Sunday, August 31, 2014

Anna and Me at the US Open

The approach to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.

I took my son to the US Open Tennis Championship in Queens on Friday. It was the first visit for both of us. We went to an evening match with Roger Federer playing against Sam Groth of Australia. I know that Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue, is a big fan of Roger Federer (do I detect a bit of a crush?) so I suspected she would also be in attendance and I was right!

I thought it would be fun to compare our very different experiences at the same event.

Anna wore this:

Anna was right to bring a sweater. It was breezy and cool!

I wore this:

Great minds: Anna and I both wore blue.

Anna probably got there this way:

I am quite certain Anna took a town car (and driver) to the US Open.

I got there via:

The 7 Train to Queens.

These were Anna’s seats:

Anna probably sat in the red zone, courtside!

Here was the view from mine:

What a fun crowd in the lower promenade!

One thing we had in common was that we both had a great time!

Groth prepares his blisteringly fast serve!

Roger Federer and Sam Groth shake hands after their match on August 29, 2014.

Roger won, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, in just under two hours. It was a lively match and, I have to say, easy on the eyes (from what I could see on the big screen) with such good-looking competitors. It was definitely Hottie vs. Hottie! Sam Groth’s serve hit speeds of 142 mph and up, regularly, and sometimes Roger even managed to return them!

I’d heard the night games at the US Open can get rowdy (for tennis) and now I understand why. You take the energy of New York City, sprinkle a bit of alcohol on it (I saw plenty of people swilling champagne, mixed drinks, and beer as they walked around before the game!), put it in a big stadium on a gorgeous late summer night, and add one of the best tennis players of all time? You got yourself one fun and sometimes loud crowd. The chair umpire had to ask us all to be quiet on many occasions!

I hope Anna did the wave with us but somehow I can’t see it.

Roger in a post-game interview. He is beloved in New York!

Let me know if you have ever been to the US Open and if you have, what you thought of the event!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rachel Zoe in Sandals

Rachel Zoe and sons, Summer 2014.

Leave it to Rachel Zoe to pair sky-high wedge sandals with a colorful caftan and a gigantic gold necklace as she tends to her sons Skyler and Kaius earlier this summer. I love that Rachel doesn’t let dealing with a 3-year old and an infant slow down her sense of style. I don’t know how she walks in sandals that tall but I’m guessing she’s got so much practice at it that it’s probably old hat to her by now.

Look at the height of those shoes!

Let Rachel’s beachy vibe be your friendly reminder that Adrienne and I are accepting pictures of your outfit featuring sandals for September’s “How I Wear My.” Send photos to howiwearmy@yahoo.com by September 2, 2014. We’d love to have you join us!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Morality of Expensive Things

A 1994 Hermès Kelly 32 in green Courchevel recently offered in a Christie’s online auction.

I had an interesting email discussion with a friend of mine who is currently on the hunt for a gently-used Chanel bag. We were both lamenting the dramatic rise in price of any Chanel bags, new or pre-loved—they now start, new, for a medium-sized classic flap, at $4,900, probably in an attempt to put them in the same crazy price stratosphere as new Hermès bags.

My friend pointed out that one is drawn to one’s poison and often can’t help what they love, a sentiment I agree with! Life would be so much easier (and, in some cases, less expensive) if I didn’t so thoroughly enjoy the art and beauty of, say, Hermès scarves and bags, Chanel jackets, Cartier jewelry, among other things—and want to own them!

A Charlotte Olympia Kitty flat. Retail price: $595.

My friend also touched on a subject I find endlessly fascinating—the guilt associated with wanting, and sometimes even buying, the most expensive items on the planet.

I honestly can’t decide if this guilt affects moms more than child-free ladies (and gents)—or all ladies and gents alike. Do feel free to chime in on the subject whether you have no kids or many! My guilt revolves around thinking that I ought to be saving for some fabulous thing for my children (and no, I don’t mean college) instead of saving for a Kelly bag or Cartier watch.

I love this Cartier Tank watch—elegant and classic!

