Thursday, February 28, 2013

Weitzman Wearer

Actress Elizabeth Olsen attends the AG Cher Coulter Event for New York Fashion Week in black nappa Stuart Weitzman 5050 boots.  Olsen wore the 5050 boots at the Sundance Film Festival in January, out-and-about during the holiday season in New York on 14 and 20 December of last year. These low-heeled, comfortable, stylish boots, which feature half leather and half elasticized leather are extremely popular with celebrities. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Contest Winners Announced

in First Annual 
Jewelry Design Contest
Alishan Halebian

From more than 300 entries submitted and 88 finalists, Dawn Muscio, Alishan Halebian and Mackenzie Sala named winners

Palladium Alliance International (PAI) announced the winners of The Biggest Jewelry Design Contest Ever created to find the next “gems” in the jewelry design world. The contest, their first, exclusively showcases innovative designs crafted in palladium. Eighty-eight exquisite pieces, which are to be part of a special collection, headed straight to Hollywood for Award Season with finalists and the grand prize winner taking part as the stars of a national marketing campaign for palladium. Designers Mackenzie Sala and Alishan Halebian finished third and second place respectively, with Dawn Muscio winning the prestigious first place honor.

Dawn Muscio
The contest launched in May 2012 and submissions of cads, images, and photos came in from coast to coast. As the deadline came to a close in October, PAI commissioned designers to create their pieces and be honored as part of The Palladium Collection for 2013, a specialty collection comprised of the best-designed jewelry pieces in the metal. Designers selected to be included then had 3 months to bring the piece to life, with PAI reimbursing up to 5oz. of 950 palladium. “We are delighted with the number of participants; the finalists; and of course, the winners. This first design contest went well beyond our wildest expectations. Palladium is quickly becoming the go-to precious metal. The number of designers working with palladium and consumers requesting palladium is growing in leaps and bounds,” said Frank McAllister, Chairman of the Palladium Alliance.

The third place award was given to Mackenzie Sala, from Providence, RI, with her unique neckpiece – The Ten Story. This formed yet flexible neckpiece is hand-woven from 100 feet of palladium wire featuring a fabricated clasp at the back held together with two rare earth magnets. The designer explains, “Designing this piece was a great pleasure, and creating it took plenty of patience! A hundred feet of wire, over 10,000 bends and more than 60 work hours went into the finished collar,” Sala explained. “Palladium’s light weight makes it comfortable to wear and the material’s ability to harden quickly helps the piece keep its geometric shape."
MacKenzie Sala
Designer Alishan Halebian of Alishan Jewelry received second place for his exceptional flower ring. The Southern California based designer created a palladium ring featuring white and black diamonds surrounding a Tahitian pearl that has presence, depth and a softness to its shape from petal to petal. According to the designer, “palladium, a naturally white metal, works beautifully with any design application.”

The Grand Prize was awarded to designer Dawn Muscio of D. Muscio Fine Jewelry Studio in Atlanta who created a daring neckpiece for Monseiur or Madam. The bowtie features 38 bead-set white diamonds on a sandblasted, dimpled bow with a contrasting high polish edge in the dimples. Bead-set black diamonds appear to peek from above and below offering texture and dimension. “I was going for something that was unusual and beautiful,” she said. “So I decided to take a modern twist on a classic accessory – the bowtie – not typically crafted in metal,” continued the winner. “I was thrilled to be selected the winner of their first contest. I have been working in palladium for several years and knew that the metal holds different surface finishes and stones set very well, so it was a perfect fit for my vision.”

The Palladium Collection will be used as part of a national editorial and celebrity initiative by the Palladium Alliance for the coming year. The three top designers will have their names and pieces featured in national and trade PAI print ads in top magazines, such as InStyle, W, Elle and Marie Claire. In addition, the Grand Prize winner will also receive a contract to create a line of palladium jewelry with PAI supplying the metal alloy to facilitate its manufacturing.

About The Palladium Collection
The Biggest Design Contest Ever was open to designers and retailers located in the United States and the District of Columbia. All entries had to feature 95% palladium alloy as the only precious metal design element. Initial entries included a detailed drawing, CAD rendering or photo of the proposed design. A panel of industry experts scored entries based on how well each design highlights the key attributes of palladium including its natural whiteness, durability and light weight along with creativity and marketability.

