November 30, 2006
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
By Danica Lo
November 30, 2006 -- ONCE upon a time, there was an '80s and '90s downtown New York culture where Limelight's promoter reigned supreme, Danceteria was the place to be, and St. Marks Place did not have a Chipotle.
It was a time and place where men could be men (in drag, that is) and women may or may not have been born that way.
But what happened when these clubkids - those crazy-looking young people who made the city's nightlife legendary post-punk and pre-Giuliani - got older? Answer: They grew up into clubadults - creative forces to be reckoned with in fashion, media, film, art and dance who still like nothing more than a good party.
And thanks to a revival in both maximalist clubwear and New Romantics on the catwalk, those who love to get their freak on (emphasis on freaky) are having a moment again.
The growing fame and influence of designers like Gareth Pugh, a favorite of Anna Wintour who constructs clothing from, among other things, enormous balls; emergence of more and more dress-up mainstream bands like the Scissor Sisters, AFI, and Panic! At the Disco; and growing interest in early-'80s fashion has created a great and unmet demand for nightlife excitement.
Enter Susanne Bartsch, a 25-year veteran of the downtown party scene, who co-hosts Tuesday nights at Flatiron club Room Service with Kenny Kenny, one of the most legendary club personalities in New York. The main room hosts performances - "That's old school," Bartsch says. "We have all sorts of shows - artists, whatever, showcasing their talent" - and the adjoining strip club entertains its regular suited clients in one section while Bartsch and Kenny Kenny's dancers gyrate on spare poles.
Bartsch, who created the legendary Love Balls of the late '80s and early '90s, returned to party planning after a long absence from the nightclub circuit. "I left the scene before it was worn out," Bartsch says. About a year ago, while producing events for other people, "It was becoming very hard to see everybody," she says. "I wanted people I liked to come over and hang out - I wanted to see all my friends in one go."
Crashing through the complacent lull of nightlife in recent years, Bartsch's Tuesdays, which recently relocated from now-defunct club Happy Valley, is one of the most successful nights in town - so successful, in fact, that watching choreographer Jonte perform in the main room this week was akin to rush hour on the IRT.
And, just like 20 years ago, going out is all about the look. "What I do is definitely in the spirit of those days," Bartsch says. "But it's not those days, you know? Things are very androgynous now. And what I like about my parties is that you can come that way or not - it's not that you have to be dressed up."
Still, a quick glance around the room proves the maximalism of years bygone hasn't vanished. After all, this caliber of preening has been around in New York since the 1970s. These days, the handcrafted individualism demonstrated by Bartsch's friends and patrons flies squarely in the face of current Hollywood-stylist-driven mumbo-jumbo and investment-banker-style bottle-service bars.
"It has to be real," Kenny Kenny says. "And the music has to be modern. We're not about re-creating the '80s - we're about having modern music, modern performance, modern looks. It's modern and mixed. New York is the only place in the world you can live like this."
By Danica Lo
November 30, 2006 -- ANY die-hard grooming junkie likely spends hours each week parked in the salon chair having her tresses meticulously washed and blow-dried to smooth helmet-ic perfection. For novices, the prospect of shelling out big bucks for a professional blow-out can be daunting - one false move with the round-brush could yield grandma or, worse, anchorwoman hair.
Luckily, celebrity hairstylist Paul Labrecque - whose clients include luxe-locked Lisa Ling, John Galliano, and Reese Witherspoon - has developed three distinct party-worthy blow-outs - the "Penthouse Sleek," the "Loose and Loungey" and the "Velvet Rope Volume" - that clears up any chair-side confusion.
Gisele Bundchen "Loose and Loungey": "This is black-tie chic," Labrecque says. "This is the most requested look for holiday parties - the abstract line of sultry, loose culs is very sexy and very of the moment."
Mena Suvari "Penthouse Sleek": "This is the most commonly requested blow-out in both my salons," Labrecque says. "The New York woman is sophisticated and prefers a hassle-free look that will last a few days."
Faith Hill "Velvet Rope Volume": "It's a very uncontrived look," Labrecque says. "It's loved by clients who feel the beat and want to run their fingers through their hair - or let someone else's hands run through their hair - all night long."
