Monday, October 28, 2013

Simon Fashion Wow

SouthPark mall was the site of the recent Simon Fashion Now, a free annual event devoted to beauty, fashion and fundraising. It was so exciting that I'm renaming it Simon Fashion Wow. 

There are few things I love more than a beautifully produced fashion show and this event was filled with them. Professional models walked the runway to showcase the newest fashions for men, women and children from the mall's stores. 

There were also two exciting elements to the two-day event.  Same Sky jewelry had a trunk show of handmade jewelry made through its fair-trade initiative that offers employment to women living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa; details:

And on-air celebrities from WBTV wore looks created by Charlotte designers during a juried Design Wars event to benefit  The Sandbox, a Charlotte nonprofit that helps families whose children have cancer or life-altering illnesses.

Those two events were so special, I'll be posting the buzz and video from them later.

For now, here's the full video of one of the Simon Fashion Now runway shows (when you click below, there is a short ad, but the fashion show comes up after that):

Friday, October 25, 2013

Video obsessed

There's a big push at the Observer for us reporters to post more videos from the events we attend. We shoot them with our iPhones.

Mine can be hit or miss as I navigate this new journalistic frontier, but I'm finding that it's a lot of fun, especially shooting video at  fashion shows.

Here's a sneak peek from my upcoming video taken at the recent Simon Fashion Now, a big fashion event at SouthPark mall. I'll have more photos and a proper, longer video next week:

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I love learning new things, especially if it means I can add a fun new word to my lexicon.

That's why I got a big kick out of a press release from Dermatology, Laser & Vein Specialists of the Carolinas announcing it's annual “Boo-Tox” Bash that starts at 9 a.m. on Oct. 29 at 1918 Randolph Road. It includes discounts Botox and other non-surgical procedures and injectables including Latisse, Elastaderm eye cream and CoolSculpting. (Details: 704-375-6766;

In the spirit of the event, the office will decorated for Halloween and the staff will be in costumes.

The statement also included stats on how Botox injections have become increasingly popular in the U.S. It says that more than 6.1 million Botox injections were performed in doctor's offices last year, and men are becoming a growing part of that number.

When men have Botox injected, it's called Bro-tox. I think that's a hilarious new word. I'm not sure when I'll ever use it in casual conversation, but if someone else does I'll know what they're talking about.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, October 21, 2013

A brief look at BRIEF

Dan Mauney is one BUSY man.

He recently opened BRIEF, a men's underwear boutique, and will soon open SHU, a women's shoe store.

On Oct. 22, he's hosting a "STRONG is the NEW Black" bootcamp led by certified trainer and health coach Petro Martynyuk. (Petro's photo is above.) The free class starts at 8 a.m. at the new event space FLEX, 1426 S. Tryon St., where BRIEF and SHU are located. The bootcamp lasts an hour and all fitness levels are welcome. A few spots are still available. Registration:

On Nov. 1, Dan is putting together his annual signature fundraiser, Brief, which features 24 male models showcasing the newest styles in men's underwear during a runway show. Proceeds benefit Time Out Youth and the Human Rights Coalition of North Carolina. It's from 7 to 11 p.m. at Extravaganza Depot, 1610 N. Tryon St. Tickets: $35 (standing), $50 (seated), $125 (VIP). Tickets:

Here's a photo with Dan with models from his appearance on WCNC-TV's Charlotte Today show:

I  heard there's a chance that celebrity Brandi Glanville of Bravo TV's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" fame might be at the fundraiser. She's supposed to sign copies of her book, "Drinking and Tweeting: And Other Brandi Blunders" that day at Shu. Here's her photo and the cover of her book:

The next night, on Nov. 2, Brandi will be headlining Haunted Hollywood, a Time Out Youth fundraiser starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St. Guests are asked to wear black tie attire or a costume inspired by classic Hollywood horror/thriller film. Admission is $65; VIP tickets are $250 and include a reception with Brandi. Tickets are available at the BRIEF store at the Time Out Youth office. Details:

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, October 18, 2013

A sweet Halloween treat

I was away on vacation last week, which made this week extra busy for me because I've been trying to catch up at work. That's why it was such a sweet treat to come home last night and find that my husband had gone ahead and put up all our Halloween decorations.

My favorite Halloween tableaux he created was mixing some retro plastic jack o' lanterns with three of my favorite photos from past Halloweens:

I love it when people get into the spirit of a holiday and I really enjoy looking at all the decorations. I thought about it and I realized our decorations tend to fall in the spooky/fun category rather than scary/gory. Both are fun, it's just a personal preference.

I know I fall in the first category because the world scares me enough lately - I don't have to try to scare myself. When I say Happy Halloween, I really mean it. I even like my ghost decorations to have jolly expressions.

Here's a Vine video of some of our retro/spooky/fun decor:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Southern Gothic" Halloween party

The Duke Mansion’s annual Halloween parties are tons of spooky fun. This year’s bash is at 7 p.m. Oct. 25.

The theme is “Southern Gothic” inspired by the novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” about a murder in a grand mansion in Savannah.

Come in a costume, or cocktail attire, and dance to music from the Bad Daddies while enjoying a wicked assortment of food prepared by the mansion’s Executive Chef Harrison Booth.

Along with a Grits Station, Carving Station and Dessert Station, the delectable hors d'oeuvres include Devils on Horseback (dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with gorgonzola cheese), Angels on Horseback (smoked scallops wrapped in sliced zuchinni with yuzu and wasabi), Deviled Eggs, Angelic Caviar Eggs, Devilish Pimento Cheese Biscuits, Angel Biscuits with local honey, Heavenly Carrot Soup Sips and Sinister Chicken Truffle Soup.

There’s also a silent auction including trips and jewelry. (Go to if you want to view the items beforehand).

