Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Collection: Just because...

You can not start a sentence with because because because is a conjunction.1

~ Because I awoke this morning further catapulted into a choc-inducing2 kind of ardent love with the city of NY; a cannonade of dopamine surging through my nervous system.
~ Because I lay easily willing myself not to move a muscle, relishing in my bliss, and suddenly an hour had passed.
~ Because I could only think pretty - images of the distinctive four-leaf clover of the Alhambra collection pieces of Van Cleef & Arpels formed a moving picture in my head. *Inane smile still formed on my lips*

Perhaps, it's just the four-leaf clover emblem, or maybe, the fact this collection is the latest, easily recognised collection from the VCA House, and so the collection of which I am most cognizant.3 Whatever it is, I am totally thankful for it. Exquisite in its simplicity, the collection evokes a delicious feeling of poised contentment, quite different, yet, parallel to the reverence evoked by the intricate flections of, say, the Mystery collection or the rings-bewtween-the-fingers. Joyous extascy!! Indeed, it'd be flippant to try comparing the Alhambra with the other collections in a single post. I'm awed by the strength and yet, resilience of all of the pieces in those other collections, cut into the most pleasing geometric forms - trust me, I'd recently spent an hour at its Fifth Ave boutique, and I've just spent three hours in appreciative awe of the jewels on the website. (Absolutely rewarding use of my time - a gyrl can dream, can't she??)

However, it's the Alhambra collection that continually captivates me. Each piece of jewelry presents a reassuring sensuality - a refined chic and elegance; befitting as an everyday-wear piece. And that's exactly why I love it. In my mid twenties, I'm not yet delirious for diamonds, I leave that to the forty-year olds. No offense. I've fallen in love with many-a-diamond pieces; although, now, I'm constantly reminded of Djimon Houson's impassioned role in the story of Blood Diamonds to the point where I'm almost certain I wouldn't mind not getting a diamond solitaire as an engagement ring (when the time comes. Haha.) Yes, you read that correctly - I wouldn't mind. If I could get a less controversial stone, very ornate, of course, I'd still love it very much!!

So, it's these pieces with a simple refinement and chic that drive me to insane propensities, causing me to go gaga and clap in forcibly hushed, yet, joyful applause; and presently, the Alhambra collection is at the pinnacle of this thrilling endeavor. Superior chichi chic, in my opinion.

And the watches, VCA "jewels that tell time," exude an elegance, that I've yet to match in few other timepieces. In all seriousness, are they actual timepieces or really expensive bracelets?? Par example:

I'd certainly like to know. I don't think I'd ever feel rushed looking into these faces of these dazzling watches. Perhaps, I'd lose all sense of time, not even able to read it correctly. To round off my imaginary Alhambra collection: "I'll have this black one, please," I'm saying to my spectre of a salesperson.

Double kisses on each cheek.

1. I'm about to break this grammatical rule. Shameful.
2. Not that I like chocolate.
3. The multicolored collection heralded in 1974 and reinvented in 2001.


'Tis the season: wedding season, that is...

Let me preface this chicly important post by emphasizing the difference between a wedding and a marriage1: a wedding celebrates the official declaration of a couple's union - i.e. the beginning of their union, while a marriage itself is the ensuing contracted union that's supposed to last a lifetime. So, you see, it's the marriage that's the important part!! Really!! [affectionate sarcasm] This means we ought to think very diligently before we undertake this whole business of getting married; and when we do make the decision to proceed, we ardently - at least I will - plunge head first into chi chi decadence!! *poised, blowing you air-kisses*

So, wedding season is upon us; and this post is terribly late, at least a month so. I apologize.2 I've been busy bipolar-izing, reading, strutting my stuff and lazing. Haha.

Wedding guests should deem it their utmost responsibility to attend weddings beautifully clad. For me, the joy of dressing for a wedding almost matches the joy of the impending declaration of love that would soon blossom in the presence of God and all. (I said almost; I'm throughly delighted by prettiness, but of course, not quite like I appreciate love, there's an exalted respect reserved just for luuurrve, so there, I'm not so shallow. Ha!!) The aforementioned pleasure of primping for a wedding (as a guest) is something akin to the hysteria I feel at random times during Christmas season3: a warm, giddy, yet, reverential feeling of joy that numbs my usually averse response to my own hoarse voice and permits me to bleat out hymns and noëls whenever I please!! Ahhhh....

