Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
The trio will be giving customers service with a smile all in an effort to raise money for JDRF (that's the new name for what used to be called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). All tips collected during the two hours the celebrity bartenders are there will go directly to JDRF. Customers are encouraged to pay in cash or with a check made out to JDRF. The money will go to help improve the lives of all people with Type 1 diabetes.
The VBGB Beer Garden is at 920 Hamilton St. next to the Fillmore and the TWC Amphitheatre; parking is free. Details: www.vbgbuptown.com; www.jdrf.org.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Trina is here as the speaker at tonight's Fall EnrichMint Forum at the Mint Museum uptown. Hosted by the Mint Museum Auxiliary, it includes a fashion show and Trina talking about her "Mid-Century Modern Musings." It's sold-out, but here's a link to Trina and some of the models from her appearance with super fan Colleen Odegaard on WCNC's Charlotte Today: http://www.wcnc.com/charlotte-today/Celebrity-designer-Trina-Turk-174240091.html
Also, here's video of atmosphere in the jewelry and home decor section of the trunk show: http://www.youtube.com/
Trina's equally fun and handsome husband, Jonathan Skow, accompanied her to Charlotte. His title is Director of Inspiration. I love that. He's over the menswear line and is in charge of the company's photography. They are such a great couple - Trina told me they've been married 27 years. They're both are so relaxed, welcoming and interesting.
Jonathan told me the menswear line is a small but growing part of the brand. It's for a guy who likes fashion and wants to look cool. The silhouettes are classic, but they're loaded with great colors, prints and textures for interest. Here's a photo of fashion-obsessed Charlottean Franklin Headen looking fabulous in one of the jackets - it would definitely make any man stand out in the crowd at a holiday party.
Trina says that bright colors that look so right paired with gold and black are the basis of her Winter Luxe collection that's part of the trunk show.
When style expert Sonya Barnes came over to say hello, I asked her to use her expert eye to pick out a favorite piece for herself, and a favorite piece in general. For everyone, one of Trina's dresses with swirls of color and great attention to design detail in the way it drapes was Sonya's all-around favorite. Here's video of Sonya talking with Trina: http://www.youtube.com/
For herself, Sonya chose one of the jumpsuits in black and white. "It's hot, hot, hot," she said.
Also hot? The Balenciaga shoes Trina was wearing. Earlier, I had to ask Trina which designer created the shoes, but Sonya recognized them right away.
Trina is known for her signature Louise Brooks bob with bangs, and her simple but dramatic makeup. A makeup artist at Neiman Marcus worked on her this morning. "I'm very bossy when it comes to how I want my makeup to look," she said with a laugh. She was thrilled to find nearby Polished for her manicure and pedicure.
When my interview with Trina runs later, you'll read more about what inspires her designs, how she likes to entertain at her homes in L.A. and Palm Springs, and what she has coming up for Spring.
In the meantime, do something good for the Mint and your wardrobe by buying something at the trunk show. I didn't have time to shop today but I can't wait to get back over there tomorrow.
I'll leave you with this photo that makes me smile. I love the way this formal oil painting of William H. Grigg, a former Duke Energy CEO, seems to be looking at the Trina Turk orange sequined party frock on display. Do you think he approves? I do, because any woman wearing it would light up the room.
Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson
Read more here: http://cltoliviafortson.blogspot.com/2012/09/designer-trina-turk-coming-to-charlotte.html#storylink=cpy
Friday, October 12, 2012
It's only on view Oct. 13-20 at Hart Witzen Gallery, 136 E. 36th St. in the NoDa neighborhood. After seeing the photos and hearing the stories behind the creative process, I urge you to race over and see it. Hours are noon-5 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday; and noon-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Info: www.ontheroadstudio.com. (The photo above is of Chandra and Missy in the gallery this morning).
"It wasn't easy to make ourselves so vulnerable during this process, but it was worth it when I look at Missy's photographs," Chandra said.
She had a lot to look at: Missy took 15,000 photos. Chandra curated them with the help of two of her friends who share her artistic sensibilities, Laura and Perry Poole. They provided the perspective she often needed to narrow the photographs to the best of the best.
During the tour, Chandra pointed out some of her favorites from the 68 photos that make up the exhibit. "We were blown away by Missy's images," she said. Among them are the sweet daddy-daughter shots that show how Jimmie is able to switch gears from being one of NASCAR's fiercest competitors to doting father of Genevieve, who was one-year-old at the time.
She's also fond of a shot of Jimmie's racing team owner, Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports. "He looks so stoic," she said.