Blow-outs from $70 at Paul Labrecque, (212) 988-7816, paullabrecque.com
TAKE STYLE TIPS FROM THESE INSPIRATIONS
November 30, 2006 -- TO the average Joe, the crowd at Room Service Tuesdays must look like an odd melange of Santa's elves, pretty waif Goths, and lollipop kids - with Glenda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West thrown in for good measure.
But while it may look like an oddball group, there is rhyme and reason behind these fashion choices. It's not merely enough to throw on a mermaid costume, a generous dose of glitter or a homemade toga. The best-dressed know that, just like fashion, the art of dressing up ought to be approached with a due sense of gravitas, with these inspirations and influences:
* Leigh Bowery (pictured), legendary designer and performance artist, has been, by far, the most influential aesthete on both the New York and London scenes in recent years. His outre top-to-toe hand-stitched costumes, facial piercings and out-of-this world use of color has inspired many modern takeoffs.
* Harlequin patterns, inherently colorful and flamboyant, make for standout tailored pieces, like capes, and go fantastically well with feathers, which are also wildly popular in all shapes and sizes.
* Vegas showgirls, their eye makeup, and their headpieces are a natural choice for exhibitionist clubgoers, both male and female.
* New Romantic Goth - think less scary versions of Marilyn Manson - was wildly popular in '80s London, and it making its comeback today in both clubs and on MTV.
* Victorian and Edwardian motifs in both clothing and grooming - like corsets and curls - have always influenced film noir, which, in turn, inspires clubgoers.
• The colorful and absurd - "The Cat in the Hat," large birds, religious motifs - are all fair game.
IT'S AN OPEN AND SHUT CASE
November 30, 2006 -- DEDICATED to Britney, Paris and Lindz - a list of how-to's for our favorite feeble-minded flashers everywhere.
How to get out of a car: If your car is low- like Paris Hilton's Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren - try the swing and tuck. Keep your knees and thighs together, and swing your legs from the car to the pavement. Then, tuck your skirt tightly against your body and get out, flashing only your smile to the waiting paparazzi.
How to wear underwear: What's a panty-hater to do? "Oh honey, that's easy," says Linda Becker, owner of lingerie mecca Linda's. "You want to go 'Commando' all the way - they make thongs and girl shorts that are 'better than nothing.' If you hate wearing thongs, On Gossamer panties are the best - I call them invisible panties because they don't show panty lines and they're the most comfortable panties out there."
How to go commando: The Anti-Panti (five for $10 at antipanti.com) is a 4-inch diameter cotton pad that adheres to the inside of your trousers, altogether replacing the need to fuss around in your panty drawer for the perfect pair.
How to use tit tape: Any skin-friendly double-sided tape will do. Cut into small squares and place tape along the seam of the fabric - avoid using one long strip for a more natural look. This way, nipples and other vital bits are well-covered. Sticky stuff difficult to remove? Try dabbing on a bit of nail-polish remover.
November 24, 2006
PLAN OF ATTACK!
By MARINA VATAJ, KIRSTEN FLEMING, DANICA LO, and RAAKHEE MIRCHANDANI
November 24, 2006 -- HERALD SQUARE
1. H&M (1328 Broadway and 34th Street;  473-1165) Get up bright and early, because starting at 6 a.m., button-downs and chic sweater dresses are all on sale for up to 40 percent off. Special sales end at 11 a.m.
2. MACY'S (151 W. 34th St.;  695-4400) March straight to Macy's as early as 6 a.m. and head to the seventh floor to collect Calvin Klein and Kenneth Cole coats at 40 percent off. Next, work your way down to the third floor, where you can snag some sensational Liz Claiborne sweaters for up to 50 percent off.
3. GAP (60 W. 34th St. and Broadway;  760-1268) On your next shopping stop, drop into the lower level of the Gap - which opens at 7 a.m. - to get first dibs on sweaters, scarves and hats on sale for 30 percent off. Note: After noon, everything jumps up to regular price.
4. FOREVER 21 (50 W. 34th St.;  564-2346) Trek over to Forever 21's third floor for sales racks filled with tanks and tops for up to 50 percent off, and on your way out, snatch some sporty, striped must-have sweaters for less than $30 on the first floor.
