Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cheryl moves
I'm finally moving into my new apartment on Monday, and because I'll be spending the rest of my week unpacking, organizing, feng shui-ing, and arguing with MW over decor, I'm taking the next week off. I shall return April 3rd, posting from the brand-new Cheryl Shops HQ in the lovely East Village (a.k.a. my new apartment). Please check back then!
America's Next Top Model recap
If there's a lesson to be learned from this week's America's Next Top Model, it's that anything can change at any time. For example, the annoying Jade was almost sent home last week, and she pretty much rocked this week (albeit in an annoying way), whereas Nnenna, who was rocking the past two weeks, kind of faded into the woodwork (and got called near the end, shockingly). And, kind of out of nowhere, Danielle started working it. Who knew? The episode started with runway-walking lessons by Ms. Jay; it still never ceases to amaze (and delight) me that a former drag queen is teaching models how to walk on network TV. Anyway, most of the walking was pretty mediocre, and, as much as it pains me to say it, Jade did have one of the better walks. The girls were put to the test in a "runway show" for L.A. designer Jared Gold, who appears to be the poor man's Vivienne Westwood; cue wacky clothing, weird makeup, and...huge cockroaches. Jade won over the crowd by working (and kissing) hers, whereas Gina freaked out and literally had to be pushed onto the runway. Big surprise, Jade won the challenge and got to take four buddies to a fashion show. And since models sometimes "fall" on the runway (like in Vivienne Westwood shows), the photo shoot involved dressing up like a fairy-tale character and falling onto a big cushy mattress, which, honestly, looked like the most fun shoot since the trampoline in cycle three. The girls then had one final challenge--to do their runway walk for the judges in huge 8-inch platform heels (again, Vivienne Westwood). Kari (a.k.a. model Barbie), who stumbled every time down the runway, totally wiped out--mutliple times--in the monster shoes. Remarkably, not all of them did--except for Danielle, who sprained her toe in her collossal wipeout that, as mean as this sounds, really made me laugh (especially when she crawled on her hands and knees at the end). Oh, come on, you were laughing too! Anyway, Jade (shocker) was called first, followed by the (newly) fierce Danielle. It came down to model Barbie and Gina (the Asian girl) in the end; according to Tyra, it's because both of them are boring, but I really think it was because Gina was a brat at Jared Gold and Kari can't walk (and is a bit chubby, for a model). Gina's angular face won out in the end, because poor Kari was already starting to get the "too commercial" comments and, as MW put it, she was the hottest girl on the show (read: the prettiest, i.e. not "edgy" enough and, yes, "too commercial"). I'm sure she'll turn up in a Macy's catalog at some point.

Next week, Janice Dickinson is back to give the girls posing tips. And, I expect, to call out Jade on her insecurities.
Website of the week
In my old age, I'm becoming increasingly flaky. Not flaky as in unreliable, but flaky as in New Age hippie-dippy. It probably started with yoga. For about a year now, I've been seeing an acupuncturist for a chronic condition I have, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone, as I definitely believe it and the supporting Chinese herbs I take really do help. Lately, I've been dabbling in macrobiotics (yes, what Gwyneth and Madonna eat), which is not nearly as crazy as people seem to think it is. Also, I'm a firm believer in feng shui. For example, I spent a weekend last fall clearing clutter from my apartment (clutter is very bad in feng shui) and lost two and a half pounds the following week. Clearing clutter, however, is a fairly easy proposition in comparison to decking out your apartment with all of the other random items suggested by feng shui books. Having no idea where one would purchase faceted crystal balls and Mandarin ducks, I turned to the internet, where I found the wonderfully wacky Fengshui-Gift.com. You can shop by product category (Auspicious Fishes, Deities & Guardians, Money Frog, etc.), by aspiration (career, love, wealth, etc.), or by room. As one might imagine, a lot of the items are on the far side of tasteful. However, for the feng shui devotee, there are some necessary yet hard to find items: I'm going to need several faceted crystal balls to slow down the chi in my apartment; I'd like a laughing buddha for my "helpful people" sector; and feng shui is big on water fountains, so why not go for the Ingot fountain to attract wealth luck? Even if you're ordering a bronze buddha statue, all orders ship for a flat rate of $6.80. So, hey, maybe that wealth fountain is working already!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The week in shopping
East Village lingerie-and-more oasis Azaleas has Splendid tees, Belabumbum lace camis, and FarylRobin suede flats for up to 70% off. 3/22-3/26; 1-8 weekdays, noon-8 Sat., noon-6 Sun.; 223 E. 10th St. (at 1st Ave.).

adam+eve's incredibly chic men's and women's clothes are up to 70% off (now $10 to $150). 3/23-3/25; 4-8 Thurs. & Fri., 10-3 Sat.; 450 W. 15th St. (9th & 10th Aves.), 4th fl.

