Ivanka Trump: Bring it on!

 

One of the most wonderful parts of getting to know more about some of today’s top new jewelry designers is that so many of them have such interesting stories as they struggled to succeed and build their businesses. One of the most interesting jewelry designers of our time has to be a woman who doesn’t need to work:  that is Ivanka Trump, daughter of billionaire Donald Trump.

 

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump

 

 

 

She’s a fascinating young woman, born with more than the usual advantages and/or burdens.  While most of us think of being super-rich, beautiful, 5’11” and blonde as an advantage, it could be that living life in a fishbowl, having a famous dad that many people don’t even like, and facing immense preconceptions anytime you meet someone could be a burden.

Somehow this child of privilege avoided the pitfalls of drug abuse, reckless partying and other destructive self-indulgences that many in her situation fall prey to. Instead become a successful woman in her own right.

I have followed Ivanka more closely since Tres Mariposas expanded our fine jewelry business last year. She graduated summa cum laude from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. At only 32, this former runway and print model is a writer, mother of two adorable young children, and executive vice president of development and acquisitions at The Trump Organization.

Her life took a different direction in 2007 when she founded her own line of fine jewelry in 2007 and opened her first flagship retail store on Madison Avenue.

Far from being a plaything of the idle rich, her line is exquisite, saleable fine jewelry that appeals to confident American women. As our jewelry business has grown, we had the opportunity to choose among the best and the finest fine jewelry lines consistent with our focus on fashion and quality, and Ivanka Trump Jewelry fit our criteria.

Much of Trump’s jewelry line is inspired by her passion for travel, architecture and design.  One of her most popular collections at Tres Mariposas has been the “Metropolis Collection.”   This line of 18kt yellow gold and diamond jewelry was inspired by 1920s Art Deco architecture in Ivanka’s favorite metropolis, New York.

 So how does she pull all of this off?  I got a glimpse of what drives her from her book, “The Trump Card:  Playing to Win in Work and Life,” published in 2009. As with most people, when they describe what influences shaped them, it was family expectations. “In the Trump household, it was never just about meeting the expectations of others,” she wrote.  “It was about exceeding them. It was about surprising people.”

For instance, she describes being incredibly apprehensive before a board meeting, knowing she would be in the company of middle-aged men who saw her as young and inexperienced.  As she became accustomed to being underestimated, she made it an advantage. 

Now, when asked about not being taken seriously because of her family name and her beauty, she responds as she did in a Forbes.com interview, “Bring it on.”

In the same interview she shared her top three style tips for women at work:  context, modesty and femininity.  “If you work in a law firm, you can’t wear the same thing you would wear if you worked at an ad agency,” she said. “Understand what is appropriate for your industry and in terms of how much skin is being shown.” 

She went on to say how much her own style of dressing has changed at work. “My office style has changed pretty drastically, and a lot of it became being comfortable with expressing femininity in a way that, when I was younger, I was nervous about,” she added. “I was almost afraid to be feminine on the job, which in retrospect was probably a mistake. I wear pink to the office now, whereas when I was 22, I was nervous to wear anything other than a black pinstripe suit.”

I’m guessing that whatever she wears these days, she makes it all look better when she adds her beautiful jewelry! Ivanka Trump Metropolis Collectioin

Not for the gym: Two athletic-inspired trends

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In previous columns this spring, we’ve talked about how mesh fabrics and perforated materials – two athletic-influenced trends – are adding great new texture to spring fashions.

Today, let’s see how athletic styles are influencing two of this year’s new silhouettes. It’s wonderful when new silhouettes enter the fashion scene. Well, mostly wonderful. It’s fresh and interesting, but most of us hesitate a bit before taking a risk on something new. That’s the way it will likely be with these new looks that are part of the trend toward athletic influences on fashion.

Pants with banded hems

One of these great new trends: loose pants ending in knit bands at the bottom of the legs. This style may be inspired by those fleece gym pants of old, but this is far from workout wear. These new pants are in luxurious silks, drapey charmeuse, or soft linens.