Some of my guilt is assuaged knowing my kids have plenty of food, clothes, toys, books, health and dental insurance, a lot of love, and both go to great public schools. It’s also assuaged by recognizing I spend little money on clothes—my closet is all about inexpensive basics and the real money is spent on accessories. My friend said that maybe she could get over the guilt of buying a Chanel bag because she makes her own clothes. I concur! If sewing the bulk of your own wardrobe doesn’t give you a pass to treat yourself to one pre-loved Chanel bag, I don’t know what will!

I have never felt one shred of guilt for buying my pre-loved Chanel bag (from Fashionphile) or any of the few Hermès scarves I own—after I purchased them. A few special things have made me feel so grateful for all that I do have, in my closet and in my life, but I also understand that getting past the guilt in order to buy those special things can be treacherous!

My pre-loved Chanel bag. Glad I bought it when I did!

I would love to hear from anyone with anything to say on the topic of the morality of owning expensive things—and I do mean things, not travel or experiences—which I feel belong in a different category.

Is owning something expensive, or wanting to, neutral territory for you? Do you feel an expensive item, whether a piece of jewelry or a bag, a pair of shoes, an amazing jacket, is a reward for hard work, whether it came by way of a promotion, or a big goal met, or the good old fashioned method of saving up for it?

Detail of “Le Laboratoire du Temps,” by Pierre-Marie for Hermès, 2012.

Do you feel an expensive item has a morality attached to it? Is it bad to like expensive things? Bad to own too many of them? Do you eschew expensive items altogether, even if you have the money to purchase them?

I found a fascinating article over at Get Rich Slowly about the morality of spending that you might also find an interesting read. Apparently my friend and I are not the only people thinking about this issue!

I can’t wait to read what you have to say on this subject so do share your opinions with me!

Detail of a 1975 Cartier crocodile necklace once owned by Maria Félix.

The photo of the Cartier crocodile necklace detail above is from the beautiful book Amazing Cartier: Jewelry Design Since 1937 by Nadine Coleno. My nail polish is Caught Red-Handed by L’Oreal, one of my favorite shades for summer!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jane’s Carousel

Jane’s Carousel.

If you find yourself in NYC do make the trip to Brooklyn to visit Jane’s Carousel—a carousel built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, originally installed in Youngstown, Ohio, and now at DUMBO Park, Brooklyn. DUMBO, in case you don’t know, stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The carousel, lovingly restored to its full glory, is ensconced between both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and is housed in a beautiful glass pavilion by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel, making it look like a glittering jewel on the edge of the East River.

On the path to the carousel.

Jean Nouvel designed this amazing pavilion for the carousel.

Lovely and filled with light.

It’s just $2 to ride, a true bargain, and they didn’t even charge me for my daughter to ride since she’s under a certain height. You will find a mix of locals and tourists at the carousel and surrounding park. Word to the wise—it is getting fancy at Dumbo. I remember when it was a bit rougher around the edges, even dumpy in some places, but that is no longer the case. I saw no less than four full-on fashion shoots while I was in that area with my kids. Oh the glamour! (I’m being sarcastic. I love fashion as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s nice when life is about something else than multiple fashion shoots that clog the sidewalks and the streets.)

For the time being, Jane’s Carousel (and the surrounding area) is full of gorgeous charm, and gives you the most glorious views of Manhattan you could ever hope for. I highly recommend it!

Great views just steps from the carousel, though 1 World Trade is a hideous piece of architecture.

You get a wonderful view of the city as you ride!

A view of Manhattan Bridge, one of my favorite bridges in NYC.

There is beauty everywhere you look on this carousel.

Amazing details and gorgeous color!

Only two dollars to ride!

Even the tickets are pretty.

I love this gorgeous horse.

Jane’s Carousel
DUMBO
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn, NY

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dreaming of Cartier (Again)

The Cartier Mansion is under renovation until 2016.

The Cartier Mansion at 5th Avenue and 52nd Street is closed until 2016 for renovation, but on the same day that I went to Bergdorf Goodman to see the windows I could not resist having a look at their new temporary location on 5th Avenue and 59th Street across from Bergdorf and the Plaza Hotel. It opened in April in the old GM Building and it is gorgeous inside, like a touch of 1950s glamour crossed with modernity. It also feels like both a jewelry store and museum, filled with cases of the most jaw-dropping diamond panthers.

