Holiday Chic

Tres Mariposas hosted a Pro Musica holiday event Wednesday evening.  Gorgeous models gave the event plenty of glamour.  Holiday parties range from casual open houses to black tie events.  Don’t let your guard down!  Be good to yourself.  Go the extra mile in hair, makeup, and special attire to honor the season, your hosts and the event.  Make your “casual” luxurious, fashionable and 2014.

Fur vests are a fabulous way to create a luxe casual look.

Fur vests are a fabulous way to create a luxe casual look.

Update your cozy cashmere sweater wardrobe to include asymmetrical tunics that are nothing like those old classics you’ve got stashed away from years past.

Update your cozy cashmere sweater wardrobe to include asymmetrical tunics that are nothing like those old classics you’ve got stashed away from years past.

Red never fails to bring a festive feeling.  But go with something new and different such as this asymmetrical blazer of finely knitted in sonar wool.

Red never fails to bring a festive feeling. But go with something new and different such as this asymmetrical blazer of finely knitted in sonar wool.

Your wrap is a statement.  Make it a strong one.  Nothing is better than a fabulous cashmere cape with fox trim.

Your wrap is a statement. Make it a strong one. Nothing is better than a fabulous cashmere cape with fox trim.

Be the most stylish thing next to the Christmas tree with leather skinny pants, uber-cool boots and a silk bomber jacket.

Be the most stylish thing next to the Christmas tree with leather skinny pants, uber-cool boots and a silk bomber jacket.

 

 

The Science of Color

Untitled-2Last week I wrote about designer Tory Burch’s gorgeous new book, “Tory Burch in Color.” Her collections are known for including colorful fabrics and accessories and the book certainly shows her love of color. Even the book’s chapters are arranged by color!

The book ends with a very brief interview on the “science of color” with Dr. Samantha Boardman, one of Tory Burch’s friends. The interview really intrigued me – enough so that I wanted to learn more about this person.

With a little research I found that Dr. Boardman is much like Tory Burch. She also grew up privileged and well educated, with an intense interest in style and fashion. Both women share an enthusiasm for color and interior decorating. Both are strong career women and both are passionate about what is positive and good in life.

Dr. Boardman is a psychiatrist at Cornell Medical College, and just last year she added another degree to her M.D.: a master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. On her website, www.PositivePrescription.com, she writes, “I am a psychiatrist with little interest in what is wrong with people and a lot of interest in what is right with them. I care about the tweaks and changes that make a difference.”

Here are a few things I found interesting from the interview with Dr. Boardman in “Tory Burch in Color:”

  • Dr. Boardman agrees wholeheartedly with psychologist Ulrich Beer who said, “No one can encounter color and stay neutral. We are immediately, instinctively and emotionally moved. We have sympathy or antipathy, pleasure or disapproval within us as soon as we perceive colors.” That is indeed apparent, but I hadn’t thought about it in just that way. For instance, as soon as I see red or yellow, or I even hear someone say a color, my brain has a reaction.c
  • Her research has shown that colors affect how others treat us and how we see ourselves. “One of the first things we notice about someone is the color of what they are wearing,” she writes. “Waitresses wearing red lipstick receive bigger tips and studies show men find women in red clothing to be more attractive, more sexually desirable, and they tend to sit closer to them.  Ladies wearing red tend to feel more attractive – they stand taller, smile more radiantly and are more outgoing.”red
  • It turns out that the color pink can have a significant effect on behavior – a pink environment can make us nicer, gentler. “In the book ‘Drunk Tank Pink,’ Adam Alter describes how a certain shade of pink decreases aggression among prisoners and improves behavior,” says Dr. Boardman. “The University of Iowa’s locker room for visiting football teams is famously painted pink for the exact same reason – to calm opponents and put them in a passive mood.” UTEP Coach Sean Kugler, are you listening?c46ccd8a4edf2cbc44f905f86d3ff1b7

It is true that color is amazingly significant in our culture and in fashion. When women find out I’m supposed to be an expert in fashion, their first question is, “What color is in this year?” Here’s a finding from my own research: the number one reason certain items of clothing do or do not sell at Tres Mariposas is often the color of the item.

I like Samantha Boardman’s emphasis on positivity. According to an interview with her at twenties/collective.com, she lists just three activities as the most significant lifestyle/outlook changes a person can make for a more fulfilling and positive life.

  1. Sleep more.
  2. Build more activity into your daily life.
  3. Spend more time with friends face to face and less time looking down at your mobile device.