It’s funny – it seems like new silhouettes always start in black, then move to other solid colors and then prints. Watch this trend evolve in that way. Fashion is always about change. That’s what we love about it. We’ve been in a tight skinny pants trend for a few years. So this trend, of course, is looser, more fluid and relaxed.

At Tres Mariposas, the new banded-bottom pants are selling quite well to El Paso fashionistas. One question often asked is, “What kind of shoes do I wear with these new pants?” Good news is that either high or low heels work. Strappy high shoes will make the look sexier, more feminine, and dressier. Just as workable are flat sandals for a casual look.

Fashion sweatshirts

Ah…the comfort of a sweatshirt translated to cutting edge fashion. Hip lines like Rag and Bone, Helmet Lang, and 10 Crosby are all about sweatshirts for the cool and casual. And they aren’t like your old hoodies you wear for jogging. These styles still have the athletic sweatshirt’s comfortable raglan sleeves and round neck, but the comparison stops there.

The sweatshirt gym staple has been restyled and reinvented in rich fabrics like cashmere, silk, and lace. Many of these stylish tops even have leather trim details. Wear them with dressy banded-bottom pants, of course. But also with skinny pants, sleek skirts, or your most flattering jeans.

Give these new athletic-inspired silhouettes a chance – you might just fall in love with the comfort and the fresh new styles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean your closet and donate to YWCA: A win-win

Closet-BlastIt’s that time of year again for the great seasonal closet switcheroo. If you still haven’t switched from your winter wardrobe to your spring and summer clothes, don’t delay. I like to think of the middle of March as your annual wardrobe-switching deadline, so make this your weekend to get to work.

We’ve already enjoyed some gorgeous summery spring days. The last thing you want to do on a bright warm morning is scrounge around tweedy jackets, cashmere sweaters, and leather pants as you look for something light to wear.

The drill is the same as every seasonal change. Sort through your winter clothes before you store them in your out-of-season closet or drawers or wherever you stash them until fall. Make four piles: items that need to be cleaned before storage, items ready to store, a very few transitional winter items that can stay in your closet for a little longer in case it gets chilly, and items that you are ready to give away.

This closet changeover may be a bit tedious, but it’s really therapeutic — and philanthropic! A friend once wished for a closet large enough to hold all of her clothes so she wouldn’t have to do seasonal changes. I disagree. While a gigantic closet sounds great in theory, I think it’s good to be forced to look at your wardrobe at least twice a year. It gets you in the mood for the new season and makes you confront the clothes you should get rid of.

As you consider what clothing to give away, just think about how you’re making space for new clothes that are on trend for this year!

It doesn’t matter if you are giving away something because it doesn’t fit, it’s no longer your taste, or you just can’t bring yourself to wear it one more time. You are entitled to your own rationale, which could be no reason at all – no one needs to justify or explain.

But I can give you one good reason to cull out what you’re not wearing any more, or rather 1300 reasons. The staff at Tres Mariposas is once again collecting women’s and children’s clothes for the YWCA’s acclaimed Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center, with a goal of 1300 items by April 16.

In addition, for every item donated up to 1,300 items, Tres Mariposas will contribute a dollar to go toward an urgent need the center staff has identified for the children living at the TLC: activity uniforms.

Think of all the great activities you might have enjoyed growing up – Camp Fire Girls or Girl Scouts, girls’ soccer or volleyball. Now think of the children who can’t take part in out-of-school activities, such as team sports or Boy Scouts, because they cannot afford the uniforms required for participation.

You can help Tres Mariposas raise $1,300 to purchase these activity uniforms for the children staying at the center. Together we can help children experiencing homelessness in our community have some fun after school!

Especially needed are almost new or gently used women’s clothing for job interviews and office work. However, think about what any woman might need, especially if she had to leave a bad domestic situation in the middle of the night without packing or if she has been homeless with little more than the clothes on her back.

The women who live temporarily at the center while they get back on their feet receive shelter, safety, job training, independent living skills, and help with child care. These women appreciate what all of us appreciate. They need skirts and slacks that fit, attractive tops and jackets, jewelry, watches, purses, and even nice pajamas.

