By Thomas Brennan
Boston restaurants are starting to take off again. And no business seems to be doing better than Stephanie’s on Newbury. The Boston stalwart has done more than merely bounced back after the last few months of quarantine; it seems to be doing extraordinarily well in foot traffic. It’s a comfortable and fun spot with flavorful food, the perfect place to go as the summer season unfolds.
Stephanie’s has always been a delightful bar and restaurant. With a great selection of, and various other delectable entrees. An elegantly furnished yet still approachable decor interior. The restaurant has developed a strong exterior, even adding fenced seating along the street for additional customer seating. One of the restaurant’s greatest strengths is its centralized location and easy access to passersby. Situated right at the corner of Exeter and Newbury streets, it’s smack dab in the middle of the most upscale areas while still being an easy block from the calm bustle of Commonwealth Avenue. It takes up the better part of the corner and is to spot from a block down in any direction, acting almost like a beacon for safe harbor for Bostonian passersby.
The restaurant just reopened much like many other Boston establishments. Though it hardly seems to have skipped the crawl to walk stage most restaurants are taking, instead pushing up right out of bed, bolstering speed to hit the running mark. There doesn’t seem to be any need for this restaurant in stretching itself after the months long business slumber of the last few months due to Covid-19. Stephanie’s is serving plenty of people already and has attracted a large body of customers, having a healthy stream during off hours, and being filled up to maximum permitted capacity during lunch and dinner hours.
The staff was considerate and diligent. They were as polite as they were precautious in how they went about abiding by social distancing safety measures. Every server is gloved and masked whenever around patrons. Stephanie’s is providing a bottle of hand sanitizer spray for patrons to use and disinfect before each meal; It’s a nice and helpful touch that feels personable while also curbing any chance for spread of germs. The setup felt more than safe, an incredibly impressive feat with all the customer traffic.
Stephanie’s menu has a great selection of appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, and deserts. The Back Bay burger section is especially filled with delicious variable choices. While their Prime Blend certainly snatches the gold for most delicious burger meat choice, the Turkey and Salmon options are also more than worthy of adulation for their deliciousness. Their drink menu also has a myriad of great options of all kinds. The Bloody Mary they served definitely ranks in my personal top five of Boston restaurants. Though I didn’t get it on my last visit, I also know the girdled chocolate-flecked pound cake is beyond mouthwateringly delectable.
Seeing a Boston business not only reopen, but actually do this well after months brings a lot of reason to be optimistic going forward in coming months. Boston has always had an indomitable spirit, and seeing a business such as Stephanie’s set such a strong example helps to keep hope alive. I can’t wait to visit this Boston staple again sometime soon.
By Thomas Brennan
There finally seems to be a break of sun over the dark and cloudy last few months of quarantine and shutdowns. Businesses throughout Boston are starting to open more frequently and even expand their avenues for summer. From the Back Bay to the North End doors are opening, tables are filling up with patrons and business is getting going.
Boston feels like it’s had a resurgence while still managing to maintain the caution of social distancing. The boards lining the windows of Boston storefronts have all but entirely come down. There are still a few spots with boards covering glass, but those places are limited to only one to two spots per block instead of covering the whole street. The complete departure of the military police has certainly cut out a great deal of the tension for the Back Bay residents. No longer being under the eyes of armed men has restored a sense of safety that Boston has lacked for too long.
Various restaurants and retailers have been reopening or expanding back toward regular functionality. Exterior setups were the first setup to reopen for many restaurants. Hanover Street in the North End is booming as of right now. There are plenty of restaurants who’ve established patio setup. Carmelina’s, Artu, Bella Vista, are all booming with business Newbury street institutions like Stephanie’s patio business are thriving and it seems they’re opening up their interior as well. Serafina, Buttermilk & Bourbon, and Met bar are just a few of the restaurants expanding out to their patio. The opening patio setup of eating outside is in high demand for many after months of quarantine. The chance for customers to eat in the warm summer sun with fresh air is exactly what people have been holding out for.
Wen’s Noodle shop had previously only been open in a patio function with more limited hours, but as of this week they are extending their hours and have reopened their interior shop for customers to sit and enjoy a delicious meal. These kinds of amenities are definitely needed. Eating outside can be more than refreshing after quarantine and social distancing, the heat can be extreme for some and air conditioning is a utility anyone can enjoy.
