Monday, March 2, 2015

Claire Underwood's House of Style


In honor of the season three release of House of Cards a mere 72 hours ago, I'm talking all things Claire today. I've been mesmerized with the minimal-chic-power dressing of Robin Wright since her Netflix debut as Mrs. Frank Underwood in 2013. I just can't get enough of the well-tailored, Washington, D.C. wardrobe she so elegantly sports in seasons one and two. A consumer of clean lines and architecturally-sound pieces, the pixie-haired goddess rocks a shift dress like nobody's business.  

Claire has offered us a promenade of high-end, form-fitting staples and left many suffering from serious closet envy. Her monochromatic mile of white, navy, black and grey in the likes of Narciso Rodriguez, Ralph Lauren, Theory and Burberry has left me salivating. And if you haven't yet begged for a glass of Champagne to quell your thirst, then this may not be the fashion show for you.

Neutral tones aside, the one pop of color that has
continually appeared on-screen has come in the form of red bottoms. Just thinking about the suede Louboutin boots Claire sported in season two makes me weak in the knees. Remember the episode where she had a mini-cry sesh on her staircase (looming over the endless souls she'd stepped on to get to the top)? Then, with the blink of an eye, she hoisted herself onto her scarlet soles (see what I did there?) and walked away as if all was well in the world. Icy indeed, but that's classic Claire. It's easy to hate her, but I'm sure we'd all love to live in her closet. 

Can you just imagine her carrying a crimson Céline calfskin tote?! The accessories don't run that wild this season, but expect to see pieces in emerald and raspberry. I'm welcoming this wardrobe refresh because sometimes you just need to make a statement. But then again, this is Claire Underwood we're talking about and no statement (bold or otherwise) is necessary when you're the First Lady of the United States…or playing one on TV for that matter.

With Wright's personal stylist, Kemal Harris, at the helm as Claire's costume designer, we can expect inspiration from the late Katherine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall and Carolyn Bassette-Kennedy. This D.C. dame's famed black dresses and Louboutins have taken a backseat as a new First Lady look is revealed. In a recent interview with Today.com, Harris said this about the new look

I wanted Claire to have the chance to be vulnerable and feminine without losing her true self. Her character has been fighting her way to the top for the past two seasons, looking focused and streamlined in her protective armor of strict, sharp tailoring. I softened the collars of her blouses, added kick-pleats to the pencil skirts, opted for softer sleeves on jackets and used quite a few full skirt options. Colors include pale lilac, deep green, burgundy, raspberry and lots of blue. I made a concerted effort to avoid black in her wardrobe.

What do you think of Claire Underwood's style? Love it? Hate it? Tell me!






images via Glamour.com

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pantone Color of the Year :: Marsala


Meet Marsala! This rich and romantic hue is Pantone's Color of the Year and its intensity runs deep within my wedding flowers. According to Pantone, the earthy red wine color enriches the mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability. My floral color palette is actually a combination of Marsala and Radiant Orchid, a color known for creativity and imagination, and Pantone's pick in 2014.

Marsala is massive and by that I mean it can range from a vibrant cranberry to a smoky burgundy. The color embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated aura, Pantone explained in a press release. "This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, design, home furnishings and interiors."

Designed by the creative professionals at Stoneblossom, my flowers were a true testament to my vision. Well, "our" vision to be exact. I can't leave Mr. Chat out in the cold. We longed for an old-world opulence blended with a modern-day romance and we captured this aura by way of royal tones such as gold, magenta, ruby and emerald. This was a look and feel Sherry Scott, event manager and designer at the Rhode Island-based florist, forged against the already-lush and well-manicured landscape at The Chanler at CliffWalk.

One of the most precious items I carried on my wedding day was my bouquet. Also known as the Polly bouquet, the custom-made creation carried (and still does since I've had it professionally preserved) a tremendous amount of history and sentiment that it's difficult to know where to begin with its enchanting story.

If you ask me, the Polly bouquet is a work of art and way more beautiful than I had initially envisioned. It was crafted of the finest O'hara garden roses, amnesia roses, dahlias, ranunculus and seeded eucalyptus. The finishing touch, and what actually gives the arrangement its name, is its emerald toned tail feathers. Never heard the name Polly mentioned on the blog before? Well, he's a parrot. One day, 30 years ago, my father brought him home from Panama and that tale, my friends, is for my autobiography…or another blog post. 

Today, Polly lives with a new family. I mean a girl (or parrot for that matter) could not ask for more wonderful parents than the couple who adopted Polly nearly two years ago. Polly had been shedding his tail feathers since he arrived at his new home (something very natural that he also did when I was growing up). Coincidentally, his parents had been saving the feathers (in a parrot jar no less) for no particular reason. As a matter of fact, the couple joked with their friends about what they should do with the mounting collection. Last summer, I called Polly's parents to inquire about the possibility of incorporating some of his feathers into my bouquet (if in fact he'd shed any) and the rest is history. 

My bouquet's stem was wrapped in silk champagne remnants from my wedding gown and dressed with solid gold buttons from my father's U.S. Army coat. As a tribute to my late father's memory and the bird he loved so very much (I love Polly too), I incorporated this intimacy as a way to keep them both close to my heart. Here's a look at more stunning pieces designed for us on our special day.








Matron of Honor bouquet :: amnesia roses, dahlias,
lace flowers and seeded eucalyptus


Centerpieces :: antique local hydrangeas, South American hydrangeas,
chocolate Queen Anne's lace, amnesia roses, dahlias, sea oats,
cymbidium orchids, steel berries, ranunculus, astilbes & seeded eucalyptus








Monday, January 12, 2015

Cat Chat :: Dunwello Appoints Mezrich & Her Mavens

Photo // Russ Mezikofsky

I'm thrilled to welcome 2015 with some very exciting news: I'm a maven! What does that mean exactly? Well, in this case, it's a hand-selected expert for Dunwello, a Boston startup designed to help individuals deliver online feedback and recognition to industry professionals. 

When brand ambassador and executive advisor, Tonya Mezrich, approached me about the idea, I was honored to say the least. Mezrich, whose designer dossier includes co-founder of fashion brand Mike&Ton and principal fashion expert and style correspondent for StyleBoston, said she was elated when company founder Matt Lauzon appointed her to the highly-regarded post

"Dunwello will completely mold the service industry in Boston by helping professionals brand and market themselves as individuals." Mezrich said. "It will allow professionals to take their reviews with them when they transition to new companies. This is huge for the longevity and brand building of the individual."

Mezrich has crafted an exclusive list of Boston tastemakers who city dwellers often call upon when looking for tried-and-true recommendations in the lifestyle arena. "You have to be someone who is 'in the know.'" Mezrich said about the members of this coveted club. "Someone who has their pulse on what is hot and who might know about up and coming professionals who haven't yet been saturated."

Looking for a cutting edge hair stylist? Check. Need the most luxurious facial in the Back Bay? Mezrich's mavens have you covered. In addition to me, this social butterfly, with a contact list as far as the eye can see, has also crowned to the throne: Jessica Diaz and Alisa Kapinos of Ms. Fit for Society, Kennedy Elsey of Mix 104.1, and Tiffany Dowd of Luxe Tiffany. There are more mavens on the move, so stay tuned.

Starting my year off on a fresh and utterly fabulous foot, I've selected 5 professionals in Boston's beauty and wellness industry who I’ve come to know, trust and adore. Click on the links below and get to know a little about the talented ladies who make me look and feel like a million bucks.

Caitlin Young // Hair Stylist // Salon Capri
Manuela Rodrigues // Master Stylist // The Loft Salon
Jessica Diaz // Barre Instructor // Equinox, Yoga Room, Charlestown Yoga  
Marina Kovalenko // Personal Trainer // Bodyscapes Fitness 
Melinda // Esthetician // The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston 

Who are your go-to professionals? Leave a comment below and create a Dunwello profile here to let the world know. And don't forget to visit my Dunwello page regularly for more rave reviews. Happy New Year!

Tonya Mezrich managing emcee duties at Sparkle 7 and Lisa Pierpont, editor-in-chief at Boston Common, modeling mike&ton // Photo Russ Mezikofsky

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Merci et Au Revior

Photo // Snap! Photography

As I bid adieu to an opulent and romantic year, I wanted to reflect on the beauty and blessings I have been fortunate enough to experience in what was a fabulous and all too fleeting period in time.

Mr. Chat and I traveled across the pond where we experienced the posh history and demure elegance of the English and the French. Our 10-day sojourn was pure magic and included an excursion to the Champagne region -- a place I had been longing to experience. I visited (and fell madly in love with) a cat cafe...and in Paris of all places! I wrote about Le Café des Chats in the Boston Globe. Who would have thought I'd get paid to write about cats and Paris in the same story?!

I embarked on a fantastic day-trip to Saratoga Springs, NY with 19 of my most fashionable friends for an afternoon of brunch and betting. I met Black Jack, the sweetest and most photogenic horse, and our entire experience was covered on Fox Sports 1.

I wrote my first piece for South Shore Living magazine. And later, dipped my toe into the world of wedding writing with a story for the 2015 edition of Southern New England Weddings magazine (on newsstands now).

Lastly, I married the most darling man in the world, the charming and ever-elusive Mr. Chat. And this evening, I will toast to it all as I mark these moments. Thank you and farewell, 2014. You have been good to me.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Rendezvous in Reims


Earlier this year (let's go way back to April), Mr. Chat and I set out on a 10-day sojourn that included not only stops in London and Paris (as mentioned briefly here), but Reims as well. It was our first rendezvous in the world's Champagne mecca, but it certainly wasn't our last. For some reason, I feel compelled to share a glimpse of the beauty we experienced in that rural, well-manicured sanctum that haunts me so. I guess you could say today, I have Champagne on the brain.

