Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Since we’re already in the throes of a snowy, icy winter (even though technically, the first day of winter is December 22!) it’s nice to think about products that make us feel cozy and luxurious.
Take bliss' winter line of ultra-moisturizing products, with holiday names like “Two Turtle Gloves” and “Jingle Bell Socks.” Pull on the robins’ egg blue “glamour gloves” lined with self-activating grapeseed and ceramide gel and hands will emerge twenty minutes later softer and younger-looking (for real—I tried them!). The “softening socks” with a polymer gel lining promise to “alleviate dryness, soften rough skin and battle the buildup of corns and calluses.”
I read recently that alpha-hydroxy acids in body lotions help aid skin cell turnover and reveal the fresh layer of skin underneath. That’s why the Foot Patrol lotion might be a good pick for ailing feet—it’s packed with alpha hydroxy acids and aloe leaf, has a nice peppermint smell and exfoliates and softens feet. Slather on a thick layer before bed, pull on some socks and your feet will also be nice and soft by morning. The High Intensity hand cream makes skin feel instantly silky and moisturized. I’ve tried both products before bed and am a happy customer!
Also try the bliss “Snowed In” set, which contains the aforementioned foot and hand creams, plus the lemon+sage soap, vanilla+bergamont bubbling bath+shower gel, lemon+sage body butter and vanilla+bergamont body buff.

blissworld.com

Pedi-Ready



Speaking of pampering, I found out about a unique product called Bootie Pies. These “pedicure boots” have been featured in People, Life & Style, and on the Today Show. Simply put, the boots allow spa-goers to venture out in the cold after a pedicure and most importantly, not smudge your polish job. On the way to the salon, Bootie Pies can be worn like a regular boot. After the pedicure is complete, spa-goers unzip the back zipper on the boot and slide their foot in. The patent-leather toe on the boot can be folded down and the foot slides over the toe. If you’ve got $128 to spare, a pair could be yours.
The creators of Bootie Pies know a thing or two about cold-weather pedicures: sisters Deanna Kipnes, Pamela Karp and Erika Whitman all graduated from UW–Madison.

bootiepies.com

Weather Or Not

Now here’s an interesting story: meteorologists aren’t only predicting weather trends in their usual mediums (TV, radio, newspaper, internet, etc) but a few apparel companies are taking weather very seriously and hiring consultants to advise them on future weather trends. The New York Times reports that clothier Liz Claiborne has hired a climatologist from Columbia University to predict weather for its designers; Target has established a “climate team” to advise the retailer on types of apparel to sell throughout the year and Weatherproof has bought a ten million dollar insurance policy against unusually warm weather.
“Two consecutive years of volatile weather—last November and this October were the warmest on record for the New York City area, a retail Mecca—have proved disastrous for companies that rely on predictable temperatures to sell cold-weather clothing like sweaters and coats,” according to The Times.
Apparently, this means more season less clothing will become popular—lightweight sweaters, cashmere blends and layering pieces. Locally, I’ve noticed retailers like Fair Indigo roll out layer-worthy tissue tees and cashmere-blend sweaters. A few cozy, heavy sweaters at Karen & Co. on State Street beckoned customers to pull one on over a long- or short-sleeve T-shirt.
This season’s popular and ladylike three-quarters length sleeve coats (intended to be worn with elbow-length gloves) were an indication to me that some clothiers might have taken the global warming thing a little too seriously. Although they’re cute, they’re best reserved for a mild day since here in Wisconsin a glove-covered forearm might still be too cold!
In the future, look for clothing that can be worn over the seasons. Fashion magazines like Lucky and Glamour even discuss how to take a summer-weight dress into fall and winter by pairing it with thick tights, substantial shoes and a cute cardi. Global warming is not good, but the multi-season clothing thing? Good for consumers since we can wear our favorite clothing year-round!

Is Local Losing Out?

Since it seems as though a global warming trend here in the area is a pretty far stretch right now (ice storms, school closings, cars plowed in by snowplows) I wanted to share with readers the effect crazy weather can have on our local retailers. I can’t imagine anyone would be going out in a blizzard just to pick up that hand-blown glass ornament from an art gallery.
Carol “Orange” Schroeder, owner of Orange Tree Imports, recently had this to share with Neil Heinen, Madison Magazine’s editorial director: “… Our recent snowy weather has been a real burden to the independent retailers … It’s our hope that shoppers will take advantage of the better weather during this last week before Christmas to get out and support the local shops they value. Anything you can do to get this message out would be much appreciated!”

danebuylocal.com

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fashion Show Photos


Imagine: the house lights are dim, the excitement is palpable and the house music is bumping. Show attendees are wearing their best: lipstick-red pumps, bubble dresses and designer denim. As the show begins, beautiful, lithe models strut their stuff on the runway modeling the latest from Oscar de la Renta, Christian Lacroix, Bill Blass, Carolina Herrera and more.
Nope, I wasn't at New York Fashion Week; I attended the fabulous Ebony Fashion Fair this past weekend right here in Madison. The "world's largest traveling fashion show" celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this year.
Besides showcasing fashion giants like Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana, the show had a greater purpose, too: to serve as a fundraiser for the Madison Metropolitan Chapter of The Links. This worldwide nonprofit, service-based volunteer organization strives to "enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry." Since the Madison chapter's inception in 1985, The Links have awarded over $100,000 in scholarships to Madison youth.
A good cause and good clothing? I'm in!

Hot trends I saw:
Metallics, glitz and glamour. Fantastic sequin-encrusted minidresses, a disco-shine sequin jumpsuit and a ladylike golden coat were all here.



Fur. Models were covered from head to toe—literally—in all kinds of furs. Models sported fur-trimmed cuffs on coats, a mink shrug and floor-length coats.

Animal prints. Lions and tigers and—well, OK not bears—but animals of all stripes were represented. Check out the three lovely models clad in their fashion-forward animal-print frocks.

Plaid. Plaid was the ticket in wide-leg pants, duster coats and jumpers. Many of the outfits were very matchy-matchy (i.e.: a plaid coat with matching shift dress underneath), and therefore more suited to the runway than the realway. So use just one of these plaid pieces to jazz up an outfit.

Tailored, polished looks. Check out the black belted cardigan with wide-leg pants or the elegant Grecian-inspired white shift dress with metallic accents.


Brights. The runway was an abundance of rich color: chartreuse, mustard yellow, apple red and of course, this striped, full-skirted frock. Outfits also mixed and matched colors like a mustard-yellow trench and fringed dress paired with shiny red pumps and a vibrant plum pleated shirt (paired with gray pants) and minidress.




The new swimsuit. Swimsuits were given the full-fashion treatment in metallics, stripes and animal prints. Paired with elegant caftans and wrap dresses, these pieces were practically outfits.

Embellished denim. Sequins and embroidery dressed up this wardrobe standby and made it more evening-worthy. With casual becoming more of the norm these days, I'm not surprised.
Finally, check out Elizabeth Wewerka (owner of Lady Moxie) and myself with our "posse" of male models...ha ha. These gentlemen modeled in the fashion show. Bottom photo courtesy of mandophotography.com

Friday, December 7, 2007

Gift Ideas




Looking to shop local or “green” this holiday? I’ve got ideas for you!

