Monday, April 30, 2012

In the pages of Vanity Fair, a dream come true

While I was in New York on behalf of the Camera-Ready Style Contest I had a photo shoot with a Vanity Fair photographer and an Estée Lauder makeup artist in Gallery Met. When I arrived at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center at 10 a.m. on Monday, February 13, the Carolina Herrera show was about to begin in the theatre next door. My Mom was secretly taking pride in the surprise that we were actually on time. (I'm not "Fashionably Kate" for just the funny implication of the expression. I am always late, no matter how much I try.) Ben, who helped coordinate the contest for Vanity Fair, and Casey from The Met greeted me at the door. Both are young, ambitious and in love with the city - my kind of people. I met Colleen from Estée Lauder, whose 8 ½ months pregnant belly preceded her warm smile. As executive director of advertising, she helped create the contest along with Susan and Sarvi of Vanity Fair, who were unable to make it to the shoot.



The day I left New York, Susan and Colleen treated my Mom and I to breakfast overlooking the ice skating rink in the Rock Center Café at Rockefeller Center. We chatted about their background and lives in the city and the skaters on The Rink, including a woman dancing with a scarf and a brave boyfriend proving his love with one hand gripping the rink’s wall. The café reinforced why breakfast is my favorite meal of the day as the conversation grew more enticing. I listened closely to every word exchanged about the world of advertising in New York City, how Ben has proved himself as a go-getter and how they chose me as the winner of the contest. It was a tantalizing glimpse of a life I dream of and a bittersweet end to my trip.

The Rink at Rockefeller Center

The Makeup

Back at the shoot, Colleen gestured to a black cube measuring over 2’x2’x2’ and said that it was my makeup kit that I won from Estée Lauder. I laughed and thought, “No, really where is my makeup?” If you know me, you know I love my makeup. But she wasn’t joking. The makeup company decided to give me the same kit that is sent with each Estée Lauder makeup artist when they’re working on location, such as a fashion show or photo shoot. It has 90 lipsticks. Ninety! I’ve been slowly trying and savoring each lip color, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara... Yes, I said I love my makeup!

The magnificent Estée Lauder kit 

Using this magnificent kit to doll me up for the shoot was Blair Patterson, Estée Lauder global premier makeup artist. As he expertly applied product to my face, we intermittently talked of our careers and love lives in between him bestowing absolute gems of advice regarding applying makeup and my apparent calling to move to The City. He was by far one of the sweetest, most encouraging people I met. He told me he thinks this is the universe telling me to move to New York. I’m convinced. During our brief email correspondence after my trip, he continued the encouragement: “Your passion and interest in this industry is all it takes to make it big, it’s all any of us had and more important all The Anna Wintours of the world have ever had too. Connections get you in the door, loving what you do keeps you in the room.” Sold.

We also talked of his celebrity clients including the spokeswomen of Estée Lauder (he adores Elizabeth Hurley), Oprah Winfrey and Paula Deen. One of his most favorite people to work with is the famous Southern cook, Paula Deen. He said he was responsible for waking her up in the morning and during those early hours she’d coax him into watching the morning news and dozing a bit longer in bed before getting in trouble with the production staff. “Exactly what you see is what you get,” Blair said of Ms. Deen, confirming her genuine yet sugary sweet manner.

Blair Patterson & I

The Photographer

In the meantime, Hannah Thomson, who does event photography for Vanity Fair, arrived and began snapping candid shots. Vanity Fair is known for hosting some of Hollywood's most glamorous annual parties, including celebrations for the Academy Awards, Tribeca Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival. At parties like these, and other A-list events, Ms. Thomson has taken photos of Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Tom and Gisele, Gwen and Gavin and Agyness Deyn, to name a few.

Casey, Ben & Hannah Thomson

After Blair finished applying the Estée Lauder makeup my Mom said my skin looked luminiscent, as if it was glowing. When I took a closer look in the mirror I exhaled my bated breath. It was subtly sexy and different than my usual but oh, so me. I loved it! Blair used teal and violet eye shadows that tinted my eyelids a smoky blue. My lips were a soft berry hue. My skin, flawless.