5. ALDO (15 West 34th St.;  594-6255) Stomp on over to Aldo, where you'll find a large selection of luscious leather, knee-high boots for an extra 30 percent off already-reduced prices only until 10 a.m.
6. LORD & TAYLOR (424 Fifth Ave.;  391-3344) Seal the best deals on the main floor and discover designer handbags like Calvin Klein, Betsy Johnson and Michael Kors on sale for 25 percent to 30 percent off, then proceed to the third floor for fantastic Ellen Tracy and Anne Klein sportswear at an extra 50 percent already-reduced prices.
- Marina Vataj
If you're planning to conquer the concrete corral of commerce called SoHo, it's best to begin on Broadway - where the stores open earlier and have much more stock than the boutiques for which the nabe is known. And come the afternoon, they will be busier than the voices in Michael Richards' head.
1. Uniqlo (546 Broadway;  966-5374) Start the treasure hunt at the casa of cheap cashmere, where from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. shoppers will receive 20 percent off all merchandise. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., this Japanese chain gives shoppers $15 off any items that are $75 or more with the coupon from its magazine (available at the store). The Wonka-esque wonderland has cashmere sweaters lining the first and second floors. Denim for $39 is downstairs, and pick up last-minute bags and women's accessories by the register.
2. Banana Republic (550 Broadway;  925-0308) A few doors down, Banana Republic will award shoppers with a $25 gift card for every $150 spent.
3. Dean and Deluca (560 Broadway, at Prince St.;  226-6800) Before descending into the belly of the beast on Prince Street, feed your own stomach at Dean and Deluca.
4. Intermix (98 Prince St.;  966-5303) Chloe Mary Jane wedges are marked down to $399, from $740; Missoni Zigzag dream dress to $339, from $565; and select Sass and Bide jeans down to $159, from $230.
5. Club Monaco (121 Prince St.;  533-8930) Don't bother with the Club Monaco on Broadway; this one is much less fussy - and less crowded. Get classic women's merino turtleneck and V-neck sweaters for $49, among many other markdowns.
6. DKNY (420 West Brodway;  613-1100) DKNY sales stock from all other stores has been sent to its SoHo location. An additional 30 percent will be taken off all sale items (already reduced by 40 percent) which includes oodles of bags and shoes. As a bonus, the store is serving some bubbly to keep shoppers in the spirit.
7. Wink (115 Spring St.;  334-3646) Take a quick detour to Wink for 30 percent off Rachel Pally dresses and tops starting at $198.
8. Reiss (387 West Broadway;  925-5707) Hop back on West Broadway where U.K. chain Reiss is discounting select men's and women's items by 50 percent. This includes festively chic party dresses for New Year's Eve.
9. Legacy (109 Thompson St.;  966-4827) After the bustle of West Broadway, head northwest to quaint and relatively quiet Thompson Street to Legacy. Everything from Issey is 20 percent off, and The Post gets action: Mention this article and they'll make it 25 percent.
10. Sacco (111 Thompson St.;  925-8010) Two doors down get some luscious leather boots at Sacco where the whole collection of smart bags and shoes is 20 percent off during the November nonsense sale.
11. Millady's (162 Prince St.;  226-9340) Wind down with a cheap and good bite at SoHo's best dive bar, Milady's, which is a favorite haunt of low-key celebs like the Wilson brothers and Johnny Knoxville.
- Kirsten Fleming
1. Diane Von Furstenberg (383 W. 12th St.;  486-4800) Up to 30 percent off selected fall items means you'll score a great deal on DVF's most fashionable iconic wrap dresses of the season.
2. Girlshop (819 Washington St.;  255-4985) With trendy, hard-to-find new items hitting the sale racks every day, visit today and often. Score a Kenneth Jay Lane chunky chain necklace and matching bangles at 30 percent off.
3. Jeffrey (449 W. 14th St.;  206-1272) First round of select markdowns at this emporium of chi-chi-chic is 25 percent. Tip: Always scope Jeffrey's handbags and shoes first - the selection is small, but stellar, and popular sizes disappear fast.
4. Scoop NYC (430 W. 14th St.;  691-1905) Scoop's ultimate collection of everyday wear for the just-edgy-enough fashionista is on sale - and it's the perfect opportunity to pick up warm woolly sweaters and some new frocks for one-piece easy winter dressing.