Located in the provincial and ever-so-pictorial Champagne-Ardenne region, Reims' baroque 600-year-old cathedral (Notre-Dame de Reims), darling storefront windows and block-after-block of pristine pavement left us longing for more. A lot more. So much more, in fact, that we thought about forfeiting the hustle and bustle that is Boston in favor of finding our very own slice of heaven. Or as the French say un petit coin de paradis.


























We would open a Champagne and cheese boutique and we could call it what else but, Rue Le Chat. It would be a cozy corner in our world brimming with bubbles; and the likes of bleu, brie and burrata…just a few of our favorite cheeses.We nodded in agreement while sampling a glass of Vranken Demoiselle Brut Rosé at one of the many shops we envied in town. Oh...and if you're wondering about Manolo…he would be coming too.

When in Reims, you must visit Chateau des Crayères. The chateau is home to Michelin-starred phenomena, Le Parc les Crayères. The cuisine at Le Parc (I'm told) is haute…very haute, but still classically French. The hotel (and I hate to even call it that because it's beyond the realm of an ordinary place to rest your head) has a second restaurant, Brasserie Le Jardin. Hidden among the greenery of a lush garden, the look and feel at this sister eatery is casual and chic with its brick walls and slate floors.

Mr. Chat and I lunched at Le Jardin and our 3-course meal was phenomenal. I'm not a huge "take pictures of food" kind of blogger (unless I'm covering an event), but I did manage to sneak in a snapshot of our dessert. The melt-in-your-mouth mango crème was nestled between two puff pastry shells and devouring the dish was an experience in itself. Très magnifique!








Saving the best for last, we toured the crayères of Veuve Clicquot -- another must when you're in Reims. Our guide was fantastic and offered vivd details about the infamous Madame Clicquot, La Grande Dame de la Champagne. Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin was a visionary who transformed her husband's wine business into a Champagne empire after becoming a widow at only 27-years-old. I had been looking forward to this visit since reading her story in The Widow Clicquot.

Our guide's historically-rich storytelling transported me back in time as we descended deep into the bowels of bubbly. The chalk quarry caves (or crayères as they're formally known) are where each and every bottle is aged to perfection. The crayères not only served as chalk mines during the Galo-Roman era, but also housed make-shift hospitals, secret passageways and bomb shelters during both world wars. Each crayère was dressed with plaques bearing the names of Clicquot employees. Individuals who have vested at least four decades receive the honor and are also showered with un grande fête in the crayères.

The tour ended with a steady climb of stairs and each step marked a vintage year for the luxury brand. Clicquot created the first vintage Champagne using three different grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) all from the same year. The house is also responsible for developing the riddling table to produce clear, sediment-free liquid.

Steps leading down to the crayères.

The chalk walls.

The riddling table produces clear, sediment-free liquid.

Employees who have worked at Clicquot for at least 40 years are honored in the crayères.

Clicquot's vintage years are displayed on each step leading up to the tasting salon.

Once in the tasting salon, Mr. Chat and I enjoyed a glass of the yellow label -- one of many elixirs of choice when we entertain. In true Rue style, we took things to the next level and sampled the pride of the house, La Grande Dame 1996. It was exquisite, noble and sweet with a balanced and aromatic finish. Santé!



Monday, December 1, 2014

Opening Night at Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker

Diana Albrecht, Kathryn Boren and Lauren Herfindahl 

As the dazzling month of December descends upon us today, I'm thrilled to share a few stunning images from Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker. I've written about this particular holiday performance (and ballet in general) numerous times on the blog. I've been drawn to the prestige of ballet since I was young girl. Although I never grew up to be a famed performer, part of me wishes I had in fact become a world-class dancer. I mean, don't all little girls dream of becoming a ballerina?

Mr. Chat and I kicked-off our Christmas season at opening night on November 28. This year's performance (like last year) was set in the early 1800s -- think Jane Austen colors, costumes and culture. It was a treat to step out of tech-driven 2014 for a mere two hours and immerse myself into the Georgian era (1714 to 1830) of British society. Mr. Chat was equally mesmerized, but I'm sure that was from the layer of legs leaping across the stage.

Following the breathtaking sets Robert Perdziola crafted for Boston Ballet's Sawn Lake in October, the designer took his talents to the stage once again. Perdziola's discerning eye laid a blueprint for beauty with ornate details, hand painted frescos and lavish finishes. Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen took a page from The Tale of the Nutcracker, a libretto by Alexandre Dumas. Nissinen fine tuned much of the show's choreography including the reveal of an all-new ending. Luckily, serval sections including my favorite-ever, the Arabian Dance, remained the same -- such a gorgeous piece of art and athleticism!

If you don't know this enchanting story, it follows the wondrous journey of Clara, a young girl who receives a nutcracker as a gift at her family's Christmas Eve party. Later that evening, Clara's nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince and leads her through an enchanted forest and to the kingdom of the Nutcracker Prince. Truly an allegory for all ages.

The Nutcracker saunters across the Boston Opera House stage through December 31. Click here to purchase tickets.





My admission was courtesy of Boston Ballet.