Fromagination (click here to read this month’s Genuine Articles on Fromagination) has a tasty array of gift baskets for your giftee. If you’ve got relatives or friends that don’t live here, consider buying local and sending the goods out to them! The shop offers pre-made baskets ranging in price from $35–$100.
Otherwise you can’t go wrong making your own basket and stuffing it with treats like Potter’s Crackers, Door County cherry jam and Hook’s cheddar cheese. Well, Fromagination’s actually got ninety cut-to-order artisan cheeses plus olive oils, mustards, nuts, charcuterie and gift accessories.
Other things you might notice about the downtown shop? The reclaimed wood floors (from a warehouse in Chicago), vintage clocks (courtesy of the State Capitol building) and the store’s gift basket return program—which allows customers to bring in an old gift basket to exchange for another recycled basket, or receive two dollars off a new basket. Per the store’s website, “our store incorporates sustainable, renewable, recycled, recycled vintage and found materials whenever possible.” So not only will you be buying local at Fromagination, you’ll be supporting a green business too.
Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St. 255-2430. fromagination.com

Want a night at Lombardino’s for four, a hot-air balloon ride or a Packers helmet autographed by Brett Favre (this might be the only time I mention Brett Favre on this blog ☺) at a potential savings? Go to the Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility’s online auction and bid on these items and more. That Lombardino’s night had a leading bid of two hundred dollars as of press time, but the estimated actual value was three hundred dollars.
Josie Pradella, owner of Terra Source chocolates (which were delicious—we got to taste-test them here) recently stopped by our offices to talk about buying local and encouraged us to visit the auction site. You can even bid on a Terra Source “Box-a-Month” chocolate package.
The organization’s website encourages auction bidders to “Help support local, independently-owned businesses and educational outreach year round, where we live and work and worldwide.”
Bid now, because the auction ends December 16.
Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility Auction, through Dec. 16. http://auction.wiscpsa.org
Terra Source chocolates, 877-808-9217. terrasourcechocolates.com
Dane Buy Local, danebuylocal.com

The Bohemian Bauble’s annual “Bohemian Bazaar” is this weekend, Dec. 7–9. Um, have I mentioned buying local yet? Stop by this quaint shop to pick up bath and body goods, jewelry, art, and fun decorative goods. Bonus: many of the items are made with recycled or vintage goods, which isn’t too shabby for the environment. I see stuff like iPod cases made out of juice bags, sweater scarves, candles in tins, magazine purses, original photography and more.
Free gift wrapping all weekend, cookies and artists giveaways don’t hurt this event, either.
Bohemian Bauble Bohemian Bazaar, Dec. 7–9, 10a–4p. 404 W. Lakeside St. 333-BOHO. bohobauble.com

Three Orange Doors will be celebrating its second birthday in December by giving to a good cause: Second Harvest Foodbank. Twenty percent of profits between December 7 and 9 will go to the cause.
So get the trifecta shopping here: shopping local, buying green (the shop peddles vintage finds like a mahogany bar back from Tyrol Basin in Mt. Horeb) and donating to a good cause.
Three Orange Doors, 2789 Fitchrona Rd. 848-3336. 3orangedoors.com

Friday, November 30, 2007

New Shopping Content!

Read my shopping content from our December 2007 issue:

Window Shopping: Jet Set in Style
Find out why this 121-year old Madison store is still going strong (hint: it's probably their beautiful leather goods, luggage and more!)

Fabulous Finds: The Simple Shopper
Gotta know what to get now for the holidays? We'll tell you!

Shopping for the Tops
We ask local storeowners what they'd pick up for local celebs.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gala Photos!












I attended the HospiceCare Butterfly Gala on November 17. What a great cause to support and we had a lot of fun in the process!
Take a look at the photos!

Photos, from top:
Top left: Shayna Miller, associate/style editor, Madison Magazine; Tiffany Thom, marketing director, Madison Magazine; Sarah Andler; Sara Goetz, foundation executive assistant, HospiceCare; Jenn Sweet, special events coordinator, HospiceCare.

Top right: Shayna Miller and Dan Chin, director of public affairs at HospiceCare.

Middle: Jenn Sweet, special events coordinator at HospiceCare and Sarah Andler, senior production designer at Madison Magazine.

Dan Chin and Sarah Andler.

Bottom: Tiffany Thom, Shayna Miller and Dan Chin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Happenings

It’s the Super Bowl of the shopping season: the weekend after Thanksgiving. Hilldale Shopping Center is celebrating by kicking off its sixteenth annual Tree Walk. Each store in Hilldale has the option to partner with a charity and decorate a tree with a theme of their choosing. According to a press release, customers can buy ornaments off of the trees, buy items off of the charity’s “wish list” and place them under the tree, or donate to the charity. All proceeds will of course go to the charity the tree represents.
Hilldale is also hosting a concert series from November 23 through December 24. Every weekend sees different performing groups like the Madison Youth Choirs, Edgewood High School Orchestra, Yahara River Chorus and more.
Hilldale Shopping Center, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. 238-6640. hilldale.com

Want your pick of more than 350 shops? Head downtown and check out some great shopping and holiday cheer. State Street will be decorated with greenery and holiday snowflake lights. Ride the free holiday trolley from November 24 to December 23. The best part? Free stuff! Trolley riders will receive gift bags filled with coupons and information from more than thirty businesses and organizations.
Also check out weekend song and dance as carolers and dancers take to the streets to perform.
Downtown Madison holiday activities: Nov. 24–Dec. 23. Trolleys run Sat. and Sun. noon–4p. Song/dance performances Sat. and Sun. 1–3p. visitdowntownmadison.com

Recently I found out that Dane Buy Local will be selling gift cards this year, good for use at their two hundred-plus members (some members: A Great Gift, Fontana, Eldorado Grill, The Washington Hotel Coffee Room).
Dane Buy Local’s membership roster has steadily gone up in the past few years, and this is the first year the gift cards were introduced. Cards can be purchased in any denomination from $25–$250. The card (basically a VISA gift card) is a great gift and keeps money in our local economy, which is a good thing.
Buy the cards at any of the five Home Savings Bank branches six days a week (Mon.–Fri. 7:30a–5:30p, Sat 8a–12p). 282-6000. danebuylocal.com

This Weekend Only!

Two local businesses are hosting events this weekend for your shopping pleasure, too.

Check out the third annual High Noon Craftacular on November 24–25. Twenty emerging and established artists on the “alternative” craft scene will have their crafts for sale. Items include crocheted hand towels, purses and rugs; baby items; fun kitschy stuff; and handbags, clothing and more. “Recycling artist” Emily Kircher, one of the Craftacular’s featured artists, wrote to me: “In light of recent recalls on imported and mass-produced goods, it makes more sense than ever to shop handmade and local!”
So stop by the sale and buy something unique for a loved one—something they surely won’t find anywhere else!
High Noon Craftacular, Nov. 24–25, 10a–4p, free. High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave. http://craftacular.glitterworkshop.com

Dottie Rose will be hosting an OR’iEN trunk show. From what owner Melissa Ernst writes about the designer: “ORi’EN is designed by the fabulous Chicago designer Cyndi Chan. She uses classic silhouettes and shapes with modern details and construction!” From what I saw online, Chan’s items are beautiful (I saw a short and long satin trench coat and a pleated halter dress that were gorgeous) and Ernst writes that Chan’s clothing was recently featured on Oprah and in Lucky. Cool!
Dottie Rose ORi’EN trunk show, Nov. 24, 10a–5p. 1835 Parmenter St. 831-9099.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Shopping Made Easy

Shop It To Me is like your own personal shopper—online. Shoppers simply fill out basic personal information about themselves and then select the brands and sizes they're looking for. Soon after, shoppers will receive heads-up emails on matches they've selected. Sounds pretty easy to me. Brands include Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Ellen Tracy, Ann Taylor, Christian Dior, and more.
One of the featured retailers on Shop It To Me is Shopbop, right here out of Madison (others include Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc.). I have been to Shopbop's website quite a few times (ALL work-related of course) and was very impressed with their extensive and easy-to-navigate site. Shopbop could teach other retailers a lesson or two in how to lay out a website. It's no surprise they're featured on Shop It To Me (well, the clothing doesn't hurt either)!

shopittome
Bop, 222 W. Gorham St. 255-2570. shopbop.com

Toys!

Barbie was my favorite toy growing up. I know—surprise, surprise. I still like fashion today, and I think I have credit Barbie for that with all of her interchangeable outfits! Mattel, maker of Barbie, is opening a brand-new Mattel Toy Store in Middleton on Monday, November 19. This is Mattel’s seventh toy store (the rest are located in California or Texas).
On Mattel’s website, you can print out some great coupons to start saving on holiday shopping. Since Mattel makes the brands Hot Wheels, Barbie, Matchbox, Tyco and Fisher-Price, you can start stocking up on presents for your favorite little boy or girl.