Modern furniture from Property is 20%-60% off. Through 4/1; 10-6 weekdays, noon-6 weekends; 14 Wooster St. (Grand & Canal Sts.).

You can't go wrong with Elie Tahari's chic, classic clothes, which are now on sale for roughly 50% off. 3/22-3/25; 8-8 weekdays, 10-3 Sat.; 520 5th Ave. (at 43rd St.), 2nd fl.

Fun, colorful home accessories at 30%-80% off (that's $40 and up) at Hable Construction. 3/23-4/10; 11-7, noon-6 Sun.; 230 Elizabeth St. (Houston & Prince Sts.).

Mom-friendly Joan Vass clothing and accessories are $30-600. 3/23-3/24; 10-5; 208 W. 30th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 11th fl.

Chinese-chic Shanghai Tang has clothing for up to 80% off. 3/24-3/26; 10-7 Fri. & Sat.; 11-4 Sun.; 102 Wooster St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Buy it: Stella McCartney for Adidas tennis collection
We all love Stella McCartney. I was a huge fan of her first collection for Adidas, and the second was good, but mostly more of the same--and even maybe a bit too 80s for me. But her spring 2006 has a tennis theme, it's in stores now, and, best of all, you can buy this one online. Halelujah! Now, I haven't played tennis since I was a teenager, and I fully do not plan on playing any this summer, but this collection has so many crossover pieces, you don't need to set foot anywhere near a tennis court (or a gym, for that matter). The tennis dress, for example, would be cute layered over leggings (or without, if you have great gams) or as a swimsuit cover-up. Ditto for the adorable tennis skirt, which you could wear with the tennis polo or the tennis tee. And I love the DIY fit of this Melange Tee. For those of you who actually plan on wearing this stuff to work out, there's the tennis tank, these cool capris, and even shoes. It's almost enough to make me want to join the gym again.
America's Next Top Model recap
This week's episode of America's Next Top Model was the makeover episode, which is usually one of my favorites (as opposed to, say, the "acting" eposide). On one hand, it's a little predictable--at least one girl always hates her hair, at least one turns into a diva, at least one complains about how they didn't do much of anything to her--but I always find the transformations so remarkable. Except this time, they were a little ho-hum. For at least half of the girls, I could barely tell the difference between "before" and "after"; the rest got extensions, a shaved head (Nnenna) or a crazy blonde short 'do (Jade and Sara). Jade, who's clearly this cycle's big bitch, was expecting extensions because "all the working girls have long hair" and was totally put off by her bright blond afro. Sara was clearly not thrilled with her shaved-on-the-side-but-long-on-top mohawk-type thing, although it makes her look like a punkier Scarlett Johansson, and considering how crazy it is, it's very versatile and "edgy." As they were getting their new looks, Mr. & Ms. Jay went around and gave all the girls "images," like "hip-hop fabulous." At their challenge the next day, the girls had to pick out an outfit from the Gen Art fashion show, then they had 15 minutes to style themselves and do hair and makeup before being judged by my favorite (emphasis, ironic) stylist, Rachel Zoe. Also Naima was there to give the girls makeup tips (and for some obvious Cover Girl product placement); I have no idea when Naima became makeup expert, but whatever. Ms. Zoe did her best to cut the girls down to size (let me just say she's no Simon Doonan), but if I were a contestant, I'd find it hard to take criticism from a 35-year-old woman who dresses like a 22-year-old and has single-handedly brought anorexia back into vogue. I'm just saying. Anyway, Nnenna won the challenge, entitling her and roommates Gina and Jade to a shopping spree. Meanwhile, Jade is creating friction with nearly everyone in the house, calling Furonda a diva because of her new hair extensions (she may act like a diva, but oh my god does she look like Tiffany from cycle 4 now!) and yelling at Wendy for hogging the phone (Wendy being the displaced New Orleans resident). Of course, the more Jade brags about herself and cuts everyone else down to size, the more clear it is that she's totally insecure. And she should be, because 1) I think she looks like a man and 2) she's too old. Anyway, the photo shoot this time was for a "cover" and because no shoot is ever easy, the girls had to pose in a veritable freezer, on blocks of ice (with appropriately blue and silver makeup, natch). Again, I think most of the girls rocked it, except Jade, who was a big baby the whole time and Wendy, who's clearly (and with good reason) preoccupied. Jade defended herself by bringing up her lack of social skills and by making excuses; the judges were totally not having it. But they decided she made better TV than the Hurricane Katrina victim Wendy, because they sent her packing. Which was probably a good thing for her sake and for her family's.

