Luxebeaute's Blog

September 29, 2009

Wonderful Winter: Accessable Gowns (tips and tricks)

Odd as it may sound to LA and New Yorkers, Winter in the East Bay is our time to see and be seen. For us the majority of galas, balls, dinner parties, charity and auction events and everything in between kicks off in September and doesn’t end until the New Year. It may not equate to say Milan fashion week but it’s our chance to fashionably shine while giving back or simply kicking back. As an independent business owner in the beauty field, I get giddy when I receive notifications of upcoming events and invites and love taking part in order to get my products out there via donations for and auctions as well as for networking, relaxation and socialization; as a single Mother trying to make her way in a fluctuating economy, I have to find ways to pull out all the wardrobe stops on a budget, creatively. Obviously if you are financially well endowed, its no problem to attend such events in show-stopping haute couture one of a kind gowns; for the rest of us, we either need to invest in a high end designer gown that can carry over from one season to the next or something simple to be transformed with heels and accessories.

Being that the Bay Area is the hub of independent business marketing and social networking imho, I figure I cannot be the only one out there with such a dilemma. Here are some simple tips to effortlessly make the social grade while avoiding mortgaging your home for cloth…

  • Purchase afew high quality (designer or no name) yet simple (floor-length or cocktail) black dress in classic style (silk and velvet are superb). This is always Chic. Focus more on seasonal heels and high end jewels.
  • If going for color, texture or high end designer label, this usually becomes quite the investment (ranging from $800-$4,000.00). Such a purchase is fine in my book, provided it is something that reflects the classic and is in no way trendy so that it can be worn more than once. The IRS will not oblige you such a write off- trust me, I have tried.
  • Study styles you love and colors of the season. Research new couture designer collections to get a feel for what the trend is; typically you will find there are 3 looks that seem to repeat themselves (example: a neck line, overall cut or ruffle pattern). Armed with this knowledge, go on the hunt for a similar dress. I highly suggest high end bridesmaid and wedding dress designers. Don’t cringe ladies- times have changed as have wedding attire styles and quality, the days of bulky swallow you whole fabric and generic cuts are over. These newer gowns rival the best design houses; they are sexy, sophisticated and incredibly affordable.  If you do your homework (and by homework I mean google) you will be amazed.
  • Be sure your hair, browns and nails arein tune with your gown- don’t make the same mistakes as those starlets who walk red carpet events in a 12K gown and $2 buck hair. And don’t necessarily put all trust in your beautician; that is to say do some research on past red carpet praises as well as walks of shame! Here google is your best friend. You just never who you will run into or (if that lucky) know what mag or rag you will be seen in and hell, the better you look the more publications or www’s you will appear in/on (hence the more money you will make to afford your dream gown next year)
  • Jewelry and handbag (clutch please!) is important; rent or borrow and match accordingly.
  • Get your makeup professionally done! In all honesty, I advise a spa day, facial and ten hours of sleep. Since you are not spending thousands on a gown which you will never wear again, this is a small (financial) but huge (piece of mind) investment.
  • Do your best to bargain shop all the way around where gowns are concerned- and if you do (which I am hoping you will) take the money you have saved and divide it accordingly by putting $30-60% toward donations of the philanthropic foundations in which you are looking oh so pretty for. Put the rest in the bank and give yourself a pat on the back.

Below [collage 1] are some of my top choices for easily accessible designer gowns for Winter gala’s from various 2009 collections. They are gorgeous and unique with interesting and intricate details, yet simple or classic enough to carry over from season to season or year to year. All are carried at Nieman Marcus, Saks 5th Ave and Bergdorf and run in the $3k to $6K price range. With the exception of the De La Renta, Robert Rodriguez and burgundy Marchesa gown, all of these styles can be found else ware within the $200-$350 price range, none of which lack in quality. If you take a look at my top choices for “bargain” gowns [collage 2], you will see I am not just all talk and no walk on this matter; yeah, I take my gown comparison and discount shopping very seriously (matter of fact I found2 of the Alvina Valenta’s for around $150 (retail in the $300 range), the black Alfred Angelo for $100 (retails $160), and the pink $250 Jim Hjelm online for $90 (tho’ it is more appropriate for day and eve envents) – I swiped them up quickly. AND Check out that hot long black asymmetrical jersey dress (STYLE:  G543J) and tell me it doesn’t rival the Versace (forgive me Donatella but I actually dig the offshoot version more and will be purchasing it once I am done writing this); matter of fact if I saw someone wearing it I would assume it WAS Versace. Pair it with some bright suede YSL platform heels or similar in Pantone Fashion Color Report trends for the season in question and no one will know you’re a bargain babe I promise.