The Mattel Toy Store, 8400 Fairway Place, Middleton. 836-7200. matteltoystore

Go Big Red


The downtown University Book Store, known for all things Badger (and, well, textbooks too—you know, those things you use in college?), will be carrying a fair-trade T-shirt. The T-shirt actually looks the same as a regular old standard-issue “Wisconsin” shirt. The difference? This T-shirt is made by companies that pay their workers fair wages, have good working conditions and gender equality, and encourage better environmental practices. According to Wikipedia, “In 2006, fair trade certified sales amounted to approximately $2.3 billion worldwide, a 41 percent year-to-year increase.”
I also noticed that the University Book Store carries an organic cotton T-shirt, too. Looks like Bucky’s jumping on the fair trade/organic bandwagon—hopefully that means there’ll be more of those products to come.

The University Book Store, 711 State St. 257-3584 (downtown).
702 N. Midvale Blvd. 238-8455 (Hilldale). uwbookstore.com

Step By Step

I received a copy of a new magazine called Make It Mine, put out by Kalmbach Publishing. This magazine targets “creative women in their 30s, 40s and 50s.” A flip through the magazine reveals projects on how to customize jeans, and make handbags and jewelry. The magazine spreads are nice and uncluttered and show step-by-step instructions for each project.
A lot of the homemade stuff didn’t really float my boat (like the penny bracelet or felt purse), but some of the ideas were cute—and it was inspiring to read about ideas you really could do yourself. These projects are kind of like your own couture creations.

makeitminemag.com

Jewelry Galore

Katy’s American Indian Jewelry has more jewelry than they know what to do with! This weekend, November 16–18, check out the thirty-two cases of pawn and vintage Indian jewelry the store has got on hand. Plus, owner Katy Schalles just got back from a buying trip and she has plenty of Hopi and Zuni pieces to sell.

Katy’s American Indian Arts, 1817 Monroe St. 251-5451. katysamericanindianarts.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Top Six for Winter





This week I thought I’d talk about hot picks for this winter and what I consider as “essentials” for the season. Hopefully you can appreciate these pieces, too.

Metallics
I love incorporating metallic pieces in my shoes, accessories or handbags. This season it’s all about silver (I’ve seen silver handbags everywhere) and charcoal grays. If you don’t like bright, in-your-face metallics, try a pair of cozy flats in a gunmetal gray or warm bronze, some subtle bangles or a cute clutch that adds just enough excitement to your look. (Above: Rafe metallic clutch, picture courtesy of Twigs).

Trouser jeans
Now that workplaces have gone more casual, trouser jeans are one item that many employers will probably accept on a casual Friday. Found in affordable brands up to luxury lines, I predict that this is one wardrobe staple that won’t go out of style. (Above: Kasil jeans, picture courtesy of JC Madison).

Tights
Not only are they practical in our chilly Midwest climes, tights add pop to an outfit. Most of the fashion magazines are showing plain black opaque tights paired with holiday cocktail dresses and skirts. I also like patterned versions like argyle, subtle stripes or herringbone. Be careful with the wilder patterns—it takes the perfect outfit to match. Here’s a tip: If you want to walk on the wild side but the outfit you’ve chosen is neutral in color, turn up the fun with a funky, multicolored print.

A statement-making coat
Because I’m not Catherine Zeta-Jones, I don’t have an unlimited clothing budget. Alas, the pieces I buy need to be durable, yet fashionable, so they’ll last a couple of seasons. While a winter coat is a must for our weather, we don’t all have to wear puffy (sometimes unflattering) parkas just because it’s cold! Try a coat in a fun print (I recently received a houndstooth coat), a bright color, or one with unexpected details, such as cool buttons or a vibrant waist tie. Jazzing up your ensemble will cheer you up when it’s cold and dreary.

As far as the cut, fitted silhouettes are always better; you don’t want to add extra bulk to your frame. Coats that nip in a bit at the waist or tie around the waist are best to achieve a nice hourglass figure—even if you don’t have one.

Vibrant shoes
Have you noticed a trend yet? I’ve been discussing punching up classic looks with trendier accessories (tights, metallics) or picking out pieces that will never go out of style (a classic coat). Most of the clothing I like is more conservative, but then I’ll throw a loop in the outfit by wearing my favorite leopard-printed stilettos or my funky disco-esque gold wedge sandals.

Bright shoes are another way to add excitement to your outfits. Try zebra-printed flats, anything patent leather or a royal-blue platform heel.

A swing coat or nice blazer
This season’s mod inspiration is the reason behind the swing coat featuring an easy, A-line silhouette so it can work on virtually anyone. Try a cute cropped version with three-quarters sleeves. Or pick up a classic blazer in a texture like velvet or tweed and a cute bow to tie it instead of buttons.

Places to shop for trendy winter gear:
Dazzle, 8426 Old Sauk Rd., Middleton. 826-4455. madisondazzle.com
Jan Byce, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. 233-1606.
JC Madison, 1650 Deming Way, Ste. 106, Middleton. 824-9735. jcmadison.com
Karen and Co., 309 State St. 258-5500.
Patricia Shoppe, 137 W. Johnson St. 256-1111. patriciashoppe.com
Twigs, 1925 Monroe St. 255-4363. shoptwigs.com

Thursday, November 1, 2007

City Sights

Everyone needs to get away once in a while. That’s why I like to go to Milwaukee to experience a different city and scene. Milwaukee feels like a big city but it’s still a manageable size to walk around and be familiar with—and the traffic isn’t terrible (compared to Chicago, for example). For a mere hour and a half (or less) you can experience all of this.

Yummy Eats
The Wicked Hop is one of my all-time favorite places to hang out and get a bite to eat. When it’s warm out, I relax on the patio outside and experience the laid-back scene of the Historic Third Ward. The food is affordable and easy to like—burgers, chicken sandwiches, wings and more. They’re also frequently named for having the best Bloody Mary in the city (they garnish with a mushroom, shrimp, blue cheese-stuffed olives, mozzarella whips and a beef stick).
Say “bonjour” when you walk in to Trocadero—this adorable French joint has great food, affordable wine and one of the best outdoor patios in the city. Their ham and gruyere crepe is one of my go-tos for a meal, but their spinach dip and cheese plates are also top-notch.
Elsa’s is an elegant choice for casual dining in an upscale, bustling atmosphere. Their martinis are the drink of choice here, and be sure to wear a cute outfit if you go here. If you go for dinner, get a burger—you won’t be sorry! Fun fact: local celebs are sometimes spotted here (Bucks and Brewers players).
Other places to try: Bella’s Fat Cat (awesome burgers), Oakland Trattoria (pizza to die for), Pasta Tree (mmm … pasta) and Eddie Martini’s (heavenly filet mignon). P.S.: if you want health food, don’t ask me … ha.

Hang Out
I’ve only been to Water Buffalo in the Third Ward once—but that was enough for me to want to go back again. This sleek restaurant/bar actually won “Best New Restaurant” by onmilwaukee.com’s readers—quite a ringing endorsement. I haven’t tried the food but would like to soon!
Blu at the top of the Pfister offers a bird’s-eye view of the city. This classy, sophisticated cocktail lounge usually has live music and an interesting mix of people. It’s a little pricier than most area bars/lounges, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it.
The Nomad on Brady Street is the ultimate hangout, and is another place that’s fun in warm or cold weather. Sit outside and sip a brew while surveying the Brady Street scene or snuggle up inside in the wintertime for good conversation.
Other places to try: Hi-Hat Garage, (cool lounge-y place), County Clare (fun Irish-themed bar), Bar Louie (a bit rowdy, but fun with friends and nice outdoor patio) and Harry’s (casual but lovely establishment and good food).

Where to Shop
Um … do you think I forgot the most important category?! Of course not. Milwaukee’s got a lot of independent, locally owned boutiques.
Peruse Lela for beautiful, feminine clothing (dressy tops, cocktail dresses), a small selection of consignment goods and the latest trends by Milwaukee’s up-and-coming designers like Shanel Regier and Lauren Edgar Duff. Fun fact: This past summer Lela hosted Project Lela, modeled after Bravo’s Project Runway. The boutique carries clothing by the winner of the challenge, Erica Fox, as well as runner-up Kristi Schomberg.
Detour is Milwaukee’s answer for premium denim. Look for all of the hottest brands that will set you back a few bucks, but hey, you’ll look good!
Blush in the Third Ward offers the finest in cosmetics like Laura Mercier, DuWop and Paula Dorf. Their website also boasts that Blush is home to Milwaukee’s first Lash Bar. They also have a Brow Bar for shoppers to pick out their unique look.
Other places to try: Anomaly Design Shop (kitschy home décor products), Aala Reed (beautiful men’s and women’s clothing) Metropawlis (pet boutique and bakery) Milwaukee Public Market, and indoor food emporium featuring ethnic cuisine, meats, cheeses, Wisconsin products, flowers, coffee bar, candy, and more. Finally, check out George Watts for a really nice gift or for yourself, but be prepared to spend some money on this quality tabletop and gift specialty store.