Next week, Ms. Jay teaches the girls how to walk.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cheryl Shops...for her own birthday present
After my last post, you're probably going to think I'm totally crazy. And I am, but hear me out. So, my birthday was a few weeks ago, and every year I treat myself to something nice but not ridiculous (i.e., not a new Marc Jacobs bag). This year I thought, since I'm about to move and all, that I should count, say, my new rug as my birthday present. But, you know, I can't wear a rug. So after I got my hair done a few weeks ago, I stopped into Alexander McQueen on the way home, thinking I might treat myself to a skull scarf. Of course they were sold out, but I put my name on the waiting list, figuring either I'd never get a call, or if I did, I'd be over it. Lo and behold, I got a call today from a very friendly salesgirl, and she convinced me to stop by the store after work. I thought the scarves were like $500; they were actually less than half of that, and Alyssa (my salesgirl) told me that they only make 20 in each color. And since they sell out the day they hit the store, Alyssa told me, people buy two (that's the limit) and sell one on eBay. Um, so that's what I did! I know it's not totally logical, but I checked, and the scarves are indeed going for about $500 each. So, hey, my scarf will basically pay for itself! By the way, if you're interested, email me; I'll be listing the scarf tomorrow night. (Also, this reminded me of the time I was second in line to buy tickets for Madonna's Drowned World tour, and instead of buying the max of six tickets at $200 apiece and selling them on eBay for a 1000% profit, I just bought two and have been kicking myself ever since.) And, in case you were wondering, my scarf is fabulous, and I couldn't be happier with it. It's black, with blush-pink skulls; the one I'm selling is pink with black skulls. See? Being thrifty doesn't always have to mean shopping at K-Mart--you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
Website of the week
Last week I realized that upon my move into my new apartment, my housing costs will be increasing by 50%. Yeeow. And, as one could surmise by reading Cheryl Shops on a regular basis, I'm not exactly good at being thrifty. But there's no time like the present to make some changes in your life. Now, don't freak out--I'm still going to be lusting after the latest shoes and handbags; I'm just not going to be buying all of them. And over the weekend, my friend HI brought up a good suggestion: Since I'm now going to be living in the Land of Hipsters, why not embrace thrift store chic? Now, in the 90s, when the height of chicness was layering a flannel or two over a thermal and a tee, I was all into Salvation Army. And I still love a good thrift shop find; I just don't exactly have time to spend three hours sorting through the racks in search of a perfect lace blouse. Which is why I love vintage stores--they've already picked out the best stuff, plus it's been dry-cleaned and pressed. Unfortunately, lots of vintage stores (Resurrection, I'm looking at you) jack up the prices accordingly. One that jacks them up just enough is Adore Vintage. What really makes this vintage site stand out--aside from its relative affordability--is the photography and the styling. The models are all real-looking hipster girls, and they're all accessorized to the hilt. They look hip, not kitschy, and you, the consumer, see what the garment or accessory will really look like, when you wear it with what you already own. Plus, they're very on trend with their merchandise, which is great--no matter what's happening in fashion at the moment, you should almost always be able to get something simliar in vintage, since, as we all know, fashion is cyclical. Take, for example, this adorable, boho-chic Rainbow Sorbet dress, which looks almost exactly like a dress from A.P.C.'s spring line (I'd link directly to it, but A.P.C. now requires Flash 8 and I don't feel like installing it right now). They've also got spring's big trends: stripes, nautical, and, um, 80s (doesn't the print on this last dress remind you of Primp thermals?). As you'll notice, a lot of the merchandise is sold, and a lot of it is coming soon; since everything is cute and reasonably priced, it moves fast, kind of like H&M! So you might have to check back often, but it's still easier than digging through the racks at Salvation Army. And no flannel shirts here--that is, until the Grunge revival begins.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The week in shopping
I saw my dear friend AG over the weekend (she lives in Virginia now), and she had the cutest Lauren Merkin clutch. I'm tempted to hit this sale to see if I can find a similar one--clutches are now $90, totes are now $240, and studded bags are $110. But the compliments you'll get are priceless. 3/14-3/16; 11-7; 231 W. 29th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 201.