Ben & Jerry’s on Newbury’s interior was still closed until Phase 3, but they are still selling ice cream out the front door through orders. They planned to have an exterior deck setup for customers soon, though some transportation issue for the patio equipment in storage has held it up from opening. Hopefully this can arrive soon, with the upcoming heat every denizen of Boston could use more space to lounge and enjoy classic Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
A few restaurants are still going through some form of setup adjustment or reconstruction with the intent of reopening. Joe’s and Piantini’s are still undergoing some internal work and seem like it’ll take time to be back to full functionality. It certainly provides the chance to fix up these Boston establishments, if not even provide improvements. Boston mainstays like the Pour House are still closed up tight with little signs of reopening to previous functionality.
There’s still progress to be made before things are fully back to functional as before. As we go about everyone must remain vigilant in keeping to social distancing and wearing masks in public. Progress isn’t always a straight road, slips ups can happen if we’re all not working hard and remaining careful. There’s a lot of hope though and still plenty of beauty and pride to be found in Boston and its people.
By Thomas Brennan
Business is moving again in Boston. After a tough couple of months with ongoing quarantine and shutdowns due to Covid-19, things are finally starting to open again with Governor Charlie Baker approving stage 2 of recovery plan for Massachusetts businesses. Things aren’t quite perfect, but Boston’s reopening seems to have the majority of carrying a sense of optimism.
Restaurant reopenings have each taken various different approaches on how to provide service again. The business owners and workers on Newbury have proved themselves to be consistently resilient while also meticulously careful and considerate in providing a safe environment for their clientele. Quite a few restaurants have reopened their doors with limited capacity.
Stephanie’s on Newbury took down the board across their glass paneling and is doing a strong job of building a nice interior setup for customers. Some restaurants like Wen’s Yunnan Noodle & Ramen interior were still closed off, but the exterior deck was open with tables for customers to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air as they waited for their food. A few businesses, such as Buttermilk and Bourbon have managed to open both their interior and exterior dining areas, allowing customers the choice of staying inside for some shade or taking some time in the sun as they eat.
The waitstaff in many restaurants are tasked with the particularly difficult task of maintaining clean conditions for all customers that come in. It seems though that most waitstaff industry workers are being more than diligent. Masks are ever present on waitstaff workers, they’re consistently through in making sure areas are cleaned when customers depart, and that hand sanitizer is available whenever patrons desire. Walking into Wen’s and several other restaurants carried a level of care and caution that made getting comfortable in the food service environment surprisingly easy. In many ways the last few days has been a homecoming for Boston businesses, though not everyone is up to the running point yet.
There are unfortunately some bumps in the road. Though the helicopters are gone, military police still stand on the corner of every block; some of the officers are content as pigeons to mull on their corners, others carry an almost hawk-like focus over the street. Restaurants, such as Met Back Bay that are still boarded up and don’t appear to be taking any customers in their interior and exterior areas. Not every business is going to hit the ball on the first swing. Recovery from Covid-19 and opening will require as much patience as it will hard work. The open hours of various businesses remain tight as well, certain businesses content to close as early as mid-afternoon, but hours are seeming to loosen, and having doors open is a positive in itself.
Not all of the graffiti has been scrubbed away on Newbury. Two notable spots are sticking out for their high-quality art depictions. The Childs Gallery on Newbury is sporting some very lovely and colorful paintings of flowers along the wood panels covering the windows front. It’s a nice dash of simple, positive art amongst the scattered austere wood panels that are still present. Though not all art on Newbury street is so flowery. A block down at City Smoke Shop there’s a beautifully candid but also heartfelt painting of George Floyd with the Word “LISTENING” painted on the wooden panels covering the store. The art piece was done by Brooke Trefey, who is currently taking commissions for other wood frame paintings in exchange for donations to the ACLU.
There’s still a great deal of progress to be made. All Boston citizens should remain assiduous in their day to day going about, keep hands clean, wear masks, and be considerate of others from all walks of life in their ongoing struggles. Recovery isn’t always a straight line. It’s a path we must get up and continue to walk every day. There’s a great deal of hope, for if there’s one thing Boston’s known for is its strength in the face of adversity.
Back Bay and Downtown Crossing are rebounding following a day of peaceful protests that devolved into vandalism and arrests
By Thomas Brennan
It is as if Boston’s Back Bay and Downtown Crossing lived through a week in just 24 hours when, earlier this week, the city saw a day of three peaceful marches to protest the death of a Minneapolis man while in police custody only to have the night end in vandalism and looting in Boston.