And expectedly, dressing for a wedding can be utterly demanding. I think the key word to keep in mind is 'appropriate.' Natch, I expect that when we (ladies) decide to attend a wedding, we're looking for classically chic ensembles to complement the beautiful atmosphere that will be the wedding; as well as the beautiful bride.4 Whatever the type of wedding - according to an article by Laura Coons in the AC, there are nine different types!! - it is absolutely necessary to dress appropriately. This generally means knee-length or tea-length dresses or gowns. Even the most informal of weddings will require some measure of demureness when it comes to the actual garb adorned. However, a more demure dress than you'd normally don, doesn't mean boring. Puhlease... And it certainly doesn't imply un-chic or un-glamourous. I mean you know a gorgeous dress when you see one. And, befittingly stunning accessories will glam up to an otherwise low-keyed dress. Bold single-statement baubles or delicate jewelry - it's your choice, a pair of to-die-for heels; just about anything will work when paired suitably!!

When it comes down to it, the wedding celebrants determine the wedding atmosphere through their choices of the event location, time and formality. These components serve as crucial clues to help every lady pick out a befitting outfit.
~ Outdoor/garden/beach weddings require bright/pastel summer hues, and patterns/prints are simply perfect!!! Feminine, and playful ensembles, coordinated linen separates will work just as beautifully. This is the only type of wedding where a pair of flat sandals would be acceptable; although, when I do say flat sandal - I mean glamourously delicate yet ornate metallic sandals!! And when I say the only type of wedding... I mean a "beach" wedding. Every other wedding, think heels.5 :) It's just more apt.
~ For evening weddings, gem-hued cocktail dresses or gowns in bold styles will suffice just beautifully, and here, the ever-glam little black dress is just as appropriate; only remember your LBD shouldn't be too "little" length-wise. Haha. Adorn with even more gleaming jewels that will catch the evening lights and sparkle alluringly. Evening weddings will require that extra sparkle and glamour. It'll be expected of you!! Seriously!!
~ And with classic weddings, I think of quintessential feminine dresses in bright summer colors; shift/mod dresses/blazers and creamy jacquard skirt-suits are also appropriate. And hats!! Oh yes - hats, especially intricately decorated straw/velvet hats, are just exquisite for weddings. They make a pretty fashion statement, talk about swanky!!

And today, you got a teeny insight into my splendidly decadent take on weddings. Please try not to let your goody-two-ness-it's-the-wedding-that-counts-conscience get in the way of imagining how awfully indulgent my wedding will be, and we'll remain friends.

1. Lest, all two of you my oh-so-dedicated readers think that I'm some super-shallow missy. Ok, I might be - very slightly though, but I do know what counts. And when it comes to any wedding day, only über-decadence counts. hahaha.
2. I now have 30-something posts drafts but I procrastinate because I don't want to photoshop pics!! I'm really hoping that someone deigns it upon him/herself to provide an online service for adding photos unto posts. I pick the photos, email them to you and you photshop them (artistically is a plus) and send them back to me.
3. anticipatory feelings at the end of Oct - Neiman's Book arrives in mail and it's christmas season all through to Feb.
4. I mean if I were a bride, I'd expect everyone to come dressed prettily (it would be a very pretty affair indeed.)
5. If you know anything about me, you know I do flats like Naomi whacks her ever-changing staff, which means whenever possible - all the time!! So it's pretty serious that I'd make heels mandatory here.

Sugarplum kisses.

A little more about my wedding (no, I don't have a man; so, yes laugh all you want):
Needless to say, I've been planning my wedding dresses for a while now... close to two years I'd say. I haven't found the perfect dress yet, but I know I will. And to further indulge myself, I've made it clear that I hope to be engaged for at least a year, two years would be just perfect. The time frame is extremely important because it'll allow me to strategically plan what I've termed 'pre-wedding galas,' of which there will be two and which will permit me to wear two wedding-like dresses before I actually walk down the aisle. Perhaps, the galas will include a charity component, we'll get to that part when i get to it. Isn't that the best idea ever?? I think so...
~ To the right is something I'd love for one of my pre-wedding gala dresses, it won't be falling off me like that...