The Wardrobe

I changed into the ensemble that I agonized over for months: a sleek black jumpsuit from a consignment shop in Saint Petersburg, Florida, similar to the Yves Saint Laurent one cover model Gwenyth Paltrow wore in March's Harper's Bazaar. I paired the daring one-piece with my Manolo Blahnik "Godichefac" sandals that I got for a steal at Century 21 last September. Mr. Blahnik customized this same style in white for Kate Moss' wedding last July. To complete the look I wore statement-making gold earrings from TopShop, which I had discovered two days before.

I had curled my hair myself. Thank goodness for a good hair day.

I was ready for my photo shoot with Vanity Fair. It felt like a dream but I concentrated on staying present, reveling in every moment. I felt beautiful and important.

On Tuesday, May 8, 2012 the photos from this shoot will be published in the June issue of Vanity Fair and online on Vanity Fair Agenda. I have the kind and inspiring people at Vanity Fair and Estée Lauder to thank for that. If you happen to grab a copy, flip to the "Agenda" pages to see a dream come true from a girl of Toledo, Ohio.

Saving the best for last

I want to thank my Mom for our trip and the entire experience.  I imagine that by the several references to her in my posts, it is apparent how important she is to me.  But I’d like to say that without her, this incredible experience would not have even happened.  She is the one who suggested I enter the contest.  She made our trip to New York City special, fun and memorable.  Because of her, the whole experience is one I will treasure for the rest of my life.  Thank you, Mom.

“Happiness is only real when shared.”

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pin the Train on the Bride: Finding The Dress with the help of Pinterest

Brides-to-be, get your pin boards ready!  It's Bridal Fashion Week and photos of the latest and greatest designer bridal gowns are circulating the Web!  If you're like me and can only drool over these works of art, pinning images of them is a great way to get an idea of what you like.  Then you can take photos of the details that make your heart flutter, like a sweetheart neckline, lace trim, mermaid train or whatever your little heart desires, and look for similar elements at more budget-friendly bridal shops.  You can also bring these ideas to a skilled seamstress to create a custom gown exactly how you imagine.  More about that later.

Thanks to the Oscar PR Girl of Oscar de la Renta for making photos of their bridal line immediately accessible during the show on Monday, April 16.  Erika Bearman, director of communications and a leader in social media, had images of the gowns and backstage pinned to a designated "bridal" board on their Pinterest account.  Many brands have pin boards of their wedding dresses too, such as Ann Taylor, Sarah Jassir, Temperley London and Modern Trousseau.  BRIDES magazine also has their own Pinterest account with 58 different boards including "Bridal Fashion Week," "Couture-Inspired Wedding Gowns," and "The Wedding Dress." 

The Custom Wedding Dress

If you decide to use your favorite pinned photos of wedding dresses to have your gown custom made, be sure to find the best seamstress your money can buy.  Ask potential dream dress-makers to see actual gowns they have made, a portfolio of their work and references of past clients to make sure you have an expert who can visualize your style.  When viewing their work check for quality, examine seams, notice the shape and movement of the dress and feel the fabric.

Once you chose a seamstress, bring in all the photos you've collected from Pinterest (or that binder you've been stuffing with wedding wishes since you were little) that show what you prefer in style, shape, color, fabric, unique details, etc.  You can even draw a sketch of what you want.  Ask your seamstress for help with things you're not certain about, like the right fabric.  Then let them work their magic!  When it comes to the dress fitting, be brutally honest to make sure The Dress is perfect for The Big Day.

Here are the wedding dresses from the Spring 2013 Bridal Fashion Week that I pinned for my dream wedding, hopefully at the beach:

Alfred Angelo


Anne Bowen


Badgley Mischka




Ines Di Santo

Ivy & Aster

Jenny Lee 

Junko Yoshioka

Kelly Faetanini

Kenneth Pool


Lela Rose




Mark Zunino


Monique Lhuillier


Modern Trousseau

Reem Acra

Oscar de la Renta


Romona Keveza

Sarah Jassir

Temperley London


Photos courtesy of WWD, Zankyou Magazine, Weddingbells and FirstView.

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