ready for testing—the first phase of product development, apparently. Though their office, which consists of 60% female employees, is located in tech den Kendall Square, their outreach spans all the way to the west coast where Jennifer serves as  brand ambassador.

_H6A7221I was so excited to get my hands on the Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Protector, an overnight hair mask that you simply apply and let the magic happen while you sleep. A genius idea for busy moms like myself! Another notable that I can’t wait to try: Blowout, and Restore Instant Protection—it protects your hair from UV rays for 24 hours and is perfect for those summer beach days. Stop by to have your hair tested and find out what product will suit you best. I assure you, every woman I saw that was working for the company had gorgeous locks. I asked Grace Ray if great hair was a pre-requisite for being hired. She said, “ Definitely not!” and chuckled a bit. I suggested they make a “before-after” facebook! I’ll be on the lookout for that.
photocredit: Michael Blanchard

custom-airbrush-tanning-Want to lose weight without dieting and exercising? I will let you in on my little secret…perfectly bronzed skin. With Custom Airbrush Tanning, I was treated to a session with Jen Barry at Bliss Spa  W Boston Hotel. I had no expectations but was thrilled when I went home feeling 10 lbs lighter.  My husband recently came home from a business trip and said, “Wow, you look great! Very skinny. What have you been doing?” I smiled and said nothing.

How does it work?

  • Take a relaxing steam shower, (they don’t recommend exfoliating beforehand, because it will leave you with a streaky tan.)
  • Remove all face makeup.
  • Sit in the lounge and snack on my favorites- the signature brownie bites and cheese cubes with a hot tea.
  • Have a moment of peace without your phone, because it’s that blissful.
  • Within minutes Jen comes by to bring you to the tanning room. She has a sweet demeanor, very warm and bubbly and makes you feel instantly comfortable, (you will come to realize this is something very important as you are going to be standing there buck naked in a few minutes.)
  • Remove all jewelry and put your hair up in a bun. You can optionally strip down to nothing at all, or use the disposable undies they have available.( I opted for the latter because it’s kinda nice to see the “tanline” so you know how much of a tan you actually got!)

Tanning

A whirring sound then a smell of flowers, and the process begins…I held my arms out to the side and Jen began spraying the cool mist on my body from the gun that looks like a blow dryer. We had pre-selected medium, since I already had a nice base tan. I had booked my appointment on a Monday since I had a Wednesday event. Two days seems to be the optimal resting time. After being airbrushed and then dried with the same device, Jen gave me a disposable blue robe to put on and we walked back, barefoot, to the lounge where she had me wait another 10-15 minutes to further dry.

bliss_homepage_spa-slider_bikini-bodies_4Wear loose fitting black clothing! My dress was lighter colored and ended up getting some of the tanning product on it, (which washed out easily).  I went home feeling sexy but a bit sticky and followed instructions not to take a shower or wash my face until the next day. The shower water turned a bit brown, washing off the external tanning solution, but the skin remained a beautiful golden glow.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate is the key to keeping this tan. Lotion on your skin after showering and later in the day as well will keep the tan going for up to 2 weeks. The cost of the service is $60, (not including gratuity), which isn’t too bad to look like you’ve spent the summer in St. Tropez…

They say the camera adds 10 lbs, but all I can say is that the airbrush tanning takes off 10lbs. Try it, you’ll like it.

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Designers offer the message on what’s new, what’s trending. MassArt fashion designers present a vision into the future with imagination and wisdom.″

Sondra Grace, Chair of Fashion Department, MassArt.
MASSART_171_1010_150509

Designer Kimberly Nowers

I was honored to attend the annual MassArt Senior Fashion Show a few weeks ago, a tradition at the college that dates back to 1907. This year’s show in three words? It was sensational! I have attended the last few years and have seen the show metamorphose into the professional, dynamic runway show that it was. The title was “Vision” and it was created by one of the largest classes of graduating seniors. Thirty-five aspiring designers displayed their work on the runway, and 15 of them were selected to show their entire collections.

designers Christian and Erin

Designers Christian Restrepo and Erin Robertson

While all the designers were inspirational, a few of the stand outs for me were Erin Robertson, Christian Restrepo,whose spiked platforms were to die for and Joseph Carl, who had some of my favorite looks of the night. His gowns were constructed pristinely, with color blocking and piping flowing down the runway as though they were made to walk the Carousel in Paris. The gowns had structure and high turtleneck collars, which were reminiscent of Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne—but with a modern twist.