5. Carlos Miele (408 W. 14th St.;  336-6642) Not only is cold-weather wear 30 percent off, but the sun-and-surf vacation-minded can still pick up summer merch at up to 70 percent off retail - look out for gorgeous Hollywood bombshell dresses, perfect for your next red-carpet turn.
6. Shelly Steffee (34 Gansevoort St.;  408-0408) Shelly Steffee's shrine to urban twisty-minimalist cool gets marked down 30 percent Friday, so stock up on her great basics, like jersey tops, turtlenecks and quilted vests.
7. Catherine Malandrino (652 Hudson St.;  929-8710) 40 percent off select fall merchandise means you can finally afford that gorgeous kimono wrap you've been eyeing all season. Move fast enough, and there might still be some much-coveted Cicada dresses still in stock.
8. Tracy Reese (641 Hudson St.;  807-0505) Up to 60 percent off fall stock from grown-up-but-girly designer Reese - look for season staples like luxurious chunky long sweaters and pretty blouses with bows.
- Danica Lo
1. Bloomingdale's (Lexington Avenue at 59th Street;  705-2000) First, head up to the second floor and check out the jeans - Chip & Pepper, Joe's and Seven's are all 40 percent off. Then head downstairs to David Burke for a cup of coffee and something sweet - you'll need the energy for the rest of the day. But whatever you do, don't eat before trying on the jeans - that's just bad for your self-esteem.
2. Barney's (660 Madison Avenue at 61st Street;  826-8900) Check out the Miu Miu, Dries van Noten and Marni rails, on the fourth floor and scoop up your full-priced favorites. The sale starts next week, and you can get it all price adjusted.
3. Bergdorf Goodman (754 Fifth Ave., at 58th Street;  753-7300) Trade in your tired old soles in for a shiny new pair of pre-sale Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Fendi or D&G heels and boots discounted 30-40 percent off. The actual in-store sale starts Monday.
4. Henri Bendel (712 Fifth Ave., at 55th Street;  247-1100) Don't be distracted by the pretty tubes and potions on the beauty floor and head straight upstairs, where Michael Kors and Alexis Hudson handbags are 30 percent off. And the Bendel's silk- or cashmere-lined long leather gloves are all 50 percent off till Sunday.
5. Saks Fifth Avenue (611 Fifth Ave., at 48th Street;  753-4000) For cozy-but-cute loungewear, like Primp's adorable bedazzled frog hoodies and super-cool L.A.M.B. jackets, all discounted by 40 percent, head to the fifth floor.
- Raakhee Mirchandani
November 19, 2006
CORNELL, CHRIS CORNELL
By Danica Lo
November 19, 2006 -- 'I was lucky," says Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell of his recent motorcycle accident in which he was hit by a truck and flung 20 feet in the air. Before his body met the pavement - which it did, and hard - Cornell says, "I was sort of thinking, 'This is an actual accident. I hope it's not as bad as it feels like it's going to be.'"
It could have all been over for Cornell, one of the most iconic rock voices of our time, but he emerged almost unharmed.
Fortuitous timing for a close call. This month, Cornell, a founding father of grunge, lead singer of the now-defunct Seattle band Soundgarden, and initiator of the legendary early '90s collaboration Temple of the Dog, makes his big-screen debut of sorts as the first man since Paul McCartney to sing a James Bond theme song.
His throaty, epic ode to 007, "You Know My Name," plays musical foil to Daniel Craig's Bond in "Casino Royale." Featuring soaring orchestrations and near-crooning vocals, the song is a departure from Cornell's signature sound.
"They wanted a voice that fit well with his persona," Cornell says. "They were looking for a singer who was unapologetically male, someone with introspection in his voice but not afraid to be masculine."
Cornell cites two of his predecessors as inspirations: McCartney, who wrote and performed the theme to "Live and Let Die" (1973), and Tom Jones, who sang the theme to "Thunderball" (1965).
"I decided that I was going to sing it like Tom Jones, in that crooning style. I wanted people to hear my voice," Cornell says. "And 'Live and Let Die' is a fantastic song. Paul McCartney wouldn't have written it if not for that movie. I [also] wanted to write a song in its own universe. I knew I'd never have it again - a big orchestra - so I wanted to have fun with it."
The song represents a move that will surely propel him into the mainstream - in fact, lob him so far into the depths of international collective consciousness that his grinding, guitar-angst grunge days will seem like ancient history.
Much to the chagrin of his Soundgarden fans, however. "Chris Cornell is not the man or the singer he used to be," complains one on the Audioslave fan forum.
He's even been called a sellout for departing from his Seattle-sound roots - for seeking out emotions besides depressive angst. But while it's blatantly obvious Cornell's work has significantly evolved in the last 15 years, so what?
"I was referred to as the quintessential angry young man," Cornell says. "But some of it is being 22. It's healthy to get it out on stage. Emotion is emotion and it comes out in different ways. That changes with age. You figure out better ways to deal with it.
"To me, there were always infinite possibilities," he adds, "and now I'm singing a song in a James Bond film. As far as I'm concerned, I can do anything musically - the perception outside of that is none of my business."
November 16, 2006
CHICK TAC TOE
By Danica Lo
November 16, 2006 -- This chicken may look like a birdbrain, but it can (and will) kick your butt - at tic tac toe.
It kicked mine.
The latest in a long line of tic tac talented poultry - remember the Chinatown chicken that could scratch X's and O's? - Ginger, played by one of a menagerie of 15 white leghorn chickens, takes up residence at Foxwoods casino this week through Nov. 22.
The chicks are such good players - one scratched out a win against this Post reporter - that the casino is offering $10,000 to anyone who can beat them. The parlor-game-playing poultry were raised in Arkansas by Bunky Boger and his son Kelly, owners of Casino Chicken.
Each hen - and "you have to use hens," says Kelly Boger, because "roosters only have one thing on their minds, and it's not playing tic tac toe" - plays 90 minutes at a time, pecking at a concealed light-up game board, whipping their human competitors.
November 15, 2006
November 13, 2006
Check out their MySpace page by clicking above for details on how to get on the list for The Rasmus free secret show in NYC on November 21.
For a while now I've been obsessed with House of Holland, a print tee operation out of London that does funny rhymes with designer names. Like here, "Cause me Pain, Hedi Slimane" -- Hedi is the much-heralded head designer at Dior Homme. And "Do Me Daily, Christopher Bailey" -- Christopher Bailey is the head designer at Burberry.
The thing is, they're only available in the UK at Dover Street Market.
Which means I am heading to London shortly. It will be sale season soon, and I need to pick up a few bottles of my favorite perfume, which has just recently become completely unavailable in the USA, and a few tees at the same time.
A couple weeks ago, after a few too many glasses of champagne, my friend Emmy and I went to a storefront psychic in Chelsea who told me that of the 13 colors I'm meant to have in my aura, I only had three -- and they were all grey! (I always knew I was a little bit broken...)
Anyway, she said that, in order to get more colors back in my aura, one of the things I should try to do is wear more colorful clothing.
Unfortunately, this is what my closet and my rails look like.
Black clothes through and through. I love black clothes. Not only are they slimming, but when I get up in the morning, the last thing I want to do is play matchy-matchy with my wardrobe. I love that everything I pull out of my closet and off a hanger will match.
So I explained all this to the sympathetic psychic. And she gave me that look -- that "Help me help you" look. And then she aquiesced and said that I should at least try to wear colorful underwear.
Finally, a way to wear UGGs without looking like you have fat legs! The new Sunrise boot has a zipper up the back and a slim-fitting leg that's still just as warm and fuzzy as the originals. Perfect with knee-length skirts and woolly tights for this winter! Cozy and yum.
November 10, 2006
Just for old-times sake: I walked out of my building in midtown Manhattan today and saw this (above), a #38 double decker bus from London, parked outside.
(London buses look slimmer than New York buses. Maybe it's because they're taller.)
November 8, 2006
There's nowhere in the world like London for amazing affordable fashion. So, while Topshop doesn't deliver outside of the UK, Office and Faith, two of my favorite online footwear retailers from the UK do. Theirs are the sites I turn to when I need a cool-shoe fix.