P.S. Coming soon: a report on the top colors forecasted for 2015

New Tory Burch book celebrates color and style

Tory Burch

Tory Burch is one of the best-known lifestyle brands in America. My knowledge of the woman Tory Burch was that she was a picture-perfect blonde New York socialite who did not go to fashion school and who capitalized on her contacts to launch a line of clothing and accessories in 2004. There you go — another pretty rich girl who had it easy, or so it seemed.

After her nasty divorce from her wealthy husband, Christopher Burch, it was rumored that her company might not make it subsequently.

Not only did Tory Burch’s company survive, the brand has become a household name. This year Forbes listed her as the 79th most powerful woman in the world.

Now she is out with her first book, “Tory Burch in Color,” a gorgeous coffee table style volume. Since I am in the fashion industry and Tory Burch products are best sellers at Tres Mariposas, I purchased the book as soon as it was available.Tory Burch In Color book photo

I was beyond pleasantly surprised in several ways. First I learned enough about Tory Burch, the person to find out that she’s much more than a pretty face with money. Through the book I discovered that her taste and aesthetic talents are highly developed and honed. She is humble, gutsy, charming and very family-oriented. She has a serious work ethic that, along with a powerful vision for her brand, has contributed to her becoming an amazing businesswoman. Her collections are inspired by art, music, travel, interiors and her own stylish parents.

Second, I can’t say that I’ve run across very many coffee table books that I fervently liked. They are always pretty, but flipping through a few pages is generally enough for me. I found “Tory Burch in Color” to be different.

As you may know, the Tory Burch brand is known for eclectic details, prints, and color – gorgeous color. Her book is actually organized in chapters by color, with each color brought to life through images and information about her travels, her approaches to entertaining, works of art, and even advice of business leaders.

I enjoyed the section on work-life balance (in the purple chapter) with down-to-earth interviews with people such as Hilary Rodham Clinton, Carolina Herrera, and Arianna Huffington. I loved Tory’s drink recipes, such as the Screwdriver in the orange chapter and the Southside in the green chapter. At the end of the book is an interview with Dr. Samantha Boardman on the science of color.

I have always thought that much of Tory Burch’s success comes from the way her products connect with today’s American women: her designs balance tradition and heritage with fresh modernity. Tory is so in sync with the psyche of American women that her products resonate with a broad cross-section of customers.

She began the company seeking to create a culture that reflected her parents, and their values of kindness, integrity, humor and a sense of pride. The company’s signature Reva ballet flat was named after Tory’s mother. Tory writes, “Reva is my mother, the most effortlessly stylish woman I know and my greatest source of inspiration.”

Social responsibility is also important to Tory Burch. In 2009, the Tory Burch Foundation was formed to support the economic empowerment of American women entrepreneurs and their families. Through loans, mentorship, and entrepreneurial education, the foundation invests in the success and sustainability of women-owned small businesses. One hundred percent of the gross proceeds received by Tory Burch LLC from the sale of the book will go toward the foundation.

I encourage you to support the foundation and give yourself a treat by buying the book. Or you can stop by Tres Mariposas and peruse it there. I think you will find it a gorgeous addition to your library – or coffee table!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New York Travelogue

1Last week we went to the Coterie apparel market at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.  Self-described as “a premier global marketplace that bridges apparel and accessories designers to the international Who’s Who of Retailers,” this is the largest show of the year. It is so huge that it’s really hard to describe just how many vendors and buyers attend.

It is always held after the official New York Fashion Week.  Fashion Week is full of runway shows meant to impress celebrities and the press. The following week, it’s time to get down to the business of fashion.

For Tres Mariposas buyers, this September trip includes a couple of days at the huge convention center show and a couple of days dashing to showrooms from one end of Manhattan to the other – Seventh Avenue, Soho, and Midtown. Market is not all glamour. For instance, the Meat Packing District of Manhattan is now a “cool” fashion district.  That means riding up a nasty, grungy freight elevator to see the Rag & Bone showroom.

The Coterie is miles and miles of designer booths displaying their lines for the Spring 2014 season.  Clover Canyon is one of the most popular vendors due to their innovative mixing of prints and fabulous bright colors.

The Coterie is miles and miles of designer booths displaying their lines for the Spring 2014 season. Clover Canyon is one of the most popular vendors due to their innovative mixing of prints and fabulous bright colors.