Tickets are $75 ($25 tax-deductible) and are available in advance or at the door; proceeds go to the historic mansion’s preservation. Reservations: 704-714-4445.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Baubles and Bags Oct. 19

Looking for something cute to wear to your next fun function?

Julie Howard with the nonprofit Assistance League of Charlotte called recently to remind me about its annual Baubles and Bags event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Assistance League of Charlotte Thrift Shop, 3600 S. Tryon St.

Gently used designer handbags and accessories will be for sale. Proceeds go to Assistance League’s philanthropic programs including Operation Check Hunger, Operation School Bell, Mecklenburg County Teen Court and more.


Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, October 4, 2013

Jon Richardson's legacy honored at Oct 12 gala

Jon Richardson, the former Panthers executive and son of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson who died several months ago after a long battle with cancer, will be honored Oct. 12 during A Better World’s “Night of Memories” gala.

Those who knew him well describe him as a devout Christian with a big heart. A Better World’s free after-school program for children in need was one of his favorite charities. It helps keep children off the toughest streets of the Ashley Park and Westchester communities, and away from the negative influence of gangs.

“Jon was a huge supporter of A Better World, and his wife, Kathleen, and their daughter, Claire, will be there,” said gala liason Vena Vaughn in an email.

Held in the Panther’s Den at Bank of America Stadium, it includes a dinner, silent auction and live band.

If you’re interested in attending, tickets are $100 and you must RSVP by Oct. 7. Details: 704-398-3244, ext. 27; or email

To learn more about the good works of the nonprofit, go to

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My day with a 'Duck Dynasty' star

I'm a fan of the hit A&E reality TV show "Duck Dynasty" because it's one of the only shows that my husband and I watch together. It's one of the only shows that makes me laugh out loud (there's never a dull moment down in West Monroe, Louisiana, is there?) And it's the only show that leaves me feeling happy, happy, happy.

When season four premiered a month or so ago, it made cable TV history when more than 11 million viewers, including me, tuned in to watch the antics of the "Duck Dynasty" dudes Phil, Willie, Jase, Jep (also known as Miss Kay's favorite) and - hey! - Uncle Phil.

Viewers are also enthralled by the "Duck Dynasty" ladies. Miss Kay and her daughters-in-law Korie, Missy and Jessica are all so beautiful, smart and fun.

So when I was offered an interview with Jessica Robertson, and a chance to be on stage with her in person, I did my best Uncle Si impersonation and said, "It's on like Donkey Kong!"

I talked to her over the phone in advance of her appearance at the recent Southern Women's Show. During the show, I introduced her to the huge crowd of fans, and moderated a Q&A with her while she was on stage.

Along with watching her on "Duck Dynasty," I had seen Jessica on TV when she was a judge at this year's Miss USA pageant. She looked like the Queen of All Beauty Queens on the red carpet with the other judges including fellow reality TV star NeNe Leakes of "Real Housewives of Atlanta" fame.

When I interviewed Jessica over the phone several weeks ago, she was in New York City for Fashion Week to see her niece Sadie Robertson model gowns from Sadie's new prom dress line for Sherri Hill. I found Jessica to be very wise, kind and funny.

Here are photos of Jessica in New York. The first one is her with her husband, Jep (they have four children), and Uncle Si. The photo below is of Sadie, in a gown from her new line, with her mother Korie (top left) and Jessica (top right):

Here's the interview where Jessica discusses her beauty and style philosophies, her faith, the downside to being famous and what she really thought of NeNe Leakes:

When I met Jessica in person the day of her appearance at the Southern Women's Show, I was not disappointed. I've been in the business long enough to know that when you meet celebrities in person they can often look different than you expect - some better, some worse. Jessica looked exactly like she does on TV - stunningly beautiful. In fact, while we were on stage sitting side-by-side, I really had to focus on what I was doing because she truly is one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen. Her skin is flawless, her large blue eyes are exceptionally lovely and she radiates graciousness. I felt like a deer in the site of one of Jase's rifles.

I didn't think through that I wouldn't be able to shoot video of her while she was on stage since I was up there with her too. My media angel, Jennifer Wallin, helped me out by kindly offering to shoot clips of Jessica talking and email them to me. I did get some video footage before Jessica spoke, and afterward when she was signing autographs for a line of fans that seriously looked like it went on forever. There had to be at least 500 people. She was a trooper, but I truly felt sorry for her. Jessica had to be completely exhausted at the end.

Here's the video:

Jennifer Wallin took the only video clip I have of myself on stage. There was a cute little girl up front (which is why I'm bending over) who had a question for Jessica and I jumped protocol and went over to ask her what she wanted to know. Her question was about Godwin, who is one of my favorites on the show, so I loved hearing Jessica's answer.

Here's that clip:

There's no perfect job, whether you're on "Duck Dynasty" or a social editor. But my day with Jessica came pretty close. When you're around a woman of faith who's stylish, wise, funny and has her priorities in order, it really does make you feel happy, happy, happy.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Hale yes!

Hale yes is what I thought after reading a recent Harper’s Bazaar article about Denise Hale, known as the social empress of San Francisco.

The article has many interesting tidbits about her jet set lifestyle and the famous people she entertains regularly in her spectacular home.

What had me cheering were her thoughts on being a good party guest. Her rule is that guests must arrive on time, be interesting and engaging, and never discuss their problems.

That’s something we all need to be reminded of. Why? Because everyone has their own problems and a party is not the time to lay all your woes on others. Save that for intimate conversations with your closest friends and family.

The world is tough, and seems to be getting tougher. Parties are meant to be a fun and momentary escape, not a therapy session for what’s going wrong in your life.

If you need a momentary escape right now, here's the link to the article:

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson