OBSERVER STYLE

Were You There? Secret Concerts Ruled Last Night’s NYC Party Scene

“Hello everyone, and welcome to New York Fashion Week,” Erykah Badu said last night, taking the stage around 1 AM at The Top of The Standard last night as the rain drops began pattering against the glass windows. The cult favorite crooner arrived in true diva form. While her band members awaited her arrival, swilling champagne with the rest of us, the guest of honor arrived nearly two hours later than her scheduled performance time. Luckily, this left the crowd buzzing for more of her greatest hits.

Royal Christmas Style

The Duchess of Cambridge

The British Royal Family headed to Sandringham Church in Norfolk, England yesterday for the traditional family carol service and celebration. This year, as never before, coats and hats were the order of the day, fashion wise. It must be said that the fascinator-style hat, a small oval or round-shaped felt creation, perched on the side of the head has now become standard issue for British royals at church services. It is a style of hat almost never seen on anyone else. Far be it from us to criticize but it could be time for somebody to break out a Fedora. Our money would be on one of Prince Andrew’s daughters, possibly Beatrice, for this. Her ankle boots yesterday were almost too hight for rural Norfolk itself, never mind the royal churchyard. Anyway, everyone looked extremely chic, if a little safe. Next year, how about Harry in a trilby?

The Royal Family were joined by The Middleton family and the Queen’s children and grandchildren were in attendance, though the Duchess of Cambridge confessed to a bystander that Prince George had been left at home thanks to his current noisy phase and the Duchess of Cornwall was resting a bad back. They’re just like the rest of us!


Princess Eugenie and Autumn Phillips, wife of Peter, son of Princess Anne.
The Queen
Princess Beatrice
James and Pippa Middleton, siblings of the Duchess of Cambridge

Holiday Gift Guide: Scents to Strike a Note

1 FLORAL ODIN - Milieu Rosa Bottle

With such a saturated market, shopping for fragrances can be well, overwhelming. But, picking out the perfect perfume is simple once you’ve gotten the base down. Picture the person you’re gifting: does he or she like the outdoors? If so, they’re likely to prefer woody scents to warm amber tones.

Here, we’ve broken down our favorite fragrances into five base note categories: floral, fresh, woody, aquatic, and amber. Though many perfumes have characteristics from the various groups, they predominantly fall into one category. Here they are:

Milieu Rosa, a fragrance with floral notes.

Floral Notes

Milieu Rosa by Odin New York is one of three new fragrances in The White Line collection to launch this year. As the name suggests, the perfume is characterized by a blend of Spicy Morrocan Rose, Rose de Mai, and Turkish rose. Another floral fragrance is Nirvana White by Elizabeth and James. With notes of peony, muguet and musk, the perfume is perfect for the downtown trendsetter who loves a flowery fragrance. In addition to the Eau de Parfum, Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen recently introduced the collection as perfume oil, forgoing alcohol.

Plum by Mary Greenwell has fresh notes.

Plum by Mary Greenwell has fresh notes.

Fresh Notes

British makeup artist Mary Greenwell’s fragrance Plum is ideal for the woman who loves a blend of fruity and floral fragrances. The perfume has top notes of plum, blackcurrant, peach and lemon, middle notes including jasmine and gardenia blended with bottom notes of sandalwood and patchouli. For men, opt for Creed’s fragrance Aventus. It is the house’s most popular fragrance with fruitful top notes including French apple and pineapple, as well as, base notes of vanilla and oak.

Santal 33 has woody notes.

Santal 33 has woody notes.

Woody Notes

Le Labo’s Santal 33 is one of my personal favorite scents. The formula—including cardamom and Australian sandalwood—has an addictive quality attracting both men and women. While shopping at their downtown boutique at least three people came in to enquire about the scent within the few minutes I was there. Another wonderful woody fragrance (though specific for women) is Elizabeth and James’ Nirvana Black. The Eau de Parfum has notes of violet, sandalwood and vanilla. Gypsy Water by Byredo is a great light option for the woman who loves woody scents. For men, check out the newly launched Jimmy Choo MAN. The scent is crisp with citrus notes set amongst an amber-based wood.

The aquatic Sag Harbor by Bond No. 9.

The aquatic Sag Harbor by Bond No. 9.

Aquatic Notes

This group of fragrances is evocative of the ocean and often unisex. Take for example, Bond No. 9’s Sag Harbor. Men and women can wear the marine-scented ode—which includes a blend of ivy leaves, peonies, and sandalwood. Also, HM by Hanae Mori is this sort of breezy scent for men. The cologne is a combination of citrus and spearmint along with sandalwood.