Guerlain Super Aqua - Day Cooling Stick

I've been waiting a couple of weeks to post this... so I'll just go ahead, though it isn't available in the U.S. at the moment.

Like your fave tube of lip stick, it fits perfectly in your teeniest purse. The Guerlain Cooling Stick provides optimum hydration in all environments, and is so appropriate for this flippant weather we're experiencing (at least in the northeast.) The stifling and sweltering skip-spring-into-summer heat punctuated by near-icy rainy weather is best attacked head-on and I'm willing to bet 50¢ (haha) this is just the product to do so.

Sadly, like I said earlier, it hasn't been introduced into the U.S. market yet, so I can't give a first-hand personal review like I'd like to. Other products in the Super Aqua line are available at your beautiful beauty counters. Nordstrom's online has a chic mini set; and surprisingly, Sephora doesn't carry this particular line. Oh oops... I did find it at Sephora.fr!! I don't remember how I got unto the French website, I must have been searching frantically all the way into another language. Ha!! Glorious benefits reportedly inlcude supple and toned skin, which is easily ready for touch-ups; vivifying freshness and just perfect hydration that makes skin feel comfortable!! Guerlain regards it as [your] daily accomplice. And if you love Guerlain products like I do, you'll be eagerly awaiting its arrival on this side of the pond. Can't wait!!

Les bises fraîches.


very Valentino, very Me.

Natch, I've by-passed about twenty post outlines to bring you these:

Black patent and creamy beige leather platform mary-janes (by Valentino.)
Beautifully Decadent.
4½" 'self-covered' heel: Love it!! Especially, since I'm not a huge fan of visible platforms; I'm afraid of looking like I'm walking on box-like stilts.
Pre-order at Saks. (Did that last night!! Haha.)
Available approx Sept. 15th.

Buttercream kisses.

05/18: teeny amendment: the shoes are now available for preorder @ Neiman's as well, for a ship date of Sept. 7th.


The grandeur of the Costume Institute Gala

A splendid affair of pomp; the annual Met Costume Institute Gala took place last Monday. It honored revolutionary couturier and self-proclaimed 'King of Fashion' Paul Poiret, and natch, it would've been enthralling to reincarnate and/or interpret many a Poiret conception. But, really, I'm not for people leaving their homes looking frightfully antiquated and unfashionable for the sake of an icon or costume, especially if these people are 'celebs' who have personal stylists, beauticians, coiffeurs etc. Since I refuse to acknowledge badly-dressed people - though it makes for more delightfully disparaging repartees - here are my fav dresses of the night!! I did have quite a few...


Pics from style.com

Be back to label the pics later, hopefully.
Perhaps, perhaps not.

Decadent kisses.


All that glitters... [II]: La Prairie - Radiance Collection

In this second part of "All that glitters..." we take a look at La Prairie: Radiance Collection. Once again, liquid gold extract is purported to reverse the aging process resulting in younger-looking radiant skin. The products in this line use quartz liquid crystals and reflective pigments, as well as La Prairie’s Cellular Complex, to "super-charge [the] skin’s ability to de-age." I didn't know 'de-age' could be an actual word. Hmm... sounds pretentiously posh...

The Radiance Collection comprises three products: Cellular Radiance Concentrate Pure Gold ($525, 1.0oz.), Cellular Radiance Cream ($525, 1.7 oz.) and Cellular Radiance Eye Cream ($265, 0.5 oz.) Thus, the entire collection is $1375.
No comment.
Seriously, what can I say??



There are plentiful collections of absurdly-priced products. If there weren't so-priced, they wouldn't be decadently luxe and we wouldn't be clamouring wildly to purchase them. Hilariously pathetic!!

So moving on... natch, I'm totally attracted to the Pure Gold Concentrate. Its golden appearance is so enticing. And, I don't doubt that it feels decadently rich and satiny as it melts into the skin. It's a revolutionary micro-emulsion serum that captures the glow of pure 24k gold!! Heavenly!! Cue: cherubs singing the Alleluia chorus. I mean, I just can't help but fall in love. Oh, why am I so easily attracted to shiny-shiny??!! This gold concentrate is said to help firm skin, promote radiance and clarity, and of course, de-age skin so it is younger-looking. I, do not fit in this category that requires anti-aging products yet :), so I'm totally by-passing these products!! Well, except I get some samples :). Available at the usual: Saks, Neiman's & Bergdorf's.