In addition to a reimbursement for the palladium used in the piece (up to 5 ounces), each of the 88 winners will receive a professional photo of their design, inclusion in a design look book for the year and inclusion in a major stylist showroom throughout 2013 for possible use in celebrity dressings at major events such as the Golden Globes, Grammy Awards and Oscars; along with other prizes. The total package value for the contest approached $I million in product, promotional and marketing consideration.

About Palladium Alliance
Formed in March 2006, Palladium Alliance International is the world’s first organization dedicated to promoting palladium as a luxurious, precious and distinctive jewelry metal. PAI provides a vision for the advancement of palladium, backed by industry leading education, marketing, public relations and technical support, available to designers, manufacturers and retailers.

Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white precious metal that, along with platinum, makes up the group of elements known as the platinum group of metals. It is lightweight, durable, naturally white and hypoallergenic.

More info:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oscar Winner in Leisure Society

Jennifer Lawrence, who won her first Oscar Sunday (24 February 2013) night for "Silver Linings Playbook," emerged Monday (25 February 2013) in Beverly Hills, with a new hair color that coordinates with her Leisure Society Byron sunglasses ($615) in matte black, which she wore throughout her winning Award Season. The classic round shape with a quirk features a keyhole bridge and a new understated acetate temple enriched with a subtle gold-plated diagonal stripe detail.
Jennifer Lawrence, again in Leisure Society's Byron frames, at London's Heathrow Airport.

Jennifer Lawrence, seen here at Los Angeles International Airport,  dons Leisure Society's Oxford ($770) sunshades.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Oscar Suite Life

BeansTalk On The Suite Life

StyleLab’s 2013 Oscar Jewelry Trends  

by Alessandra Incandela
BeansTalk Contributor 

BeansTalk contributor, Columbia College School of Journalism student and article writer Alessandra Incandela consults with StyleLab's Michael O'Connor. (Photo by Samantha Saiyavongsa)

Celebrity style expert Michael O’Connor hosted StyleLab’s exclusive jewelry preview for Oscar nominees, presenters and stylists at a secret location in Beverly Hills.

“It’s very red carpet and very Academy Awards to coordinate with red jewels,” O’Connor says. Designer Farah Khan’s pear shaped earrings range between $75,000-$80,000  (Photo by A. Incandela)
This year's popular looks on the red carpet, says O'Connor, include colored gemstones, statement necklaces, and earrings.

“When celebrities are getting ready for award shows they choose colors that work with the dress or colors that create a monochromatic look,” O’Connor says.

Jewelry Designer Takat’s Zambian Emerald and diamond necklace worth $250,000  (Photo by A. Incandela) 
The pantone color of the year is emerald green. World-renowned jewelry designers, such as, Takat and Farah Khan have one-of-a kind pieces with carats of Zambian emeralds ranging in price from $25,00 to $ 250,000.

O’Connor says necklaces and bracelets are very popular, but when styling a celebrity he tries to concentrate on earrings. “Face shape is really important because the last thing you want to do is mirror your face shape in your earrings.”

For example, for a narrow face, wear rounder earrings, and for a wider face, wear narrow earrings.

And of course, if you just so happen to be at the Oscars next year and can’t decide what earrings to wear go for the pear shaped style since it’s the most common shape to your face.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Winners

Congrats to Oscar Winners!
Director and star Ben Affleck: Best Picture Winner, Argo

Best Picture: "Argo"
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained"
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Les Misérables"
Best Director: Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"
Animated Feature Film: "Brave"
Cinematography: "Life of Pi"
Costume Design: "Anna Karenina"
Documentary Feature: "Searching for Sugar Man"
Documentary Short: "Inocente"
Film Editing: "Argo"
Foreign Language Film: "Amour" (Austria)
Makeup: "Les Misérables"
Original Score: "Life of Pi"
Original Song: "Skyfall" from "Skyfall"
Production Design: "Lincoln"
Short Film (Animated): "Paperman"
Short Film (Live Action): "Curfew"
Sound Editing: "Skyfall" & "Zero Dark Thirty" (tie)
Sound Mixing: "Les Misérables"
Visual Effects: "Life of Pi"
Best Adapted Screenplay: "Argo"
Best Original Screenplay: "Django Unchained"

Friday, February 22, 2013

Oscar Jewels

BeansTalk Previews
The Oscar Jewels

Celebrity stylist and host Michael O'Connor predicts that colored gemstones will be one of the red carpet trends to watch for this year. (Photo by S. Saiyavongsa)

By Samantha Saiyavongsa
BeansTalk Contributor

Academy Award nominees, attendees, celebs and stylists dazzled at this year's StyleLab Jewelry
Preview in Beverly Hills in anticipation for the 85th Academy Awards this past weekend. Held over two days before Oscar weekend, celebrity stylist and host Michael O'Connor helped guests select one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces for the red carpet last weekend.