Echo of the Dreamer's pretty boho-chic semiprecious jewelry is up to 85% off. 3/15-3/18; 9-7, 11-4 Sat.; 242 W. 30th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 14th fl.

One day, I will own Pratesi sheets; if you're there financially, score their famous linens for up to 75% off. Through 3/14; 9-6:30; Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 4th fl.

The J. Rosen showroom has swimwear, coverups, accessories, and other beachy stuff from Vix, Lisa Curran, Havianas, and more for 40%-60% off. Cash only. Through 3/17; 8-7:30; 250 W. 39th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 510.

Score very current blouses, pants, sweaters and more for 50%-70% off at the Alice + Olivia showroom. 3/16-3/18; 9-6, 11-3 Sat.; 80 W. 40th St. (at 6th Ave.), 2nd fl.

When MW and I went to ABC last weekend, we decided to look around the whole store and pretend we were rich. Strangely enough, we didn't have to pretend in the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams showroom, where prices are actually quite reasonable. For the next month, they're offering 20% off all custom orders. 3/15-4/15; 10-8 weekdays, 10-7 Sat., 11-6:30 Sun.; ABC Carpet & Home, 888 Broadway (at 19th St.).

Or, if you're actually loaded, you can just head right over to DDC, where their furniture is now 20%-70% off. 3/18-3/26; 9:30-6 weekdays, 11-6 Sat., closed Sun.; 181 Madison Ave. (at 34th St.).

I recently came to the conclusion that, for the time being, the most appealing thing about getting married would be getting a sparkly ring and wearing couture. And for the former, I think vintage is the way to go, especially considering the harshness of the diamond trade nowadays. Coincidentally, Stardust Antiques has vintage costume and estate jewelry starting at a mere $50. And no, MW, this is not a hint. I'm just saying. 3/13-4/1; noon-7 weekdays, noon-6 Sat., closed Sun.; 38 Gramercy Park (at 21st St.).

The Mella sale is usually a zoo, but their pricey flip-flops are up to 80% off. 3/16-3/17; 11-7; 25 W. 36th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 6th fl.

Score semiprecious Nancy Cohen jewelry for up to 75% off. 3/16; 11-7; W New York, 541 Lexington Ave. (48th & 49th Sts.), Waterfall Room, 2nd fl.

For the Barneys cardholders out there, earn double Free Stuff points through 3/19. So, hey, time to splurge on that Balenciaga bag!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Five reasons America's Next Top Model has gone completely cuckoo...
5. Upon arrival, Ms. and Mr. Jay greeted the girls and said that Tyra couldn't make it, then played a video that Tyra had made for them. Oh, but, HEY, THERE'S TYRA WALKING INTO THE ROOM! Yeah, I wasn't fooled.

4. Tyra seems to be modeling herself after Oprah, trying to be both tough-love-giver and modeling fairy godmother. I can't stand Oprah, so this is going to be hard to handle. I think I might mute Tyra in future episodes, although I'll still be seeing her widened, faux-earnest eyes while she makes the girls cry.

3. The girls were subjected to a "press conference" in the first episode. It was, in a word, ridiculous, especially since the girls hadn't had any media training, and I have no idea what it was attempting to prove.

2. The girls were told they were going bald for a photo shoot. Cut to shocked silence. "Oh, just kidding, you'll be wearing bald caps!" Um, I saw that one coming from a mile away.

1 1/2. One contestant, Wendy, is from New Orleans, which I think is really cool, especially in light of the fact that she doesn't know where half of her family is. However, Tyra already made her cry once, and while Wendy is pretty, I feel like Tyra's going to milk her for all the social issues she can. And I think that's kind of exploitative.

1. One contestant is 26, one is 25, and several are 24. Um, hello! In the real world, 26-year-old models marry Italian playboys and sail off on their yachts, because their careers are over. Not that America's Next Top Model has ever been realistic.