More photos (around 200) are in the Johnsons' self-published coffee table book of the same name. Released in September, it has already been such a hit with fans that it's going into its second printing. (It's on backorder at www.jimmiejohnson.com.) Jimmie wrote all the captions, so you also get a glimpse into what was going on in his head when a particular shot was taken. He also gave each of the photos their title in the exhibit and the book.
(A funny story about the publishing process: The Johnsons chose to self-publish it because going through the normal publishing house procedures would have meant waiting almost two years for the book to come out. Jimmie wanted it out faster - of course - which they did in an astounding seven months without sacrificing quality.)
The Johnsons originally hired a sports photographer to take the pictures, but a week before the project began the photographer backed out. Chandra thought of lifestyle photographer Missy McLamb, who had taken many of their family photos and had become a friend. Chandra trusted Missy, and Jimmie trusted Chandra to pick the right person.
Missy didn't know anything about NASCAR going into the project, but she approached the sport with respect and with an artist's eye that elevate the pictures to another realm. And because the family was already so comfortable with Missy, during the 10 weeks she lived with them she was able to capture meaningful, and sometimes raw, private moments that show a side to Jimmie and his family that fans don't normally see.
The exhibit and book are, in my opinion, a success on many different levels. The behind-the-scenes life of one of NASCAR's most popular drivers will satisfy race fans. The photos are so personal and powerful that you feel like you're looking through the photo album of two loving families (the Johnsons and their racing family made up of fans and team members ). They also work as historical documentation. But to me, where they really excel are as art.
One of my favorites in the exhibit from an artistic view is of a fan watching the race in bad weather with a fleece jacket pulled over her head that resembles a nun's wimple. Since some of my family members are longtime NASCAR fans, to me it symbolized the devotion of those fans and the way they make pilgrimages to races. And also their devotion to the one driver that resonates with them and whom they pick to cheer for at the track.
There's a photo on page 64 of the book that I keep turning back to again and again because I can picture it on the wall of a museum 100 years from now. It shows the family leaving a car to walk across the tarmac to fly home after a race. There's something about the way Chandra is in motion and the way Jimmie is cradling Genevieve in front of a stormy sky. It seems to personify the hurried pace of our century, the ominous danger of forces beyond our control, the beauty of a loving family, and the hope for the future in the way Genevieve is looking straight ahead.
The exhibit and the book are also reminders that just like Jimmie, sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose, but there's always a lot more going on under all our hoods than the public normally gets a chance to see. So celebrate it, document it and enjoy every lap as we all speed around this track of life.
Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson
Thursday, October 11, 2012
I'm not a sports person, but I do know that Cam Newton is a Carolina Panthers quarterback with a large fan base around the country.
When I heard he was going to make a big announcement at Belk headquarters on Tyvola Road I was glad to be invited.
There was a lot of excitement in the air as a crowd of hundreds, mostly Belk employees and the media, sat in the building's main atrium facing a stage with a large video screen in the middle.
Soon the music cranked up and three dancers from the Dance District performed an energetic routine.
Afterward, Belk president Kathryn Bufano, executive vice president of brands John Thomas and some pyrotechnics announced the news: the sports star would be partnering exclusively with Belk for a menswear line called MADE Cam Newton. The crowd cheered when Cam finallywalked on stage.
As he began to talk about the line, there was laughter when he described the clothes as "swaggerific." He embodied swaggerific in his MADE Cam Newton suit and super bright smile while four male models showed off a variety of looks from the line. The clothes will be available in Belk stores early next year. I would describe the brand as conservative but with a modern edge.
Cam resembled a kid when he showed me the detail on the MADE logo. "It's the Panthers' colors," he said with real excitement. He pointed out how it's designed so the first three letters spell CAM backward, and the D incorporates the word Newton. So, even if you think you're looking at a logo that says MADE, it really says MADE Cam Newton. That's clever.
Cam is so young and so eager you can't help but like him. I also liked the line and its price range ($50 for a shirt up to $500 for a suit). But most of all I like his philosophy of encouraging men to dress well. I'll be rooting for him.
Follow Olivia Fortson on Twitter @oliviafortson
Monday, October 8, 2012
I was especially excited about this event because it was a first-time gala hosted by the nonprofit's Young Professionals Society. I've been in my job for two decades, so I've seen several waves of young people come up through the ranks to become community leaders. I was interested to check out the new crop of those in their 20s and 30s who want to network and have fun while giving back to a good cause. Featured in the photo above are Brandon Viebrock a philanthropist who owns several businesses including Revolution clothing store, and Emily Hudgens, director of Speedway Children's Charities.
