Archive for November, 2008

Talkin’ Shop: Abby Z.
November 25, 2008

In an airy, cavernous space on Greene Street in Soho, Abby Zeichner has set up shop with her eponymous Abby Z. line celebrating curvy girls. Warmth abounds here as Abby has pulled together a team as enthusiastic as she is about serving the needs of the stylish woman who happens to wear a size 12 or larger. The energy in the store is spirited and affirming, from the the sexy lingerie to the art displayed. Aissata Pinto da Costa’s images of empowered women currently grace the walls.

Tonight, from 6:00 – 8:00pm, ORIGINS joins Abby Z. in welcoming you to a night of pampering with “Mini-Facials” and “Peace of Mind” hand and arm massages.  As a bonus to start the holiday off right, Abby’s offering a 30% discount on all purchases. Just RSVP to

Additionally, the enterprising Ms. Z. has recently opened an outpost at Roosevelt Field Mall for all the lush ladies of Long Island.


“Curvy Women,” by Aissata Pinto Da Costa

Talkin’ Shop: Tia’s Place
November 20, 2008

A stone’s throw away from the Grove Street PATH Station in Jersey City sits Tia’s Place, a two-story tastefully appointed fashion and furnishings emporium.  After nearly a decade in the finance business, convivial owner Megan O’Sullivan “traded Wall Street for Grove Street.”  Named for her grandmother Tia, the shop attends to a woman’s every sartorial need from forgiving foundation garments and double-stick “fashion” tape to an impressive display of reasonably priced jewelry; a well-edited collection of shoes and handbags to her choice apparel offerings.

On the first floor, find belts, eyewear, outerwear, hats, gloves and scarves as well as casual collections: denims, fine-wale corduroys and butter-soft knits.  In a nook that serves as a nod to the fellas find relaxed clothing from the likes of Penguin and Adriano Goldschmeid for men.

Upstairs a beautiful assortment of dresses (Saja, Trina Turk, Tracey Reese, for example) is arrayed by color and bold separates offer stylish yet professional polish to any woman’s wardrobe.

The beautiful one-of-a-kind vintage furniture pieces scattered throughout the store are lovingly restored by Megan’s very chic mom Sandi and are indeed for sale, as are the strategically placed ambient candles from Jonathan Adler and Voluspa.

After shopping and communing with the friendly, helpful staff, stop for the meal-within-itself Macaroni and Cheese (aged Gruyère, mushroom, bacon, mascarpone & aged goat cheese over orecchiette) at Marco & Pepe, one block away.


Empowered Soles
November 17, 2008

On Thursday, November 20th, I plan to join the fly ladies of Black Girls Rock! for an evening of shopping music and cocktails at luxury shoe boutique, Casan in Soho.  The event, “Fashion with Compassion,” is a sweet indulgence with fierce shoes offered at 50% off retail and the satisfaction of knowing that 10% of the night’s proceeds go to Black Girls Rock! Inc., a 501c3 youth empowerment organization that provides innovative arts, music and mentoring programs for teenage girls of color. Board member Michaela angela Davis hosts and Founder/CEO, DJ Beverly Bond sets it off musically. Ciroc vodka provides the evening’s signature cocktail, the “Black Girls Ci-Roc!”

The festivities are from 7 – 9pm at  Casan 382 West Broadway (between Spring and Broome Streets). As this is a private event, be sure to RSVP to  Black Girls Rock! t-shirts will be available for purchase.  Check the BGR! online store for a glimpse.


Talkin’ Shop: Epaulet
November 13, 2008

In service of the new makeover show I’ve been working on, I’ve sought out boutiques throughout the New York tri-state area.  My mandate for each episode was to locate an interesting shop, local to the makeover candidate’s neighborhood and relevant to his or her wardrobe needs.  In the process, I’ve revisited old friends and discovered a number of plum new finds.  Each week, I’ll introduce one.

Catering to both men and women at 231 Smith Street in Brooklyn is Epaulet.  Partners in life as well as business, proprietors Adele Berne and Michael Kuhle are about as nice as any two can be and very passionate about conscious business–they only work with vendors and suppliers who embrace fair labor practices and as much as possible promote goods which are ecologically sound.  I was happy to see that they stock an extensive collection of Melissa footwear, a favorite line of chic, of-the-moment shoes produced in Brazil to exacting, sustainable standards.

Adele and Mike recently introduced an Epaulet line of slim fit shirtings with standard collars for men and contrast club collars for women in an array of plaids. I’m awaiting the holiday introduction of the women’s bib-front in Black Watch.

They’ve just launched their online shop and until midnight tonight, you can get 20% off any order (except the Epaulet shirt collection) as a thank you.  Just enter BETANOV in the promotion code box at check out.  Locals can avoid shipping charges by checking “Store Pickup” and making the trek to the bricks and mortar locale. Afterward, celebrate your savings with libations at the new Clover Club.


Photo: Michael Kuhle

Brooklyn Moment #6: Victory!
November 12, 2008


Photo:  Harry J. Bizzarro

I communed with some of the dearest people in my life at the home of my favorite stylist (besides well, moi) Rick Ramsey in Bed-Stuy on election night.  We ate Ricky’s delicious smoked turkey and corn chowder and awaited the returns.  Our intimate gathering erupted in high-decibel shouts and abundantly flowing tears, especially from me, when the decision was called.

Soon after, a few of us made our way down to Fort Greene, where the party was in full effect on Lafayette & South Portland and on DeKalb between Carlton and Adelphi.  Unmitigated joy!