Herve Leger, king of body conscious dresses, has an amazing showroom.

Herve Leger, king of body conscious dresses, has an amazing showroom.

The “Edit” show was a small, exclusive segregated area within the giant Coterie venue.  Vendors and buyers had to go through a rigorous vetting process.  Whew!  Tres Mariposas passed inspection.  Most of all I enjoyed the colorful sophisticated displays at the entry to Edit.

The “Edit” show was a small, exclusive segregated area within the giant Coterie venue. Vendors and buyers had to go through a rigorous vetting process. Whew! Tres Mariposas passed inspection. Most of all I enjoyed the colorful sophisticated displays at the entry to Edit.

Sometimes it’s hard to get work done because of the distraction of amazingly entertaining visual displays!  Alice and Olivia is a line full of young creativity.

Sometimes it’s hard to get work done because of the distraction of amazingly entertaining visual displays! Alice and Olivia is a line full of young creativity.

The fringe trend isn’t stopping anytime soon.  Go ahead and splurge.

The fringe trend isn’t stopping anytime soon. Go ahead and splurge.

A TRES customer, KC Nelson, happened to be in New York also.  Our contemporary buyer Gesuina Legaspy (right) and KC are excited to discover they have the same phone covers.

A TRES customer, KC Nelson, happened to be in New York also. Our contemporary buyer Gesuina Legaspy (right) and KC are excited to discover they have the same phone covers.

Jonathan Simkhai is a relatively new designer we discovered.  He started working in a boutique when he was 14.  A few good people helped him along the way and he’s making it in the fashion world – not easy to do.  This photo is in his showroom.  He was adorable to visit with.

Jonathan Simkhai is a relatively new designer we discovered. He started working in a boutique when he was 14. A few good people helped him along the way and he’s making it in the fashion world – not easy to do. This photo is in his showroom. He was adorable to visit with.

Our trusty travel agent, Priceline, put us at the very wonderful One UN Plaza Millennium Hotel.  Our 35th-floor rooms had a magnificent view of the East River and the city as well as the United Nations complex. Each morning when I got up I opened the curtains and felt exhilarated because it was so stunning, as you can see by this view from my window. Before going to bed at night, I marveled at the city lights reflecting in the river. Speaking of New York rivers, we all remember US Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger, the “Hero of the Hudson.” He executed that emergency water landing after his plane was disabled, saving every passenger and crew member. When I see that murky river water, I am in awe of that safe landing and admire Captain Sullenberger’s skills even more. I’m also proud of my son Creed, an Air Force pilot – he now shares a distinction with the hero: they both have received the Jabara Award from their shared alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy. Creed thought he was in mighty fine company to get the same award as Sully.

Our trusty travel agent, Priceline, put us at the very wonderful One UN Plaza Millennium Hotel. Our 35th-floor rooms had a magnificent view of the East River and the city as well as the United Nations complex. Each morning when I got up I opened the curtains and felt exhilarated because it was so stunning, as you can see by this view from my window. Before going to bed at night, I marveled at the city lights reflecting in the river.
Speaking of New York rivers, we all remember US Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger, the “Hero of the Hudson.” He executed that emergency water landing after his plane was disabled, saving every passenger and crew member. When I see that murky river water, I am in awe of that safe landing and admire Captain Sullenberger’s skills even more.
I’m also proud of my son Creed, an Air Force pilot – he now shares a distinction with the hero: they both have received the Jabara Award from their shared alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy. Creed thought he was in mighty fine company to get the same award as Sully.

Oscar de la Renta: First Ladies’ First Choice

Five Decades of Style

Today’s column is by my friend Cindy Graff Cohen, a fan of fashion history and fine fabrics. She called me last week excited about a landmark fashion exhibit in Dallas: “Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style.” It sounds lovely – a great combination of runway style, red carpet glamour, and historic moments!

Every so often, a major art museum hosts a retrospective of a great designer and if I can just get there, Nan lets me write about it. In this column, I’ve previously marveled at Cristobal Balenciaga’s sophisticated evening gowns at the DeYoung Museum of Art in San Francisco and Jean Paul Gaultier’s theatrical creations at the Dallas Museum of Art. However, this time the most exciting fashion exhibit anywhere this month is at a presidential library: the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the SMU campus.

“Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style” is a dazzling collection of work by the designer who created gorgeous clothing for three First Ladies: Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush. The show features more than 60 outfits, including more than a dozen outfits worn by those three high-profile women.

