Gambit special sections editor Missy Wilkinson made her monthly appearance on the WWL Eyewitness Morning News today to show off the new issue of CUE and talk fashion with the ever-fashionable Laura Buchtel. This month's focus: managing to be comfortable without sacrificing style.
A major distinguishing point between mass retail and small boutiques is the presence of a strong point of view. My favorite boutiques function as thoughtfully curated apparel collections as well as self-portraits of their owners. Case in point: Bella & Harlow. The shop's signature dresses feature timeless elements (sheath silhouettes, full skirts, Peter Pan collars) updated with distinctly modern touches (contrasting piping, swallow tattoo-inspired prints). It's easy to imagine owner Sarah Celino, who describes her style as "flirty and feminine, but a little hard around the edges," wearing one — and many days, you can find her in her shop doing just that.
How does Bella & Harlow reflect your style?
It's important for me to love every piece that goes into this shop. Customers can tell when you're passionate about what you sell. I love all of these brands and wear them myself. The store has also surprised me. I ordered a jumpsuit by Miss Patina, never once thinking someone with my proportions could wear it. I tried it on and instantly fell in love. That's a shopping miracle right there: being able to finally wear a style you thought you'd never look good in.
How would you describe your style?
I live for dresses and skirts, but I'll happily pair the sweetest outfit with bullet shell earrings or a bag with handcuffs for straps. I even like mixing spikes and grommets with lace or silk pieces (be careful when doing this with fishnets).
Just before Christmas, CUE editor Missy Wilkinson appeared on WLAE-TV's Chet Chat with design guy Chet Pourciau to talk locally-sourced gift ideas. Check it out:
Gambit publishes seven gift guides during the holiday season. Each features 12 items, for a total of 84 gifts. That's a lot of gift-wrangling. But even with this extensive shopping coverage, a few special items inevitably slip through the cracks. So here's our Lagniappe Gift Guide.
Last night, I went to what can only be described as a hipster cookie decorating party (sorry, Alex Woodward) where an attendee bemoaned the fact that she could find NOT A SINGLE TACKY CHRISTMAS SWEATER at the thrift store. Ironic holiday revelers had done a number on that place. But even if you COULD find a tacky Christmas sweater, do you know what would make it even tackier? If it was actually silkscreened on a T-shirt. And what would make it even tackier than that? If it featured humping mooses.
Which brings us to the first, gloriously tacky item:
There also are (relatively) tasteful versions featuring leaping cats and grazing dinosaurs, but when it's tacky T-shirt time, go hard or go home.
Staff at the DoubleTree New Orleans were surprised to learn a website offered a free entree (with purchase of another at equal or greater value) for Lafitte’s, the hotel’s restaurant. They were surprised not only because they have never heard of BigTip.com nor did they approve any coupon deal it offered, but Lafitte’s closed more than a year ago. (It’s now a WOW Wingery.)
BigTip.com is a Seattle-based online discount site offering “100,000 discounts in 6,000 markets nationwide,” including more than 750 deals in New Orleans for restaurants, museums, retail stores, gyms and other services. BigTip lists former Yahoo! employees Matt Rowlen and George Bremer as its CEO and CFO, respectively. To score the deals, users must purchase a monthly “Gold Pass” for $5.99 a month, or $2.99 a month with an annual plan. Users can also purchase a one-time annual membership for $36.99. BigTip’s website says its deals are “100% Guaranteed” and that “If you are not happy with your purchase, BigTip will make it right or give you your money back.”
On Saturday, Dec. 1, KATC-TV in Lafayette reported that several businesses there “didn’t know anything” about the website despite it offering several “deals.” KATC ran the story with the headline “Bigtip.com Scams Customers and Business Owners” — on Monday, Dec. 3, it changed to “Some businesses say coupons won’t be honored from Bigtip.com.”
In an email to Gambit, Rowlen said the KATC report was “grossly inaccurate” and explained that BigTip aggregates offers from hundreds of partners, which don’t necessarily tell businesses where they promote their deals:
While we offer merchants the ability to create their own deals via our website, most of our offers come from third parties which we in turn promote. All vouchers from our site clearly specifies the source of the offer. If there is a question about a deal, we will often pull the offer and notify our partners of a specific merchant concern. As it relates to the merchants in question, it appears the source is Entertainment Publications. Entertainment has been in the small business community for 50 years and is one of our many valued partners. Unfortunately, with more than 100,000 offers they have been unable to tell all merchants the different ways they are promoting their offers online… this includes through BigTip.com.
Entertainment Publications spokesperson Bill Daddi said Entertainment provided only "daily deals" to the site — not promotions offered through an annual membership with the Entertainment coupon books. Daddi said the company ended its relationship with BigTip earlier this year. “They are not working with them now,” he said.
Record Store Day celebrates all things vinyl with an annual release of new releases and rare and reissued records in stores across the country. This year, as part of the pandemonium/nightmare of Black Friday (Nov. 23), RSD plans to send record collectors and music nerds to their friendly neighborhood record store and not the big box hell that awaits in the suburbs.
The New Orleans Record Raid points to a few New Orleans shops that will offer some of the RSD Black Friday stock — find them here. Some participating New Orleans stores include Euclid Records (3401 Chartres St.), Skully'z (907 Bourbon St.) and The Mushroom (1037 Broadway St.)
Check here for a complete list of RSD Black Friday releases. Some of the highlights: a 10" of Beach Boys' Surfin' Safari, a few reissued Captain Beefheart and White Stripes 7" singles, the Fat Boys' debut album re-released on a pizza picture disc with a pizza box, the 25th anniversary 45 RPM edition of Nirvana's Incesticide, and an Asobi Seksu/Boris split release.