Fun Things To Do
The Milwaukee Art Museum has really stepped up its exhibitions lately. Last year’s Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity, earned rave reviews.
Tour Lakefront Brewery, a local microbrewery on the Milwaukee River. For a mere five dollars take a tour of the charming brewery (complete with your tour guide singing and dancing to the theme song from Laverne and Shirley), get a free pint glass and tokens for four, yes four, beers. Be sure to bring your designated driver!
Summertime means Milwaukee is festival central. Check out Bastille Days, Summerfest or any of the local street/community festivals that go on (Brady Street, Locust Street, Bay View, etc.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Oh Baby!



The Madison Holiday Market is coming up next weekend, Nov 2–4. One cool retailer that’ll be there is Gaga Goods, a baby clothing and toy company based in Madison. Owner Kathryn Adler says that the company is neat for a couple of reasons: their apparel is one hundred percent cotton and made in the U.S.; they offer free gift card and packaging on all orders; and they donate five percent of sales to a children’s charity. The online business will be offering a few quick picks at the Holiday Market like the adorable holiday-themed onesies (shown), newborn baby sets and cool toys from eeBoo, North American Bear Co. and Crocodile Creek. Personally, she sold me on the cute onesies that the company designs ☺.
Adler’s website (gagagoods.com) is tailor-made for easy ordering and gift giving. You can shop by design, product, brand or use the “easy gift-giver.” The site also houses Adler’s blog, plus other helpful links for parents on, well, parenting.
Look for Gaga Goods next weekend at the Madison Holiday Market, Nov 2–4.

Madison Holiday Market, Nov 2, 10a–6p, Nov 3, 10a–6p, Nov 4, 10a–3p. Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way. $5. madisonballet.org

Cool Comfort




I attended a party for the brand Icebreaker at Opus Lounge on Tuesday. This line of pure merino wool clothing from New Zealand is outdoor/active gear and meant for layering in warm or cold weather. Items range from long-sleeve T-shirts and zip-up jackets to leggings, socks and more (shown is the men's "Sprint" zip, and the men’s Tech T Lite). Even better is that the line is sustainable; the product brochure notes that “Icebreaker fabrics use one-third the energy of polyester to manufacture, create virtually nil pollution and meet strict ISO4001 envinronmental standards.” Cool!
In 2008 customers will get even closer to their sheep friends who produce the merino wool in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. “Baacodes” are codes that match a batch of wool that the garment was produced from. That code will be printed inside Icebreaker garments so that wearers can trace back to one of the merino ranches that the garment came from. Molly King, marketing coordinator for the brand, says there will probably be another reason to look up your “baacode” online: customers could win a trip to New Zealand.
Icebreaker clothing sells very well at the following Madison stores: Rutabaga Paddle Sports, Budget Bicycle Center, A Stone’s Throw and Fontana.

A Stone’s Throw, 1925 Monroe St. 255-1925.
Budget Bicycle Center, 1230 Regent St. 251-8413
Fontana Sports Specialties, 251 State St. 257-5043; 7941 Tree Ln. 833-9191
Rutabaga Paddle Sports, 220 W. Broadway. 233-9300

Makeover Time

I recently received a press release from Century Furniture (not to be confused with Century House here in Madison) on their plans to release a black-and-white upholstered collection at the Fall 2007 International Home Furnishings Market. While I wasn’t familiar with the company or the market, the images that were sent along with the press release were stellar. Cool curvy ottomans, retro white armchairs with black and white scrollwork upholstery and the beautiful Tuxedo Wing Chair. The reason I mention my love of black and white furnishings is because I recently “made over” a chair I found on a curb near my apartment, if you can believe that. Hey, the price was right!
Originally a wood dining room chair with a bland mauve upholstered cushion, I decided to jazz it up with my vision: spray-paint the frame a glossy black and reupholster the cushion in a black and white brocade patterned fabric. Tres chic!
Not only did the chair turn out swimmingly (with the assistance of my mom—thanks mom!) but it was incredibly inexpensive to make over. And I can say I did it myself!

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Column

Read my November column on The Guild here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cool New Product Lines

Stepping into Indocara on West Washington always relaxes me. The serene interior combined with the wafting scent from the lovely aromatic diffuser calms my senses.
On my most recent visit, owner Natasha Vora had some new product lines to share with me. First were the delicious and soy-based Archipelago body lotions, candles and shower gels. Vora gave me two samples of the pomegranate hand cream and I have already used both of them up—it was that good. They’re definitely on my short list of gift ideas for the upcoming holiday season. The store already sells one pre-packaged set of Archipelago products and most likely, we’ll see more for the holidays. With prices ranging from $8–$34, this is an affordable, yet luxurious gift.
Vora is also carrying L.A. designer Nathan Anthony’s line of furniture. These made to order, upholstered pieces have a lifetime guarantee. Shoppers can go through Vora’s look book of options, pick out a fabric (I personally loved the funky mod sunburst print and the black and white brocade), send out the order and voila!—the item will be sent back made just for you in eight weeks. Fun fact: at least one of Anthony’s pieces has been spotted in episodes of Entourage.

Indocara, 540 W. Washington Ave. 251-7711. indocara.com

Food and Wine Extravaganza

As a booth judge for this weekend’s Madison Food and Wine Show, my job is pretty fun. I get to visit each booth at the show and rate the booth’s overall look and the helpfulness/friendliness of the booth workers. By and large everyone is excited to be at the show and many booths go all out trying to outdo the others in booth décor.
But did you know that the Food and Wine Show is a great opportunity to pick up Christmas gifts too? Many of the vendors sell their yummy specialty foods and beverages right at the show. Pick up your favorite bottle (or case) of wine at the wine cellar or some delicious gourmet mustard to pair with pretzels. The savory possibilities are endless.
See you at the Show!

Madison Food and Wine Show: Oct 19, 5–9p, Oct 20, 12–7p, Oct 21, 12–4p. Tickets: $30/35 DOS. Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way. 270-3632. madisonfoodandwineshow.com

Ice-T Would Approve

I wrote about Macha Teahouse + Art Gallery in our October issue. This imaginative gallery and teahouse features three different themed tearroms, cool art and a “wall of famous T’s”—complete with pics of the Ford Model-T, manatee and, well, Mr. T (what’s a wall of T’s without Mr. T??)
With the cool weather approaching (this week excluded, of course) it’s a good time to try Macha, grab a cup of tea and see what’s new. In addition to serving tea cookies and croissants, Macha now offers quiche and will add sandwiches and light lunch items in the near future. Also check out some of the events they’ll have going on, like different afternoon tea services and a jewelry and gift event for the holidays. Their website is updated, too, with information on tea and health, tea brewing instructions and “tea wisdom.”

Macha Teahouse + Art Gallery, 1934 Monroe St. 442-0500. machateahouse.com

New Store Update

I wrote about Fontaine on East Johnson three weeks ago. I stopped in this home décor and interior design firm last week and was I impressed! This tastefully and beautifully designed store showcases owner Barry Avery’s impeccable eye for design and detail. All items featured in each “vignette” are for sale—things like the vintage-look crystal chandeliers that hang throughout the shop, the Christmas trees that sprinkle the sales floor and the glass case chock-full of vintage ornaments. More details on Fontaine to come!

Fontaine, 811 E. Johnson St. 310-8002.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Take A Bite




For Sex and the City addicts, Sarah Jessica Parker is somewhat of a fashion icon. In the show and her "normal" celebrity life, this diva sports Oscar de la Renta, Chanel—and let’s not forget the sky-high Manolos and Christian Laboutin heels that polish off her every look. Despite these big-ticket items SJP wears, her affordable Bitten line has been very successful at Steve and Barry’s—almost too successful, considering every time I go to the Steve and Barry’s at West Towne Mall her line is very picked over. People like her stuff!
Her fall line is no exception, filled with basic pieces kicked up a notch with stylish accents. All items are $19.98 or less. This fall’s line includes cute stuff like a basic black short-sleeve turtleneck sweater with kimono sleeves, a cute houndstooth winter coat and a black or white shirt with a sweet tuxedo bib-collar. Pretty basic, but all items that you can mix and match and, of course, layer with your existing wardrobe.
Two items I like (and might buy!): the houndstooth coat ($19.98) and the sleeveless sweater ($19.98).

