Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Better Bets: At the US Open

"Sweet Caroline"
Catching up with Danish tennis star and Godiva global ambassador, Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline at the Godiva Boutique

Last week, Caroline Wozniacki, currently ranked number five among the world’s women’s singles players in tennis, was in New York City prior to the U.S. Open to meet with the press to discuss her role as Godiva Chocolatier’s global ambassador. Wozniacki spoke with reporters at the Godiva boutique in the MetLife building about her love of the brand’s Soft Serve and signature Belgian chocolate.

Godiva is paying tribute to Wozniacki’s role at the U.S. Open by creating a “tennis-themed” chocolate, appropriately named the “Caroline.” The tennis racquet shaped, limited edition piece is made of Belgian chocolate wrapped around a strawberry filling. The “Caroline” will only be available to shoppers in select New York City Godiva boutiques as a complementary sweet treat when they purchase any Soft Serve from August 31, 2015 through September 13, 2015.

Caroline playing in her Adidas by Stella McCartney outfit

Wozniacki is known for being fit and fashionable both on and off the court (her Adidas by Stella McCartney tennis outfits garner a lot of attention). As a world-class athlete, Caroline may not fit your idea of a stereotypical chocolate fan. She explains how she balances this sweet indulgence as well as other aspects of her busy life with her hectic pro tournament schedule…

You are frequently in the news for non-tennis related events like the Godiva partnership or your participation in the New York City Marathon. Is it hard to find time for all of your interests given the demands of your sport?

I think, first of all I am a tennis player and I always know that’s my priority. I want to be the best player that I can be, and then I try to fit all the other things around that. I always make it work so that I can do my training and everything and then do all the things on the side which I love and it’s my passion. I always think it’s important to keep it fun and to keep it interesting because going to and from the tennis courts all the time would also be hard mentally to do that for years and years.

So it helps you to handle the pressure when you have variety?

Yes, this way it keeps it fun, it keeps me doing different things; it keeps everything light.

How many marathons did you run in the past year? 

I only did one proper marathon, but I do a lot of running and I do a lot of long runs just to keep fit and all that. I am probably going to do another competitive marathon in a few years but I am going to wait for a little bit. One was good for me for now. It was an amazing experience and an amazing accomplishment. Once I crossed the finish line it was amazing; I felt so good.

Even for an athlete at your level?

Exactly, it was totally different and a huge challenge.

Let’s talk about your involvement with Godiva. It might come as a surprise to some people that someone who has to watch her diet loves chocolate and you have also said that you love to bake.

Well it’s amazing, you know I have had a sweet tooth for so long and when I started playing tennis my dad would put up targets on court and when I hit them he would buy me ice cream. So since I was a little girl that has always been an incentive for me. I think as an athlete that we have to eat healthy and make sure that we do the right things for our body, but at the same time you know we burn so many calories every day and we need the sugar sometimes. For me to have some chocolates at night, it’s perfect. It’s a good way to recover as well and it ‘s good for your mental state as well. So, for me to work with Godiva is wonderful.

Do you indulge every day?

(Laughs) almost, yes, I do. I mean I have chocolates at home and I’ll have a chocolate truffle here, one there, I mean it’s just a part of who I am. My friends laugh at me and they say, “you’re supposed to be an athlete”, but you know what? It’s good for me, it’s good for my mental state of mind and it tastes so good. It’s all about balance in life.

Turning to tennis, you and Serena Williams are reportedly very good friends. How do you prepare yourself mentally to face someone as an opponent that you have a close relationship with off the court?

I think that once you are prepared for a match you are so focused and just in your own world, you just do your own thing. You’re out there to do a job, you’re out there to win and that’s all that matters. Once we are off the court and you can kind of just enjoy your time, it’s completely different and you can just hang out and do normal stuff; go for dinners, I mean everyone has to eat, right? It’s all about again the balance between being one hundred percent focused on the court and being able to relax and enjoy your time off the court.

Do you socialize with other tennis players when you are in a tournament?

I do, I mean we’re all friendly with each other, but most of the time when you’re in a big tournament, you go about your own things, you do your own stuff and try to prepare as best you can. Because everyone has different schedules, some people play at night, some people play in the morning, some people don’t play the same day as you so everyone is on their own routine or schedule.

Do you have a preference between the night matches and the day matches?

I love the night matches here at the Open. Arthur Ashe at seven o’clock is like, the best.

In addition to tennis and running what other sports do you enjoy?

I ‘m just a big sports fan in general. I ‘m a sporty person so I love to play different kinds of sports as well and I think for me it’s interesting to see how other athletes work and how they play and how their mental focus is and, you know, it’s so different from sport to sport and I find that very fascinating. I think it’s fun and it’s fun to see the crowd, as well, they are totally different in basketball than they are in tennis and they’re totally different in American football than they are in golf and it’s just fun to see that transition.

Since you travel all the time on the tennis circuit you must have some tips that you’ve learned to make traveling easier. Can you share any of your travel secrets?