So here are the two pairs I just got. Some people may sneer at my granny-ish choice of footwear, but believe you me, these are the cool shoes to have! All the cool boys and girls in Paris and London are wearing modified versions of jazz shoes (both pointy and round-toe), and it's only a matter of time before these super-comfortable clothes-for-your-feet make it to these shores. So I picked these up online from Office (which for serious shoe connoisseurs should be a mandatory visit because they also stock Poste Mistress shoesies).
(Okay, the pointy ones aren't really slimming at all, truth be told, but they are so cool and kind of sparkly distressed leather. And the jazz shoe ones are surprisingly not fattening. Who knew.)
November 6, 2006
More Reasons Why I Need My Own Book
This weekend my mom told me that Todai, one of the most famous seafood All-You-Can-Eat buffet chains from Hong Kong, recently opened a restaurant in New York.
So, naturally, I had to eat there immediately.
Tonight I had dinner there -- it's near KoreaTown on 32nd Street between 5th and Madison Avenues -- and it was super-yummy! Now my tummy is so distended I look, oh, about 7 months pregnant. To hide my sushi-and-fried-fish-baby, I'm going to reread the Feast chapter of my book.
Good night and good luck.
November 5, 2006
By Danica Lo
November 4, 2006 -- DOWN on Thompson Street, marked out front by the only Pepto-pink phone booth in the city, the shrine of swanky sweats Shvitz does swift business.
Though it's only been open for a few short weeks, proprietor Leslie Hall has already placed multiple reorders for the in-high-demand luxe-priced thermals, hoodies and sweatpants from hard-to-find celeb-fave labels like Primp, Grail, Rebel Yell, Hummel and Joystick.
Just like so many women in New York - and the customer who marched into the store during our interview demanding to know when the back-ordered heart-printed pink Primp thermal she's waitlisted for would arrive - Hall has long been obsessed with posh sweats.
"I work in marketing and I was traveling all the time, flying everywhere," Hall says. "On the plane I'd read the tabs and I saw all the celebrities in all these great, comfortable clothes - and I thought, why can't I find this stuff?"
Thus Shvitz was born - a jewel box of a boutique, all blinged out with mirrored chrome walls, Roman columns and even a baby-pink Mac desktop.
"The detail in the clothing is astonishing," Hall says. "That eagle sweatshirt from Torn? It has hidden pockets. And the V-neck sweatshirt behind it is cut like a cashmere sweater.
"I'm all about detail, and I believe it's all about presentation," she continues. So she hired Hilary White, an award-winning interior designer, to instill that same meticulousness in the shop décor. Built to resemble a modernist boudoir, the space is like every girl's fantasy vanity come to life.
Plus, "we make sure we always have candy and dog snacks on hand," Hall says. "And we monogram our own-brand crystallized tees, tanks and sweats for free." Treats and monogramming? We're sold.
Shvitz's biggest seller is Primp - "There's a crazy waiting list for Primp's hearts and arrows print," Hall says. "And our next Primp shipment will have horse heads and bits in lavender."
Fancy sweats come at a premium -$80 for a bling-y thermal top and up to $245 for a cashmere hoodie - but think of how much you'll save on shipping buying locally instead of ordering from Los Angeles.
By Danica Lo
November 4, 2006 -- IF Left Coast celeb-wear is a barometer of casual-wear days to come, fancy sweats are the next flip-flop - soon sure to be inappropriately worn in the boardroom, to functions at the White House and dinners at Nobu. Here's our guide on what to do and when to don't:
- When in doubt, don't: Not sure whether metallic Chevron-striped track pants will match the carpet at your consulting firm? Slip on a pencil skirt instead.
- Butt err on the side of caution: For truly casual Fridays, plain Juicies may be acceptable, but stay away from rear-end writing, if you expect respect.
- Low-end high-end: Expensive sweatpants tend to be very low-cut. Make sure to get an extra-long top to cover your crack.
- Best bang for the buck: The most versatile pieces at Shvitz are definitely the slim-cut zip-up hoodies; less embellished ones can be layered for the winter and worn as business-casual when paired with dressier pieces.
- Crazy rabbit: Loud prints like Primp's sellout frogs and bunny rabbits should be saved for your spare time and weekends. The goofier and cuter sweats are, the more casually they ought to be worn.