I thought I would walk you through some of the party's highlights in case they give you ideas for your next soiree.
Entrance: Young people especially love to feel they're celebrities on the red carpet, so the organizers gave them that experience. A red carpet outside the museum lead to a backdrop with sponsor logos similar to what you see in US magazine where guests could have their picture taken before they walked in. Some of them jokingly called it their prom photo pose, but they loved it.
Serving pieces: The servers walked around with the food presented on the glass of a picture frame. Inside the frame was a copy of the gala invitation. Armin told me later that he buys the picture frames whenever he finds a good deal. He switches out what's in the glass based on the event. For example, when he catered a party at the Wadsworth Estate during the DNC for delegates from New Jersey and Maryland, he used maps of those states in the frames.
Floral decorations: I was impressed with the budget conscious but beautiful way the museum was decorated. Tall, tubular clear glass vases were filled with a few artfully placed small branches. Then a handful of inexpensive red crystals wrapped in gold jewelry wire for extra dimension were placed inside and the vase was filled two-thirds full of water for a romantic glow. On the tables, three votive candles surrounded three clear glass vases topped with Styrofoam balls packed with red carnations for a luxe look for less.
Follow Olivia Fortson on Twitter @oliviafortson
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Color sets the tone
When picking what she calls your "color-scape" for a party, think about the colors you like, the type of event you're having and who your guests are. Not only are colors important for table designs, décor and lighting, but with flowers and menu choices as well. Also think about the season and which flowers and food choices are available then that will fit in with your colors.
The psychology of color
It's important to know the meaning behind colors and which are appropriate, or inappropriate, for certain events. For example, white should not be used for a Chinese New Year party because it's the color of mourning in Eastern cultures. Here's her rundown on what different colors mean.
White: Pure, clean, innocent in Western cultures; mourning in Eastern cultures; creates
a sense of space so consider draping a small or dark room in white.
Black: Sophistication, power, elegance; in some cultures it represents death or
mourning but in others it can mean life or rebirth; appropriate color for high-end,
black tie events.
Red: Excitement, passion, intensity; creates very strong emotions and attention-
grabbing; causes blood pressure and heart rate to rise; great color for themed events
where guests are encouraged to move throughout the venue.
Orange: Vibrancy, energy, excitement; creates a playful environment for your guests;
attention-drawing so a great color to use at a fundraiser, especially in a silent auction
Yellow: Cheery, warm, alert; this color can also create frustration and anger and is
fatiguing to the eye; probably best to use with another color or as an accent and
not as a major backdrop, for example, or focal point in a large room; increases the
metabolism so a good choice for a breakfast meeting or brunch event.
Green: Natural, healthy, tranquil; creates a calming effect, relieves stress and helps
heal; hence, the symbolism behind the term “green room” as a place to relax prior to
going on stage to perform; also a color to consider for a theme where “growth” is the
Blue: Peace, trust, loyalty; a popular and neutral color on a global level; lowers
pulse rate and body temperature and creates productivity; perfect color to use for a
Purple: Royalty, wisdom, wealth; an exotic color that is associated with luxury and
extravagance but also a spiritual connection; can be used in creating special effects
with lighting, for example, when designing a VIP lounge area.
Keep up with current color trends
If you don't know which colors you want to use, turn to color trends for inspiration. Observe which colors are being used in home décor and on the fashion runways. Each fall and spring, Pantone (www.pantone.com), the leading authority on color, comes out with the following season's color trends and announces the hot color of the year in early spring (this year's hot color is Tangerine Tango, a fiery reddish-orange). For spring and summer, Pantone's hot colors include Emerald, Dusk Blue, Nectarine and Poppy Red.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
I got your attention with that headline, didn't I?
I can't take credit it for it, though. It's the title of a funny short story by Kay McSpadden, an English teacher at York (S.C.) Comprehensive High and a Charlotte Observer community columnist. It's the winning entry in this year's Norman Mailer Writing Award for high school teachers. To give you perspective on how major this award is, one of the judges was Garrison Keillor.
Tonight Kay will be in New York City at the Mandarin Oriental hotel where she'll be surrounded by literary giants including Joyce Carol Oates who's receiving a Lifetime Achievement award. The emcee of the evening, who'll be handing Kay her award, is Alec Baldwin. If you're not impressed by now I don't know what to say.
I'm a huge fan of Kay's columns on our Op-Ed pages, but I had never met her. I think her writing is brilliant and the topics she picks are compelling. That's why I was beyond thrilled when she emailed me a few weeks ago asking if I would help her pick out something to wear to the awards gala.