Steve and Barry’s, 229 West Towne Mall. 829-1774. steveandbarrys.com

Bead It

There’s a new store opening up for all of you beaders and crafters! Modern Bead will open in Old Sauk Center sometime (hopefully) in December. The owners are still reaching a lease agreement. More on this when I get details!

Go Green

I received an interesting item in the mail: Spare Change Jewelry’s “Shades of Green” collection. Since our September issue was the “green” issue, I am now fully versed in what it means to be green. These necklaces are supposed to be a constant reminder to the wearer: “these simple pieces will also become a daily reminder to bring balance to the world and your life.”
Quite a tall order for a necklace! But, the necklaces are cute (the “Handle With Care” necklace is a simple sterling-silver Aspen leaf strung on a green linen cord—very nice). In addition, each piece of jewelry comes with a little packet of seeds to plant.

Walk the Walk

Speaking of green, Jack’s Shoes on State Street sells Simple’s ecoSNEAKS, made with sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled plastics and recycled car tires. They look pretty comfy with slip-on versions and regular sneaker. One women’s sneaker (the women’s Joe Curran Satire) is printed with scenes of Santa Barbara. If you want “shoes for a happy planet,” check out the ecoSNEAKS at Jack’s Shoes.

Jack’s Shoes, 204 State St. 257-9766. simpleshoes.com/ecosneaks

Party Hearty

Dazzle, the fabulous jewelry and handbag store, is celebrating its third anniversary! Owner Valerie Martin is passionate about her business and offers women the chance to try out new and fun looks with "designer-inspired jewelry handbags and more" at a fraction of the cost of, say, a David Yurman necklace or cocktail ring, or Chanel earrings. If you’re interested in the store’s third anniversary celebration, give them a call!

Dazzle, 8426 Old Sauk Rd., Middleton. 826-4455.

Fashionistas, Unite!

Does a Fashionista Meet & Greet sound like fun to you? It does to me! Check out FoRCE’s (Foundation of Retaining Creative Energy) event on Friday, October 19 to meet area retailers and local fashion designers. The event is open to the public and will even feature local still life model art for some visual excitement.

Fashionista Meet & Greet, October 19, 10 p.m. Cloud Nine Grill, 876 Jupiter Dr. 310-8100. madisonforce.org

Friday, October 5, 2007

Stylemaker Q&A

Katy Schalles
Owner, Katy’s American Indian Arts

1817 Monroe St. 251-5451. katysamericanindianarts.com

Katy’s American Indian Arts is a one-of-a-kind business in Madison that’s been around for an amazing thirty-three years. That’s a long time in the retail world, especially for a local, independently owned business. We explore Katy Schalles’ secrets to success.

How did you become interested in American Indian art?
I always was interested, from a kid on. My father hunted and fished, and almost all of the people he hunted and fished with were Wisconsin Indian friends. To this day I maintain friendships with people from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Menomonee, Ojibwe people, the Oneidas.

When did you start the business?
I started it in May 1974. I moved in to a Monroe Street space in 1983, and I’ve been in the current location eleven years. (Her current location is 1817 Monroe Street).

Why did you start your business?
I was teaching school in New Mexico—English as a second language and Spanish as a second language. I enjoyed it, and kept running into kids and their parents who made American Indian jewelry. Combine that with my mother, who owned a number of small businesses—a dress shop, sewing business, ran a bakery had an antique shop. I set up my business first in her antique shop. That was in Waunakee.

Why did you move back here?
Well, I’m originally from Madison. I was lonesome for my family. I knew there wasn’t any shop for what I had in mind back here.

Why did you think an American Indian arts store would work in Madison?
I just had a feeling. I’m a Midwesterner and I liked what I saw. I just felt that what I liked, other people would like. Fifty percent of the reason was that I wanted to have a business to support myself, and second was that I wanted to have a business to support the artists. Because they needed a place to show their work.

How do you classify your business?
[Jewelry is] a best seller. It’s American Indian arts, so that covers things besides jewelry that indigenous artists create both here in the Midwest and the Southwest.

What’s your most popular selling item?
Turquoise and silver earrings.

How do you find your artists?
When I was living in New Mexico, I would travel around and go to different places and look at how other people set up their shops. I would ask them where the artists were living, and where they got their stuff. There are fifteen million acres of these reservation areas [in New Mexico], where these people live.

How often do you go down to New Mexico for merchandise?
I go down in person at least three times a year. I’m very fortunate and the [artists] come up to here and sell to me. We either have a big show and sale when they’re here, or we sell in private.
There are also established trading posts in the Southwest. There are third- and fourth-generation families that run these trading posts. A lot of families prefer bringing their things to trading posts than bringing things directly to me for a number of reasons: they’re shy, they don’t speak English. So they prefer to deal with these long standing trading post families. So I also buy from those trading posts.

What unique experiences do you have dealing with an artist who is perhaps more traditional, or doesn’t speak English?
There are some very distinct differences. Buying from these indigenous artists, whether they be Pueblo, Ho-Chunk et cetera, you have to pay them immediately. These people make a living doing this. You can’t just give them a charge card. You have to pay them directly and immediately.
Second, I have learned in these thirty-five years how to readjust myself culturally and adapt to many of the ways that will allow them to feel at home and feel comfortable in me and trust in me.

What do you look for in the things you carry?
What I think my customer prefers. That includes really good, quality, clean, silverwork. Top quality stones, originality of designs.

What kinds of stones do you carry?
Most of the pieces are turquoise because that’s native of the area geologically in the Southwest, and part of their [Native Americans’] cultural upbringing. It’s part of the cultural background. They also work with other stones too.

How do you compete in a marketplace that’s ever changing? How does traditional American Indian art fit in with our retail culture of designer jeans and trendy accessories?
There are already among the jewelers and the potters, people who are way up there. They demand the most. On Antiques Roadshow, for example, the most expensive item represented American Indian culture.
Many of these people have taken their art form to such a level that they have learned to market it themselves. A number of the artists that do show with us in the store are very well known on their own. People immediately know their names.

What changes have you noticed in the Madison marketplace?
As the years have gone by more people, especially up until this war, had more money. What was happening is that we tended to travel more. I noticed that when I first opened versus twenty years later, people knew more about what they wanted because they had visited Santa Fe. People became more sophisticated buyers. They knew what they wanted. As they years go by, the world gets smaller and more people know what they want.

What’s the most expensive piece you sell?
In my opinion the prettiest and most outstanding piece right now is a round pendant. It’s has a silver border around it and it’s inlaid with orange and purple spiny oyster shell. It’s the fall look. It’s $600 for earrings and the pendant.

Do you have advice for other small-business owners?
I think you have to build slowly. You have to have integrity and patience. And you have to really enjoy people.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Think Pink



October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Bike enthusiasts can show their support by picking up the popular Saris “Bones” bike rack in a lovely pink color. Saris, a Madison-based bike rack and performance cycling company, will donate five dollars from every rack purchased to the Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Budget Bicycle Center has the rack in stock and Williamson Bicycle Works can special-order it for you. Both shops retail the rack for $150. Machinery Row Bicycles also sells Saris products, according to Saris’ website.

Budget Bicycle Center, 1230 Regent St. 251-8413.
Williamson Bikes & Fitness, 640 W. Washington Ave. 244-5037.
3729 E. Washington Ave. 244-2453.

Machinery Row Bicycle, 601 Williamson St. 442-5974.

Doggone Good News

bad dog frida is celebrating its one-year anniversary this Sunday, September 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I’m sure owners Carmen Alcalde and Sue Hunter will have their five dogs on hand to celebrate their howling success.

The bright and cheery store was a welcome addition to the Atwood neighborhood that previously lacked a store with “really cool things for good dogs and their people.” Check out the celebration (the first fifty visitors score a goodie bag) and find twenty-five percent off most items in the store, raffle prizes and “tasty treats for dogs and humans!”

