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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wherein I take New York

 
Dumplings, I just woke up and am having a hard time believing the past few days happened.  The generous and good-looking people of Brizo fixtures invited me and 19 other design professionals to a 4-day escape to New York City.  We were given exclusive access to new Brizo products and asked to review top-secret designs.  I can tell you that one was so damn hot, I nearly swiped the prototype.  When it's released, it will be installed - with a hidden spotlight to illuminate its glory - in my home.

Four years ago, Brizo began sponsoring fashion designer Jason Wu's runway shows.  You may wonder what the connection is, but once you peruse the Brizo catalog you immediately understand their fixtures are fashion for your home.  After a day of immersion in the magical Brizo world, we were whisked off Wu's Fall 2011 show (that's my official invitation above).

 
A fleet of stretch limousines took us to Chelsea's gallery district.  Up a narrow flight of stairs in an enormous loft space stood a pair of monstrous chandeliers.  Splendor was afoot.

We were swiftly ushered to our seats and lights dimmed.  The music started pumping and 37 of the most beautiful ensembles glided down a runway made of Baroque mirrors.  Wu's collection was inspired by photographs from a Robert Polidori book on the 25-year restoration of Versailles, and opulence was in full effect.
  
15 different types of lace were deconstructed and then reassembled on the most exquisitely tailored jackets, skirts, blouses, and dresses.  I don't know what thrilled me more - the clothing or seeing some of the world's top models in the flesh.  Joan Smalls (above), who recently signed an exclusive Estee Lauder contract, wore my favorite look of the collection.  (I'm a hardcore fashion nerd.)

 
After a brief but spectacular 10 minutes and 35 seconds, the show was over and most everyone ran for the door.  Vogue editor Anna Wintour rushed past before I could snap a photo.  She was smiling from ear to ear which, as you know, is rarer than a solar eclipse.  She must have loved Wu's collection.  The critics certainly did:

• "It has been a while since designers have gone in for such obvious opulence, and Mr. Wu wasn’t holding back on the extravagance ... [The collection] was inspired by Robert Polidori’s book that documented the restoration of Versailles over a period of 25 years. It was that grand." [NYT/On the Runway]


• "The clothes are legitimately living up to his outsized reputation. What was noteworthy about this outing was how consistent it was, and how well his 'baroque meets sportswear' message held together from beginning to end ... a hit." [Style.com]

• "[Wu] work[ed] the evolving grandeur motif by infusing appealing flourishes into his very pretty clothes ... [He] scored big." [WWD]

• "This collection marked a return to Wu's trademark style, that of graceful urbanity and shameless elegance ... It was a collection filled with show-stoppers — a reconnecting with his signature tone." [Vogue U.K.]

• "The first two looks of Wu's show are beautiful enough to be framed ... a delicious combination of edge, tailoring, and chic to the extreme." [Fashion Week Daily]

 As I was gathering my things to leave, I glanced up and my heart stopped.  Directly in front of me stood a tiny silver-haired woman in enormous sunglasses.  IRIS APFEL.  Like a starstruck kid, I began wildly snapping photos.  Then I realized she wasn't leaving, just hanging around enjoying a chat with other fashion folk.  I ran down the steps and asked her handsome young companion if Ms. Apfel wouldn't mind a photo.  He smiled and said,"Of course not!"  I jumped in the chair next to her and startled the poor woman.  I said breathlessly "Ms. Apfel, I'm nobody but a big fan.  May I have a picture with you?"  She smiled and slapped my arm and replied "Oh, you're so sweet!"  Then next 30 seconds were out of body.  The photo was snapped and I floated back to my group.  Deliriously happy does not begin to describe my state of mind.

On the way out, I spied supermodel Karlie Kloss.
(The handsome fellow with the clean pate is Brian Nobbe, Marketing Director of Brizo.) 

 Girlfriend wore the second-to-last ensemble and ATE. THE. RUNWAY.

 A close-up of the runway.

 Luckily I didn't have to come down off my high.  After a cocktail party for Wu, I sped over to the Hudson Hotel to meet a group of lovely ladies who've been followers of La Lamp Shade for ages.  Left to right, we have Naomi of Design Manifest, Robin of A Bird in the Hand, Leigh of Marvelous Kiddo with a kiddo, yours truly, and Alicia of Alicia B. Designs.  Alexis of The Studioist also joined us but asked to be left out of photos due to job/privacy concerns.  My new best friend Nick Lovelady of Cupboards tagged along to chaperon (more on him later.)  I had the most amazing time with these most amazing ladies and my only regret is how brief our time together was. 

 The next morning, after about 4 hours of sleep, I dragged myself out of bed to meet one of the most talented textile designers on the planet.  Dumplings, you know my love for any and all things John Robshaw, so when an invitation to a store event where he was appearing popped up in my email Wednesday I about passed out.  Robshaw has teamed with Lucky Brand for a collection of clothing featuring his signature bohemian prints.  I was the first one in (of course) and nearly pounced on the poor man.  To his credit he looked only slightly scared as I blathered on about everything of his I own, the blog, and how I want to bear his children.  Thanks, John, for being a good sport.  Also, a note to self - do not wear 15 layers of clothing when having a photo taken with your design idol no matter how cold it is outside.  And put on some make-up.
 A close-up of the Robshaw display.
  
My good friend Molly Chase, an interior designer in NYC and budding novelist, had met up with me and was kind enough to indulge my fan-geek meeting with Robshaw.  She and I had brunch and enjoyed some shopping before I had to jet off.