What followed, however, showed the city’s true spirit as residents, business owners, and other volunteers joined city crews to clean up from the protests and get ready as the second phase of the openings from the COVID-19 shutdowns takes place.
The vandalism and chaos coming on the heels of the pandemic was a tough sequence for the business community to endure. “The thing is that most of the businesses on Newbury Street and Boylston Street really do support what the marchers and protesters were working for,” said a manager of the Back Bay boutique who asked not to be named in this article. “I don’t think one act of vandalism was caused by the marchers. That came later.”
The upheaval that started after Sunday’s initially well-organized and peaceful Black Lives Matter protests spread out to various areas of Downtown Crossing and the Back Bay after 9 p.m., not long after the 6:30 protest march had made its way from Roxbury to the State House on Beacon Hill.
Some businesses, including the Apple store on Boylston and some three dozen on Washington Avenue, had boarded up their locations prior to Sundays marches. When things opened up on Monday, it appeared that most of the damage had been vandalism such as smashed store windows and graffiti.
Crews, both volunteer and city of Boston employees, had picked up most of the garbage by mid-afternoon Monday, with a week of work scheduled from cleaning the monuments slated for Wednesday and Thursday and grass cutting on Thursday.
By the end of the week, Governor Charlie Baker had sent members of the Massachusetts National Guard to the Back Bay, where they could be seen on Newbury and Boylston streets, to assist the city in keeping the peace while businesses worked for the second phase of the re-opening.
Even with the pandemic precautions, larges groups of people came out to assist and help out in the restoration of public areas. They were more than successful on various measures, and had accomplished a great deal of cleanup by Monday afternoon.
In regards to trash and litter, the common actually seemed more tidy than usual. The various taglines along the streets, sidewalks, buildings’ walls and windows were still present.
Some businesses turned the vandalism into a positive thing like the Back Bay real estate office that tapped an artist to paint a beautiful piece over some graffiti. There are still positive signs of the revitalization of the city and strong signs of the city’s ongoing spirit for betterment.
The only real efforts on Monday to wash the graffiti were reserved for the painted inscriptions along the State House. Though most, such as ones along the bridge public gardens, were washed away by Tuesday. The city has put in a considerable effort to wipe away any vestige of the tags. It’s a large-scale endeavor, though Boston seems more than committed to see these painted words to be scrubbed away. Those they haven’t wiped out, they’ve seemingly covered to clean at a later date.
Windows are being boarded up at various ground level stores. Many were initially done to cover just the stores that were damaged or the graffiti tagged alongside the buildings. The CVS on Newbury experienced a large amount of graffiti and has boarded their windows. The cover precaution is being extended by various businesses and store widows that did and didn’t experience damage.
A fair share of affected businesses are still open, though open hours are far more limited now. The constant drone of helicopters and the arrival of military police has also added a contentious obstacle to the city’s and day-to-day functionality. The fact things are still running and adapting does provide some semblance of hope for businesses to still be reopening despite being boarded up or experiencing vandalism. Other businesses can follow suit. Although it might be a little less sunny with windows blocked out, there’s still the chance for citizens to return and support local businesses.
Various businesses were damaged, but broken glass can be cleaned up, paint can be washed away, wooden boards can be taken down. These are all things that are coverable or at the very least fixable within the long term. There are many deeper core issues to face within Boston before proper freedom and equality can be restored to every citizen who calls this city home.
The numbers are in and the 2019 Emmy Awards show slumped to the lowest ratings in many years. That’s a shame because there really was something for everyone – and maybe that’s the reason why, we don’t have as many of those moments where we all watch the same thing at the same time.
Heck, half of Sunday night’s winners weren’t even born when J.R. was shot or we said “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” to M*A*S*H in 1983. That’s the problem with award shows, they honor what has happened while trying to attract new viewers to the show.
But let’s start with some highlights: the big winner was the show Fleabag, a hilariously moving series on Amazon by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who took home three Emmys (best comedy, writing, acting) and HBO’s Game of Thrones won big, although it probably suffered from “How Can We Miss You If You Never Leave” syndrome. (Yes, we’re still mad that the last season was spread over three years.)