The new Cartier boutique is in the old GM Building in Manhattan.

It’s diagonally across from Bergdorf Goodman...

...and directly opposite the Plaza Hotel.

The inside of the boutique. Photo by Ricky Zehavi.

Unlike Van Cleef & Arpels, it was all smiles when I walked in. They really know how to make a gal feel welcome at Cartier! Young ladies in their twenties were trying on Love bracelets and Juste un Clou bracelets, both of which I am immune to, which is good because each of those bracelets runs in the high four figures. No pining here, hooray!

A Cartier Juste un Clou bracelet in rose gold, $7,200 (ouch).

Cartier Trinity Ring in white, yellow, and rose gold. Love!

I tried on a Trinity ring, which I am not immune to, and visited with a Tank Solo. My seven-year-old daughter was with me and I’m not sure who had a better time, me trying things on and looking at both the space and the sumptuous jewelry, or her, meowing every time she saw a diamond panther since she is obsessed with cats. There are a lot of diamond panthers in Cartier so she spent most of her time there meowing. It sounded like someone had let a cat loose in the store!

A 1966 Cartier Panther brooch once belonging to the Duchess of Windsor.

Detail of a bib necklace once owned by the Duchess of Windsor. From Amazing Cartier.

Whether you are in the market for a little quelque chose to mark a very special occasion or just want to have a look at beautiful fine jewelry, Cartier’s new boutique is most definitely worth a visit!

Cartier
757 Fifth Avenue at 59th Street
New York NY 10153
212-446-3400

The last two images are from the glorious book Amazing Cartier: Jewelry Design Since 1937 by Nadine Coleno, which I was able to check out from my local library.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How to Shop at High-End Boutiques

A VCA window display in March 2011.

In June when my mother and brother came for a visit, we had a shopping day in Manhattan with stops at Macy’s, Tiffany’s, and MacKenzie-Childs. I also made everyone go into Van Cleef & Arpels on Fifth Avenue, which I had never visited before, because I wanted to have a closer look at one of their Vintage Alhambra pendants.

Well.

Stepping inside after having the doorman hold open the door for us reminded me just how daunting high-end shopping can be. This is what we walked into:

Inside the Fifth Avenue Van Cleef & Arpels boutique. Photo by Fashionbi.com.

The store itself was like a cool, dim, pale pink and dove-gray cave. I found it totally without charm. Several unsmiling sales associates turned to look at us. A handsome gentleman in a suit approached us immediately, which was good, because I would’ve walked out if he hadn’t. He was very kind about answering my questions and showing the necklace I was after—much too small for the eye-watering price they ask for it, by the way, it’s definitely off the list.

Kelly Rutherford wearing a Van Cleef  & Arpels Vintage Alhambra pendant in mother-of-pearl.

After a few minutes another salesperson, a young blonde woman in a suit, told our SA his appointment had arrived, which I figured was just a ruse to get us to leave. At which point I wanted to say, You know what Van Cleef & Arpels, I will take my money to Cartier, where it is far more appreciated!—but my mother later said there was indeed a couple at a sales desk who had just been seated.

I decided to write a post on this topic because not so long ago these kinds of stores really intimidated me. I have since gotten over feeling that way and wanted to share the things I have learned about shopping at places like these. I want to make it clear that I am not rich and I am not an expert, and most of the time I am not walking out with a purchase, these are just things I have figured out after stepping into the highest of high-end boutiques in Manhattan during my 17 years here. I am referring specifically to boutiques and not department stores, and for the purposes of this post I will focus on Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, and Hermès (with a little Prada and Chanel thrown in for fun).

Happy times have been had here! The Hermès Wall Street store. Photo from mns.com.

1. Make an appointment.

I have gotten amazing service at the Hermès Wall Street boutique when I made an appointment to look at scarves with their scarf expert, who always teaches me something new whenever I visit. I probably would not have had the nerve to walk in there if I hadn’t been interested in a very particular scarf design, Washington’s Carriage by Cathy Latham, so I called and asked if it was available. The sales associate promised to hold it for me even though I was a first-time customer! I made an appointment to see her and it was a lovely experience all the way around. She showed me the difference between the kinds of silks Hermès uses depending on the scarf size as well as multiple ways to wear them. She spent a lot of time with me and did not rush me at all. Now if there is anything I want to see I call her up, find out when she will be there, and make an appointment!