I've been fortunate enough to interview some of the best style experts in the world, including Clinton Kelly of What Not to Wear. He gave me his brutally honest thoughts on the importance of having personal style when he visited Charlotte last year, so I really felt I could give her some valuable input based on what I've learned from some of the best.
In her email, Kay said she was thinking of getting a black dress. My main goal was to put her in something with color because I know from all the photographs of parties I cover that black usually looks boring in photos, plus this season is all about color. And I wanted her to fly into that room like a beautiful Southern butterfly and turn heads.
I immediately thought of the special occasion dress department at Belk at SouthPark mall because they really do have outstanding selections and everything is well-priced, which I figured would be especially important to a school teacher.
I was nervous about meeting Kay for the first time. Would I say something grammatically incorrect? Would we get along? From the moment she approached me in front of a rack of sparkly dresses and asked "Are you Olivia?" I knew this was going to be a fun day, but I had no idea it would turn out to be one for the record books.
Kay, who is in her 50s, has a great figure and about the most gorgeous skin I've seen. She is a true natural beauty with brains and a funny and kind personality. She brought along her equally fabulous friend, Marion, and I told them my thoughts. I gave Kay my argument for color and told her that any dress that caught her attention, even if it's not something she would normally wear, she should take it to the dressing room because you just never know how much you'll love something until you try it.
This is where it gets mystical for me because I really feel that the universe put us there at 11 a.m. on that Saturday morning at Belk for a reason. And the reason walked up a few moments later.
Her name is Lee Harper and she's one of Kay's former students from York. She was there with her delightful mother, a school librarian from York. Lee is a costume designer based in Paris who's currently working on a French film in NYC. She was on a mission to buy specific types of dresses the film's director was looking for, including orange dresses.
It surprised me when Lee said it's hard to find reasonably priced dresses in NYC without going to many different places so she combined a trip home to the Carolinas with a trip to Belk, which is one of her go-to sources.
Lee started her costume design career as an intern on "The Patriot" starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger when it was filmed in the York area. The professionals she worked with were so taken with her and her skills that they still recommend her for jobs. On her resume is - get this - working on What Not To Wear with Clinton Kelly and Stacy London. Lee's mother told me that when Clinton was in Charlotte last year she went to his personal appearance. When he found out who her daughter was he practically picked her up off the ground in a bear hug and said, "I love Lee Harper!"
We all visited for awhile, then went about our separate shopping expeditions.
Kay probably tried on at least 20 different dresses, but it was one of the first ones she put on (and one she picked out herself) that tugged at her heart right away. I told her to keep trying the others because it will clarify whether the first one really was "the one."
It was. The elegant and classic teal blue dress by Kay Unger looked smashing on her and she'll be able to wear it for years to come.
We searched Lee out for her seal of approval (it got a thumbs up) and then Kay invited us all out to lunch.
Being surrounded by that group of bright, sparkling and accomplished women was so meaningful to me. They're all so brilliant but humble, gracious and hilarious. That's when Kay shocked me with the title of her humorous short story while telling me that her husband is a Presbyterian minister. If I had been wearing pearls I would have clutched them.
It all left me wondering what in the world is going on in York that such a small town is producing such outstanding people. I think I need to start spending more time there.
Lee sent me the nicest email after our meeting. She was back in New York and the director loved all the clothes she picked out. "Thank goodness for Belk!" she said. In the email she also told me that she was going to dine with Kay while she was in town.
When Lee is in between projects in Paris, I hope to interview her. (Lee, you know I had to work that line in!)
And I'll report back on Kay's evening, hopefully with photos, but I've already seen it in my mind. Kay will look beautiful in her dress with her proud husband by her side. I know everyone who meets her is going to be enthralled with her grace, beauty and wit. I know I was.
Thank goodness for Kay McSpadden!
Follow Olivia Fortson on Twitter @oliviafortson
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
This year's gala highlights the culture of Peru while celebrating the 50th anniversary of Charlotte's Sister City relationship with the city of Arequipa, Peru (shown in the photo above). A delegation of visitors from Arequipa are scheduled to attend along with Jose Eduardo Gonzales Mantilla, the Consul General of Peru based in Atlanta. The elegant evening will feature Peruvian inspired food, wine, music and entertainment plus an auction that includes a 7-day Holland America Line Cruise for two, jewelry and artwork.
When volunteer Janet Riehle dropped off the gala information to me she included three delicious Peruvian cookies called Alfajores. She thoughtfully included the ingredients along the warning to "eat it in one bite, it is a very flaky cookie."
Her sweet gesture is an example of how dedicated volunteers are the secret ingredient to creating a long-running nonprofit.