Sunday, April 22, 2012

{safari syle}

Jokha leather flip flops

For me, one of the many pleasures of traveling is discovering regional style. Because of my job, I have been lucky enough to visit more than 50 countries and all seven continents. Throughout the years, friends have asked, "what is your favorite?" to which I reply without hesitation..."the African bush".  

Yes, Meryl Streep has had tremendous influence on my suitcase each time I pack for safari. I have been known to set off on a game drive in typical menswear inspired utilitarian khaki's, a camel colored cashmere wrap and a silk blend, sand-colored button down. Never did I take such a ribbing though as when I arrived at the campfire in a pair of soft, brown suede Rag & Bone booties complete with a (reasonable) 3.5" heel. The guides had a good laugh watching me teeter down the uneven path, looked me up and down and finally commented, "we have never seen this style of shoe..."

At the end of one trip a guide on my team presented me with a gift. When I opened it I was delighted to find the most gorgeous pair of beaded, leather, hand-stiched sandals. These shoes (along with the 3 other pairs I have purchased over the years) adorned with their intricately designed, brightly colored Maasai seed-beads, and their soft leather sole, have the ability to mold to every contour of my foot. Not only do they serve as a terrific souvenir, they also offer at least one feature my last safari shoes did not: a ton of comfort without a bit of ridicule.

{Safari sandals are now being sold at Anthropologie, Gap and the Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi}.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

{champagne wishes...caviar dreams}
The latest in nail art is no longer brush on gel or shellac polish--it's the 3-dimensional Caviar Manicure. Developed by UK nail shop, Ciate, the in-house creative director concocted the teeny caviar bead-mani in an effort to develop something "feminine and indulgent yet delicately extravagant". Offered in three colors, the white is a modern alternative to a french bridal manicure, the black offers a glam take on punk rock nails, and the multi? Well for us Oakland locals, you may feel like you're flounting a Mother's Circus Animal Cookie right on each digit. Really, now what could be more fresh & delicious than that?
Mother's Cookies Circus Animals Cookies

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

{Dancing Queen}

            I'll always love clogs. 

Gold clogs custom made by Cape Clogs (shown with Sugarbear)

Oh they may clomp in and out of fashion every couple of decades but for me, they have endured as a true staple in my closet ever since my beloved blue suede pair which I acquired in the 7th grade.

The origins of wooden shoes date back more than 700 years to the Northern Europeans when they were originally worn by farmers or working people in order to protect ones feet.  

Once known as an icon of anti-fashion they became popular with hippies in the 60's and were especially celebrated when combined with patch-worked Levi's, fringe bags and a homespun colorful poncho.

The height of the clog trend must be attributed to that decade of glam and stardust--the 70's. Along with the meteoric rise of the supergroup, ABBA came the Swedish clog. Represented by Björn and Benny (the male half of the pop group), they released a song called "Träskofolket," in Swedish translating to "The Clog People." Throughout the decade high platform clogs became de rigueur on the stage, street and dance floor.

The most recent clog resurgence arrived only a few years ago when designers such as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Chanel sent their own reinterpreted versions down the runway complete with such adornments as lace, fringe, fur and studs. Alexa Chung is credited for relaunching the clog craze by posing for Vogue while wearing Chanel’s SS2010 clog. Other die hard clompers include Kate Beckinsale (again in Chanel), SJP (while wearing cuffed boyfriend jeans) and Mary Kate Olson (often in shorts).

My loyalty however lives for two brands longstanding in the clog community:
Cape Clogs is a company which manufactures their shoes the traditional way, originating from Sweden and handmade with real alderwood soles. I'm especially a fan of their gold version (shown above) custom made at no extra charge in the highest heel version.
The second, Swedish Hasbeens is another Nordic company that quickly rose to the top of the clog pile in 2010 and has since become the name in high fashion leather and wood slip-ons. Their hot pink number below is another fresh find. According to Hasbeen's the "Sky High Slip On is based on a high-heeled clog from the late disco 70’s."
Along with 'Fernando' and 'Dancing Queen', ABBA has unquestionably cemented their legacy.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

{Easter bonnet party}

Right along with the hunky Jesus contest held by The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, one of my favorite San Francisco traditions is the annual Easter Bonnet Party thrown at a friend's home in the Castro neighborhood of the city. Every year guests are asked to dust off their glue gun and get busy on an original creation. The pay off for all of this sticking and glittering is a fete of mouthwatering Easter delicacies and a celebratory house cocktail: this year ginger infused Skyy vodka with sugar cane and fresh mint leaves. Here's hoping your Easter was fresh and festive.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

{cupcake wars}

Innovation in the cupcake wars has historically been limited to the advent of new and unique flavors: Double Chocolate and Vanilla begot Red Velvet and Banana which evolved into Dulce de Leche and Chai Latte and in turn have most recently developed into mega flavors such as French Toast & Maple Bacon or Guinness & Bailey's. Originally only found in New York City or L.A., bakeries specializing solely in cupcakes are now commonly discovered in such cities as Nashville, Baltimore, Portland and even our own Oakland, California.  

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Flashback to 2004 and the birth of the Food Truck Craze. Naturally the mobile cupcake bakery was the next major innovation in the cupcake wars and the logical progression in all things cupcake. Mobile cupcakeries such as Cupkates (Berkeley, CA) or Sweet (Cleveland, OH) and the original, (set in a vintage Airstream trailer that actually remains parked), Hey Cupcake! (Austin, TX) have taken over the country and almost succeeded in providing uninterrupted cupcake availability for the masses.

Today, the greatest innovation must be awarded to that trendy, much-hyped, PR machine of Beverly Hills...Sprinkles cupcakes. If you haven't heard of Sprinkles yet, do you spend your time? Sprinkles burst onto the scene in 2005 proclaiming themselves the ORIGINAL Cupcake Bakery. Such self-inflated ballyhoo was an indignity to each established cupcake bakery already thriving in New York City. Sure these bakeries sold the occasional ice-box cake or black & white cookie but let's face it...The Cupcake Cafe opened in Hell's Kitchen in 1988. And who can forget Carrie and Miranda scarfing cupcakes outside of Magnolia Bakery in a 'Sex and the City' episode broadcast in July of 2000?

All of that aside, Sprinkles did offer up a chic and modern cupcake aesthetic and an alternative to the ubiquitous piped-on frosted cupcake sold in the local corner bake shop. The latest and most ground breaking innovation though, is not their signature, single dot placed on top of each mini cake but the newly installed Cupcake ATM. Recalling the olden days of the Automat, for only $3.50, the Sprinkles ATM will bestow a fresh and scrumptious cupcake perfectly boxed and presented to sugar hungry consumers via the machine's efficient robotic arm. Well stocked at 600 cupcakes daily, buyers run a low risk of disappointment at the ATM due to a sold-out, favorite flavor. Plus it's more fun than standing in a block-long line at an old fashioned brick and mortar store.