Erin Robertson is a woman to watch. She was the recipient of the 2013 Council of Fashion Designers of America’s CFDA/Teen Vogue Target Scholarship (a $25,000 prize) when she was just a sophomore. That night she was wearing an outfit she designed-an elegant, banana yellow pantsuit with a matching stole and purse. Loved her look, her collection and was instantly intrigued by her.

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Christian Restrepo finaled the show, closing with a strong multi-media textured collection. During my interview with him, he impressed me with his view on designing. It struck me that he was more interested in the design process itself and creating textures and movement, than being a “designer”. I liked the rawness of his attitude and the fact that it incorporated the same tenets that lead to the success of the fantastic duo Proenza Schouler. In a past interview with them, they spoke passionately of always being focused on the creation process, developing their custom fabrics and playing with the notion of ‘refined ease’ rather than being designers.

The entire show was tight and produced perfectly down to the lighting, the music and the large screen video footage of the catwalk that graced the back walls. The attendees were as beautiful and stylish as the runway show, and none of this would have been possible without the amazing help of the donors who provide scholarships to students in need. For the second year in a row, a gala was organized by those who volunteer their time and funds and believe in the continuation of the opportunity for an affordable education in the arts. As a guest of one of the co-chairs, Ashley Karger, I was grateful to be in attendance on this night, which was truly fashion perfection.

Michael Blanchard photographer

For more MassArt coverage, watch styleboston’s season 2 Fashion Forward runway show.

treesBoston’s annual Party in the Park was held last week to benefit the Justine Mee Liff Fund and the theme this year was “The Fascinator”. Since 2005, this party has been taking place in the Emerald Necklace, one of the many greeneries throughout Boston, which the fund helps maintain and restore. 700 of Boston’s most beautifully dressed women and a handful of gentlemen came out to celebrate and raise money for the parks.

Thankfully, we were graced with sunny, beautiful weather for the first time in a few years and raised approximately one million dollars, a great gift for the city of Boston. This money will  work nicely alongside the 4.1 million dollars committed by Mayor Marty Walsh at the event on behalf of the city. Hats off to the guests and to Boston for helping to take care of our parks!

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photo credit: Lisa Richov, The Social Stylist

Perkins:openCorinne Grousebeck continued an annual spring tradition at Barney’s New York with a sumptuous breakfast hosted to benefit Perkins School for the Blind.  As a special treat this year we were joined by designer Sarah Flint and jewelry designer Nak Armstrong, who recently dressed the earlobes of Michele Obama at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in Washington, D.C. I was able to spend some time chatting with Nak and he told me he chose a ruffle top tear drop signature style, which was chunky, but lightweight for the First Lady–another signature element of his designs.

I fell in love with a moonstone earring, which upon first glance, looked somewhat heavy, but when I tried it on was light as a feather. Another item I fancied were his ear jackets. Sculptural and organic at the same time, the jewelry is light and wearable and runs in the 2,000-15,000.00 price range. (hint-Mother’s Day is right around the corner.) Nak is working on a fall collection at the moment and counts origami as a main inspiration. He does all the sketching and relies on his top notch production team to create the jewels.

Perkins:jewelry The presentation was relaxed and fashion guru Simon Doonan moderated, throwing in a few tips on taking selflies. In his adorable, self deprecating way, Nak explained that because of his “big head” he tends to go towards the back of the pic when a selfie is being taken. Somon then offered up the opposite—he said run to the front of the picture and fill up the empty space. He was also privy to hints from a few of the models he’s worked with over the years—Kate Moss, “put your chin on a ledge”—Irving Penn, “say Thursday” because your mouth will never look bad in any part of the word.” Though Sarah hasn’t had quite the experience of Simon, she too had excellent tips for selflies and recommended holding the camera up high so as to avoid the dreaded double chin.

When asked about trends for spring/summer, Simon shied away from the question, stating that he doesn’t really pay attention to trends because fashion is evolving and trends never stay the same. But when pressed for an answer he did say that St Laurent was doing the glam rock 70’s, which was a trend that he saw as relevant.

Here are some of the fabulous women who came out to support not only Perkins School for the Blind but…twist my arm…Barneys.

After our lovely breakfast, we were set free on the floors of Barneys to shop privately before the store opened. Letting a group of women do this is almost as cool as letting a group of kids spend the night in a library or museum. Linda Henry and I hit the shoe department immediately. We got to chat with Sarah a bit and learned that she is from Lincoln and now runs her operation out of her atelier in New York City and in Italy.  Knowing that she always wanted to be a shoe designer, Sarah studied at FIT. She worked as a nanny when she was starting her company, and considers it a real honor to see her first collection at Barneys this season. There are 28 styles in the collection; you can find 10 in Boston and 14 in NYC.  Sarah told us the number of styles will grow, but so far she’s been happy and so have her clients, who include Blake Lively, Jessica Alba, and Heidi Klum.