When you think about the personal styles of each of these women, you kind of scratch your head and wonder how one designer could have clothed each so beautifully – and through such disparate fashion eras, from the big-shoulder ‘80s through this decade – yet de la Renta created just the right look for each president’s wife.

It all comes down to the designer’s approach to the individual client. “I have always felt my role as a designer is to do the best I can for a woman to make her look her best,” he says. “Fashion is only fashion once a woman puts it on.”

In the introductory video, Laura Bush describes what makes de la Renta’s designs so admired. “Oscar is the loveliest man,” she says, “and he really likes women!” The exhibit opens with two dresses she wore at the 2005 inauguration: the winter white wool boucle dress and matching coat for the ceremony and the silver silk sequined gown for the inaugural balls. “You can wear Oscar’s clothes over and over and I have,” she adds.

Two of Laura Bush’s ensembles for Inauguration Day 2005: silver sequined ball gown for evening and winter white wool boucle dress and matching coat for the swearing-in ceremony

Two of Laura Bush’s ensembles for Inauguration Day 2005: silver sequined ball gown for evening and winter white wool boucle dress and matching coat for the swearing-in ceremony

A real standout in the show is Jenna Bush’s wedding dress. I listened to a couple of little girls say it was their favorite dress there; they just stood and stared at it, kind of like me. “There was only one designer for Jenna to choose for her wedding dress,” Bush said in the video. Next to the gown is the blue silk suit that the proud mother of the bride wore to the 2008 wedding; on the other side is a graceful red de la Renta gown their other daughter, Barbara, wore to a UNICEF ball.

Left to right: Red evening gown worn by the Bushes’ daughter Barbara, Jenna Bush’s richly embroidered wedding gown, and the blue silk suit Laura Bush wore to Jenna’s wedding

Left to right: Red evening gown worn by the Bushes’ daughter Barbara, Jenna Bush’s richly embroidered wedding gown, and the blue silk suit Laura Bush wore to Jenna’s wedding

Some of de la Renta’s classic creations are timeless, such as the simple gold gown Hillary Clinton wore to an inaugural ball. Others, like Nancy Reagan’s almost comical big-plaid wool suit with a huge paisley bow tie, are best seen as period pieces of a strange fashion hiccup.

Nancy Reagan's suit: A blast from the past

Nancy Reagan’s suit: A blast from the past

Other de la Renta designs include a lavish pink silk gown with a train that singer Taylor Swift wore this year to the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In a section of the exhibit featuring dresses worn by movie stars are a glittering silver gown worn by Sarah Jessica Parker and one of the gowns worn by Anne Hathaway when she co-hosted the

Taylor Swift's embroidered pink ball gown with train

Taylor Swift’s embroidered pink ball gown with train

Academy Awards. Vogue editor Anna Wintour also loaned a couple of her de la Renta outfits.

Although his exclusive ready-to-wear lines are worn by discerning women all over the world, he does have a gift for working with special clients, including Mercedes Bass, who sponsored this splendid exhibit. She loaned several of her own dresses, including two striking black and white Spanish-influenced gowns from 2006.

Mercedes Bass, exhibit sponsor, lent two stunning Spanish-influenced gowns

Mercedes Bass, exhibit sponsor, lent two stunning Spanish-influenced gowns

The designer, who was born in the Dominican Republic, launched his career in Madrid, where he trained at the Balenciaga studios – you can see how he was influenced by Spanish culture and art. Later he moved to Paris to work at couture design houses including Lanvin and Pierre Balmain. However he has lived in New York City since the 1960s and he became a U.S. citizen in 1969. Ever since, he certainly has done his part to keep America beautiful.

 

Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style

Through Sunday, October 5

Tickets to George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum ($17)

can be purchased in advance at bushcenter.org

Southern Methodist University, Dallas

FEMAP Gala Brings Evening Gown Glamour

FEMAPThe Friends of FEMAP (Federación Mexicana de Asociaciones Privadas) Annual Gala is one of the most successful El Paso social events due to passionate support on both sides of the border.  This year’s gala will be September 26 at the El Paso Convention Center.  I can’t wait to see how the amazing volunteers turn the Convention Center into a Brazillian Carnival Extravaganza.  It promises to be a color explosion.

FEMAP has an amazing track record in its mission to raise the quality of life among people living in poverty.  Over the years, the group has raised funds to develop and run many life-saving services in Juarez, including two full-service inpatient hospitals and a nursing school. They have implemented numerous community-based programs to promote health, children and adolescent’s emotional and physical development, and economic growth through a micro-finance program. 