O'Connor's curated selection of exquisite platinum jewelry features world-renowned jewelry designers, including Farah Khan, Takat, AGTA Collection, Argyle Diamond Collection and more. Pieces were valued from $4,000 to $175,000. (In case you were wondering, a Jeffery Daniels Unique Designs for Gem Platinum statement necklace featuring 35-carats of diamonds is worth that much!)

Guests to the intimate preview arrived in appointments for individual consultations with O'Connor, picking out the most flattering pieces for their face shapes, gown styles and hair color. O'Connor's personal favorite? A Farah Khan ring featuring a 20.12-carat Zambian emerald surrounded by 2.79 carats of diamonds, worth $25,886. "I'm surprised nobody has picked it up, yet, even I would wear it!" he said slipping it onto his ring finger.

BeansTalk reporters and Columbia College of Journalism students Alessandra Incandela and article reporter Samantha Saiyavongsa flank red-carpet stylist and jewelry expert Michael O'Connor of StyleLab's Jewelry Preview.
While we were there, we spotted Anne O'Shea, last year's Oscar nominee as executive producer for The Kids Are All Right. Stars from Life of Pi, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Lincoln were also in attendance. Brandi Glanville from the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" also selected jewelry from O'Connor for the red carpet.

Of course, guests couldn't leave the suite empty-handed even as the jewelry collection began thinning toward the end of the final day. Each guest went home with a strand of freshwater pearls as a gift.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lady in Red

Actress Julianne Hough, at the ‘Save Haven’ London Photocall, wearing a rouge Vida Jumpsuit from Bec & Bridge’s Summer 2013 collection.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Abbey Analyzed

Death at Downton Abbey

For those who've completed the third season 
(otherwise, spoilers ahead)

Aye, the skies are dark upon Downton Abbey (aka Highclere Castle)

The now departed Dan Stevens and Jessica Findley-Brown.

….. and that's not just Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley. This third season marked the demise of consistency.

Downstairs at Gosford Park
Upstairs at Gosford Park 

There was something lovely, elegant and compelling about "Downton Abbey's" first season (Episodes One to Three, specifically, or pre-Pamuk). That was the Julian Fellowes of "Gosford Park," a beautifully crafted film with subtle, but no less dramatic intrigue. That was the Julian Fellowes of "Snobs," a novel in which he carefully chronicled social nuances.  It's not likely there'll be another storyline with sweetly era-appropriate annual flower show "controversy," or the second season's Mrs. Bird's Soup Kitchen.
The unfortunate (and apparently unhealthy) Mr. Pamuk and Mary

As the second season evolved, the heavy-handed soap opera aspect firmly set in, and set in to stay. The fact that lowly Vera holds the parted Pamuk story over Bates is beyond far-fetched.

One element -- that, granted, fuels the narrative for DA -- was, and is, oddly out-of-touch for Fellowes: the overly collegial (and moreover, emotional) relationships between the Granthams and their staff. While Mrs. Hughes seems to operate most realistically for the time, Carson's overt devotion to Lady Mary is, simply, too familial.  Think Anthony Hopkins in "Remains of the Day;" he behaved as a butler.

Carson and Mary

A contemporary way of speaking flitters its way into the DA dialog and stands out because it is incongruous. In the season finale, Mary refers to herself as "pregnant," and Anna also refers to Mary as "pregnant," which is very unlikely terminology to be used by either, in such a euphemistic time.

Nearly all the DA servants speak-before-thinking and act emotionally. Fellowes must know -- as he's shown in plenty of previous endeavors -- that the foundation of a good staff is discretion and an unflappable understanding of boundaries.

Branson and Sybil

The "romance" between Lady Sybil and Branson just never seemed believable. Credible, yes, but not believable; a chauffeur/peer romance can happen, but whether a weakness in the writing, or lack of chemistry between actors, the union always felt like engineered.  For his part, Branson has thrived in his widower-hood, he's much more likable than the pedantic, self-centered, cowardly, irresponsible "activist" he once was.

