Haute Halloween

Laduree's signature bag and 6 set of macarons given to guests of its swank Halloween Fete with children's clothier Bonpoint.

Laduree’s signature bag and 6 set of macarons given to guests of its swank Halloween Fete with children’s clothier Bonpoint.

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

Pumpkin decorating, face painting, a haunted hay maze…Gucci Westman in full out geisha attire? Welcome to the Halloween of the well heeled New York City tot. On Saturday October 24th, the who’s who of New York gathered in the SOHO gardens of famous French eatery Laduree for a fall fete’ fit for Martha Stewart‘s grandchildren. Stewart and her beautiful blonde littles, along with a team of nannies, were among the guests who packed the gardens to enjoy gourmet candy and macarons for the kiddies, and champagne and spooky mixed cocktails for the grown ups. There were delights for sweet lovers and celebrity spotters of all ages.

When I first found out about this event while at Sonja Morgan‘s fashion show, I was excited at the prospect of having something fun for my children to do for an afternoon while indulging in the decadent chewy luxury of a Laduree macaron (or four). For those not familiar with Laduree, the company hails from Paris where the line to get in can wrap around the city for blocks. This is exactly what it did when I visited The City of Light in August 2010. Pregnant and hungry, I just couldn’t wait for over an hour on a line with no snack or bathroom to sustain me. I left France never having experienced the euphoria of a Laduree pastry.

Co-host Gucci Westman dressed as a Geisha.

Co-host Gucci Westman dressed as a Geisha.

Fast forward exactly a year later and New York finally got the answers to its macaron prayers when a tiny replica shop opened on the Upper East Side. I made the pilgrimage to finally sample these famed sandwich cookies with the hefty flavor and price tag and found they were indeed worth the wait. Biting into a Laduree macaron is like biting into a slice of heaven, worth every penny of the nearly three dollars you will spend on one. The tiny shop did so well that the company opened a full tea salon and restaurant in SOHO in February of 2014. It now has a line to get in reminiscent of the Paris shop.

Alas, no lines for my family the night of the party, as we went in through posh kids’ clothing shop Bonpoint which neighbors the tea salon at 398 W Broadway. Upon entering we were handed floral Bonpoint shopping bags with their glittery logo emblazoned on the fronts. These were used for the children to gather treats passed around on silver platters and glass candy jars. The gardens, transformed into a spooky themed space, had pumpkin decorating stations and a face painting table. A hay maze only big enough for the pint sized was the centerpiece. My sons went in and told me they saw a spider inside, “but it wasn’t real mommy,” they assured me, full on aware of my arachnophobia.

While the children enjoyed  macarons and freshly made merengue and marshmallow candies, adults enjoyed champagne passed on silver trays. When I first entered I found myself standing next to Ms. Stewart. Having a friend who works high up in her company I shamelessly name dropped and we began to chat, only to be interrupted by a crying child at our feet. Stewart cooed at the little girl, asking if she was okay.  A familiar voice began apologizing profusely, “Oh I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…”. The voice belonged to Drew Barrymore, whose daughter cried most of the party (maybe she was scared of that spider.)

My son enjoys a puppet show in Bonpoint.

My son enjoys a puppet show in Bonpoint.

Later on I ended up next to Stewart again during a puppet show in the back room of Bonpoint. It was quite crowded and the two of us got jostled throughout the entire performance. At one point she tapped me on the shoulder to share with me something funny her three year-old grandson had just said. Meanwhile my son had the loudest laugh in the crowd. Both my sons, blissfully unaware of the kind of company they were in, had a blast. That’s what this party was about…the children, and whether celebrity children, or the offspring of regular folks like me, kids are just kids. Gucci Westman’s daughter was looking for her mom, Barrymore’s was still crying…celebrity or not, we all seem to have the same “mom problems.”

As the party wrapped up I stopped into a little hut at the front of Bonpoint for a tarot reading by veteran psychic consultant Tarot by Dante , who has advised major brands for over 30 years. After some good news about my husband’s career and my kids taking on more responsibilities around the house, it was back to Laduree for our little family to have some dinner (reservations are recommended, which we made online during the puppet show.) As we exited we were handed the familiar  mint and gold Laduree bags containing Halloween themed boxes of macarons (which I have hidden from the rest of my family as these are to be savored and not inhaled overnight.)