I have always marveled at FEMAP’s gritty determination to serve.  Adolpho Telles, president of the FEMAP Foundation board, describes his first visit six years ago to the neonatal intensive care unit and seeing blanket-covered wooden fruit boxes with lights to keep babies warm because the unit’s equipment couldn’t keep up with the number of patients.

In addition to its annual fundraising efforts, FEMAP leaders are conducting a capital campaign to raise $15 million to add hospital rooms and help build a new facility for the School of Nursing in Juarez. Generous and compassionate people in El Paso and Juarez have continued to donate money and services to keep up.

Last week, Tres Mariposas hosted a Pre-FEMAP Gala cocktails and dress viewing party and donated 15 percent of sales to FEMAP’S capital campaign.  It was fun to witness the energy, excitement, and merriment of FEMAP supporters. We had quite a lively time: ladies having so much fun trying on special dresses and best friends goading each other on to experiment with new styles.

Some women went for some of this year’s special occasion trends, such as fabulous laces, ruffle backs, exposed zippers, illusion sides or back. Emerald green is a hot color this year and some of our ladies looked fabulous in today’s neutral lighter colors. Other women were drop-dead gorgeous in red. It was interesting that I heard several women say they just really feel the most comfortable in black – and they looked great, too.

By the way, no need to drive home after dancing all night at the FEMAP Gala. The Double Tree Hotel nearby the Convention Center is offering a special rate so you can stay the night.

9th Annual Friends of FEMAP International Gala

Friday, September 26, 2014, 7:00 p.m.

El Paso Convention Center

$150 per person
$1,750 table for ten

915.544.4151

Portions of the ticket cost are tax deductible

www.femap.org

CLICK TO SEE THE GOWNS!

 

 

Fringe Benefits: A Trend That Works Everywhere

fRING

Fringe, as a fashion trend at least, is no longer on the fringe.  Fringe is front and center and seriously chic on sweaters, handbags, boots, blouses, everything possible.

If fringe makes you think of Pocahontas or Great Gatsby-style flapper dresses, give your brain an update. Today, fringe is a refreshing option that is fun, edgy, and stylish with a luxe vibe. It’s luxurious because it’s purely ornamental. Fringe can also be tactile and sexy: there’s nothing quite like the sensuous feel of long fringe running through your fingers.

I’m thinking that this is one trend that will stay a while. Elegant tasseled earrings have a certain classic feel to them. I predict that women will continue to adore the fringed handbags and scarves we’re seeing in the stores these days. Fringed tops and ponchos have a universality that can work for anyone -  any and all body shapes.

What I like about this do-able trend:

  • You can go all out, over-the-top fringed,  or wear it in an understated way.
  • Motion!  Fringe sways and moves.
  • Fringe works on nearly everything:  dresses, blouses, handbags, scarves, shoes, jewelry.
  • You can add a few fringe pieces to your wardrobe and you have an instant update.

     

 

And They Just Said No: A Look At Trends In Shoes

Untitled-2Last week while in San Diego, I dined at the California chic JRDN restaurant at the Tower 23 Hotel on Pacific Beach. It was Saturday night and the gorgeous fashionistas were out in styles worthy of the runway.  And they were all wearing mile-high platform shoes.

I was immediately reminded of the fashion industry’s recent efforts to roll out a new shoe trend – a trend that has absolutely flopped!

For the last year or two fashion magazines, trend prognosticators, and the shoe industry have touted fashion’s new pointy-toed, single sole shoes. This was the way of the future, the only way, they said. Anything else was out!

Granted, these single-sole towering heels with pointed toes are more feminine that the heavier platforms. Tell me this shoe isn’t down right sexy:single sole

A shoe like this spiked heel with rivets is transformative. It can completely transform a reserved, usually conservatively dressed lady of average height into a tall, stunning woman brimming with feminine power.  Wow!  You just can’t imagine what these shoes can do for you.

And guess what?  Some women have been elated and moved into the new pointed single-sole styles right away. They are fine with going back to the shoes of the past made new again. They want a shoe  that looks elegant while carrying that sexy va-va-voom impact.

Guess what else?  A whole bunch of other women did not want to negotiate those spiked heels again and push their toes into a point.  They spoke with their pocket books and just said no.