...but five reasons I'll still be watching it
5. They may have picked a ballsy New Yorker, several naive young things from Bumblefuck, and the preacher's daughter, but thank god the gay-bashing, liberal-hating 18-year-old Texan cheerleader didn't make the final cut.

4. Janice Dickinson isn't back as a judge (it's still Twiggy), but she showed up in the press conference bit and was her usual crazy self. I hope this isn't the last we'll see of her.

3. Real model Eve showed up to assist with the bald-head-application and lend much-needed street cred to the show.

2. There's a contestant named Furonda, whose name reminds me of LaFawnduh from Napoleon Dynamite, and then I laugh. But, seriously, she's fierce.

1. Um, have you seen the girls? If not, go here. They all look absolutely stunning on the website, and I'd say 90% of them turned out a flawless bald picture. Yes, that's a bald picture, people. I might be sticking my foot in my mouth a few weeks from now, but I think these are some of the best girls they've ever had on the show. I can't wait to see who wins.
Project Runway recap
Okay, so, for those of you who don't know me personally, I'll be the first to admit I'm very gullible. And as I mentioned in last week's Project Runway recap, I'm easily manipulated by editing. Although I was right to assume Daniel V. wasn't going to win, I'd been telling everyone at work that I thought Santino was a shoo-in. Wrong! Anyway, to backtrack a bit, this week's finale started in medias res, with the designers still freaking out about their 13th-hour pieces; Andrae and Gay Uncle Nick seemed to have everything under control for Santino and Daniel V., but Dirty Diana was sewing with the speed of those blind nuns in Belgium who make the pretty lace. The designers were finishing up everything until 4 a.m.; they then had a 5 a.m. call at the tents; Daniel V. remarked he had slept two hours in the past four days and, yikes, could I tell (see, if he were a real fashion designer, he'd be blowing rails and be chipper as a chipmunk). Daniel went first, and while I thought he definitely showed his tailoring skills, as well as a sophistication that was beyond his 24 years, the collection seemed too tailored and too sophisticated--with the exception of his 13th-hour dress, which I loved (maybe because Gay Uncle Nick made it). Chloe went next, and her collection was gorgeous--mostly dresses and suits in satin and prints--it seemed kind of impractical to me, especially coming from "a woman who designs for women." (I kept remarking, "You can't wear a bra with that!") But based on how much camera time Chloe got and how breezily Santino's was shot, I knew it was curtains for Santino. Which is too bad, because I kind of liked his collection the best. But Santino was the first to go at judging; Heidi Klum made the very accurate point that there were breasts all over the place, and it turned out that Santinio hadn't fit his clothes on real women until he came to New York, so that explained that. Guest judge Debra Messing was obviously enamored with Chloe's collection, and everyone seemed to like Daniel's, even though there didn't seem to be a cohesive theme (I didn't buy the military-meets-Japan thing either). And even though Chloe got the dreaded "matchy" comment from Heidi (a triple-bad "matchy-matchy-matchy" at that), she was selected as the winner. And the more I think about it, the happier I am--I've liked Chloe's stuff from the start, and she's turned out consistently chic, wearable stuff. And, not to get all femininst on everyone, but there are already so many male superstar designers in the fashion industry, so I think it's cool that a woman won. Congrats to Chloe, and I'm looking forward to seeing more from her.
Website of the week
While I basically make it my job to know about new websites and places to shop, sometimes a few sites slip through the cracks and I'm, like, the last to know. One such site is eyes.lips.face, or e.l.f. The gimmick, or "philosophy," behind e.l.f. is that everything is $1. Yes, a dollar. But instead of being cheap and nasty like other makeup that costs $1 (like, say, Wet 'n' Wild, although I do like their 666 lip liner), e.l.f. is made of quality ingredients--they believe, refreshingly, that innovative cosmetics don't have to be expensive (take that, Chantecaille!). The e-commerce portion of the website is organized quite simply: by facial feature, plus tools, cases, looks, and gifts. I love the "create your kit" feature where you select a makeup bag, then fill it up with makeup. The nice & neutral is a great starter kit ($20!) containing shades that flatter everyone. Can't decide? Get the master set--yep, it contains every single product sold on the site, and it's only $100 (which would buy you some eye shadow, a lipstick, blush, and mascara at the department store). If you don't want to make that much of a commitment (or if you just don't have enough space), the line is great for trying out stuff you wouldn't normally spend money on, like the eyeliner in midnight blue, the facial whip in lilac petal, or the nail lacquer in Rachel's Brick House (a dead ringer for Chanel's Vamp). Also on my list: the professional eye-widener, a.k.a. white pencil, whose price puts my $18 Shu Uemura pencil to shame; the soothing lip gloss in bark; the healthy glow bronzer; and, for the love of pete, this Tweezerman-like slant tweezer for, yep, $1. Plus, now through 3/13, get free eye makeup remover pads (yeah, a $1 value, but still) when you enter code eyepads. Shipping on all orders is $5, which seems kind of steep considering everything is $1, but then again, everything is $1, so who's complaining? Not me--the only thing I can complain about is not having discovered this site sooner!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Oscars fashion
Without further ado, my best and worst dressed (with honorable and dishonorable mentions, of course), plus five hot men I wouldn't kick out of bed.