If you’re interested, read my column here or watch a Window Shopping TV segment on the bow-dacious shop.

bad dog frida, 2094 Atwood Ave. 442-6868. baddogfrida.com

Fall Fashion

Today is the HospiceCare Butterfly Gala Fashion Show. I am excited to see what Woldenberg’s has chosen for the models who will strut their stuff. Yours truly will be on hand to model several outfits, as well as to cover the show and score interviews with the models, Woldenberg’s staff and HospiceCare employees.

The plan is that these interviews AND fashions will be showcased in a “Tomorrow’s Trends Tonight” segment on Monday, October 1 on My Madison TV’s News at Nine with Teri Barr. WISC-TV3 in conjunction with Madison Magazine will also post this segment as soon as possible on madisonmagazine.com and channel3000.com.

Woldenberg’s, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. 233-4300. woldenbergs.com

Store Closing

Yost’s Bridal Salon located off of University Avenue in the Walnut Grove Shopping Center has closed.

Stylemaker Q&A Next Week!

Katy’s American Indian Arts on Monroe Street has been around for an amazing thirty-three years. Part of that is no doubt because owner Katy Schalles is so warm and friendly you just want to stop in and chat with her and hear about the beautiful artifacts and jewelry she carries, not to mention the interesting stories behind where she finds them.
Next week, I’ll bring you a Q&A with Schalles.

Katy’s American Indian Arts, 1817 Monroe St. 251-5451. katysamericanindianarts.com

Monday, September 24, 2007

New Column

Read my October column here on The Kitchen Gallery, a new kitchen accessories store on Williamson Street.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New Stores!

Fontaine, a new design firm and home furnishing studio is opening on Saturday, September 22. I’m eagerly awaiting what this store will look like as the concept sounds interesting. According to the press release, the store will carry home décor accessories, like vintage Christmas ornaments up to a new chandelier. Ooh la la! The store will also do fresh floral arrangements. The store’s owner Barry Avery says the store was named after his maternal grandmother, Ione Fontaine Wiltgen.

Speaking of stores named after a grandmother (what a weird coincidence!), Dottie Rose, a vintage furniture and clothing store, is also named after owner Melissa Ernst’s grandmother(s). Ernst, a whippersnapper at nineteen years old, is a Middleton resident and opened the store recently.

Just down the street from previously mentioned Fontaine is Forza Gallery, a gallery dedicated to “servicing the needs of the local creative talent.” Forza was opened in early September by FoRCE, or the Foundation of Retaining Creative Energy. This local arts group puts on fun events like Arts Crawls, which happen the first Friday of each month.
Artists interested in displaying work at Forza need to go through an application process; twelve artists will be chosen every year by the FoRCE’s board of directors.

Say ‘bonjour’ to L’Occitane en Provence, opened September 20 at Hilldale Shopping Center. This upscale French bath and body brand has an air of luxury with its elegant store layouts and beautiful orange and brown packaging (it doesn’t sound pretty but it is ☺). Scents will remind shoppers of European countries, like a lavender face moisturizer and olive scented face scrub.

Fontaine, 811 E. Johnson St. 310-8004.
Dottie Rose, 1835 Parmenter St., Middleton. 831-9099.
Forza Gallery, 825 E. Johnson St. madisonforce.org
L’Occitane, 638 N. Midvale Blvd. 233-1646.loccitane.com

Fancy Furnishings





Left: Chest by Anna Millea. Right: Chair by Earl Walker.

Last year marked the first time the Fine Furnishings Show was brought to Milwaukee. This year’s show promises an “Arts & Crafts Revival,” which, according to show materials, took place from 1890–1929 and drew inspiration from England, Japan and the regional traditional crafts of America. I attended last year’s event and lusted after thousand-dollar coffee tables, funky Dr. Seuss-like bookshelves and exquisite handcrafted kitchen items. The show will peddle furniture, decorative accessories and original art. Regional artists from Madison, Milwaukee, Door County and Chicago will be there in addition to over 150 artisans from across North America.
Fine Furnishings Show, September 29–30. Midwest Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. 401-816-0963. finefurnishingsshows.com

Did You Say … Shoes??

I have been informed that the Marshall’s on the east side has all of their shoes on clearance as they remodel their shoe section into a new shoe “mega-store,” similar to the Middleton store. The store will open September 27 and have an entire new stock of shoes on hand! I think that says it all: excuse me while I um, go run an “errand” … be back in an hour or two!
Marshall’s, 2117 Zeier Rd., 242-1444.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Demolition Day




I attended a media event yesterday on Phase Two of Hilldale’s redevelopment. The main, er, event? Knocking down Hilldale Theatre to make way for The Heights (top), a 112-unit condo building, a Whole Foods Market (bottom) and Hotel Indigo, an eight-story contemporary hotel.
I have a feeling that youngsters might have enjoyed the demolition of Hilldale Theatre even more than the gathered adult spectators. The machine that did the honors looked like a giant claw from one of those games at the arcade that players use to snatch a stuffed animal.
At the event, the claw first knocked into the front entrance of Hilldale Theatre, knocking down the overhang and eventually eliciting a spectacular crash of glass from the front windows. For some odd reason, it was pretty enjoyable to witness. It’s definitely not something you see every day—and kids at heart probably remember playing with a miniaturized version of that big machine.
More importantly, Phase Two is the final step in the redevelopment of Hilldale’s thirty-seven acre site that includes Sundance 608, Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., Fair Indigo, Macy’s, Sushi Muramoto and more. More on this in our November issue.
Hilldale Shopping Center, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. hilldale.com

Macy's Magazine

Speaking of Macy’s, did you know that the department store came out with a new magazine appropriately titled M? I checked it out and I must say that I was impressed with the clean layout, fashion spreads, useful tips and product features. Although the pub peddles items only available at Macy’s, the magazine doesn’t feel like it’s, shall we say, a walking advertisement for Macy’s (even though it is).
Fashionistas will appreciate “What Not to Wear” advice from the Style Network’s Clinton Kelly and mini profiles on hot new designers that the department store will carry at its flagship State Street location in Chicago.
The magazine will be put out quarterly and will be available at Macy’s North stores (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin) and will also be mailed to 500,000 Macy’s customers this month.
Macy’s, 702 N. Midvale Blvd., 232-2525. seeMonline.com

Is Fashion Frivolous?

On the heels (no pun intended) of New York Fashion Week (Sept. 5–12), I wanted to include a tidbit from The New York Times (subscription required) on an article discussing the differing opinions of what fashion means in our society.
“There is a suggestion that fashion is not an art form or cultural form, but a form of vanity and consumerism,” says Elaine Showalter, the feminist literary critic and a professor emeritus at Princeton, who’s cited in the article. Those are, she adds, dimensions of culture that “intelligent and serious” people are expected to scorn.
Although I think that there is more to life than fashion, what you wear is an expression of who you are. Fashion is also a vital piece of society’s cultural puzzle that includes arts and entertainment, politics, business and so forth that’s fortunately or unfortunately (however you look at it) becoming more and more prevalent. I think what’s most important in navigating the world of fashion is understanding that everyone has a different style and attitude and we should respect that.
I think retailers (Madison retailers included) are addressing the individualism of shopper’s tastes more these days by carrying smaller and more niche designers and opening boutiques that cater to particular tastes (urban/streetwear, upscale prep, college/juniors wear) and so forth.
What do you think?