The last few years of shoe trends have spoiled women and they want to stay spoiled.  Women have had platform and wedge shoes with thick soles, which give the benefit of extra height, without the discomfort of a drastic incline that feels like you’re standing on your tippy toes.

Last month when we were in New York, we saw the new shoe collections at Tory Burch and Stuart Weitzman. At each showroom I said, “Wow, the last few markets you have shown a lot of pointy shoes, but I’m seeing mostly wedges and platforms for next season. What happened to the big push toward pointy?” I didn’t get a straight answer. platform

It wasn’t a topic they didn’t want to talk about.  Hmm…avoiding my question.  No one wanted to admit that the shoe industry pushed a new style, but many, many women weren’t having it.

What were shoe designers thinking? For one, they know that what makes fashion’s heart beat is change.  Trends typically move to something that hasn’t been around in a while, and it’s called new. Fashion runs in cycles. After all, how can the shoe industry possibly sell more and more shoes each business quarter if the same old styles stay “in?” Women want what’s new, not the same old thing. We get that. 

But in this case, the shoe designers underestimated the popularity of the more comfortable platform, which looks like it could be with us for a while. Heeled platform

However, women still benefit this season because they can make their own choices. Enjoy two upcoming options in stores: platform wedges or sexy pointy toe shoes!

Travel Season is Upon Us: Tips for Trips

lTravel brings some of life’s most wonderful moments and most memorable adventures. Travel can also dish out some of the most frustrating experiences ever.

I recently had an amazing trip to France and Italy. Thank goodness, it’s the amazing part that I am remembering now. I’ve nearly forgotten that British Airways told us that my husband could get on the overseas flight out of Chicago, but that I could not. Of course, it eventually worked out. The same bad karma must be the reason our luggage did not arrive in Nice, France.

It is so interesting that no matter how many times my luggage has been lost or delayed, I am still surprised and crestfallen when it happens. Ah… to be a member of the super-rich with private jets. It’s surely the way to go.

I was discussing travel challenges with the staff at Tres Mariposas recently and asked if they had gleaned any travel advice from our customers. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Pack light. This is such a common bit of advice that it’s tiresome — and it’s so hard to follow. Yet it remains true. Just yesterday a client at Tres Mariposas shared that she returned from a fabulous river cruise. She said she took plenty of clothes, but ended up wearing two black and white outfits over and over, leaving much of what she took untouched. All of us who have over packed can relate to that story. Several of the tips below are how-to’s for “packing light.”

Packing-Light-590x330

  • Fool-proof plan. One customer recommends this clever method to balance what you are taking. 1) Lay everything you plan to take out on the bed. 2) Go to the bank for your trip money. 3) Go home and eliminate half of what is on the bed. 4) Go back to the bank and get more money. Get it? Take half the clothes and twice the money!
  • Limit your jewelry. Everyone seems to agree that the best thing to do is wear your favorite pieces of classic jewelry on departure, and simply do not take any additional fine jewelry with you. It’s just too much hassle and risk to worry about leaving good jewelry in hotel safes or having to carry it with you everywhere you go.
  • Shoes make the trip. What’s the crucial item around which to build your travel wardrobe? Shoes. Take one pair of your most comfortable shoes that will go with virtually everything, and one pair of “going-out” shoes. Take the right pair of comfortable shoes and your trip will be heavenly. Take the wrong pair and you’ll live to regret it. At Tres Mariposas, we carry a funky little line of shoes called Fly London. It has almost a cult following because the shoes are so comfy for travel.
  • Mix it up with scarves. Carmen, one of our fine jewelry mavens, recommends packing lots of different scarves. Keep wearing your favorite travel outfit, but change the scarf so you won’t get bored – and you’ll look different in the photos!
  • Be prepared. You may need to survive without luggage for a day or two or more. My disappointment of arriving in Nice without luggage was mitigated by the fact that, for once, I had the right back-up items in my carry-on. I had a change of clothes, extra underwear, basic toiletries and a bit of makeup.
  • Lighten your load as you go. A few customers say they set aside old underwear all year for trips and then just toss it as they travel, adding space in their suitcase for new purchases. When packing for Europe this last trip, I couldn’t decide about taking an extra pair of pants and a few extra t-shirts. So I took ones that were almost ready for Goodwill with the thought that I could leave them behind if space was tight. I did leave them, and told the hotel maid not to put them in Lost and Found.
  • Scent your clothes. Did you see this tip in the July InStyle magazine? Put a couple of scented mini candles in your luggage so your clothes don’t have that metallic cargo hold smell when you arrive. I haven’t tried it, but I’m going to.
  • Enroll in Global Entry. Global Entry participants speed through international customs and are automatically approved to use the fast TSA precheck security lanes in the States. Here, after you apply online, you have to go to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at the Zaragoza International Bridge for an interview and fingerprinting. k

Frankly, I dreaded making the trek to Zaragoza Bridge and having to wait in bureaucratic lines. However, after my husband received his Global Entry card, I had no choice. I could just imagine him whisking through customs and me stuck in line! Turns out I had no need to worry: the process was super-fast and easy.