We all got our outfits and jewelry for the Perkins Gala on May 7 and our shoes for our trip to Greece this summer!

Photo Credit: Pretty Instant Photographers/Rosa Caban

 

AnneFontaine W TONYAWhen you think of white shirts, the brand Anne Fontaine comes immediately to mind. I met with the designer during a trip to Boston at her flagship store, 280 Boylston St, Heritage On the Garden. (I tried not to get too distracted by the big orange box on the corner of the street where Hermes is getting its makeover.) Upon entering the cozy boutique, I was drawn to a wall of shirt collars. Anne told me in her shy and sexy portugese accent (her father is French and her mother Brazilian), that the collars developed initially because she uses them in the design process. She has about 3,000 of these collars in her atelier in the North of France–Normandy to be exact.

Anne Fontaine Collars

And she likes to “play” with them, experimenting with the shirt designs by changing the collars. She initially put them up as a gallery in her store in Paris about 5 years ago. They weren’t for sale, just for display, but immediately customers wanted them. A new idea was born, and she started selling the collars as accoutrements to her beautiful shirts. They can be worn over round neck shirts, as well as with strapless gowns–as a sort of collar/necklace, skin showing between the two. Their versatility is endless. I am even reminded of the green beaded collar that Scarlett Johansen wore to the Oscars this year. Anne’s collars tend to stay in the black and/or white color scheme and vary from extremely conservative to supremely fabulous.

Anne is currently working on her Summer 2016 collection. She is inspired by life and the silhouette of the femme fatale–a strong 60’s influence with idols such as Marlene Dietrich serving as muses. The Anne Fontaine woman in her eyes can be a young lady, a mother, a grandmother, anyone who wants their first white shirt.

white dress

After studying marine biology, she ended up in fashion and launched the brand in 1993. Anne has always had a passion for nature, and felt that it was time to give back. The Amazon rainforest is close to her heart because she lived there when she was 17. She established the Anne Fontaine Foundation to benefit the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, an area in peril, and once a year on Forest Day, 50% of the proceeds from any sales in her store go to this charity.

Vision

I was invited to serve as a professional reviewer for the Fashion Design Department at MassArt. It’s an honor to be invited to participate in this Review, and my third year being asked back. I took a close look at the portfolios, sketches, and actual garments of the four students I was assigned. Get to know the four fabulous and fashionable students below and take a peek at their designs. styleboston will be on site for the event titled “Vision” — taking place at The Castle on Columbus Ave on May 9’th.

Daniela Cabal

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Kimberly Gale Nowers

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Carolina Espaillat

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Nicole Oppedisano

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hat pic 3I had the pleasure of meeting hat designer Susan van der Linde and her husband yesterday at a trunk show to benefit the Emerald Necklace Conservancy for Party in the Park. But before I sat down to look at her beautiful hats, I was greeted with a friendly smile from owner Nicholas Penna and the lovely staff at Salon Capri. I was treated to a beautiful blowout and styling by expert stylist Graziella Lembo. I’ve never been to the salon, but was immediately taken by the inviting decor and comfortable clean sleek feeling. The atmosphere–distressed wood paneling juxtaposed with the clean white cabinets, was like being inside a Philippe Starck hotel.  I asked for something simple as to not overpower the hats, and Graziella styled my locks with ease and speed and made “making waves” seem like a piece of cake (although I know trying this at home would definitely not yield the same results!).

Susan van der Linde

Designer, Susan van der Linde

I walked over to chat with Susan and her husband Tom in the beautiful makeshift boutique and discovered that Susan and I had a lot in common. In addition to an eye for style, we shared a love of France; we had both lived in Neuilly while in Paris. Upon returning to the states, Susan eventually apprenticed with Don Marshall,  the ultimate hat designer who had designed hats for Grace Kelly in his day. After his death in 1995, Susan started her own business to keep up all the trade secrets she had learned from the master.

Named by Vanity Fair as one of the top 10 Milliners of Fascinators,  Susan describes her style as classic styles with a twist or pop of color or texture. I sat down with Susan to see what’s hot in hats.

Fascinator vs a full hat?

Tonya & Susan

Fascinators have their place and should frame the face of the woman. But hats are beautiful and more dramatic –  a woman needs to be certain of her ability to handle the attention wearing a full hat will give. If you are not confident enough to wear a full hat, then a fascinator is a very good option. They can be fun and whimsical and just as dramatic as a full hat too, worn by the right woman.

Trends in hats ?