This year, we’re also collecting children’s clothes. If you have kids or grandchildren, you know they outgrow their outfits long before their outfits wear out. It would be great if you can donate gently used boys’ or girls’ clothes for any age, from babies to teenagers. These kids need sweaters and coats, too.

You may already have activity uniforms that your kids aren’t using – things like Girl Scout blouses, Boy Scout shirts, basketball shorts, football pads and pants, baseball pants. With our donation, which will be presented at the YWCA Luncheon on April 17, the Transitional Living Center can buy the special team jersey or shirts needed so these kids won’t be prevented from taking part because they didn’t have the right uniform.

The collection campaign brings a win-win situation: you get a closet organized for spring and the TLC gets 1,300 items of clothing and $1,300 for children’s after-school program uniforms!

A Cutting Edge Trend That Cuts Edges – Literally

White cotton open weave dress by Yigal Azrouel

White cotton open weave dress by Yigal Azrouel

Technology influences many aspects of our world, and fashion is no exception.

It’s no accident that a major 2014 fashion trend is technology based. It is a trend that is likeable, crisp, interesting, and works in a myriad of bright or neutral colors. It works in tops, skirts, dresses, jackets, and accessories.

What is this versatile trend? Laser cut fabrics and materials. Today’s advanced laser cutting machines can slice the cleanest of edges on virtually everything from silk to fur, and turn out consistent patterns at an incredible speed.

Laser cuts create intricate tactile masterpieces of interesting textures. We are seeing laser cut leather jackets, laser cut cotton dresses, and trendy laser cut booties. It’s all about the cut-outs this year. Closely related trends include perforated fabrics, mesh, open weaves, or cutaway styles.

Once laser cutting techniques were limited to haute couture brands whose delicate laces and intricate leathers were painstakingly created by craftsmen.  Now, due to technological advances, laser cutting is more affordable and practical for a variety of higher end and even mainstream manufacturers. The results are intriguing – just check out how well this trend works for apparel, accessories and shoes!

P.S. Next week, we’ll look at another technology driven fashion trend…

 

 

Fragile Democracies and Appreciation for America

 

 

Image courtesy of AP

Image courtesy of AP

Last month, I traveled to Bangkok to visit my daughter and her adorable family, as I have done many times. This trip Thailand was once again in a political struggle, but this time, the stakes are higher and the violence is escalating. Not good news for the world’s most visited city in 2013; Bangkok barely edged out London, number 1 in 2012.

Let me just say that I don’t like politics. I try to bury my head in the sand and run from any divisiveness, whether it is here in our own city, in Washington, or abroad. In the past my main observations about Thai politics were limited to a fashion standpoint, of all things. One political party is called the “red shirts” and another is called the “yellow shirts.”  To me, that pretty much meant a person should not wear red or yellow unless they wanted to make a political statement.

Before I arrived and during my visit, protesters rioted and demonstrated in the streets, calling for the resignation of the prime minister and threatening to shut down the city. Ten people have been killed. January’s violence is just the latest chapter in an ongoing struggle between middle- and upper-class Thais in Bangkok and impoverished people in rural areas.

While I was there the prime minister declared a state of emergency. As an international traveler, I now did have to pay attention to politics.  In 2008, riots closed the Bangkok airport for two weeks.

It is all a bit perplexing and frightening. For starters, the violence seems so un-Thai like.  Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles” because of its friendly, cheerful people.  You can smile at any Thai you pass on the street and you will always get a smile back.  There just seems to be no antagonism in their nature.

Secondly, Thailand is a democracy.  My frame of reference for democracy is, of course, the United States, and that mental framework does not include political coups or military takeovers. Boy, have I had my head in the sand!

One sunny morning I sat on my daughter and son-in-law’s balcony overlooking beautiful Bangkok. But I did not feel safe or peaceful. From a nearby intersection that had been blocked off from traffic came chants over a loudspeaker and stirring music. The “Shutdown Bangkok” protests were just around the corner from my grandchildren’s home!  I felt the anxiety creep into me.