Billy Porter made history as the first, openly gay winner in the best actor in a drama category for his star-turn as Pray Tell in the FX drama Pose, about the New York City ball and underground club scene of the 1980s. Porter, who has gained a reputation for his red carpet appearances this year, did not disappoint in his fashion choices for the show or in his acceptance speech in which he quoted James Baldwin.
The Porter-directed production of The Purists is running at the Huntington Theatre Company until Oct. 6. The Tony Award-winning Porter has previously directed Topdog/Underdog and The Colored Museum at the Huntington.
Another standout was Michelle Williams, who took home the Emmy for lead actress in a limited series for her embodiment of Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon. Williams used her time on the stage (and with a world-wide audience) to call for pay equity, which she had on this project, and for producers to listen to their female actors.
“The next time a woman — and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her,” Williams said. “Believe her.”
Williams was another one who was on our “Best Dressed” list from her time on the carpet, which was purple this year. Williams was a show-stopper in a strapless Louis Vuitton gown, with stunning embroidered sequins, by Nicolas Ghesquière, which was accented by Fred Leighton jewelry.
One theme on that purple carpet was a dazzling array of light-blue gowns, with none shining brighter than Regina King (Watchmen) in a Jason Wu halter-neck gown that was remarkable for its color, a (very) high slit and raw hem. Also notable was Kristen Bell (The Good Place) in Dior.
There were some odd choices that also seemed to work like Nick Cannon and Niecy Nash both wearing turbans. And mega-supermodel Kendall Jenner wore a Richard Quinn gown with a latex turtleneck and oddly clashing floral-patterned skirt.
Holding down the purple carpet for Fox (the network host for this year’s Emmys) was Jenny McCarthy, who in Boston is known as the gal who keeps Donny Wahlberg in line and now cheers for the Red Sox. McCarthy’s interviewing style was a perfect match for the mishmash that was the entire Emmy season, light-enough to keep viewers interested, heavy-enough for the nominees and stars to take her seriously, and fun, which fit the whimsy of the TV show that honors TV shows. Plus, the girl knows her fashion.
Some other local ties included New Hampshire’s Sarah Silverman, who was nominated for her special I Love You America, noted that this year’s Emmy Awards didn’t have a host because “They don’t want comedians to talk.”
American Repertory Theater alum Cherry Jones won an Emmy for “outstanding guest actress in a drama series” for her portrayal of Holly in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. This is the second Emmy for Jones, who previously won – in the same category – for her role as President Taylor in 24. Styleboston’s Jan Saragoni interviewed Jones when she was in Cambridge for The Glass Menagerie.
Others with local accents, including fellow American Repertory Theater veteran Bryan Cranston (All The Way, for which he won a Tony Award), who “saved” the host-less Emmy show opening sequence and Tony Shaloub, an ART alum, who won his fourth Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy series getting the first broadcast award of the night for his work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
SEAPORT — Red Sox legend David Ortiz hosted more than 200 select guests at the recent opening of Indochino’s newest location in Boston’s Seaport District in South Boston.
The stylish movers and shakers flocked to the newest Indochino location at 79 Seaport Boulevard, which was opened after the company’s Newbury Street location saw 400 percent business growth.
INDOCHINO CEO Drew Green enlisted Ortiz to open the new store and rounded out the party with treats from Chef Jason Cheek of Southern Proper and Chef Michael Serpa of Select Oyster Bar, wines from Provence Wine Imports, beer from Down the Road Brewery, and cocktails by Beam-Suntory — plus sweets by Magnolia Bakery who provided customized Red Sox Red Velvet Cupcakes and New City Microcreamery’s Black + White Ice Cream created exclusively for the event.
Filmmaker Georden West is getting ready to screen her second fashion film at the Emerson Film Festival this weekend. “Patron Saint” (click here to see trailer) will be part of two programs of student shorts that will be screening in the Bright Screening Room at the Paramount Center ArtsEmerson on Sunday, March 24 at 12 p.m., followed by a red carpet reception open to the public at the Emerson Urban Arts: Media Art Gallery, located at 25 Avery St. (across the street from the Ritz-Carlton hotel.) West recently completed the Emerson graduate program in Film and Media Arts from what many consider to be one of the top film departments in the country.
West identifies herself as a queer woman and a queer filmmaker and what lead her to making fashion films was the opportunity to speak to groups neglected and often left out of the mainstream conversations. Fashion films can be used to magnify expression, exploring and pushing bounderies, especially with regards to gender.