Thomas sneaks into Jimmy's room (and hopes, into Jimmy).

But it's not only the dialogue that's incongruous and the romances contrived.  Carson's reaction (and Alfred's, for that matter) to Thomas' sexual harassment of Jimmy is likely dead on -- it is something that would never be discussed or even be imagined, in this universe at this time. This is an isolated, Christian country family, with servants from the local town.

The Sybil-is-dead-but-we-have- a- cricket- match, and now Alfred's narc'd on Thomas for being a gay. Carson and Lord Grantham

"We all knew," attaching current sensibilities to this bygone era.

When the stalwart Mrs. Hughes comments, "we all knew," about Thomas' proclivities, that seemed bloody unlikely, but nothing, absolutely nothing was more implausible than Lord Grantham telling Alfred that Thomas "can't help the way he way is." Really? Really? This is the man who allowed a pompous posh doctor to take precedence over the better informed, but less status-y Dr. Clarkson, ultimately allowing Sybil to die (whatever silliness the Countess Dowager makes Clarkson later tell the Granthams).  Lord Grantham suddenly becomes tolerant towards gays, more open-minded than even today's Christian right?  Did Fellowes realize he'd made DA's only gay character a despicable person and wanted to be sure he meant one had nothing to do with the other? Is Fellowes so desperate to infuse modern-day enlightenment, at the risk of betraying both his established characters and DA's era?

Other leaps of faith include the dramatic personality changes extended to Mary and Edith (compare First Season Mary and Edith, with Third Season). In fact, when Mary does have moments of snobbery (as she did while on the family trip to Scotland), it is wholly refreshing, because that is who Mary is.

The favored and the not: Lady Mary and Lady Edith

Adorable Anna and Bates

Also completely out of character was the released-from-prison Bates, exerting Herculean efforts to "save" Thomas. From the cozy sit-down tea with the odious O'Brien (when did all three, critical staffers, have time for this?) at the freshly renovated cottage he shares with the lovely Anna, to the chummy chats with Lord Gratham, it was utterly expositional.


Fellowes appears to have forgotten the Thomas he created. Consider Season One: Bates  physically threatens the no-goodnik troublemaker Thomas, who subsequently tries to frame Bates for both the snuff boxes AND the wine bottle. Thomas -- who set up Mr. Pamuk, who stole cash from Carson's wallet, who callously taunted a grieving William, purposefully incurred a cowardly injury to leave the war -- Thomas, who has been nothing but snarky, sneaky and unpleasant -- is saved by Bates. Seriously, when Thomas gets promoted over Bates, it utterly served the otherwise sympathetic and likable Bates right.

Lady Edith, the unlucky, the Jan Brady of Downton
Laura Carmichael, the super-hot actress who plays Edith

Poor Edith. If she only could have some self-esteem counseling.  Edith began as the nasty, least-favored daughter (who Cora thinks will be the one to take care of them in dotage), and evolved into…something more sympathetic. By the end of Season Three, she's basically agreed to be her editor Michael Gregson's mistress -- beyond pathetic, or as they might have (actually) said, beyond the pale. At least establish Gregson as engaging enough, enticing enough, appealing enough or charming enough. However, he's not. Edith only "feels" for him because he's attracted to her.

Since the final episode of Season Three jumped forward a year, it would make sense that Gregson's and Edith's relationship would have developed -- but from the manner in which they behave (alone, even) in Season Three's last episode, and, conceivably, they'd been working as columnist and editor, it's impossible -- based on the way they behave together --  to imagine a year had passed.

For heaven's sake, Edith clearly has no issue with age, why can't she just be involved with the single-ready-to-marry-not-mingle Dr. Richard Clarkson? He's handsome and healthy. At the very least, he's about the same age as Gregson, and younger than Sir Anthony. And since this is DA, and contrivances abound, why not just have her marry widower Branson? Enough time has passed and she'd be keeping it in the family, just like Mary did with the now-departed Matthew.

Regarding the way DA handles death -- it's always dramatic and directly correlates to what has just happened moments before.  As William dies (unbearably slowly), he marries Daisy. When Lavina dies, it is surprisingly quick and extremely convenient (more notably, later, when the status of her fortune is reveals).

Just when it seemed Sybil and Branson were happiest....