Brooklyn Moment #5: Staycation
November 12, 2008

The last week of October marked the end of a grueling 2-month shooting schedule on a project that promises to be an exciting one and I look forward to seeing the fruits of our concerted efforts early next year.  I am, however, glad to get a chance to catch my breath, decompress, and yes return to blogging.

By day’s end on October 31, I was exhausted and without regard for cleverly carved jack-o’lanterns, tricks nor treats.  All I wanted was a meal and a good night’s sleep.  So, whilst enjoying comfort food at Trout Fish Shack (though I miss the scrumptious stuffed turkey burgers of its predecessor, Gravy) in Boerum Hill I decided to check into Nu Hotel, a recent addition to Brooklyn’s changing landscape.  Located just blocks away on the corner of Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue, it beckoned me, “come, rest.”

A quick trip to nearby Rite Aid for toiletries would be all I’d need before attaining Nirvana.  A lone child’s Speed Racer getup, complete with helmet/mask, white pants and trompe l’oeil “jacket” dangled forlornly above the nail polish remover. A sucker for the lonely, and with my dormant love of Halloween reawakened by the parade of revelers traversing Smith Street, I sized up the ensemble, figured it would fit–in a highwater kind-of-way– and rescued it from the purgatory of garish drugstore lighting.

I opened the door of the clean, spare and surprisingly spacious (especially for a boutique hotel) room 401 and entered a welcoming, white-walled, modernist dream.  Crisp white linens, fluffy down comforter and a sprawling king bed provided the best night’s sleep I’d had in a long time and a perch for mindless channel surfing of the flat-screen TV.

I awoke lazily the next morning and met a friend for a lovely brunch at Jolie Restaurant Français just across Atlantic Avenue.  I kept it local and low-key for the rest of the day, grabbing some tasty morsels from the menu of small plates at The JakeWalk on Smith and DeGraw before heading back to workout in the gym at Nu. I stopped in the small lobby lounge and discussed the mixing possibilities of St. Germain, an Elderflower liqueur whose elegant belle époque bottle reminds me of my late grandmother’s vanity tray. He says gin, I went with vodka, retreated to my room and capped off the evening in an Alpine blur.

The next day I joined the congregants of the Church of the New York Marathon lining Fourth Avenue to cheer on the thundering hordes of runners who never fail to make me well up on the first Sunday of November.  I couldn’t have asked for better weather for my impromptu staycation in my beloved burg or a better time than I had.  It was much-needed balm.


Décéus in LA
November 10, 2008

One of my favorite contemporary artists, Francks François Décéus continues his Pilgrimage from Scattered Points series with the opening of Chapter Two in a collaborative exhibition between two Los Angeles galleries committed to promoting the arts of the Diaspora, Pounder-Koné Art Space and Tilford Art Group.

Actor/Artist Terrell Tilford brings his curatorial experience to the collaboration while actor/gallerist CCH Pounder (whose blossoming as Brenda in 1987’s quirky Bagdad Cafe was a delight) and her husband Boubacar Koné host the event in their gallery at 3407 Glendale Blvd in Atwater Village on Saturday, November 15 from 6-9pm.  The artist talk will be followed by a reception with music from DJ Simone.


Rest in Peace, Miriam Makeba
November 10, 2008

I was introduced to the music of Miriam Makeba as a child growing up in Washington, DC.  I remember my mama placing an album on the turntable and telling me to listen.  A woman’s melodic voice was explaining that the alveolar “clicks” she was aspirating were in fact her native language, not some random sound or “noise.”  The song came to be known as The Click Song among those who did not speak Xhosa, “because they could not say Qongqothwane.”

In August 1991, I had the great fortune of seeing her perform in concert with another musical legend, Dizzy Gillespie and backed by a big band at New York’s World Financial Center in the finale performance of the free Summer concert series.  It was their first time performing together and it was absolutely remarkable.  It is particularly poignant to think of it today as Dizzy is no longer with us, the Financial Center as we knew it was destroyed in the September 11 terror attacks and now Ms. Makeba, singer and activist to the end has passed away at age 76.  Rest well, Mama Afrika.

The “Click” Song performed in 1979

Handcrafted and Heartfelt
November 6, 2008

Gifted fashion designer Cassandra Bromfield has for all the years I’ve known her sent out wonderful, whimsical handcrafted cards for the holidays; as thank yous to clients and press; and as a way of keeping the nearly lost tradition of tangible, physical correspondence alive.  Her new shop on Etsy features blank cards with her illustrations as well as beautiful sepia-toned photographs in homage to her staunchest supporter, her late mother.


Yes We Did!
November 6, 2008

I am elated, exhausted and moved beyond measure. I joined the respectfully raucous revelry of the jubilant throngs on the streets of Fort Greene, Brooklyn last night sharing hugs, fist pounds, copious tears and wider smiles.  Eisa Ulen wrote beautifully of the experience on her blog.

On Ion, the blog of the design studio Chemistry, Todd Wilson considers the significance of the number forty-four.

On The Root, Alice Walker proffers an open letter to “Brother Obama.”

The news has been texted, Twittered, Facebooked, MySpaced, Flickr’d, Wiki’d, you name it.  It is indeed a new day and with it new technology has changed the ways in which we communicate our joy.  Fifteen-year-old Jahi Nielsen accompanied his father to the polls and watched him pull the large red lever as he cast his vote for Barack Obama. Hours later after our President-Elect’s victory speech, Jahi performed an impromptu bass rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and posted it to You Tube.

Yes, yes y’all. We can and we did.