It was a fantastic evening, and one I will never forget. After all, my tweet of the evening sums it up:

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From IzziB to Chloe

Our newest family member, Chloe, is helping to ease our pain.

Our newest family member, Chloe, is helping to ease our pain.

By Lesley Rousso (@mommyrou)

When Sonja Morgan held a service for her beloved dog Millou, some Real Housewives of New York City fans sympathized, some snickered. In August, our beloved goldendoodle Isabella passed away and we were just devastated. For those of you ridiculed that RHONY episode, or are right now saying, “It’s just a dog”, clearly you’ve never loved a dog. Warning: this piece, by the way, may not be for you.

Izzi’s sickness started innocently enough.  She threw up a couple of times and seemed lethargic. I thought maybe she ate something that didn’t agree with her, but soon she seemed to have very little appetite at all. Then I noticed something that scared the shit out of me; her eyes were yellow, so was her skin, and her gums. Jaundice, a sign of liver disease, is what I immediately thought. I took her straight to the vet the next morning. They kept her, ran blood tests, did an ultrasound. After spending a few days there, she was misdiagnosed with pancreatitis and sent home with antibiotics. She progressively got worse and after taking her to another vet it was discovered that her liver was full of cancer. Fucking cancer. 5 years old. It was extremely advanced and she was suffering and we had to make a decision.

We were there with her, and she died with her head right in my lap, her most favorite place to be. We sat with her a long time afterwards because I knew once we left, it was the last time we’d see her.  This was a profoundly sad moment for our little family. My kids are old enough to be affected by this, and believe me, they were. Since one of Izzi’s symptoms was yellowing of the eyes, every day now, without fail, my 9 year old daughter asks me if I’ve checked Roxi’s eyes. Roxi is Izzi’s sister, same parents, different litter. I’m hoping and praying this cancer is not genetic. I miss my sweet Isabella every day. I still cry or at least get tears in my eyes daily, and each day I swear I can see her out the corner of my eye. I can still feel her fur in my hands and her sloppy tongue on my face. I cherish those five years I had with her but I’d give anything to have her back. I have come to the conclusion that she was too good to stay.  She was needed elsewhere. Whatever gets me through the night right?

We keep her ashes in a pretty box with her collar atop it and her picture next to it right in the wall unit so every time we watch TV we can see her. We placed a pretty river rock in her favorite spot in the yard with her name on it. We had a memorial service, the 5 of us, plus Roxi and Duchess, our Great Dane. I read the Rainbow Bridge poem and Riley, our daughter, read a poem called Epitaph for a Friend from a book about pets that I’ve had my whole life.  I have loved every dog I’ve had but there was no one like Izzi and there never will be again. She truly was a special soul.
Fast forward a little and enter Chloe. Darren was on the phone with our breeder Cindy Hancock at Abracadoodle almost instantly. He knows me well enough to know that, while I would never and could never replace Izzi, I would definitely need another dog to help with my grief. We got to pick who we wanted and I could’ve gotten another sibling of Izzi but I opted not to just in case her cancer was genetic. It just so happened that there was a new litter and when I saw the mom dogs name it sealed the deal. Isabella. Chloe arrived in the third week of September from Spangle, Washington. She’s a standard sized Doodle and she’ll grow to be about 80-90 pounds. I know what you’re thinking, wow that’s a big dog. If you know anything about me, you’ll know why that’s funny. If you don’t, it’s because my Great Dane weighs about one hundred sixty-five pounds.  (Now that my friends, is a “big dog”.)

So far so good with Miss Chloe, with the normal puppy antics. She has tons of energy and she’s afraid of nothing. Including Duchess! Duchess on the other hand doesn’t quite know what to make out of this little maniac (Her words, not mine). Roxi is happy with her. She really missed her sister and now she has a new playmate.
One thing this whole experience taught me is to make sure your veterinarian is a good diagnostician. Someone, can’t remember who, said this very thing to me. It is true, and until I wound up at Knowles Animal Hospital and saw Dr. David Wise, Izzi kept being misdiagnosed. I strongly recommend to any of my Miami people to just head straight there if you have an emergency situation. After we made the heartbreaking decision of having to put Izzi down, I received the most beautiful handwritten sympathy card. Not from the hospital but from Dr. Wise personally.  I mean it was three paragraphs.