I used to bring 10 pairs of jeans, well now I am exaggerating, five pairs of jeans in different colors and different tops and hot and cold -- at the end of the day, you figure out that when you go somewhere for two weeks, what do you really need? You need a dark pair of jeans and a light pair of jeans and with that you can pair anything; maybe a skirt as well, and you can just mix it up. It’s all about trying to keep the same colors and then you can pair different things and make different outfits out of it and that way you don’t over pack. I think that’s one of the best tips I can give.

You’re known for your fashionable outfits on the court. How much time do you spend focusing on what you are going to wear in a tournament?

Adidas by Stella McCartney US Open Series Kit for
Caroline Wozniacki

I know what I am going to wear already awhile in advance. I know that for this tournament I’m going to wear this, for this tournament I’m going to wear that, so for me, it’s pretty simple. I know okay, for this week, these are the outfits I’m going to wear and it’s all set.

A few more things you may not know about Caroline Wozniacki:

She roots for Liverpool in Soccer.

If she could play any past tennis champion, it would be Steffi Graf.

Her favorite types of chocolate are milk chocolate, white chocolate with caramel and dark chocolate with strawberry ganache.

- Rhonda Erb
For more Better Bets visit: http://betterbetsny.tumblr.com/

Monday, August 31, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

ROYGBIV "Fashions" Dominate VMA's

Miley Slides In to Host The VMA's
((Photos credits: Getty Images for MTV, Reuters, WireImage)

Anticipating encountering  any serious fashion at the MTV Video Music Awards is like anticipating encountering the Abominable Snowman in the desert. Sorry, it's just not gonna happen. So let's roll with the homies and dish about some fun and colorful human Skittles who give us life each year at this awards show.

Jeremy Scott

First of all, how perfect is Moschino designer Jeremy Scott's test pattern cutaway suit worn shirtless (was he channeling Miley)? While the look is reminiscent of last year's yellow smiley-faced back suit, this year's version was completely in keeping with the spirit of the night and Scott's role as the creative force behind the color blocked "red" carpet look. He also gave the formerly silver Moonman award a makeover, or a colorization you could say, bringing the astronaut statuette into this year's "taste the rainbow" theme.

Walk The Moon

Other early red carpet appearances included the male group "Walk The Moon" who looked like they had perhaps walked into a Benjamin Moore during their celestial stroll. Their "paintball meets Jackson Pollock" inspired suits struck just the right note for this award show. Also, a shout out is in order to Actor Michael Willett in his artistically multi-hued "painted desert" suit by Anthony Franco.

Miley Versace Red Carpet Look

And speaking of our "hostess with the leastest", everyone was excited to see how much or how little clothing host Miley Cyrus would don. After walking the carpet in a silver Versace "Barbarella" inspired look (nice boots, uhh that's with a "t" Miley), she literally slid in to open the show in true kaleidoscopic fashion. Her sparking multicolored jumpsuit, awesome platforms and headdress were also totally on point for an event with all the solemnity of a weenie roast. There were several other colorful changes of clothing, some more successful than others but you've totally got to give her props for the sheer number of them--and thanks to the makers of all that strategically placed double-stick tape!

Miley on Jimmy Kimmel

I actually preferred her even more risque look on Jimmy Kimmel last week which gave us a glimpse of what we were in for. The former Disney star wore a multicolored cape and wide legged pant of jeweled hearts; in lieu of a shirt were sparkly heart-shaped pasties (no #Givenchy on these sticky items; she claims everything was purchased on Hollywood Boulevard) while Kimmel tried desperately to avert his eyes. When he asked her to please try to keep her arms to her sides so that the cape would not be flung open, she offered, by way of explanation that underboob and sideboob are acceptable in our culture, yet the nipple, inherent in both male and female anatomy, is banned. Thankfully she did not launch into full-on "Free The Nipple" proselytizing. Fast forward to late last night at the VMA's when Miley managed to sneak in an uncensored nip slip as she changed behind a curtain, despite a several second on-air delay: (Video clip).

Jeannie Mai

Believe it or not, there were those who actually wore more conventional clothing! One of them was TV host Jeannie Mai rocking an eye-catching outfit of patterned crop top and matching full length skirt, accessorized with a wide gold belt; one of my favorite outfits of the evening. It seems to me that the wearing of very revealing outfits (read most of the women), aside from the constant maintenance of having to adjust your bits from falling out everywhere, would have lessened the fun of the evening but apparently that IS the fun of the evening for many past and present VMA goers.

Amber Rose and Blac Chyna

Amber Rose and Blac Chyna seem to have teamed up in a common sartorial and sarcastic thread. If you take into account the well-fanned sparks of discontent (which regular humans get to witness via intermittent Twitter war eruptions) that both of these women suffer at the hands of various Kardashians and Kardashian spouses, these outfits made some sense. Rose sported a Sprouse-like catsuit while Chyna wore a low cut gown each emblazoned with some choice words; the outfits were not only colorful but featured some "colorful" epithets. Rose mentioned that the word "slut" was strategically featured across her nether regions while "Gold Digger" ran down her arm (think Kanye's song). Talk about a statement-making outfit!

Kim and Kanye Why So Drab?