Cold Weather Yummies

Gail Ambrosius’s dark chocolate baby sea turtles are some of the most adorable candies I’ve ever seen—and they’ve got caramel and pecans inside! Somehow dark chocolate seems to fit with cooler weather on the way: for many, chocolate is the requisite comfort food that just might warm up a belly. So comfort yourself with Gail’s many other dark chocolates, like the gold-bellied Buddhas ($5/for two) or a single chocolate bar for $3.50–$4. Or pick up one of her stickers that says “Because chocolate can’t get you pregnant.” Hilarious!
Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, 2086 Atwood Ave. 249-3500. gailambrosius.com

Monday, September 10, 2007

Very Vera

My apologies for not posting last week. Magazine deadlines were calling! I will post regularly again this Thursday.
I did want to post a follow-up on the Vera Wang line called Simply Vera that Kohl's department stores are carrying.
The Wall Street Journal ran a Q&A with Wang last week on her new line. She addressed a question about what was on her mind launching her new line. Here's one of my favorite quotes from her:
"I don't consider it a jump down, I consider it a jump across to a much bigger world. Being able to dress so many more women, to me as a designer, is a privilege. Sure, I love the new collection [runway] show. There is nothing like it. But if I can't see my work on more people what did that mean ultimately for me as a designer? Fashion is also about being able to reach more women. Isn't that the ultimate goal? Are you dressing 20 people in the world? Or are you dressing the world? I would argue that both are possible."
Wang goes on to elaborate that women are much more label-conscious and fashion-savvy than ever before. I think Wang has got it right that even if you don't have the big bucks to wear Dior or Marc Jacobs, you can still pull together an excellent outfit from any of Madison's fine local retailers or national retailers like Target (carrying big-name designers Libertine and Devi Kroell currrently) and Steve & Barry's (carrying Sarah Jessica Parker and Amanda Byne's lines).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Shopping Content!

Read my September column on Satara here!

Satara, 5621 Odana Rd. Ste A. 251-4905. satara-inc.com

Cool Art Exhibit

Have you been to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis? I just visited the 30,000 square-foot center designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron this past weekend. The sleek and silver futuristic building was a destination for my friends and I as we stopped by to view the Picasso and American Art exhibition, running through September 9.
This incredible exhibition of Picasso’s career displays thirty of his works alongside nine American artists that were heavily influenced by his work: artists like Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollack were all inspired by Picasso.
Picasso’s works inspired whole artistic movements, which I found fascinating.

We also took advantage of the nice day to stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, where Claes Oldenberg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s famous “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture is located. You can’t see this in photos of the sculpture, but the cherry shoots water out of the stem. It reminded me of Paris’ Centre Pompidou’s (also a modern art museum) whimsical outdoor Stravinsky fountain with similar water-spurting sculptures, one of which is a big pair of red lips.

Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave. 612-375-7600. walkerart.org

Sweet Sale

It’s the dreaded back to school time, but at least we’ve got The Glitter Workshop and Studio Bloom’s back to school sale from August 31–September 2 to cheer us up. Take fifteen percent off storewide on their great selection of mostly locally made stuff, like T-shirts, jewelry, housewares, cards and more. Studio Bloom does beautiful floral arrangements; I would know, we used them in our May wedding guide!
Naomi Richardson wrote this to me in an email about shopping locally: “I am really trying to let people know that there are other alternatives to big box stores for clothing, jewelry, accessories, and gifts.” Right on, sister!

Back to school sale, Aug 31–Sept 2, 10a–6p daily.
The Glitter Workshop and Studio Bloom, 920 E. Johnson St. 255-2025. theglitterworkshop.com

Moxie is Foxy

Elizabeth Kremer’s Lady Moxie store is doing very well, and she’s just about to celebrate her year anniversary. Congrats, Elizabeth!
Kremer also arranges shopping parties at her high-end consignment store for small groups of six to ten people. She closes the store and ladies can shop to their heart’s content. The party host and guests receive a discount on their day of shopping. Contact her for more info.

Lady Moxie, 6706 Odana Rd. 826-4268. ladymoxie.com

The Golden Touch

I’m afraid I must include one non-local shopping tidbit: I want these shoes! Metallics are going to be hot, hot, hot this fall, and these gold-foil ballet flats from Banana Republic will most certainly quell my golden desires.

Banana Republic, 32 West Towne Mall. 608-833-3005. bananarepublic.com

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hot Handbags






I’ll say it again: you don’t have to go to a large city to find some of the hottest brands out there. Case in point: JC Madison in Greenway Station, where you’ll find Lauren Merkin’s handbags. Similar to a Hermes scarf or a Burberry trench, both staples of the well-heeled woman’s wardrobe, Merkin’s fabulous clutches are well known in the fashion world as the go-to for a great clutch. This season she’s adding some punch with patent leather versions in vibrant colors like eggplant, indigo and shocking magenta. In terms of a fall trend, you can’t go wrong with a patent bag in a bright color—especially if you’re sporting a black dress or dark denim and a neutral top. It’ll add just the right amount of “oomph” to your look. JC Madison will be carrying the “Eve” version (top) in magenta (shown) and black patent, and silver and gold. Also look for the “Sadie” (bottom; indigo color not available through JC Madison) in the emerald textured lambskin.
JC Madison, 1650 Deming Way, Middleton. 824-9735. jcmadison.com

Fashion Show News!

In a little over a month, HospiceCare will host its Butterfly Gala Fashion Show on September 27. This event is a fashion preview for their Ninth Annual Butterfly Gala on November 17. All proceeds from the fashion show will go to a good cause, and attendees will get to preview some of the hottest special-occasion wear from Woldenberg’s. Yours truly will cover the event from the front lines to get the lowdown on what the models— including high-profile Madisonians and HospiceCare employees—are wearing, and why these special people are involved in the show. More details to come!
HospiceCare Butterfly Gala Fashion Show, September 27, 6:30–8:30 p.m. Tickets: $50–$100.
If you’re interested in the event, call Sara Goetz, 327-7139 or register at hospicecareinc.com.

Grape Expectations

Wisconsin wineries received some national press via THIS cnn.com travel article (article expires 9/15 online). Two notable mentions were Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac and Botham Vineyards in Barneveld. Personally, I think touring and buying wine from local wineries is a great way to support local business and buy local. I’ve toured Wollersheim and it’s great fun to see what types of grapes are grown in our, shall we say, temperamental climate. The article cites Wollersheim as Wisconsin’s largest winery, producing more than one million bottles per year. One of their most popular and award-winning wines is Prairie Fumé, an easy-drinking white that’s perfect for lighter dishes and warm summer afternoons.

I also have to mention Botham Vineyards because I know Sarah Botham, a former college instructor of mine who’s one half (the other half is husband Peter) of the wine-producing couple behind the winery. In CNN’s article, Peter discusses the vineyard’s Big Stuff Red, a slightly sweet blend of red wine that Peter says he developed for visitors who liked sweeter wines but wanted to drink red wine for the health benefits. In fact, their son Mills is the tot that’s featured on the adorable (and yummy) Big Stuff Red wine label.
Wollersheim Winery, PO Box 87, Prairie du Sac. 1-800-VIP-WINE. wollersheim.com
Botham Vineyards, 8180 Langberry Dr., Barvneveld. 608-924-1412. bothamvineyards.com

Local, Local, Local

I’m a big proponent of writing about local businesses (that’s the underlying theme of my Window Shopping column for Madison Magazine). I checked out the Dane County Buy Local website the other day and was so impressed with it—it’s easily navigable and has all kinds of information on each of their member businesses like the products they sell, their history and philosophy. And who are their members? Businesses as varied as B-Side Compact Discs, bad dog frida, A Room of One’s Own, Fork & Spoon Café and more. Similar to Madison Originals, the restaurant group that pools resources to promote each of their member businesses, the Dane County Buy Local Initiative is a coalition of local independents that obviously want to impact the Madison community in a positive way.
Here are some of Dane County Buy Local’s tips for how consumers can make difference in their shopping habits:
1. Bank and invest locally
2. Shop locally-owned and managed businesses (ie: read Window Shopping every month to find out where to go!)
3. Patronize member businesses displaying the DCBLI logo
4. Buy locally produced good and services
danebuylocal.com

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Breaking News

I have found out that the new Anthropologie store will be at Hilldale. The west side shopping center is already host to cool places like The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., Fair Indigo, Ananda Salon & Spa, Jan Byce, Macy's and more. More details on Anthropologie as I get them...
anthropologie.com

I Love This Shirt



Check out this HOT Michael Jackson shirt from drunknBUTTERFLY—hilarious! I think I might have to pick this up to sport on those days when I'm feeling casual … I'm not much of a T-shirt-wearer unless I'm working out, but this shirt makes the cut for me.
drunknBUTTERFLY, 845 E. Johnson St. 256-9119. drunknBUTTERFLY.com

Style in the City

Since this is a blog about retail and style, I’m going to talk about my top five (in no particular order) picks for stylish bars and restaurants in this week’s post. For a city of our size, we are lucky to have the sheer selection of eateries and cool places to hang out. If you’ve been to these places, let me know what you think, and if you haven’t—well, go!