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High End Designer-Left to right: Alexander McQueen ($5,420.00), Oscar de Larenta ($5,290), Carmen Marc Valvo ($2,860.00), Carmen Marc Valvo pleated silk ribbon gown ($3,190.00), Carmen Marc Valvo tiered gown ($3,520.00),Marchesa strapless organza ruffled gown ($6,820.00), Robert Rodriguez black label strapless rosette gown ($3,000.00), Kay Unger NY Tiered red gown ($490.00), Black Versace ($4,440.00),David Meister one shoulder blue velvet gown ($450.00) Affordable Formal Gowns-left to Right: ?, Jim Hjelm Occasions # 5938 ($240.00), Jim Hjelm Occasions #5819 ($258.00), Alvina Valenta #9838 ($270.00), Alvina Valenta #9739 Duet satin draped gown ($246.00), Alvina Valenta #9834 Silk De Chine strapless gown ($232.00), Saison Blanche #SB2070 ($290.00), Bari Jay #774 (130.00), Amsale #G543J ($300.00), Lazaro #3899 ($225.00), Alvina Valenta #9837 ($260.00), Alfred Angelo #6583 ($160.00).

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September 27, 2009

This Old Bag: The Power of the Purse- Silent Auction in SF (10-26-09)

Filed under: Events (Red Carpet, Fashion Shows, Galas, Parties) — luxebeaute @ 2:05 am

On October 16, 2009, Kaiser Permanente presents This Old Bag: The Power of the Purse, the sixth annual celebration of handbags benefiting BCEF hosted by W San Francisco. Guests will enjoy appetizers and cocktails while bidding on scores of handbags donated by fashion designers, celebrities and San Francisco’s leading philanthropists. A live auction will showcase the most valuable and coveted bags paired with other exciting items like cruises, dining and entertainment packages, shopping sprees and more!

Proceeds benefit uninsured women battling breast cancer. Celebrity emcee Jason Lewis. Co-chairs Bella Farrow and Hilary Newsom Callan. W Hotel, 181 Third St., SF. 6:30 PM. Tickets $75 and up. 415-558-6999 X3.

September 24, 2009

Zuhair Murad Fall 2009 Haute Couture Collection

Filed under: Fashion (Couture, RTW, Trends, Designers) — luxebeaute @ 5:37 am
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Holy Haute Couture! Though I believe this line debut in summer 09 for the Fall season, I hadn’t seen this stunning collection from Zuhair Murad until now; technically that is ok considering Fall is Sept 22-December (or am I trying to legitimize being so behind in my blogging?).  Not to mention my budget (if you want to even call it that) doesn’t allow for me to get too enamored with Haute Couture until I hit the lotto- but the Zuhair Murad ready to wear line…well, that’s a whole other story! But I digress.

Whereas Murad’s RTW line is very Fall cocktail party with splashes of Autumn color here and there (quite a few green and orange gowns), this one strikes me as incredibly wintery. The use of silver, black, gold and whites scream Opera house and Winter gala to me as opposed to Fall symphony and charity event attire. These gowns are lovely; I am in shock that nary a one was chosen for any Emmy carpet gallivantors!  [Although Jennifer Carpenter wore a gold and black Murad from the RTW line]. The muted color palette, mixes of lace with unexpected materials and interesting finishing touches (beads, crystals, feathers, fur) are lavish. This collection is certainly for the most regal space age winter ice queen!

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September 22, 2009

Best and Worst Dressed Emmys 2009 According to Luxe Beaute

One word for the red carpet Emmy look this year: SNORE… It certainly was no Oscar’s 09!