Speaking of the Kardashians, Kim and Kanye bucked the trend wearing colorless and particularly unflattering khaki duds. Kim's Balmain safari themed dress could not have been more unforgiving of her pregnancy especially when she displayed a derriere side view resembling the mid-air Hindenburg. After Taylor Swift (the first two rows were nearly completely occupied by members of her #TaylorSwiftNation "Bad Blood" girl squad) ironically presented West with his Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Kanye, as he is wont to do, proceeded to engage in a typically cringe worthy rant for what seemed like an eternity. In his baggy tan t-shirt and matching drab pants Yeezus clearly didn't get the festive dress memo. The black leather shirt he wore to disrupt Taylor's acceptance speech six years ago, which he derided in his rambling speech, would have actually been an upgrade. If only Taylor hadn't invoked those now famous words "I'mma let you finish..." we might have been spared what was hopefully the biggest joke of the night: Kanye West running for President in 2020!

- Laurel Marcus

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In the Market Report

The Color of Money (In the Bank)

Bill Cunningham's On the Street, It Bag featuring Robert Verdi's
 colorful $120 bags
(Click images for larger views)

Nothing escapes the all seeing eye (and lens) of Bill Cunningham, and he appreciates it all, from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low. Though I actually happen to think he REALLY appreciates those who not only exhibit a great deal of personal style, but find a creative way to get around the staggering high prices of fashion (it’s very much in keeping with his practical and economical aesthetic).

The Color of Money (In the Bank) photographed by Bill Cunningham

To wit, many years ago, he began to ask me about my clothes and accessories, which were admittedly, a combination of vintage finds, and ultra-high end pieces (high and low, there you go). He seemed to particularly love it when I told him something was scored for a ridiculously low price. The result was an 18 picture column, “On the Street: The Color of Money (In the Bank)”, which ran in The New York Times Sunday Styles section, February 11, 2000.

Just about now, all the BIG FALL issues are coming out, hawking clothes and accessories with astronomical price tags, (in many cases the prices are so heart failure evoking, they are not even listed but instead, the copy reads, “price upon request”). Leave it to the ultra-modern and with it Bill to put the spotlight on a great looking bag made of a durable,  EDA material, popularly priced at $120        http://greatbag.co/collections/model-m.

Great Bag Co. Model M bag

His Sunday column “It Bag” featured Robert Verdi’s ‘Model M’ bag for the Great Bag Co. (Robert wanted to use this name for his company rather than his own, because whenever he sees someone carrying a fabulous bag, he exclaims: “That’s a great bag”!) The lightweight, stylish, stress crack resistant bag (which is easy to clean and will never slouch), is a one- piece molded handbag (an injected mold product, like Hunter boots). It’s made of a proprietary polymer called Fashion Flex and weighs only 1.4 lbs. It was approximately one year in the making (“the strap was the biggest challenge” Robert told me) and was formally introduced at a launch party held at the Bridgehampton home of Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch last summer.

Closeup of Model M's buckle

Bill likened the bag’s handsome shape to that of the iconic Hermes Kelly and Birkin, but Robert sees it as a “finely crafted generic Italian leather handbag”. An avowed and longtime collector of ‘major’ handbags (he claims when he dies, there will be an amazing auction of his swoon worthy collection), he was inspired by all the details he personally loves: locks, padlocks, skeleton keys (“which are not being used anymore”). More importantly, he wanted to create an affordable “forever chic” bag that “people depend upon”, such as the L.L. Bean boating tote (always imitated, never duplicated).

He considers Model M (named after his mother Maria, who has always inspired him), a “fresh, modern version of that idea”. And he proudly hails it as “futuristic”, not only in its look, but since it is a single unit, (goes from “pellet to product”), and doesn’t require assembly (which reduces the cost of manufacturing), it is the “future of accessories”. It is currently available in 7 vivid colors (emerald, onyx, tourmaline, citrine, diamond, topaz, and aquamarine), but 5 more are planned for this fall (oxblood, brick red, chocolate brown, olive green, navy), and two more for holiday (matte gold and silver). When I asked Robert if he had a follow-up model planned, he told me he is concurrently working on a small cross body, a messenger, and a clutch.

Robert Verdi monogram gift bag

By the way, I was not in the least bit surprised that the always inventive and creative Robert (he started out as a successful designer of hand crafted silver jewelry, is currently selling sunglasses on HSN http://www.hsn.com/shop/robert-verdi/9087, and is working on a watch collection) has finally gotten into handbags. In 2013, in celebration of his 15 year anniversary in the fashion business, he designed a striking gift bag filled with a sweatshirt with his likeness, and gave them out during New York Fashion Week in September of that year. He took 300 black cardboard boxes and he had them printed with his interlocking initials, RV, in white.

It looked exactly like the iconic Louis Vuitton monogram which is probably not a coincidence since Robert is an admitted Louis Vuitton aficionado and it’s a brand he’s always collected and been associated with. It was as he put it, a “whimsical, amusing concept” for him; one which perfectly reflected his sense of style and his sense of humor. I still use this bag today as it is compact yet roomy, lightweight, goes with everything and is highly distinctive (it’s doubtful I will find too many others carrying it). And it’s a cheeky take on a luxurious standby.

- Marilyn Kirschner