DA toys with the audience as Sybil goes into labor-- clearly something is wrong; she
has pre-eclampsia -- then, momentary sigh of relief, she delivers a healthy baby
 girl.  Everyone goes home (the Countess Dowager) or to bed (the family) and 
then, lots of shouting, drama, crying, Sybil succumbs. Very filmic death moment.

Jesus! Watch the road!!!

Meanwhile, Matthew, who has survived the Granthams' snobby judgement,  Mary's capriciousness, being paralyzed and wheelchair bound, the death of his fiancé, and possible infertility, is at the very happiest moment in life, when he dies (thus, as DA had, with beautiful Jessica Brown-Findlay, allows Dan Stevens a permanent exit from DA).

Fellowes says he doesn't want to deal with funerals, etc., so Season Four
will begin seven months later,and they've already lined up a handsome 
beau for Mary. Fellowes doesn't dwell on mourning. Remember? For 
heaven's sake, Lady Sybil just died, but there's a very, very important
cricket game!

Sybil is dead, but we have an important cricket game. And, damnit, Alfred narc'd on Thomas for being a gay. Carson and Lord Grantham

What Downton does well -- crisp, biting dialogue from the Dowager Countess, showcasing both 
Highclere Castle (which doubles as Downton Abbey) and gorgeous era-appropriate fashion (courtesy 
of London's well-stocked costumers) -- is in direct opposition to the melodrama that pervades the show.


To wit: Lord Grantham loses his (Lady Cora's) fortune (which he worked so judiciously to 
acquire) and, like Walter, Elizabeth and Anne Elliott (of Jane Austen's Persuasion, for the 
ill-informed) they must retrench. Through some cumbersome and incredulous bit of 
improbability, dead Lavina's  now also- dead father appears to have left their fortune to her 
former fiancé, Matthew.

Just in time! Lavina, then her father dies -- Downton is saved!

Guilt-ridden, and, despite badgering from Mary, Matthew vows to not accept the inheritance. Suddenly, it is revealed: as she was dying, Lavinia wrote her father a secret letter -- despite what happened between them (the inconvenient falling-in-love with cousin Mary aspect), Lavina knows Matthew's a good man.  Lavinia's father (really?) adamantly leaves all his coin to Matthew (really?), who he sees as terribly noble. Matthew finally accepts the money and puts it into Downton, which, with Matthew's mad admin skills, soon works like the proverbial well-oiled clock, or, in this case, castle. It doesn't get much more pat than that.

It becomes increasingly easy to find fault with DA, as it tests credulity with each episode. The fault, alas, must be laid at Fellowes' posh feet. From the subtle (the going-nowhere faux illness of Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Pattmore's paramour) to the over-the-top (the awkwardly campy Martha Levinson aka Cora's mum; Gregson's lunatic wife), the Downton "hits" just keep coming. From the highly unlikely (contrived personality and inexplicable character changes; i.e. Thomas'  sudden redemption) to tedious afterthoughts (how the Bates-in-Prison storyline felt all season), DA is both infuriating and inevitable. Like it or not, it's like any project in which time has been invested: hard to let go.

More Real Life Pics

Check out O'Brien, far right (Siobhan Finneran, looking very Connie Britton-ish)

Look how cute Ethel is, arm around Lady Grantham

Lady Grantham and Bates make a cute couple here (Elizabeth McGovern and Brendan Coyle, right)

Here, Anna and Thomas are cutest couple (right, Joanne Froggatt and Rob James Collier, who's revealed that Thomas was slated to die in the first season).

Check out hottie Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan, second from left)

Anna and Thomas, again, are very cute here -- if nerdy.

Mrs. Patmore is adorably tiny (Leslie Nichol, second from right)

It might be just me, but doesn't it seem like Anna and Thomas are always next to each other in "real life" pics? (Joanne Froggartt and Rob James Collier)

So, do you think Lady Grantham and Lady Mary (aka Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery) liked that they wore such similarly shaded gowns?

We've established that everyone is way hotter as themselves. But check out Ethel (Amy Nuttall, second left) and Lady Lavinia (Zoe Boyle, fourth from right). Sizzle!

Mrs. Patmore, O'Brien (!!!), Edith and Thomas (aka Lesley Nicol,  Siobhan Finneran, Laura Carmichael and Rob James Collier)

And, there's Anna again, next to Thomas (just joshin' Collier is married and has a baby).