Wide brim hat

Go big or go home!. Women want to go for drama. Hats seem to keep developing in materials, shape and how it frames the face of a woman. I am also seeing a lot of developments in texture and color. A Texan wants to look good from head to toe, so she is making sure her hat matches perfectly with her outfit, whereas a New Yorker is more concerned about being the perfect fashion plate, and about what others are wearing. Boston has a very polite crowd of hat wearers, who appreciate the beauty of other women’s hats.

Hat Etiquette-Europe vs. America?

Tonya with Fascinator

There are very strict rules about wearing hats in Europe, such as, if you are going to an event after 6pm, you would NEVER wear a hat. It makes sense because there is typically no longer bright sunlight after this hour. Europeans, especially the French, who I have the most experience with, are more sedate, they will wear a single color from head to toe–very monochromatic. It isn’t as exciting for me as a designer, so I spice it up by adding a fun color to a classic shape, or vice versa and a crazy shape in a more sedate color like taupe. I always enjoy giving a little bit of a wink too, like a bumble bee, or other jewel attachment–something the client provides, but I will certainly direct them as to where to pin it on the hat. In the US, rules are more lenient, and you can be more adventurous with your hat. Americans can easily change up the color of the hat, and don’t need to be dressed in a monochromatic palette. I like the flexibility of that, and find it  very satisfying as a designer.

Tonya & Susan

I had a great time with Susan trying on her hats, she had a way of placing them on my head in positions I would not have thought of myself. She tilted the hats more forward and worn this way it gave a sense of allure, as the eyes just peeked out slightly under the brim. I could use her help in my hat placement on May 13th, wonder if she’ll be in town? She helped pick perfect pieces to complement my face and body and I am confident she  chose the perfect hat for me. I highly recommend stopping by to shop her collection and at the very least to try on some of the most gorgeous hats of our time.

Susan van der Linde hat box

Susan will be taking walk-ins to shop her hats at Salon Capri until Thursday at 7pm, and will ship any special orders to arrive in time for The Party in the Park. 15% of the proceeds from trunk show item sales will be donated to the Justine Mee Liff Fund for the Emerald Necklace.

Party in the Park attendees are invited to book hair blowout and/or styling appointments for the morning of Party in the Park (May 13th) at any of SalonCapri’s three Massachusetts locations and the salon will donate 15% of the cost of services to the Justine Mee Liff Fund. Hair appointments can be booked via phone by calling: Boston/617-236-0020, Newton/617-969-1970 or Dedham’s Legacy Place/781-320-0900.

Photocredit: Lisa Richov

Ben Mezrich

Breakfast at The Betsy with literary minds from Miami and Boston—not something you normally associate with South Beach, a sprawling beach community that has become the go to place for everyone from basketballers, rap stars, and winter snowbirds.

How did we end up here?

The BetsyIn December, we had a lovely dinner at the BLT Steak restaurant because my father in law is obsessed with steak, and thought it would be a great kid friendly place to bring the whole family. It was in fact, all of the above. On my way to the ladies room, I noticed a sign on the door which said “Writer’s Room”. A lightbulb went off in my head, my husband was a writer, could he use this writer’s room? I needed to learn more. I headed to the front desk to inquire about more information. The gentleman was very excited to tell me that the owner’s grandfather was a famous poet and because of this, literature and writing were always an important part of his life. He felt that it was important to support other writers-so on April 1st 2012, he developed the Writers in Residence Program at The Betsy, an opportunity for emerging and established writers alike to stay on the premises in a room designed for writing to occur. I toured the room, to see what it was all about, and discovered a well appointed cozy room, with a couch bed, antique desk (that had belonged to the grandfather of the owner), and a brightly lit bathroom with a TV embedded in the mirror. Who knew, maybe TV while you showered was a way to get inspired.

Fast forward two months, the present:

As part of the program, we set up a Literary Breakfast Salon with Ben. The Betsy sent out invitations to their community and within minutes of going live, the breakfast was filled, and they had to close the guest list—something that made us feel proud, because we were told that this has never occurred in the past!

BLT Steak

The salon was held in BLT Steak around a long “L” shaped table. Deborah Plutzik-Briggs, sister of The Betsy owner Jonathan Plutzik, and VP of Marketing, Philanthropy and Programs, moderated the Salon, having the over 30 guests in attendance, introduce themselves. We had quite a diverse Salon, from heads of Florida International University, to restauranteurs Seth Greenberg and wife Sasha with the youngest attendee, their 5 month old son; club owner Sharrokh Reza and wife Dianna, to Margaret McNeill of Boston/Fisher Island, who brought Real Housewife friend Adriana DeMoura, and PR agent Olivia Wolff, and of course close Boston friends Adriana Hassan of The Tannery, and Alex Winston and his wife Dr. Daniela.

Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs—A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder.Everyone had interesting comments and questions for Ben, but the bulk of the conversation centered around Ben’s new book Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs—A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder, which is scheduled to be released June 2nd, 2015. For the first time, Ben discussed the process of writing this book, and how book writing is transitioning from a process where the movie idea comes first and then the book follows. This is a stark difference from the past where books were always developed first then movie options were taken, then eventually movies were made (if you were lucky). Sorry, but I have to brag a little about my hubby, because having had two number one box office smash hit feature films made from two of Ben’s books is a feat that no other non-fiction author has accomplished.

Seeing his books transformed into movies was a topic that attendees of the Salon were interested in, as one asked Ben if he was satisfied with how the movies turned out. Ben talked about working with Aaron Sorkin, in Boston at the Four Seasons Hotel, and how a daunting but finally fortuitous leak on gawker.com lead to David Fincher and Sorkin both discovering the project.

Ben also discussed meeting Eduardo Saverin and how at the time he had only known of Facebook because of me. He told the story about how Eduardo eventually signed a contract with Facebook that said he would never speak to him, which lead to his subsequent breakup with my friend, de-friending of us on facebook, and how he subsequently got billions of dollars. He touched on the Winklevi, Sean Parker, and Justin Timberlake.

ben mezrichGuests of the Salon were also intrigued by the way that Ben has always seemed to be able to predict what is going to be “hot”, as in the case of his bestsellers Bringing Down The House, Rigged, and The Social Network. Ben explained that the process of writing a book starts about 2 years before a book is actually published, so a large part of deciphering what is going to be relevant is about picking a subject matter that appeals to him, and also having his pulse on what is going to be hot.

I personally think that the key to being a good writer comes from Ben’s innate ability to observe, decipher and make excellent judgement calls. He describes his ability to write as stemming from his view of the writing as equivalent to what a terminator is in  James Cameron’s The Terminator:  This is what he does , this is all he does, and he absolutely will not stop.

Gigi Hadid/Daniela Corte

Gigi Hadid wearing the Daniela Corte Playa Bustier Top and Knot Bottoms.

Our very own Daniela Corte just reached one of the career pinnacles of swimwear designers across the globe–to have her bikinis featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue–an iconic read that has been around since 1964, generates upwards of 35 million dollars in ad revenue yearly, and has featured supermodel greats such as Tyra Banks, Paulina Porizkova, and Elle Macphearson on its covers.

Initially, the idea for the issue came about by then managing editor, Andre Laguerre, as a way to fill the magazine with content in the winter months, when sports reporting was slow. Who knew that this “filler” would take off to become the backbone of the entire magazine and create revenue and promotional opportunities  for several new industries? So tops off to designer Daniela, who spoke to me a few days ago on being chosen for this coveted issue:

IT MUST BE SUCH AN HONOR TO BE CHOSEN FOR YOUR SWIMSUITS IN THE MOST HIGHLY RATED SI ISSUE OF THE YEAR— HOW DID THIS PARTNERSHIP COME ABOUT?

They approached us, it was love at first sight 🙂

YOU’VE BEEN DEVELOPING YOUR SWIM LINE FOR THREE YEARS NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE FOR THE LINE?

It’s difficult to choose one, it really depends on the market but a style we always have and repeat is a one piece, deep V!

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 AS IN THE ONE I’M MOST OBSESSED WITH, THE WINE COLORED FRINGE SUIT. WHERE CAN PEOPLE BUY THESE?

The fringe suit is available via special order at danielacorte.com or via phone 617-262-2100

I SEE THAT SI WENT SIMPLE BUT SEXY WITH THE ACCESSORIES FOR THE SWIMWEAR. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON HOW THE STYLIST ACCESSORIZED THE LOOKS? DO YOU CARRY THOSE ACCESSORIES AS WELL?

I always love seeing what talented stylists do with my suits. And yes, we are on the same page at DC,  we have a gorgeous line of jewelry called “Lexi” that we offer at our studio. Lots of body chains and multi-layered necklaces.

HOW MANY STYLES OF SUITS DID YOU SEND THEM AND HOW MANY ENDED UP IN THE MAGAZINE?

We sent tons of suits! Three images ended up being chosen for the Sports Illustrated website.

Daniela C_SI lace bikiniWHAT’S IN THE PIPES FOR THE NEXT SWIMWEAR COLLECTION AND WHEN CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE IT?

We are in the middle of collaborating with some great designers, creating really captivating, unique prints while always exploring new suits and techniques and different ways to tie suits. There will be a suit for every body type but, as always, I love curves!

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