Actually, I may have received a sample of the eye cream early this year, I think; I'm not sure what happened to it. Boo!!

p.s. There's another brand of beauty products, Julisis, a Deutsch company, that incorporates gold, silver and diamond?? essences in its products; customers regularly buy the entire line ($2,400). Again, I'm speechless, I've just decided to accept it all... but, take a peak... JULISIS.

Sinfully divine kisses.


The Sale Conspiracy

My beloved Saks and Neiman's always propose their sales simultaneously. Yesterday, Neiman's commenced it's First Call Sale. Slightly off, because I'm pretty sure sales are put forth on Tuesdays. Anyway, not much peaked my interest, or maybe I'm just super broke. Haha. Then, today Saks - whose website is "temporarily unavailable" at the moment, all those people scrambling for sale pieces - proffered an "Exclusive Designers' Day Off - One Day Only" sale and even before I got the gratuitous email from Neiman's, I found out they were having what they've termed a "Private Shopping Night - Today only," which lists items by style names or designers!! (I'll bet you the Saks sale is an intro sale that'll be extended tomorrow!!) There are a couple of things I'd love from Neiman's, it's a great sale; but the notion that both stores do it at the same time is hilarious!! It's the first sale of its kind for each store - the designers' bit of the pitch; it couldn't be just a coincidence. Too humorous!!

Either way, could they please...
1. stop patronizing me with these exclusive catch phrases
2. offer the sales a week or two within each other (I know there'd be a fight for who puts out a sale first, each store wanting people to spend all their money with them first - but they could toss a coin or something!!)
3. Actually make the sale worth my while by slashing prices up to 50%, 60%, 70%...

Decadent kisses.


Chic obsession: Dior Sport/Sun Mask

This is my latest it-accessory. Isn't it beyond chic??!! I am, however, slightly worried that I may not be able to pull it off... I have visions of it just slipping off my face, if it actually doesn't mask my entire face!! Okay, it will cover up my whole face. But what could be better, though?? Perfect protection from those harmful UV rays. But seriously, I love it and I want it!! Like yesterday.

Air kisses - only.
(I wouldn't want to knock you down with my supreme, ultraviolet defensive face-shield) I wonder if it can measure the specific amplitudes of the waves given off or something to that effect. It looks like it should be able to.

p.s. Remember the not-too-long controversy about the Lancome pink lipcolor (Proenza Pink), akin to what the model has on... yeah my exceptionally crazy behind would totally rock it. Totally mod... I'd be the black gyrl you'd look twice at; whether out of concern for my delirious penchant to go out in public wearing that color or because I'd seriously work it ;).


Every lady needs a set of pearls; or two, or...

however many you'd like.

The pearl is the oldest treasured gem; its allure, infinite and universal. Hinduism (the world's oldest existing religion, apparently) pays homage to the magnificence of the pearl: Krishna brought forth pearls from the sea to give to his daughter on her wedding day. Presumably the most important gift he could give, the tradition of presenting brides with strands of pearls is inferred from this tale. Side-tracked - reading more about Hinduism - I discover that the saying "pearls of wisdom" originates here as well. Isn't that beautiful?? I thought it was. Now, fully distracted - I've ADHD or more correctly adult ADHD - I began reading about world religions and their fascination with pearls.

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Holy texts of Sikhism (fifth largest organized religion) asserts, "God's name is the Jewel, the Pearl. It cannot be stolen or taken away." (134-3, mwJ, mÚ 5) Ahh... Divine. Of course, I did a quick search of references to pearls in the Bible: "...the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46. Indeed, in the early centuries A.D, pearls were adorned only by royalty because they were rare and invaluable. "The rarest things in the world, next to a spirit of discernment, are diamonds and pearls." [Translated from the French lang: Apres l'esprit de discernement, ce qu'il y a au monde de plus rare, ce sont les diamants et les perles.] Jean de la Bruyere, Les Caracteres (XII). Only at the end of the 19th century did the pearl become available to mere mortals!! Ha! This was the result of culturing techniques developed by Mikimoto, Kokichi.