On Sunday, February 2, the country is scheduled to hold an election for the next prime minister. However, that election may very well be postponed or boycotted. By the time this article is printed, the next scenario for Thailand could include a military coup. The king of Thailand, in power since 1950, has been ill for years; he was in a Bangkok hospital for four years until his release last summer. His uncertain future adds to the national turmoil.

Needless to say, I am watching the news about Thailand’s precarious situation with heightened awareness and worry. I can no longer find ways to avoid thinking about politics. And I won’t take so much that we have here – including a peaceful homefront — for granted.

 

 

Question of the season: What do women want?

Men ask me this all the time, Sigmund Freud asked it, and probably every great thinker since Socrates asked it. What do women want? What in the world can a guy give a girl that she will be sure to like?

Successful gift giving can be a challenge for men. Women don’t hide it well when they are less than thrilled with a gift.

At the Tres Mariposas Men’s Night this week, I decided to ask a few of the men there about this issue. Here’s what they say about gifts that have won the hearts of the women in their lives.

 

Dr. Bruce Applebaum_2

Dr. Bruce Applebaum:  “My most successful gift was a puppy when my wife and I got engaged — an adorable German Shepherd.  I haven’t been as successful in other categories of gifts!”

 

Jesus Canaba2Jesus Canaba:  “The best gift I’ve ever given was a watch.  Why did she love it so much?  Because of the little diamonds.  She was really into diamonds.”

 

Gene Carrejo2Gene Carrejo: “Jewelry from Ippolita.  She wears the earrings and necklaces all the time!”

Howard Smith2Howard Smith:   “Jewelry is always a winner.  Women just love bling.”

Michael Zimprich2Michael Zimprich:  “I’m planning for my most successful gift to be the one I’m going to give her next week.  I can’t divulge what it is of course, or it will spoil the surprise.  I try to get things she would not buy for herself – luxury and higher end items.  Christmas means a lot to her so I try to get her something nice she’s been wanting.  Guys sometimes forget until the last minute.  I try to watch and listen all year when I’m out shopping with her and then I go back.”

I like Michael’s perspective; sometimes I think women just want to be listened to! And there’s a message here for women here in our community – your men are trying hard to please you, so keep your smile on no matter what you receive Christmas morning. Remember, you can invariably exchange it if you need to!

 

‘These things we do that others may live’

People talk about life-changing experiences and I think I’ve had one of those recently. My son Creed received an incredible military honor, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, two weeks ago in California, and I still haven’t come off a cloud of pride. It’s been surreal!

For starters, I wasn’t prepared for the press. The Flying Cross is a major Air Force Award; it was first given to Charles Lindbergh, and very few pilots and crew members have received it since then. The award and the battle in Afghanistan that earned Creed and his flight companions the honor have been covered in both the military press and civilian press. Here KFOX-TV covered it (visit www.kfoxtv.com and search under “el paso native awarded rare honor”), El Paso Times put it on their front page last week, and three California TV stations aired stories on it. Even I have been interviewed about what it’s like to be the mother of a hero. 

Our family has been in a happy state of celebration and pride. I was so proud, I made “Superhero” T-shirts for all of the family members who went to California for the awards ceremony. You know me – always have to have a fashion tie-in. Creed joked that if I get any royalties from these T-shirts, he wants a cut!

His award, given for “heroism or extraordinary achievement,” has left me humbled and more than a little shook up. It’s hard to come face to face with the danger he has been in fighting in Afghanistan. Denial had been my friend during his three deployments, but now it is very sobering to know that he was yards from heavy enemy fire and rocket-powered grenades.

 It’s not an accident that Creed is a helicopter rescue pilot. The motto of the Pedros, as the U.S. Air Force Search and Rescue forces are called, is “These things we do that others may live.”  This is fitting with Creed’s past. As a student at the Air Force Academy, he once spent an entire night out in the frozen Colorado cold working to rescue a roommate in trouble. 