The iconic Shalimar by Guerlain has amber notes.

The iconic Shalimar by Guerlain has amber notes.

Amber Notes (a.k.a. Oriental Notes)

While this category is often too rich for my taste, Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford is an exception. The scent evokes an air of sensuality with notes including tobacco leaves, clove, spices, fruit wood sap and vanilla. For the mature woman, Guerlain’s Shalimar will be appreciated. It is the first Oriental fragrance ever created (1925) and tells the story of an emperor’s love for an Indian Princess. The perfume gets its deep quality from the combination of flowers and bergamot along with vanilla and tonka bean. Alternatively, there is the newly launched (Fall 2014) Extatic by Balmain. The fragrance is as glamorous as the French fashion house. It opens with notes of pear, rich chocolate tones and a leathery vanilla base.

Now that we’ve narrowed it down all you need to know is the base he or she would like most. Happy gift giving!

Egomaniacs, Cheapos and Botox Dispensers: Beware the 5 Worst Holiday Gifters

Jay Kos, discerning gift-giver. (Photo via Patrick McMullan)

Jay Kos, discerning gift-giver. (Photo via Patrick McMullan)

As a creative retailer and designer, it is easy for me to suggest amazing gifts. As a guy with a penchant for quality, taste and thought, I find myself more inclined to discuss the gifters themselves, it just makes for more fun.

Cheapskate Gifters are the ones with fancy cars and lots of houses, who hand out $20 bills to each of the grandchildren for the holidays. To them, $20 is the same as $10,000. Also, they count the number of grandchildren and if there are 10 then that’s $200. That’s a lot of notes, right? Funny though, these people are incredibly high-maintenance when it comes to the gifts they expect, requiring a Hermès scarf or a Bottega spectacle case at the very least.

If you are lucky enough not to have the cheapskate in your family, beware the Novelty Gifters. The folks who get overly excited about the Skymall catalog during tedious flights. They order the beer pager, which allows you to page your beer can, or a personalized branding iron for steaks. I recall my parents buying my brother a swinging mesh chair for his room one year, not knowing it was a sex chair (he was 10). The tennis racquet clock from my in-laws also sticks. I am forever grateful for their thoughtfulness because I love tennis, but the combination of a leisurely game of tennis never quite mixed with my feelings for the clock, a reminder of work and the importance of time-keeping. Sure, gift choices in the average shopping mall can be samey but I am certain my wine-loving friends can live with out that wine glass holder necklace. Trust me, if you have never seen the gift you are contemplating in Skymall catalog before in your life, there is probably a reason.

Which brings me to the Ego Gifter, so ego-inclined they imagine everyone either does or should, think like them. So their gift-giving conversations go something like this:

Ego Gifter: “Lets buy Johnny skis this year for Christmas.”

Partner: “He hates skiing, he wants to be a ballet dancer.”

“Ballet dancer? Not my son. Let’s get him the skis.”

Ego Gifters teeter on the brink of being Insulter Gifters, too, inclined to surprise you with gift certificates to the day spa that also does Botox, or a month’s trial at the latest swanky gym.

However, at least spa or gym vouchers are useful, beware the total Gift Certificate Giver. They never give ENOUGH. Let me explain to all of you certificate fans out there; a $100 certificate to Louis Vuitton is basically telling the receiver, “HA HA HA merry fucking Christmas!” Especially when the gift card amount is a mystery until you get to the store. A colleague was recently given a gift certificate to Rag and Bone for $100. He walked into the store during a sale and was told the only thing he could buy was a $95 flask. The employees shook their heads in shame and mockingly suggested his “friend” should have bought him a couple of drinks instead. This kind of gift is pure evil and always ends up costing way more than the person receiving can afford, or wanted to spend. These gift cards sit in our wallets for years waiting for that extra money to pop up so we can actually afford to use them in the store they are intended for.

Of course none of these types hold a candle to the desperate Re-gifter. The countless stories of this creature’s behavior are nasty but to be fair, Re-gifters fall into two camps. I remember receiving a wedding gift from my neighbors with a gift card for them tucked away right inside. They had re-gifted a silver candle holder that was a wedding present to them, to us. It felt thoughtless and cheap. Last year one of my favorite people going through a money crunch gave me a Prada iPad holder. When I looked at it closely it had his initials engraved in it. It was somehow not as bad as the former example. I was embarrassed for my friend. I felt much more grateful to him for the thought than the iPad cover itself.

Remember, the gift you give is for the receiver. The point is to show that you thought about them for a moment in your crazy life. Happy Holidays.