Best
Michelle Williams: I've loved Michelle Williams ever since she was Jen on Dawson's Creek, and now here she is, nominated for an Oscar, in what was my favorite dress of the night. Yes, not everyone can pull off canary yellow, but she looked totally flawless, and whenever the camera panned across the audience, your eye was drawn immediately to her. Smart girl.

Reese Witherspoon: The belle of the ball, Reese bought this vintage Christian Dior herself and had it restored by hand. I thought she looked classic and gorgeous.

Uma Thurman: Certainly making up for her Christian Lacroix faux pas of last year, this gorgeous Versace showed off her impossibly elegant bod and made her look like the great beauty she is.

Honorable mention
Keira Knightley: I loved this entire look--until the knees. The hair was cute, makeup gorgeous, necklace beyond gorgeous, Goth-y bodice...and then a crazy-huge trumpet hem. Perhaps Rachael Zoe should stick to straight up styling.

Felicity Huffman: I love Felicity Huffman, and I applaud her for choosing an up-and-coming designer (Zac Posen), but I feel like this dress might've looked better on someone with a more youthful physique. Someone with, um, slightly perkier breasts. I'm just saying.

Jessica Alba: My second Versace pick of the night (I know, usually I'm not the hugest fan of Versace, so this is shocking to me too), and she would've been in the Best category if not for one small detail: Did she lose a lot of weight? It certainly looks like it to me. Jessica, I like your curves. Please keep eating.

Dishonorable mention
Jennifer Aniston: Team Aniston was representing at the Oscars while Team Jolie-Pitt was galavanting around Paris, and what does she wear? Yet another black dress. I know it's Rochas, but, hello, it's black. This would've been the time to wear green, red, blue...anything but black. So score one for Team Jolie-Pitt.

Nicole Kidman: OK, Nicole, we get it: You want to get married. Also, you've bleached your freckles away and you stay out of the sun. Yes, we know. Now, please, wear some color, whether it's your face, your body, or your dress.

JLO: The dress was actually quite beautiful, but I was so distracted by JLO's ultra-severe updo and Mystic-Tan-Gone-Wrong, I didn't even notice it. Maybe her scary husband Marc Anthony can confiscate her Body Bling and hairpins for the next awards show.

Worst
Amy Adams: I think Amy Adams is cute, and I think it was nice that she was nominated, but is it me or did her dress look like a big pile o' turds?

Charlize Theron: I know this is obvious, but Charlize needs to step away from the Dior. I heard this dress was actually striking in person, although I find that hard to believe. First, it was forest green; second, it looked like some haute couture robot made it; third, I was worried that bow was going to eat her head.

Naomi Watts: Oh dear, where to begin? 1) It's nude. 2) It doesn't flatter her body, especially the hip region (and those of us who've seen 21 Grams, Mulholland Drive, and every other movie in which she's appeared naked, can verify that she is not hippy). 3) The deconstructed ruffle stuff might eat her head before Charlize's bow eats hers.

Five hot men I wouldn't kick out of bed
Ludacris: Even though I know Luda has hoes in every area code, you've gotta love a man who can pull off a velvet tuxedo jacket.

George Clooney: As my coworker AW says, I love me some Clooney. I think he can now safely be called our generation's Cary Grant. Also, I thought he had the best acceptance speech of the night.

Matt Dillon: How old is Matt Dillon? Forty? How is it possible that he still looks this foxy? I'll have what he's having.

