Archive for January, 2013

Beauty spot: This spa's results don't come easy

January 29th, 2013
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salt caveNadine Kam photos
By the end of Herbal Spa & Saunas special treatment, I was happy to retreat to the salt cave.

After reviewing Ngon Vietnamese Cuisine this week, I thought, why not multitask? The restaurant is inside the women's building at Herbal Spa & Saunas in Kakaako, so I wandered over to the spa counter to study the menu and the owner explained the three-hour, $100 special (usually $120) she was offering that included Korean-style body scrub, a massage, cucumber and milk and yogurt facial, head massage and hair wash, and unlimited use of hot and cold Jacuzzis, sauna and the spa's Himalayan salt cave sauna. Deal, right?

I was sold and made an appointment right away. If I had thought about it longer, I may have reconsidered. I'd heard from second-generation Korean women how much their mothers love the communal Korean bathhouse tradition and exfoliating scrubs, but they've found it excruciating.

I think most pampered Americans tend to think of the spa experience as being geared toward relaxation, but here, it's geared toward the fix, pain and loss of dignity be damned. Screaming in pain will not deter the non-English-speaking women—stripped down to bra and panty due to the liquid mess and workout this all entails—from their mission to pummel you toward perfection. And, you pay for all of this in advance lest you take up two hours of their time and they find you didn't have the money in the end.

They do have private massages here, but if you go with the package, everything is done in a public area where everyone is naked and the most relaxing moment is sitting in the heated Jacuzzi before "treatments" begin. (more…)

New season brings skin experts to town

January 29th, 2013
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hourglassNadine Kam photos
Hourglass Cosmetics founder Carisa Janes, right, and her VP of Sales, Laura Chisholm, were at Sephora Saturday afternoon.

One of the great things about living in Hawaii is that we often have the opportunity to go straight to the source for beauty information. The strong sun and other elements tend to sap skin of its youth and elasticity, making this an important market, as national leaders in consumption of cosmetic fixes.

That's why, in the past few weeks Nordstrom has welcomed RéVive Skincare founder Dr. Gregory Bays Brown (he'll be back again in summer); Neiman Marcus welcomed Dr. Ava Shamban, consultant for Dior Beauty; and Sephora brought in 10 artists from the Hourglass Artistry Team to perform makeovers and introduce the brand.

On Jan. 25, I had a great interview with Dr. Shamban, who shared, among other things, that Viagra is singularly responsible for bringing more men to her Santa Monica and Beverly Hills practices. Apparently, returning to the game has them more concerned about appearances.

Then, on Jan. 26, I headed to Sephora to meet Carisa Janes, founder of Hourglass Cosmetics. It was interesting to hear her story about starting the brand. With so many brands on the market, I often get confused when shopping for cosmetics. I may go in for one specific thing, but looking around I see so many options I can't make a decision and end up leaving. So I wondered, what did she see that was missing?

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One of the Hourglass artists' makeup kit.

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After spending nearly two decades in the beauty world, working for brands like Urban Decay and the local Body & Soul, she said she noticed a gap for homegrown luxury cosmetics fusing skincare technology with high-quality makeup.

Her products certainly feel rich and luxurious, but she's also kept health concerns at top of mind, formulated without parabens, animal-testing or gluten.

One of biggest sellers here is Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation, geared toward those who want a matte finish that stands up to humid weather. It goes on in liquid form, and dries to a silky powder finish that's best for those with a normal-to-oily complexion.

There's a lot to like about the line. I'm most excited about her Ambient Lighting Powders (below) that add a sheer, luminous glow to skin, mimicking the effect of various forms of light, such as pink lightbulb (Mood Light) to moon light (Ethereal Light).

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The Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipsticks have intense, long-lasting color that are perfect for red carpet wear. Because many women in Hawaii prefer a natural look, it was a shock to my system to try on. But I'm getting used to the intense pink of this Ballet color, and I'm liking wearing the strong lip/subdued eye look this spring. It totally fits in with the colors of the season.

Prabal Gurung: On Target

January 18th, 2013
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Sleeveless blouse in First Date print $26.99; pleated skirt with lace in Sulfur Spring $29.99; wedge sandal online only $29.99; bangles $16.99 each.

Someone just sent me a restaurant recommendation, ending with, "Maybe keep them private for a while?"

I hear ya. Sometimes I really hate the job of sharing information I'd rather keep to myself, like the arrival of the Prabal Gurung for Target collection on Feb. 10. As if I want to get in line with 60 to 100 fanatics, when it could be just me and a quiet group of maybe 15 other devotees.