“The queer community is hungry for representation” says West. “In a society where so much of how we perform gender and sexuality is based on media representation, we actively seek ourselves in the visual arts and are consistently let down. This is why I make fashion film. I am passionate about building visual experiences reflective of the subculture and history of queer people. I want to craft stories in new ways that surface historic and contemporary marginalization and builds community around art that resists universalization and commodification.”
Fashion films have been evolving over the last few years into a way to make a social statement with a new look and language that showcases fashion and lifestyle brands in a more creative and narrative way. Acting as an alternative to traditional promotion and marketing of brands, such as print photo shoots and :30 fashion ads for television, the brands behind the films can be emerging designers or well-heeled names.
For “Patron Saint,” West is collaborating with emerging designer Jamall Osterholm, who is currently a contestant on Bravo’s “Project Runway” and who will be debuting on New York Fashion Week’s official schedule in September. A Rhode Island native, Osterholm graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and his focus is on futurism and borrowing from the past.
“Jamall is a designer whose work speaks to a need for fashion to recognize its own political nature” West explains. “He makes beautiful work while remaining relational to history. Jamall is brilliant and he brings out the best and challenges the teams around him; I know when I work with him nothing will be less than exceptional and intentional. Nothing we say is for beauty’s sake alone.”
“We deserve characters and media art with complexity beyond the tropes of coming-out and romance. I long to see queer stories told in interesting and challenging ways that bring queer cinema to the forefront of the film industry without having to assimilate into its narrative demands that manifest in stereotypes and conventionality,” says West. “To me fashion does this. As an experimental and atmospheric filmmaker, I have an ambitious approach to queer cinema that would allow a narrative to be told with magical realism, challenging the medium of filmmaking as well as presenting original content with novelty.”
Patron Saint will be screening on Sunday March 24th at 12pm and on March 29th at Distillery Gallery.
SAN DIEGO — It’s a good thing that the Oscar ceremony is on a Sunday night as we all seem to need a little bit more time to get ready for a party that celebrates the best in film and the best (and worst, gulp) in fashion.
We just wish that we got another day after the festivities to rest up. This year looked like it might be a quiet evening (no hosts, no controversy) but that quickly proved to be wrong, thankfully.
So, the anticipation and guess work on who would win which award was palpable from LA to Boston for the 91st Academy Awards. The San Diego Film Foundation did not disappoint on the party spectrum as it threw its best and biggest annual signature fundraiser that night, held at the Scripps family estate in Rancho Santa Fe. The SDFF used the event as a fundraiser for its highly successful “Impact On Film Tour,” which brings socially impactful films to thousands of high schoolers in the San Diego area in an effort to educate and create a call to action for the youth of the city.
The splashy event was done in true Hollywood style with a Maserati Levante and a Maserati Quattroporte lining the driveway and a Gran Torismo and Ghilbli at the red carpet. Gorgeous women and men turned out in gowns and tuxedos and everyone had a favorite going into the evening, but as we all know Oscar always surprises.
Meanwhile, up the road a bit, things at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood and Highland in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles got rolling early with a slate of dynamic interviewers handling the “heavy lifting” for ABC along the red carpet: Medford, MA, native Maria Menounos in a stunning Celia Kritharioti yellow and white gown with Chopard jewelry; Tony Award-winner Billy Porter in a custom (is there any other kind on Oscar night?) tuxedo-gown by Project Runway winner Christian Siriano; Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth also wearing a Celia Kritharioti gown; and supermodel Ashley Graham wearing Zac Posen and dripping in $1 million worth of jewels on loan from Martin Katz.
The only thing we think could live up to the Porter moment was Lady Gaga‘s breathtaking — and nearly blinding — diamond pendant. If you thought it looked like something familiar, indeed it is: that rock is The Tiffany Diamond, worth an ice-cold $30 million. (It had a previous brush with Hollywood when it was used for the promotional photo shoot for Audrey Hepburn’s turn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) Careful viewers of styleboston.tv and LeftCoast.LA will remember that Kenny Loggins predicted Gaga’s Oscar success while walking the carpet for the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival. View his prediction below; he was spot on!
Gaga, of course, won the Oscar for best original song for “Shallow,” which she co-wrote with Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt, and longtime Boston music maker Anthony Rossomando, best known for the bands The Damn Personals and Dirty Pretty Things.