Ryan Philippe: I've loved him since Cruel Intentions (the movie on which he met Reese), and I'm glad that his career is somewhat hot again. Well, and he didn't slap Reese on the back or stand up and ask for money this time.

Heath Ledger: Having seen Heath in person (with Michelle, at Nobu), I can understand why she never leaves his side. I wouldn't even make him shave his mustache. Now that's love.
Paris Fashion Week roundup
So I've been totally slacking with my Fashion Week updates. Which is too bad, because, as everyone pretty much agrees, Paris is where the most interesting stuff is happening, fashion-wise. So here's what Cathy Horyn has to say: She hated Yohji Yamamoto (quite surprising, since he's usually such a critics' darling); is mezmerized by Balenciaga, while also praising Dior and Gaultier; praises Belgians Olivier Theyskens and Dries van Noten while panning Ungaro and Stella McCartney (whose collection was rather boring, yes); gives more praise to innovators YSL and Chanel; questions the modernity of Alexander McQueen and Comme des Garcons; and learns to love "overload" at Vuitton. Whew!

For the record, my three favorite Paris shows were Balenciaga, Rochas, and Alexander McQueen. I love the clean, mod shapes at Balenciaga, and he arguably makes the hottest skinny trousers around--so much so that I want to, to paraphrase Atoosa Rubenstein, start dieting now so I can fit into them by fall. Rochas is just so understatedly glamorous yet cool; these are clothes you could wear every day (if you could afford to). And McQueen is just a virtuoso; I'm willing to argue that no other designer of his generation can tailor as well as he can. I love to pop into his store on 14th Street just to look around and be inspired (in fact I did so on Saturday after my appointment at Sally Hershberger; while I was there, I got on the waiting list for a skull scarf).

And just when you thought you were done, Los Angeles Fashion Week starts next Friday. Expect lots of tees, jeans, and former America's Next Top Model contestants.
The week in shopping
MW and I braved the crowds at ABC Carpet & Home on Sunday for their antique-rug sale. Prices run $800-$100,000, with the majority somewhere in the low four figures. (We'll be sticking with West Elm, thanks.) Through 3/19; 10-8 weekdays, 10-7 Sat., 11-6:30 Sun.; 888 Broadway (at 19th St.), 6th fl.

Awesome knits are under $100 (tees are a mere $25) at MarieMarie's sample sale. 3/8-3/9; noon-6; 257 W. 39th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 10th fl.

If only I could afford Pratesi sheets for my new apartment. They're up to 75% off at this sale, but a king-size set is still in the mid-three figures. Yeeow. 3/12-3/14; 9-6:30; Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 4th fl.

Samples are 40%-50% off at Eileen Fisher. 3/11; 10-7; 314 E. 9th St. (1st & Ave. A).

The excellent Girlshop has Ulla Johnson, Lily McNeal, Louis Verdad, and more for 20-50%off. Through 3/12; 11-7 Mon.-Wed., 11-8 Thurs.-Sat., noon-7 Sun.; 819 Washington St. (Gansevoort & 13th Sts.).

Fun housewares store Karikter is taking 30% off all Alessi home accessories. Through 4/1; noon-7; 19 Prince St. (at Elizabeth St.).

Click here to find out how you can score a free lipstick with your Benefit purchase through 3/12.

It's spring fashion week at Macys.com, so get free shipping on your $100 order when you use your Macy's card.

Take $10 off a $75 order, $15 off a $100 order, or $25 off a $150 order at La Redoute when you enter code 1651-00979-368 at checkout through 3/16.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Project Runway recap
While last year's Project Runway was a two-hour finale, this year they're splitting it into two hour-long episodes, I suppose to up the drama factor. This week's installment featured Tim Gunn visiting each of the three finalists at home as they work on their 12-piece collection for Fashion Week. I think Santino realized he came across as an ass on the show, because damn if he wasn't trying hard to look grateful, humble, and sympathetic. And, you know, he did a good job (or maybe it was just the editing). Tim then visited Daniel uptown (it looked like Morningside Heights to me) and Chloe in Texas. Cue the semi-sappy stories about how the designers have overcome the obstacles in their lives. Enough of that. The designers then convened in New York, months later. Chloe and Daniel were obviously happy to see each other...and not so much Santino (whom I'm now actually starting to feel sorry for--gee, can I be manipulated or what?!). The designers gave Tim a preview of what they had so far, and while he seemed kind of lukewarm about Chloe's and enthusiastic about Santino's, he was quite mum about Daniel's. And Daniel kind of threw a hissy fit. (Speaking of being manipulated, remember last year how you started to hate Kara Saun, the clear frontrunner, during the last episode? Exactly.) The designers then selected their models, fit their models...and then Tim and Heidi presented a last-minute challenge! Woo-hoo! In a very Apprentice-like twist, the former contestants came back, and each still-in-the-running designer had to pick a helper for the task--which was to make a 13th-hour 13th piece to add to the collection. Cue the frantic looks from the designers. Daniel, smart boy, picked Nick; Santino picked Andrae, probably just so he could do his Tim Gunn impersonation; and Chloe picked Dirty Diana, which I feel is like a disaster waiting to happen. The episode concluded with a frantic trip to Mood and Santino threatening to send his model down the runway in a maxi-pad. Oh, some things never change...