Fine Jewelry: Fasion Accessory or True Art?

 NewsletterOn my recent return flight from Italy, where we had vacationed after visiting my son in France, I was reading the international edition of the New York Times (May 15). An entire section of the issue was devoted to jewelry, which completely captured my attention for a chunk of that long trip.

One writer asked a good question: “Is jewelry art or accessory?”

“Throughout history, jewelry has been called personal adornment, a fancy way of saying it’s wearable,” was one answer. Yet the question remained: “is it art?”

When — or whether — fine jewelry will ever qualify as fine art remains hotly debated. Apparently some in the art world are reluctant to call jewelry art; maybe jewelry is too much of a commercial commodity for them.

Another theme in the Times section focused on the 21st-century trend of more and more successful women buying high-end jewelry for themselves. Women are not waiting for a man to buy them jewelry. Duh, I could have told them that. Or maybe, El Paso just has more successful women who are ahead of the curve.

With these thoughts fresh in mind, last weekend I attended a huge jewelry trade industry show in Las Vegas. The entire world of jewelry was in Vegas, with over 2,500 exhibitors from more than 22 countries, ranging from high-end to flea market.

The smaller, upper-end “Couture” show is always at the Wynn hotel. The giant JCK show is always at the Mandalay Bay convention hall, billed as “the jewelry industry’s premiere event.”  Believe me, for a portion of the sprawling JCK show, “flea market” is not an exaggeration.

Over two days we saw the latest awe-inspiring domestic and international designers and most sought-after trends. I can answer with a resounding yes, that some jewelry designers are truly artists in the highest sense of the word.

One of the greatest examples of art in the fine jewelry world is Carrera y Carrera from Spain, a company whose origin dates back to 1880. Carrera y Carrera’s identity is tied to sculpture and strong symbolic components related to the natural world. Each collection has a unique theme and each piece of jewelry tells a tale different that that what you expect at first glance. The newest collection, debuted in Las Vegas, is called, “Seda Imperial” – imperial silk.

An Eastern legend has it that 46 centuries ago, a Chinese princess named Liu-Tsu was forced, at age 14, to marry a barbaric Khan against her will for political reasons. In revenge, Liu-Tsu, who knew her shawl held the secret of Imperial Silk embroidery – the best guarded mystery of the Far East, unknown to other countries – threw it into the depths of the ocean. Amazingly, according to legend, the shawl made its way to Spain, along with the secret of Imperial Silk embroidery.

Over time, the shawl that Liu-Tsu was said to throw in the ocean became known as the Manila shawl, considered an adaptation between ancient Chinese tradition and Spanish emblems, thanks to the fusion of Eastern and Western culture.

The sculptor-jewelry artisans of Carrera y Carrera were inspired by the beautiful legend and struck by the similarity of embroidery and jewelry design. The creation of a Manila shawl requires the expert hands of an embroiderer who dedicates months of work to create a garment and adornment of incalculable value. Similarly, many months of meticulous work by master sculptors, gemologists, and goldsmiths are required to create Carrera y Carrera jewelry.

Carrera y Carrera has adapted the most characteristic images of the Manila shawl to the rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings in the Seda Imperial collection. Floral motifs inspired intricately detailed pieces that honor flowers with special meanings. The rose meant secrets, the lily denoted purity, the cherry blossom signified bravery, and the peony symbolized the empress.

The heron, or garza, is another motif of the Manila shawl. According to the ancient art of Feng Shui, the image of a heron is used to ward off negative energy. Carrera y Carrera artisans have depicted this powerful bird in rings, earrings, and pendants in yellow gold with diamonds and prasiolites, fancy stones in many shades of green.

Are these intricate, hand-crafted creations mere fashion accessories to accent an outfit – or are they art? You be the judge!imagephotoimage2