When the first 8.5-pound golden statue was handed out to Regina King as “best supporting actress” for her star turn in If Beale Street Could Talk, it was Boston native Chris Evans who chivalrously helped King navigate the steps up to accept her award. Yahoo caught the image, you can view it here.
Another high point for those of us following the theater and fashion scenes in the Northeast as well as those around the world who are fans of her work, was when Ruth E. Carter got an Oscar for costume design for her work on Black Panther. Carter, who on stage gave a shout-out to her 97-year-old mother back in Massachusetts, has been toiling away in productions large and small for decades. She is a Springfield, MA, native, who apprenticed at the former StageWest in Massachusetts. MassLive had a great story on Carter, which you can read here.
And if you can stand us having one more fan moment from the Oscar night, it was when Peter Farrelly, a Rhode Island native whose parents live on the South Shore of Massachusetts, won the Oscar as part of the team who wrote the screenplay and the prize of the night, “best picture,” for Green Book. “I want to thank the whole state of Rhode Island,” Farrelly said during one of his acceptance speeches.
FUN FACT: If you thought it seemed like just about every movie that was nominated won something, you were onto something. At least with the “best picture” nominees. Since the number of potential nominees in the best picture category was expanded from five to 10 in 2010, this was the second time that every nominee got at least one award. Second fun fact: Five times in the last six years the “best director” trophy has gone to a Mexican director.
By Anna Paula Goncalves
LOS ANGELES – With the 2018 Emmy Awards right around the corner, (September 17th) ‘pre-Emmy’ events are already in full swing out here in Los Angeles. So, of course, it was only right that we’d also get in on the festivities. And that I did – at the Coded PR Emmy’s Suite Happy Hour.
I got a chance to browse some of their ready-to-wear accessories and formalwear collections, mingle, get a facial by CryoCafe, try a Peachberry detox water for the first time and, naturally, see beautiful people – fashionistas, influencers, male, females, and teens – stopping by to hang out.
A beautifully organized event put on by a team of powerhouse women that are on deck ready to get you red carpet ready-to-make-a-statement ready with the help of their clients: Lacoste, JustFab, Watters, Rime Arodaky, Le Marche by NP, ShoeDazzle, artTECA, CALLIDAE, Chooka, Staheekum, Sophie Voila and so many others.
As VP of Social + Influencer, Claire Barthelemy (left) and Senior Account Executive, Arlene Guerrero (right) both agreed on: they are the “one stop shop” for all red carpet needs. So if that’s you and you want to step your fabulous game up to an even higher level, these ladies are taking on appointments. All you have to do is head on over to their website for showroom requests and pulls.
And now… I’ll leave you with a few words once spoken by the one who was never shy about making a statement:
Happy Emmy Season everyone!
Susan Hassett, CEO and creator of a new brand of casual footwear called “Cocktail Sneakers” is surrounded by women. Hassett says that she did not intend to work exclusively with women in this new Boston-based venture, but as it turns out that is exactly how the company is getting off the ground.
“I did not set out to involve only women but the timing is incidental. …It wasn’t pre-planned,” she says. “It started out with creating a beautiful, more feminine sneaker for women who want a look that is effortlessly chic-whether she is a stay at home mom or business woman.”
Hassett was very clear at the beginning on what she wanted to create and why. Three and a half years ago she identified a void in the women’s shoe market for an attractive sneaker, one where women could have a shoe that actually transitions all day from casual to elegant without a hiccup in their wardrobe.
Once the idea for the shoe was in place, she built a team that would help her launch the new brand. Through a series of serendipitous introductions she found her designer, Mar Espanol of Shoe Girls Studio in Brooklyn, who introduced her to a woman-run, woman-owned factory, the marketing team Grier Park with Daniella Vollinger and Bianca Brown, and the creative/branding duo Dames, founded by Jemme Aldridge and Emilie Hawtin, who all happen to be very accomplished women.
The introductory selection of cocktail sneakers comes in white, black, navy, blush, and red and range in price from $195 to $225. They can be purchased online at CocktailSneakers.com and at a select number of boutiques on the East and West Coast.
“I feel like I am re-defining sneaker culture for women. Every woman should have a few great pairs of fashion sneakers–this is what we all want to wear. It will never take the place of a beautiful stiletto but the fact that you can put on an outfit now and go to a cocktail party or out to dinner, take off those heels without people looking at you and saying you’re wearing sneakers? No more. ”
So to all fashionistas, when you find yourself on your feet you can get there from here, even if your path is walking through Quincy Marketplace cobblestones, and still look like a perfect ten.