 The November 1 Air Force Times piece on him and his crew ( www.airforcetimes.com/article/20131101/NEWS/311010014/HH-60-pilot-awarded-Distinguished-Flying-Cross-December-rescue) had a powerful impact on me. The reporter wrote that during the high-risk mission to rescue critically wounded Coalition soldiers, Captain Napier and his team protected more than 25 soldiers on the battlefield while taking enemy fire. Another article noted that the crew acted with complete disregard for their own safety to maneuver the aircraft between the enemy and friendly forces.

Creed has been characteristically unassuming and modest during all of this. After all the publicity and interviews of the past few weeks, I had a few questions of my own. What did flying this particular mission mean to Creed? What did he do that another airman in his position might not have chosen to do?  What made him choose to go back into the anti-aircraft fire? 

Creed said that in one sense he is lucky that his job has something other jobs don’t have: a built-in special motivation on every flight that they are helping people in desperate need. He finds that highly rewarding. Creed said this was not the first time he was shot at during a mission, but it was the first time he was in combat as an aircraft commander responsible for weapons and shooting at the enemy. “After the fact, we realized we did something well despite all the odds.  I guess it’s true that another crew might have stood off more and not accepted as much risk.”

 It’s difficult to realize the extreme danger our military kids face on a regular basis. I’m amazed at the decisions that Creed’s had to make in the midst of an emergency and chaos. And I’m so proud that he grew up to be an amazing leader with such character, courage, and humility. I feel blessed.  I am in tears thinking about it, once again.

 Thank you so much to all who have extended their good wishes, expressions of pride, and congratulatory messages.

The Meaning of Jewelry

naga

Having a fine jewelry store inside Tres Mariposas has been an amazing experience. The pieces are so gorgeous and it’s been wonderful to see customers admiring them and studying their details. It’s interesting — as I become more involved in fine jewelry, I am also becoming more aware of the deep significance jewelry holds for people.

Archeologists have discovered jewelry pieces dating back 75,000 years; its appeal is universal through virtually all cultures and eras. Jewelry has been worn for decoration and fashion, but also for its perceived qualities of power, protection, and even magical effects.

Women seem innately attracted to the adornment factor of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. The right jewelry can bolster a woman’s confidence and bring out her beauty. It can pull together an outfit and make a special occasion absolutely dazzling. But women also love jewelry for its connections to others and for the stories behind the jewelry.

Flori Trudeau is a new Tres Mariposas associate and long-time jewelry industry veteran. We love to hear her talk about the jewelry – she is full of great stories about the gemstones and different designers.

“Every designer has his or her own story,” she says. “They all have different sources of inspiration and motivation. For instance, John Hardy was an American designer who moved to Bali for his inspiration. Now his pieces are made by Bali natives.”

Hardy_fall13_Naga

Hardy has one line called the Naga Collection which features a dragon motif. Flori says that the dragon plays an important role in the people’s folklore. The legend is that a dragon lives on the top of a mountain, but he is in love with a pearl at the bottom of a lake. He visits the pearl underwater and when he flies back up to the mountain top, the water on his wings drips down to water the rice fields.

For the natives, the dragon is a symbol of love, good luck, protection, and prosperity. For some women, it’s empowering and comforting to think that the beautiful dragon on their wrists can attract all these good things. In any case, it’s a lovely story – and all of us can do with more love and good luck in our lives!

Of course, certain pieces of jewelry carry their own stories. You remember where you were and the story behind the occasion when a loved one gave you a special bracelet, ring, or necklace. Each of those pieces carried a silent message of “you are so, so important to me” or “you really deserve this” or a clear and definitive message of everlasting love.

Jewelry treasures that are passed down from generation to generation carry stories of memorable women and moments in time. Jewelry pieces that women buy themselves come with their own stories: “I survived my first year of teaching,” “I passed the bar,” or “I got a raise!”

As valuable as these pieces are – with all their diamonds and colored gems, pearls and stones of all kinds, set in platinum, gold, or silver – part of their value comes from the stories behind them and what the pieces mean. Think about one of your favorite pieces of jewelry – what is its story?

john-hardy-naga_header

Fall Bestsellers: The Customers Have Spoken

As you probably know, the fashion cycle has a rhythm all its own. New style trends emerge each season, and retailers have to predict months in advance what they think will sell in their own stores. As buyers, we do our best to guess which items are going to be big winners for the season.  Which looks and outfits will our customers desire the most?