RSD also has first looks at some Velvet Underground, Shins, Mayhem, Miles Davis and Janis Joplin rarities and vinyl reissues.
Guy Guidry's new Uptown nursery isn't very big — it's about 1,000 square feet — but then, neither are the trees that are its specialty.
"NOLA Bonsai will promote bonsai to a new level," says Guidry, who studied the art under bonsai masters John Yoshio Naka and Vaughn Banting. "It used to be a mystery and a burden: People would receive one as a gift and kill it and feel guilty. We want to make people successful at growing it, and make it an alternative to cut flowers and roses."
The store will offer classes where participants can make their own bonsai, a process that consists of choosing a plant, potting, wiring and pruning it, and learn the scientific and horticultural techniques behind maintaining the tiny trees. Classes are 1.5-3 hours in length and start at $45. There also are azalea, juniper, pine, bald cypress and ficus bonsai for sale that range in age from 5 to more than 300 years and are priced at $25-$1,000, as well as all the tools and supplies a bonsai enthusiast could require.
"I was taken under the wing of a bonsai master as a kid and learned the way of life. It was the Karate Kid story without the karate," Guidry says. "For the last 30 years, I've been growing bonsai and enjoying their power. I feel passionate that anybody can do it. I love trees and nature, and it's contagious —if you come to my shop, bonsai will more than likely become an addiction and a compulsion."
NOLA Bonsai (1529 Jackson Ave., 985-705-3357) celebrates its grand opening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17. There will be music by Luke Winslow-King and Esther Rose.
I met a woman today who was (rightfully) suspicious when she saw me in the 7th Ward, digging under a house, snapping pictures and writing in my legal pad. After chatting for a while, she asked, "What are you going to write about? This article, what is it?" I said, "Well. I don't know. A little bit of everything, really. I can delete the pictures of you if you want." She looked at me for a little while, trying to see if I was legit, before saying, "Alright, sista, Imma let you have this one...But if you see what's going on and don't write about it, you're a part of the problem."
I agree. I've mentioned the issues that we were venting about (gentrification, euphemistic neighborhood names and discrimination) and others that would have come up in the conversation eventually (hate groups, homelessness, accessibility, the stigma in the black community associated with seeking mental health care, blight and the lack of love for New Orleans East), but I'll admit that I haven't really gone into detail as much as I can and should. She correctly guessed that I try to keep my power-fighting to a minimum because I don't want to ruffle feathers.
When I started this column, I was used to writing for CUE, our monthly fashion, home and beauty magazine. I love writing for CUE because I love glossy magazines; like CUE intern Angela Hernandez, I have stacks of glossy mags all over the house. (I know a girl who slipped on a magazine and broke her arm, though, so be careful and keep those stacks off of the floor.)
@angieworldorder @megandoesnola We are all going to end up on hoarders burried under stacks and stacks of magazines.
— Angela Hernandez(@AngieHrndz) September 10, 2012
I'm not linking the actual Twitter conversation because I know this person doesn't like to mix Twitter with his actual blog. I know that because I ended up getting really angry about his accusation later that night. Not because of him, but because I was venting to someone about the accusation who said that someone else said that my writing "sounded too much like ad copy" and that set me off. (The person who told me this was trying to be helpful, not gossipy.)
I didn't think the person who originally said my writing sounded like ad copy liked me anyway (well, I thought the person did at first but then I thought the person didn't), so I tried to brush it off, but I kept hearing it play in my mind: Ad copy. Ad copy?! I wondered to myself if the person had ever read a magazine; my CUE writing and glossy magazine writing are pretty damn parallel, which is a good thing.
I searched all over the Internet and found out who was behind the cartoon avatar on Twitter and was pretty happy to see that I wasn't the only journalist — not even the only Gambit writer — that he openly critiqued.
(Update: He liked the next installment, we follow each other on Twitter and he likes my Facebook journalist page and all of that good stuff. And I'm pretty cool with the person who didn't like me back then. We're not best buddies or anything, but we like and respect each other.)
Riding the bus today with Apptitude founder Chris Boyd, we discussed the importance of doing things for your community, even when they are often literally more trouble than they're worth. He said, "It's a good motivation when you remember that you're doing something for New Orleans."
In homegrown goods, designers Yvonne LaFleur and Tracy Thomson have donated to the cause, and there are Muses shoes galore. Perhaps coolest of all, though, is Times-Picayune food editor Judy Walker's handmade quilt (pictured) made of T-shirts, many of which feature the paper's most famous front pages.
Tickets to the Sept. 29 benefit, "Black, White and Red All Over," are $30. The night will feature entertainment by David Torkanowsky, Charmaine Neville, The Pfister Sisters and John Rankin, among others, and food will be provided by several area restaurants. There will also be a silent auction that night, but bidding is already open on the online auction.
In other news, it seems that 60 Minutes is going ahead with a segment about the paper's move to digital. Correspondent Morley Safer is in town this week, and he's interviewed Mayor Mitch Landrieu and T-P editor Jim Amoss, along with several community leaders. (Landrieu even tweeted a picture.) The segment is scheduled to air Sept. 30 — the last day for the fired employees.
I assumed there would be no ratchetness on the Lakeview bus, but I actually came across two riding stock characters, a riding snacker and the never-before-mentioned riding rambler, who speaks loudly on the phone for the entirety of the ride, a couple who might be transient youth and suburban kids blasting rap music from their cars. Also ratchet: Bugs. Lots of them...
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