When the news broke on Tuesday that trailblazing fashion genius Kate Spade had died the reaction was immediate.
Locally, public relations veteran Chris Haynes, who like so many was caught off-guard by the 55-year-old Spade’s apparent suicide, posted on line of his shock and sadness. For Haynes it was personal. He oversaw the 1999 opening party for Spade’s Newbury Street boutique while working directly with Spade and her husband, Andy.
As outlets around the world looked for photographs to accompany the stories, many chose the image from the now-defunct Stuff@Night of Spade in Boston in front of a wall of her most colorful handbags. “Out of the millions of Kate Spade photos out there in the Universe, Getty Images shared three pictures and SOMEHOW one of them is from our Boston store opening,” Haynes wrote.
Boston Fashion Week founder and executive director Jay Calderin posted a simple black and white photo of Spade taken by Thomas Iannaccone with a Wendy Mass quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Kate Spade (December 24, 1962 – June 5, 2018)
Styleboston’s Tonya Mezrich wrote up a piece outlining her thoughts on Spade’s passing. (And we got her to let us use some of photographs of her with Spade bags.)
“RIP Kate Spade. Your life was, oh, too short. Your whimsical designs gave my husband something to look forward to when choosing gifts for the various holidays: birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Chanukah, you name it. I think my first bag of yours was the pink T-Rex. Who buys dinosaurs for their wives? He saw it in the store and insisted on getting it. It brightened so many peoples’ day each time I wore it to an event—the Hot Pink Party, Valentine’s day, there were so many occasions for a fierce pink T-Rex to attend.
“My list does not end there. A Russian nesting doll hardwood clutch made its way into my collection, too. A Russian name that I cannot pronounce and do not even attempt to, but indeed a whimsical nesting purse with a little doll pouch inside as well in typical Russian nesting fashion. Kate, oh, Kate you were so creative. But my favorite of all your bags is the limited-edition wicker gator. He scared many a diner as we sat al fresco in Miami eating dinner at Michael’s Genuine. Those Floridians are so used to seeing gators, I was surprised he made one yell sitting upon a side table at the outdoor patio, peeking his head out of the nearby shrubs.
“You will not be forgotten. You got your last name from the brother of comedian David Spade, I didn’t know this until now, but to me you were your own spade, a jack of all trades and one that will be sorely missed.”
**Be sure to tune in to Tonya’s new tv series “On The Red Carpet” on NESN Sat/Sun night at 11:30 pm.
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down in LA for a lively chat with the Massachusetts-based entrepreneur and level III Reiki Master Practitioner, Farah Andre. Reiki healing has been practiced for decades on the West Coast but the East Coast has been slow to embrace it.
Farah is working to change that perception. A registered nurse with a Bachelors of Nursing degree from Labouré College, she is a believer and is in LA to talk to experts about the best ways to bring this practice to Boston. She touched on her background and shared some insights on her work encouraging people, especially from the black community, to adopt the benefits of Reiki to recognize and remedy core spiritual wounds which, when left untended to, affect their general wellness.
Reiki is a system of healing used for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing on all levels; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The word Reiki is from a Japanese word meaning universal life force or energy.
According to Farah, Reiki is really about energy and meditation. It is an elevation cleansing of the body, mind, soul, cos, where everything is interconnected.
“It is about finding what your true life purpose is. It is about guiding you and letting go of things that no longer benefit you so you can prosper.”
She explains that Reiki is a stress reliever and excellent for achieving homeostasis for people suffering the effect of external stressors such as school, work or family. Many health issues like hypertension or high blood pressure, eczema, etc. are often a result of our body reacting to these external stressors.
Farah, who is part of the Black Nurses Rock New England, also talked about plans to partner with a number of NBA teams to see how Reiki can benefit the performance of basketball players in their game and practice sessions, especially for players who have suffered anxiety and panic attacks in the past.
Despite her accomplishments and list of achievements, Farah remains humble and grounded and a lot of fun to be with. She explains that she likes to keep it “quiet” even as she steadily climbs the ladder of success.
For now, Farah continues to support patients in healthcare settings while offering Reiki treatments through her woman and minority-owned business, Endless Konnections.
For more information on Reiki contact Farah at www.endlesskonnections.com.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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