I was disillusioned to see not much really stood out as  a “wow!” in comparison to years prior.  The majority of young starlettes (or would it be stylists?)  played it relatively safe-scratch that- bridesmaid boring, while the over 40’s lacked color and unique cuts; dare I say this years Emmy’s looked as if everyone hit off the rack Nordstrom’s or Saks formal dept. I’m sorry my dear readers but there were only a handful of exquisite cuts, textures or material and unfortunately many of those were mixed and matched inappropriately imho- if the material was right the color was wrong; if the color was fabbo the cut was an aberration, sigh. Case in Point? Christina Applegate (beautiful color, bad draping and sequins which drowned her) and Kim Kardasian (lovely but much too but simple dress which aged her. Hello! 1 shoulder usually a “no no” for the under 40 set). Still, there were 3 amazing knockout gowns this year a romantic deco pale mint-green Atelier Versace corset dress (worn by January Jones) and two Monique Lhuillier dresses (worn by Mila Kunis and Drew Barrymore); incidentally I didn’t even know they were all L’huillier right away (sidenote-Toni Colette also wore a hot pink L’huillier number). And though I love the dotted Isaac Mizrahi worn by Chloe Sevigny as well as purple gown worn by Lindsey Price, they just didn’t seem right for this particular event.  I give a big ole hip hip horrah to all the ladies with grand taste who wore Marchesa (my fave design house if you haven’t yet noticed); a very pregnant Heidi Klume, a non preggers Olivia Wild, Sandra O, and I believe Jamie Lynn Sigler’s gold number was also from the 2009 Fall Marchesa collection (if not, some designer didn’t do their homework- tisk tisk). Other than these, it was the older women in age appropriate couture attire that did the do properly overall but this also equates a little on the boring side (conservative cut, lack of color) and the usual sea of beadwork.   With the exception of Perrey Reevesin in a gorgeous embellished Naeem Khan gown of course. [cick designer to see my past blogs and get a more flattering view of Jennifer Carpenter’s Zuhair Murad,  Chloe Sevigny’s Isaac Mizrahi, and Olivia Wild’s Marchesa]

In the “what the hell were they thinking?!” category,we sure did have some doozies this year, didn’t we? The winner of the Luxe Beaute “I got it at Ross” category is hands down Victoria Rowell in her Obama dress. The winner of the Luxe Beaute “always a bridesmaid on a budget and never a bride” award certainly goes to Sarah Silverman in her hideous wedding dress discount outlet getup. And shame on Versace for allowing Jane Krakowski to wear that dress which in no way flatters her skin tone or body type.  Ditto to Badgley Mischka for that purple dress with the roses at hips which made an otherwise lovely Padma Lakshmi (top Chief) look so disproportionately bottom heavy which is absolutely not the case; and even if it were there are so many ways to positively emphasize curves, a bright textured floral pattern at the hip certainly not being one of them.  And what’s up with my favorite cougar Mary Louise Parker in a short prom dress that looks like it came from Forever 21? And how about that silver Grecian Las Vegas showgirl dress? As for why I placed Debra Messing’s Michael Kors gown in the worse category (which I can see now might be a head scratcher since I love me some Kors), I have a couple nitpicky reasons for this… For my entire life I have taken issue with readheads actually wearing red; if indeed one has been blessed with a fiery mane you are lucky since this usually means naturally lovely burnt orange or copper  highlights, waves and glowing skin. BUT being as though redheads do not exactly have red hair in the most literal sense, we got a serious element of clash going on here. I know not everyone agrees with me on this one- maybe its psychological but I can’t help it; even when I was a little girl I would get bent out of shape just seeing orange and red flowers or furniture together so… Anyway, the minimal gold accessories paired with that red dress  were dynamite, provided it were worn by someone else. That dress would have been insanely gorgeous on her had it been in black, green or white. I also have problems with wearing red on the red carpet in general. Ugh,  red on red on red? I didn’t know she was a chameleon.

I’m gonna blame it all on the economy and demise of Christian Lacroix house. Well, there’s always next year!

My fave dresses: Mila Kuniz and Drew Barrymore in Monique Lhuillier, January Jones in Versace, Perrey Reeves in Naeem Khan,  January Jones in Versace, Olivia Wild in Marchesa, Jennifer Carpenter in Zuhair Murad. Worst Dresses: You see them, I don’t want to further embarrass by mentioning star or designer.

emmy updated worse dressed

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