Right about now, mid-October, retailers are finally seeing what trends customers are responding to with the most enthusiasm. It’s interesting — bestsellers at Tres Mariposas invariably reflect the bestsellers emerging with other retailers across the country. Our tastes on the Border are in line with national trends.

Here are a few early winners for this fall:

Jacquard Pattern Jeans

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Why it works? Texture!

Fashion is all about texture – and everyone needs jeans in her wardrobe.  These are basically textured jeans! The term jacquard refers to fabric with a pattern woven into it.  Your interesting fact of the day: French inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard invented the first loom for these intricate patterns in 1801.

Fit and Flare Dresses and Skirts

DSC03775-2Why it works?  Figure flattering!

Not all of us look fantastic in straight pencil skirts.  The fit and flare style is fitted at the waist and then flares out into flirty fullness at the hem.  It’s been a classic since the 1950s.  Every skirt and dress in this style that we’ve received at Tres Mariposas seems to fly out the door.  Women must be hungry for something feminine and flattering.

 

 

Motorcycle Jackets

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Why it works?  Instantly ups your cool factor.

Every girl needs a bit of racy biker machismo now and then. The motorcycle jacket in black leather and other fabrications has been cool since James Dean. Wear it over everything in your wardrobe.  Add boots and you are set for the season.

Fur Vests

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Why it works?  Makes the outfit.

New design techniques and technology have morphed furs into garments almost as lightweight as sweaters. These are not your grandmother’s mink coats. Friendly to El Paso’s climate, fur vests are great for casual lifestyles.

We may very well see other bestsellers emerge as the season goes on, but these four trends have already taken El Paso by storm. The customer has spoken!

 

Sneak Peek at Spring: New Trends Ahead

 

View of the big apple from the Michael Kors showroom.

View of the big apple from the Michael Kors showroom.

 

I was in New York recently for the major spring market that follows Fashion Week.  Fashion Week is a chaotic scene of runway shows attended by celebrities and socialites.  The purpose of Fashion Week runway shows is to present the creative vibe and essence of a designer’s new line for a season and to whip the fashion press into a frenzy.  Many of the looks are more extreme to make a point.  After the runway shows, fashion executives get to work modifying looks for real women, pricing the collection, and making the line ready for fashion buyers to shop in New York showrooms.

New York was glorious – as it can be when just a hint of fall is in the air.  Just being in the city when the air is crisp and people are in a cosmopolitan bustle is exhilarating.

Designers work to have their showroom in a “cool” part of town.  Some are in the Meatpacking District, some Soho, some in tony uptown showrooms with expansive views of the park.  Additionally the Coterie International Fashion Exhibition aka trade show was at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.  Our tongues were hanging out from dashing from one side of the city to the other.

Some new trend directions for next spring and on:

  • Easiest Trend to Wear Trend:  Back interest details such as envelope back openings, back cut-outs, and racer backs.  It is a look that is business in the front and party in the back.  Only a little cut-out or peek-a-boo is needed.
  • Worst New Trend:  overalls.  It’s cute on a freckle-faced ten year-old, and a super model can pull it off.  For the rest of us, forget it!
  • Best Trend for tall, beautiful, fit fashionistas:  Crop top with pencil skirt.  Tummy baring days are making an effort at a comeback.  And it really looks great on the right person.
  • Trend that makes the most sense:  Athletic details.  The practicality of athletic wear is translated into beautiful silk sweatshirts, mesh and perforated detailing, crepe de chine running shorts, and playful skorts.
  • Biggest Fashion Week Runway Hit:  Narcisco Rodriguez, the Cuban-American designer. Buyers were drooling over his creations in the showroom.  He is a master of draping.  I love the quote from Narciso in the October issue of InStyle magazine.  “When you wear something exceptional, it actually changes the way you feel about yourself.  That’s the value of quality pieces.”  Well said.