Inside. The guy on the left is walking toward the registers. Photo by Tina Feinberg for The New York Times.

2. Sales Associates are looking at your bag and shoes!

Some of the best walking-in-off-the-street service I ever got was at Prada on the Upper East Side of Manhattan when I walked in carrying my baby Chanel bag so I find that the cliché is true, SAs will size up your shoes, bag, and general appearance. However, it doesn’t mean they will be snooty. I sometimes purposely carry a nondescript bag, or a fabric bag, just to see how I am treated (I had on a canvas tote with a red dog silhouette when I went to Van Cleef & Arpels, my mistake!). The lady at Hermès I mentioned above once tied a Twilly around my very beat-up black leather messenger bag without batting an eye. This bag, not a designer bag either, is seriously a train wreck yet there she was, lovingly tying the Twilly around its handle like it was the best bag on earth. Talk about salesmanship. Guess who ended up buying a Twilly?

From a Cartier window display on Fifth Avenue, NYC, January 2012.

3.  Dress up a little—or a lot.

It can’t hurt to be wearing something other than jeans when you walk into Cartier. That said, I did get great service when trying on Chanel jackets one day at Saks Fifth Avenue and I did happen to have jeans on (which made sense since that is what I would wear with a Chanel jacket). I have also visited Cartier in jeans—jeans but not sneakers, not even the cute fashion sneakers that are everywhere these days. Never sneakers! Good shoes only!

A close-up of the ring! Oh, I weep.

4. Know what you want to see.

I always try to check out online the exact item I want to look at up close and know its name, price, and, if applicable, size. Because of my prep work the sales associate knows I am serious, even if I do not make a purchase that day. The sales associate at Van Cleef & Arpels was helpful with information and showing me the Vintage Alhambra pendant once I asked for it specifically, in a particular metal and material (yellow gold with onyx) though the whole experience felt very rushed.

5. But don’t be a know-it-all.

The SAs are more informed than you and can tell you about different colors, styles, or stores that have what you want in case the boutique you’re visiting is out of stock or it’s a discontinued item. Keep you ears open and mouth closed while the SA gives you important information!

A panther ring from the window display, January 2012. Here, kitty kitty!

5. Ask for the sales associate’s card.

Hey, you never know. You might be coming back for that Cartier Tank Solo watch someday. Get the SA’s card! They can write the details of what you asked to see, as well as the price, and if you do go back for the item you should ask for that person directly. They spent time with you educating you about the product or showing you different things and in my book, they have definitely earned their commission.

Getting back to Van Cleef & Arpels—I do want to say that if I was really gone over their pieces I wouldn’t give up on them, even though I didn’t like their store. The SA was helpful and in the end, though the shopping experience can influence your decision and sweeten the experience, it’s the item that counts most! The Vintage Alhambra necklace, while beautiful, is too outrageously expensive for the size I would want so I can’t justify it staying on my Fashion Wish List (unless I come into a great deal of money or receive it as a gift). On the whole, however, I would still consider myself a fan of their jewelry—especially their vintage pieces, which are stunning feats of beauty and technical know-how. The show Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels is one of the most amazing exhibits I have ever been to. I would list it in my top five shows and at this point I have been to a lot of fashion and jewelry exhibitions!

A Cartier sapphire and diamond necklace in their window display, January 2012.

As for Cartier, the service there has been divine—I’ve walked out with perfume samples, having tried on watches and rings, including a ring well into five figures (it’s true!), even been given a beautiful little book on their Tank watches—my dream timepiece. They and Van Cleef & Arpels are owned by the same company, Richemont, so it’s interesting to note the difference in interiors and service. I love going to Cartier. They always make me feel welcome and the jewelry is gorgeous and classic. I’m not sure I will ever back to Van Cleef & Arpels.

I tried on this Panthère ring at Cartier. It is SO heavy and nearly $27,000!

Do you have any tips to share on shopping at expensive stores? How have you found the service?