With death always comes new life and for that we have our Chloe. For as long as I live though, I will never forget my IzziB and the love she gave to us in her short, but wonderful life.

Isabella Frothingslosh Puppy Rousso

June 20, 2010-August 14, 2015

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Designer Michelle Rene’ Thinks in Pink

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By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

When people think New York Fashion Week, they think of lofty, often sterile feeling, event spaces with lines of chairs. For Michelle Rene’s pink themed fall fashion show, the Pennsylvania based designer went a different route. Off the beaten path, it felt kind of like an Off-Broadway NYFW production, but upon entering the venue it made perfect sense. In a bar appropriately named Stitch that bore a large Singer sewing machine over the door, Rene’s models (whom she affectionately calls her “girls”) strolled a long path down a spiral staircase to that giant sized Singer and back, to music that sounded like a compilation right from my favorite Pandora station (dreamy, melodic, chick music…think JES). The girls, all different sizes and skin tones (Rene’ prides herself on showcasing “real women”), may not have looked anything alike, but they all had one very obvious thing in common. Each one was wearing pink. Rene’s latest collection is an homage to breast cancer awareness. Read on to find out more about (and see) this very special group of gowns, created by a very special woman.

TBB: What was your inspiration for this collection?

MR: Well, basically this collection was inspired by my belief in educating others about breast cancer awareness. I really wanted to do something that was fun and playful and, of course, pink. I’m hoping that the images and the gowns will help bring some awareness. I think (breast cancer) education is a priority. There’s a lot of (research) going on in finding a cure,  but I think the general public really needs to be educated about the dangers, the signs, and what they can do.

TBB: Have you, yourself, had experience with breast cancer?

MR: Yes, I have. I am a survivor for many years now. When I was very young I had a lumpectomy, so I’ve been battling it for quite some time. I’ve met some wonderful people along my journey. I’m inspired when I think about the friends that I have and the friends that I’ve lost, and the friends that I’m still going to meet. All that keeps me going.

TBB: Your dresses are very feminine. Who are some of the other designers that have inspired you?

MR: That’s a tough question to answer, because it really isn’t another designer or a genre. I’m inspired by the fabric. The way it moves, the way it talks to me, and the emotions it brings to me. It’s hard for me to pick just one designer because I love all the designers. Designers are just amazing people. The first designer that really caught my eye would have to be Betsey (Johnson). She’s kind of like my secret crush.

TBB: Your dresses are very beautiful and they are really special. What types of events do you see the pieces from this collection being worn to?

MR: I think they can be worn to any event. I think my esthetic is not about the dress itself. I think one of the things that irritates me the most is when someone comes up to one of my models or a client and says, ‘Oh my God that’s a beautiful dress.” I don’t want them to see the dress, I want them to see the woman wearing it. I want them to see how confident, how beautiful, and how poised she is. I think clothing has a great deal to do with that. When you look good and you’re confident in what you wear it just shows through. When people see my designs, or they see a client or a bride I love hearing them say (to the wearer) ‘YOU look so beautiful!’

TBB: How long does it take to put a collection like this together?

MR: It takes months. I will sit down and start something and then I will Tim Gunn myself. I go into my studio and I tear it all apart, and then I put it all back together. So anywhere from four to six months, but my wheels are constantly turning. I mean right now as I look at the (models) in everything I’m already thinking of next February, I’m thinking of Spring Fashion Week.

TBB: What color palette will you be leaning towards then?

MR: I think I really want to do something with blues and greens. Even though I know I’m supposed to be designing for the fall, you know Spring Fashion Week is all about the fall designs, I still can’t help but design for in the moment.

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To learn more about Michelle Rene’ and her designs follow her on Twitter and Instagram @michellerene5 .

Photos courtesy of Michelle Rene’ designs via Christopher Hann of Liquid Canvas Studios.