The highlight of my trip, besides meeting Brizo's incredible team and Iris Apfel and John Robshaw, was getting to know Nick Lovelady of Cupboards and Michelle Carangi (left) of Holley & Gill.  Have you ever met someone and realized you've been friends all your life?  That's how it is with Michelle and Nick, my sister and brother from other mothers.  And the beautiful lady next to Michelle is Celine Kwok, an immensely talented product designer with Brizo

My thanks to Brizo for introducing me to 19 of the most fantastic people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting and for giving us a peek behind the Emerald Curtain of the beauty your team creates.

FTC fine print: Brizo paid for my airfare and travel expenses for this trip.

34 comments:

Modern Country Lady said...

O, this sounds fantastic, I am over the moon for you.What a great opportunity!!

Design Junkie said...

Your smile tells it all! Beautiful.

A Perfect Gray said...

you, my dear, are adorable and the sheer joy of the trip comes through with every word. so very happy for you (especially meeting JR) and looking forward to reading about many, many more wonderful things coming your way!

donna

Sarah (La Maison Boheme) said...

Well played, my love! I am over the moon happy for all of your recent successes. I know that there is more more more in store! xoxo

christine {bijouandboheme} said...

So utterly amazing- what a spectacularly inspired 4 days you had in NY. Stuff dreams are made of. So happy for you!

only a movie said...

So happy for you. What an amazing trip. Love to see my girl, Robin in your bloggy meet up too.

xoxo

coletta (rhymes with velveeta) said...

so glad you had a good time. i am so jealous!

alison@MyLittleHappyPlace said...

Wow. My heart is all a-flutter just READING about your experiences, I can't even imagine actually living them. Way. To. Go - Girlie!

Robin said...

1) When the events of the 4 days are all laid out as above, it is a bit surreal, no?

2) I loved meeting you and the NYC gals (and Nick) and our time together was all too short!

3) Nick is a doll and should be cloned.

4) So cool that you ended your trip meeting JR.

5) I want that gold lace dress. I have nowhere to wear it but that is a minor detail.

nkp said...

Seriously, honey you hit the jackpot. That was the trip of all trips! What stupendous fun. I love the play-by-play and am so happy that you got to steal away on this fabulous adventure!

Alicia B. Designs said...

I had so much fun with all of you!!! Looks like you had a freaking blast--thanks for making it out during your busy schedule!!

xoxo
Alicia

Naomi @ Design Manifest said...

Raina, your recap was magical, as was being a wee part of your fantastic weekend. So great to meet you!! (And the other fine ladies, and Nick.)

The Robshaw meeting sounds so exciting. And I'm with you on that Wu dress... so gorgeous!

my favorite and my best- MFAMB to you said...

so awesome. really, the trip, the folks at brizo...sound like quality people. you are a superstar.

David said...

What an amazing trip, I hope the glow lasts all the way to the next big adventure.

And those Jason Wu dresses, my god they're beautiful.

Appletree said...

my hero. You.

Rebecca (Reluctant Floridian) said...

Magic!

Happy it all happened to you!

athrun56 said...

looks great, everything is beautiful

Kathy said...

I'm sure that your pictures only tell part of the story....but you can tell it's a great one! ...happy for you k

Michelle from Holley and Gill said...

I swear there are tears in my eyes after I got down to the last paragraph... Miss you guys so much. We must have a reenactment (maybe minus the limos right?) this time next year!

Nick @ Cupboards said...

AHHH how much fun did we have?!

Thanks for making my Fashion Week experience SO much more awesome than I ever expected.

(And we look pretty darn cute, don't we?)

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

Unbelievable! So happy your dreams are coming true, and those pictures say it all - you're beaming!!!

jb @BuildingMoxie said...

beautiful coverage Raina. Having met you, I can totally imagine your giddiness surrounding oppts with some of your idols.

And wow... You packed just so much in. . . thanks for shedding a more detailed light on the event for me.

It was a pleasure meeting you and hope to stay in touch. jb

Bri@Meyouandawiener said...

Yep you definitely had a great time!!

Those dresses just put me in a state of coma! The black ensemble, Daaaaamn!!!

Samantha said...

I just had the best time reading this post and living the whole experience vicariously through you! So fabulous!!!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

This is making me smile...I can just feel how enjoyable it all was!

And, I'll be excited to see the faucet...yeah I could look at hardware and plumbing fixtures all day...yep, I am that fun!

kristina said...

that seems like a whirlwind blast. so happy for you!!

erin@designcrisis said...

I enjoyed every. single. second. of your recap... it truly sounds like you had the trip of a lifetime!!!!!

susie q said...

Your recap was so good that I kinda felt like I was there with you! What a great, great trip!!

Raina Cox said...

Athrun56 and Samantha - Hello to you both and welcome to this deliciousness!

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Wow, wow, wow, what a whirlwind!
It looks like it was wonderful haute boho luxe for La Lampshade!
So glad you had a ball -- can't wait for the Brizo fixture reveal ;)
Cheers, Alcira

nerochronicles.com

kcinteriors said...

Wow! What a trip. It just got better and better. I can't believe the people you spotted, posed with and chatted up - lucky lady!! You deserve it - your blog is fantastic!

Raina Cox said...

kcinteriors - Thanks so much and welcome!

Eric Miller said...

Wow Raina!! What a great post...So glad we met and look forward to keeping in touch. You are truly an amazing person...

Raina Cox said...

Eric Miller - Thanks! For anyone reading, Eric is the fine hunk of man to the right in photo #7.