The collection was inspired by a love story, offering women’s apparel and accessories suitable for all occasions from the initial crush, to the first kiss, to everlasting love. List prices range from $19.99 to $199.99 for apparel and $12.99 to $39.99 for accessories and shoes, although historically, Hawaii customers have been greeted by a markup, allegedly due to shipping costs. At any rate, the cost of living here is higher all around.

The pieces are so beautiful, feminine and fresh. I would grab the entire collection, but in my experience, I've never been fast or aggressive enough to get what I really want. The killer instinct isn't there because I know I'll be able to find all the pieces on eBay the same day.

Here's a small sampling of some of my favorite looks from the collection—keep in mind prices are likely lower than the Hawaii price will be—as well as the Target video:

prabal videoClick for video: http://bit.ly/13OfKHm

prabal3Lace-front blouse in White/Sulfur Spring online only $34.99; shorts $26.99; lace-up sandals $39.99.

prabal2Blazer in Floral Crush print $49.99; long-sleeve tee $19.99; shorts $26.99; teardrop pendant necklace $19.99; shoes online only $39.99.

prabal4Sweatshirt in First Date print $29.99; skirt in Dresden Blue/Sulfur Spring $16.99; tote in Nolita print $39.99; wedge sandal online only $29.99.

prabal1Dress $49.99; shoes $39.99.

'Project Runway All-Stars': Auld takes top prize

January 17th, 2013
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finalistsLifetime photos
The finalists, from left, Emilio Sosa, Uli Herzner and Anthony Ryan Auld.

"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 12 Finale: "Go Big or Go Home" recap

Heading into the final competition, the designers—Emilio Sosa, Uli Herzner and Anthony Ryan Auld—were told they have just four days to create a runway collection. The designers were free to choose their own themes, colors, visuals, music and the number of pieces to show (or manage to finish in the brief time frame).

The designers were afraid when on their first work day, host Carolyn Murphy drops in on them in the workroom. That usually signals a difficult twist. But this time, it was good news when all the season's ousted designers filed in and the finalists were able to choose one to assist them for a couple of days.

designersThe ousted designers returned, looking very relaxed, most ready and willing to assist if needed.

Anthony Ryan picked first because of his win last week and tapped his apparent frenemy Joshua McKinley, who basically said he was too tired to do it. (Refusing never seemed to be an option in "Project Runway's" history." So the designer extended the invitation to Kayne Gillespie to work on his collection, themed "The Thin Line."

Uli chose Casanova for her collection of whites and creams, themed "Mystical Winter." During critiques Joanna Coles asks Uli to save her little fur jacket for her. It's always a good sign when editors want to wear your designs.

Emilio picked Althea Harper to work on his conceptual showcase, "Urban Plantation," an ode to working women from the plantation to Rosie the Riveter, who took over when men went to war during World War ll. The idea was that the pinnacle of fashion is often the domain of celebrities, the wealthy and the celebrated, and he wanted to honor working women who rarely get the recognition they deserve.

His collection turned out to be colorful and gritty, and very true to his spirit. Uli's was the opposite, ethereal and mythic and the most  artistic and designerly. I was hoping she would win, but true to the favoritism shown all season long, the judges chose Anthony Ryan's collection, which was modern, clean and very commercial. Yet, it's so 2010-11 with its linear and mod-ish color blocking and cut-out backs, nothing that hadn't been in the stores all last year, which to me, was representative of everything he showed, one of the reasons the show has been on a downhill trajectory and is applying more gimmicks. The next season of the original "Project Runway" will have the designers working in teams, rather than as individuals.

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Two designs from Anthony Ryan Auld's winning collection.

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Two looks from Uli's collection.

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Designs from Emilio's collection.

Jason Wu's Miss Wu collection debuts at Nordstrom

January 14th, 2013
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JasonWudressNordstrom photos
Jason Wu's new contemporary label Miss Wu, has arrived at Nordstrom.

Can't wait to check out Jason Wu’s new contemporary label Miss Wu, launched at Nordstrom.

I only have the photos and press release, but want to check this out firsthand.

The debut Spring/Summer 2013 collection comprises 40 pieces, including dresses, knits and separates priced between $195 and $795. (Prices for his regular line start at about $695.)

The collection is described as bearing a subtle 1960s inspiration, showcasing some of Wu’s signatures, including whimsical prints and bold colors, including a hand-painted stripe print on blouses and skirts. Feminine embellishments include embroidered sequin circles and lace prints on tops and dresses. Other prints for Miss Wu include a “falling feather” print, a blue Pop Art print, and a photo negative floral print in shirts, shift dresses and A-line dresses.

The designer is known for feminine detailing, reflected in the line through bow blouses and grosgrain-collared shirts that can be paired with jackets with leather details for a touch of toughness.

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