For me, this awe-inspiring history of pearls is matched only by actually adorning a strand myself. I think it transforms me to into a simple, yet subtly elegant and knowingly sophisticated; and delicate, yet bold (young) woman. And, I'm not sure how it does this precisely. Perhaps, it's the secret and yet visible knowledge of just how precious and beautiful a seemly uncomplicated gemstone as a (round) pearl conjures up for me, the adorner; just like putting on a pair of sexy lingerie. Without much thought, I feel complete when I put on a pearl necklace. I think many women feel this way. Pearls are classic, and yet alluringly provocative!! Just so many juxtapositions; you see, this is the nature of the pearl. Recently, I joked that all I knew about pearls I'd learned from my three M's: my mom, Mikimoto and Majorica fauxs. Suffice it to say, it's all the knowledge I've really ever needed!! But for the sake of completeness, I did some more research (Wikipedia, Farlang: Gem & Diamond Foundation, American Museum of Natural History) and I can now write a 10-page report on pearls, if I ever need to!!

Consumer-wise, buying pearls - trying them on and admiring the gracefulness of your neck in front a mirror - is a very satisfying endeavor. Haha. A modern grading system proffered by Mikimoto appraises the luster, quality, surface perfection, color, shape and size of each pearl used in jewelry-making, evaluating each pearl each from AAA to A1 (and below, in which case, those pearls do not make it as part of Miki jewelry!! Sad!!) Variations of this grading system exist according to each manufacturer and/or seller. (Right: Mikimoto Akoya cultured pearls.)

Natural pearls are super super expensive and remain elusive to non-royalty. Naturally occuring reserves have run out; so the process of culturing is really just perfect!! It involves injecting a piece of one oyster's mantle tissue ('antigen': see how useful by Bio lessons have become) into the silky wall lining of another oyster. The oyster's reaction to this inserted tissue is identical to its reaction to a natural intruder such as a piece of rubble or parasite - otherwise, the course of natural pearl formation. To soothe the irritant, the oyster releases a silky-milky substance - nacre (microscopic calcium carbonate crystals.) Gradually, these crystals form concentric layers that after several years evolve into pearls. Only limited species of oysters secrete pearls. Each oyster specie producing unique pearls.

Akoya pearls are produced by Akoya oysters in Japanese salt waters. Depending on the size of the oyster, the pearl varies in size between 2-10mm. Its color includes white, cream, pink/rose, green, silver, and gold. Akoya pearls are the most beautiful and expensive pearls because of their perfect roundness, luxurious color, and laborious culturing process. Pearls with rose overtones are the rarest. I think I read that some oysters could produce as many as two pearls in their lifetimes!! Too funny, but not really!!

South sea cultured pearls are large - more than 10mm, and produced by much larger oysters in the warm waters of the South Seas, in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Their colors vary with the producing oyster. White South Sea pearls are produced by silver-lipped oysters and the golden pearls are produced by the golden-lipped oyster.

Black south sea or Tahitian pearls come from black-lipped oysters, in Tahiti and Okinawa and are 8-15 mm. Their blackish/gray colors have deliciously beautiful blue, green and violet overtones. Apparently, it could take ten harvest years to collect enough black pearls that match in size, shape and color to create one necklace.

Freshwater or Chinese pearls are cultured in the rivers of China. As many as ten to fourteen pearls can be cultured in one mussel. These pearls are oval-shaped, or like rice grains.

Conch pearls come from the queen conch, which lives in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They are characterized by a distinctive 'flame quality' that gives the appearance of a burning fire. I think they are exceptionally pretty.
(Characterizations primarily according to Mikimoto.)

And lastly, there are imitation pearls which do not even involve mollusc organisms at all. Faux pearls, the only recognised brand being Majorica (or Mallorca) pearls - pioneered by the Heusch Family in Majorca/Mallorca, Spain - are darling, I think!! At least I force myself to afford these majoricas, so what's not to love. The complete manufacturing process is supposed to be secret; as it does an extremely good job imitating cultured pearls. They're available at Saks & Neimans.

Perhaps, the most intriguing detail I happened on during my research was the work of Betty Sue King at pearl goddess. Her pearls and gems are exquisite, unique and come in a variety of enthralling shapes and colors and are featured on the Farlang Gem & Diamond Foundation. I'm still trying to learn more about her jewelry.

Pearlescent kisses. Muah. Muah.