Like America's Next Top Model, which kicked off its new season with a "Where are they now?" episode. The thankfully Tyra-lite show (she's starting to make little distinction between Tyra the Talk-Show Host and Tyra the ANTM Host) focused on past-season contestants who are actually working as models--which included everyone from the winners to season one's Shannon, season two's Mercedes and Camille (still exaggerating, as always), season three's Ann (who was signed to freaking Elite and is doing quite well for herself), Toccara, and Yaya, and season four's Brittany. Conspicuously absent was season one winner Adrianne Curry, who, in Tyra's eyes, has tarnished the ANTM franchise by appearing on The Surreal Life, schtupping Peter Brady, and posing for Playboy (or so I'd like to assume). And while I was glad to see season five's Kim (my favorite) embracing her newfound status as a lesbian role model, and the fact that Lisa is still batshit crazy, I was kind of let down that only five girls--Bree, Lisa, Cassandra, Kim, and Sarah--were interviewed? What happened to Nik, the runner up? Or Jayla? Or Miss Don't Get It Twisted? Faded into oblivion already, I guess. I did, however, love all the "Look how couture Nicole is!" segments, for their campiness alone. Speaking of which, the new season starts (for real) next Wednesday. Ah, escapism...
Website of the week
I'm going to preface this week's website of the week entry by stating that, yes, this one's a bit of a departure from the usual clothing or accessories websites, but to rationalize it in a Karl Lagerfeld-type way, the more fit you are, the better you look in your clothes. Now to backtrack a bit, I belonged to Crunch for five years but let my membership run out last December. When I first started going, I was all into the hip-hop and ballet classes; at some point, all these classes started getting really crowded, to the point that I'd get to the gym an hour early just to sign up for a spot. Then I started to hate the fact that working out became, like, a 2.5-hour debacle several times a week, so then I just went and lifted or walked on the treadmill. Which got boring really quickly, and then going to the gym really became a chore. So I quit. (And I love to triumphantly tell people I quit, because it reminds me of the episode of Friends when Ross and Chandler try to quit the gym in vain.) But for me, not working out at all would mean getting fat. So I did a little research and started working out at home. I know this sounds really dorky, but I push my coffee table out of the way, pop in a DVD, and do my little workouts. I love working out at home because I can do it for 30 minutes in the morning before work (and not spend 30 minutes or more commuting, changing, showering, etc.), and because I do it in the privacy of my own home, I don't have to worry about other people, whether it's people who hover when you're on the eliptical trainer for more than 30 minutes or the meatheads who grunt and spit and slam their barbells into the floor. The hard part, however, has been finding fun but challenging workout DVDs to do. Amazon reviews and word of mouth are good on one hand, but everyone's tastes are different. Which is why I love Collage Video, a straightforward website that's all about the workout tapes. You can search by title, instructor, or keyword, or use the search by type feature, where you pick the type of workout you want, then select the level of difficulty. Search results pages feature type of workout, length, level, title, and price. You can also browse videos featured in your favorite magazines, or read about the instructors (dorky, but kind of interesting). When you click on a specific title, you get a straightforward description, plus a bar showing the length of the warmup, workout, cooldown, etc. (if there are multiple workouts on the DVD, it has the breakdown for each workout). Need weights, a mat, or a step? You can get them here too. There's also a handy wish list feature, so you can save DVDs for future purchases. What's on my wish list? Crunch Cardio Salsa and Crunch Cardio Dance Blast, ironically.