Paul’s Club
Although the décor isn’t much (dark paneling mostly), this hipster watering hole has an awesome tree smack-dab in the middle of the joint strung with Christmas lights. Love it! It certainly gets crowded on a Friday or Saturday night, which attests to its popularity with some college students and more typically, an older crowd that’s not as rowdy. You also can’t beat the music: I’ve heard Al Green, and on more than one occasion, Michael Jackson.
212 State St. 257-5250

Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace
I make no secret of the fact that I’m attracted to sparkly and/or metallic things. Silver or gold heels, necklaces, hoops—I’ve got ‘em all. That’s why I like Tex Tubb’s on Atwood Ave. It’s décor screams kitsch and good old-fashioned fun. Check out the futuristic light fixture with silver spokes above the bar, or perhaps the large plastic “gems” that are affixed to the light fixture in the bar area. The wallpaper in the women’s bathroom is delightfully tacky too: pink with cartoon cowgirls and cowboys and accented with rickrack. It seems the whole place implicitly encourages customers to let their hair down. Have a margarita and munch on a quesadilla, chips and salsa and of course, tacos galore.
2009 Atwood Ave. 242-1800. foodfightinc.com/textubbstaco.html

Natt Spil
This über-trendy place is where the fashionable people go. The lights are low and the scene is jumping. When it’s warm, the windows swing open and people spill over on to the sidewalk to sit outside and talk. Inside, look up and check out the mod ceiling panels accented with Chinese symbols, and the bar’s cool lanterns. Venture to the very back of the small-ish bar/restaurant and sit in the intimate room where tree stumps serve as some of the stools and you can swing the curtain closed for those mysterious rendezvous.
211 King St. No phone.

Cocoliquot
If Cocoliquot was a woman, it would be a polished socialite with that impeccable outfit, handbag, cocktail ring and of course, the flawless manicure. The French restaurant’s atmosphere is one that just might prompt you to kiss a friend on both cheeks when you greet them for drinks, European-style. The sunny yellow and reddish-orange walls blend with blond wood and contrast with cool stainless steel appliances for a comfortably approachable, yet rich, look. What to order? The chocolates, made daily, and of course, a cocktail like the Bumblebee or Pink Sangria.
225 King St. 255-2626. cocoliquot.com

Eno Vino
This far west side restaurant injects big-city ambiance into a strip mall, believe it or not. Walk in and be instantly impressed with the beautiful décor: low lighting, warm walls, leather banquettes, the open kitchen and dark wood bar, beautifully stocked with a vast selection of wines and liquors, perfect for any cocktail you could imagine. I think Eno Vino’s attention to design is a concept that’s worth replicating as new establishments open in our fine city.
601 Junction Rd. 664-9565. eno-vino.com

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Street Style


I like people watching. That’s why I like NYLON magazine’s Street: The NYLON Book of Global Style. I received the book as a Christmas gift and I read it instantly. It’s 250 pages of photos of people off the street from seven influential fashion “capitals” (as the magazine dubs them) of the world: London, Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris, New York, Melbourne and Tokyo. NYLON’s editor-in-chief Marvin Scott Jarrett writes in the book: “Fashion doesn’t exist in a bubble. To us, it’s not only rich people, models, and they type of people who slavishly adhere to runway trends: we see it as a living, breathing reflection of cultural and social currents …”
I like this book because it illustrates the idea that fashion is accessible to all, and it means something different to everyone. Some people dress to stand out; some dress to fit in; some dress to communicate something about themselves. Whatever your concept of “fashion” is—Target, thrift store or Theory—this book shows how these style arbiters from across the globe show who they are.

Street: The NYLON Book of Global Style, $24.95.
Available through special order at University Book Store, 711 State St. 257-3784. uwbookstore.com

It Will Make an Impression

Drive on over the Milwaukee Art Museum before September 9 to see Pissarro: Creating the Impressionist Landscape. I plan on going to learn about the career of Camille Pissarro, the pioneering artist of Impressionism. I don’t profess to know a lot about art, but I do like Impressionist painters like Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne. It is the MAM’s first major Impressionist exhibition.
Not only is the MAM beautiful (have you seen the Santiago Calatrava-designed pavilion yet? If not, go!), but it’s got the best view of Lake Michigan, especially gorgeous this time of year.
Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Dr. 414-224-3220. mam.org

Affordable? Vera Wang?

I have long lusted after Vera Wang’s dinnerware and serve ware when I stop by Macy’s home department. Never mind that I never host dinner parties or make anything fancy to eat … I just like it!
Wang is also arguably one of the most well known bridal designers with her dresses ranging in the thousands of dollars for that special day. In fact, Madison Magazine highlighted one of Wang’s “Maids” dresses from Premiere Couture in our May wedding guide. The floor-length crepe creation was a beautiful eggplant color with a deep V-neck and a satin inset at the waist. Certainly fit for a beautiful wedding!
Now Wang is navigating the ready-to-wear “mass market” (she has long designed high-end ready-to-wear fashions; her flagship store is in New York City and her fashions are sold through high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman) by introducing a line at Kohl’s! Now I admit, I’m not the biggest Kohl’s shopper, but I have been impressed lately here and there with some of their newer lines like Daisy Fuentes and Nine & Co. And I plan on going when Simply Vera launches.
Wang’s Simply Vera line, from what I read, is very moderately priced.
The fall campaign’s ads have a Wizard of Oz theme and models don mostly black and gray tops and skirts with jolts of bright purple and gold accents. The models wear pieces with ruffles, bubble skirts, and there’s lots of layering and pieces of different lengths, all hot trends this fall.
Kohl’s is even making an appearance at Times Square—on a billboard introducing Wang’s line. Her line will launch September 9 at the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based retailer.
Also, read this article from last week’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the Simply Vera line.

Kohl’s, 7401 West Towne Way. 833-9293.
2501 W. Broadway. 221-7620.
2602 East Springs Dr. 246-3022.

Kohls.com

Thursday, August 2, 2007

New Stores!

I like to think we have a good thing going here in terms of our shopping scene in Madison. But similar to my philosophy on shoes, I don’t think I can ever have enough.
Outdoor enthusiasts (and trendy UW–Madison students who don their fleeces) will be excited to hear that The North Face is opening at Hilldale on August 3rd. The new store is located across from the Macy’s entrance and boasts 4,500 square feet. They’ll carry performance apparel, equipment and footwear. The specialty store will no doubt fit right in with Hilldale’s upscale feel and target the city’s very active and fitness-focused population. The Hilldale location is the company’s fifteenth in the nation.
There aren’t a whole lot of locally owned specialty kitchen stores in Madison—I usually think of Orange Tree Imports and Tellus Mater, not to mention All Through The House in Stoughton. Now another store is adding some spice: The Kitchen Gallery at 1354 Williamson St. Owner Roz Anderson says shoppers will find a broad mixture of kitchenware, serve ware and gourmet foods in her space, which opened July 3rd.
IndoMalay Gallery in Fitchburg features “distinctive handcrafted products of Indonesia & Malaysia,” bath and body items, and artwork. Owner Matt Castagnet’s concept sounds somewhat similar to Indocara’s (located downtown) modern Asian furnishings angle, but IndoMalay appears to focus more on gallery aspect with decorative home items and artwork. Check out the store at their grand opening celebration on August 9th.
And finally, the news I’m most excited about: Anthropologie is opening a store in Madison this fall! Now, I don’t know where it’s going to be yet (I’ve spoken to a couple of people and they don’t know either), but the store’s website says they’re opening a location here and are hiring store managers, display coordinators and the like.
Anthropologie stores have a smart mix of clothing that appeal to laid-back types and trend-forward sisters who crave the latest and greatest in fashion, premium denim in current styles, lingerie and cool home décor items.
The Philadelphia-based retailer’s brands also include Free People and Urban Outfitters stores.

The North Face, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. thenorthface.com
The Kitchen Gallery, 1354 Williamson St., 467-6544
IndoMalay, 2690 Research Park Dr., Fitchburg. 213-4521. indomalay.com
anthropologie.com