Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

The Aesthetics of Cornelia Guest at the Antiques and Garden Show

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Cornelia Guest

The extraordinary Cornelia Guest first came to my attention in middle school in the ’80s, on the pages of any number of fashion magazines. We were living in upstate New York at the time, so the glamorous young woman posing with the likes of Andy Warhol and other legends of the era made my friends and I all hope breathlessly of being just like her. After all, her father was a world-class polo player, her mother the socialite upon whom all other socialites based their dreams, and Cornelia herself probably qualified as the first “celebutante” even before the word mashup became part of American parlance.

With Andy Warhol and pop singer Billy Squire (left)

More correctly, she was the “Deb of the Decade” feted by Andy Warhol, and some of the most famous artists, actors, writers and cultural definers of the 20th century, from Truman Capote to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (her godparents, by the way).

With that background, it might have been easy for the horse-loving New York darling to coast through life taking everything for granted. Happily, she opted to devote her life to responsible living – and in more recent memory she’s become a strong promoter and supporter of healthy eating and lifestyle, as well as an activist for animal welfare.

At present, the grown-up Ms. Guest published a successful cookbook, Cornelia Guest’s Simple Pleasures: Healthy Seasonal Cooking & Easy Entertaining, in 2012 after founding a vegan catering company. It all evolved, dare I use the term, organically, after she started baking vegan cookies for charity events that went over brilliantly. Now, she’s jumped into even more exciting waters as a member of “Team Guy” on the Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cookoff. (Having met Guy Fieri myself while appearing on Drive Ins, Diners, and Dives, I can attest that he’s a blast to work with.)

Cornelia Guest gold tweed handbag at Bloomingdales.

She’s also launched a line of handbags – Humane Handbags – that, needless to say, meet the stringent requirements of a vegan lifestyle. Made with a buttery-soft faux leather, the stylish bags in a wide variety of styles can be found at Bloomingdale’s and other upscale retailers.

A long-time supporter of the Humane Society of New York, among other critical causes, Guest was recently named one of Donna Karan’s “Women Who Inspire,” was the face of PETA’s “I’d Rather Go Naked” campaign, and serves on the Mayoral-appointed Grow N.Y.C. board. She hosted New Yorkers for Marriage Equality’s 2010 flagship event with Mayor Bloomberg.

Most importantly for readers in the Nashville area, the fantastic Ms. G will be appearing tomorrow to lecture at the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville. Now in its 23rd year, the Antiques and Garden Show just gets better and better – and if you haven’t made plans to get there, I recommend making them now (click on the link above for tickets).

At the last minutes, Cornelia Guest was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so here’s a little quick Q&A to get you ready for tomorrow’s event.

What everyone wants to know is what it was like working with Guy and Rachael on Celebrity Cookoff? What was the best part of that experience and will we see you again on the show? They are both amazing, their knowledge of food was so inspiring – it made me a better cook. Of course, there were lots of laughs; I think I’m in love with Guy!

You’ve got quite an impressive background as an equestrian – do you keep up with those skills actively? No, sadly I don’t have the time, I miss my horses like crazy, but I do visit all my pals at different shows.

How does your work with animals and your commitment to a vegan lifestyle affect your personal style – both in terms of fashion and interiors? It makes me think about everything I buy, and about how to make it cruelty-free.

Who are your favorite pro-animal fashion designers? Besides myself, Stella McCartney

Bloomingdale’s carries your line of cruelty-free handbags, and it’s a newer line for our region of the country to be aware of – can you tell me a bit about your inspirations for it, and what we ought to know as buyers? Mother Nature is my inspiration. My line is affordable, chic, elegant and timeless – as well as an intelligent alternative to using animal products.

You’re a New Yorker – how much time have you spent here in the South and has it in any way influenced your sense of style? What about your culinary perspective? I used to go to horse shows and dine all over the place. I love the South – the accents and the fact that the people are all so kind. I love vegetarian bar-b-que, by the way.

You have a vegan catering business and a popular vegan cookbook out – which do you find provides your best method of sharing a vegan perspective and why? They both do, as I can use both as tools to educate people and to spread the word.

What drew you to veganism to begin with? Cruelty to animals. Factory farming is not only horrific beyond all imagination, but it’s ruining our planet.

In the 80s, you were the “deb of the decade,” always in the fashion mags and newspapers – has the time you spent in that limelight influenced who you are today? Who are the people in that era that remain your greatest influences? Halston, without a doubt is a huge inspiration and influence on me. His sense of style was just so simple and so elegant and fashionable. And after all he was the first to use ultra suede.

Can you clue us in on your next big project? Taking the Cornelia Guest Cruelty Free Lifestyle global!

The Fun Stuff

TV show: Scandal

Listening: Johnny Cash

Reading: Biographies and Hemingway

Jeans: Rag & Bone, J Brand

Guilty pleasure: Chocolate

Skin care: Biologique

Gadget: Blackberry and iPhone

Fragrance: Oils from Objets D’Art & Spirit in Los Angeles

Cocktail: Red wine

Restaurant: N.Y.C .– La Grenouille and Scalinatella; Los Angeles – Il Piccolino

Anything Nashville: Great music!


The Skin You’re In – A Visit to Bellevue MediSpa

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New Year, New You


O r at least, that’s what a million different magazines are trying to feed us right now, because Americans traditionally spend January trying to remake themselves after a holiday deluge of debauched eating and partying, coupled with a failure to take care of themselves generally. It’s the month or two of gym memberships, before you quit going in March; January’s the month where we cleanse and colonic and vow to drink only green juice and to finally do something about all the damage we’ve done to our skin from sun and bad diet.

That’s all well and good, but the reality is that taking care of yourself on the front end is much easier than fixing the mess afterwards. I’ve got quite a few postings this month about what you can do to make yourself look and feel better right now – but if you’re coming back and reading this next July, most of it will still be relevant.

Inconceivable though it is, I’m going to start the year off with a few thoughts on fixing your skin and how to do things right, because your goal should not be to look like a fixture on reality TV.

Step one is to recognize that you aren’t ever going to look 17 again, nor should you want to (nor should you have had the kind of life that makes you wish you were 17 now). That said, you can look really good.

There are the basics you should know. Drink water, lower your levels of caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks. Eat healthy foods, skip the processed crap, and get high doses of vitamins A, E and C – preferably from food, not supplements. Don’t starve yourself or commit to radical diet plans. It will take its toll on your skin and hair. Ixnay on the cigarettes.

And most importantly, enough with the tanning. The vast majority of “aged” looking skin is caused by too much sun exposure. Quite aside from the risks of skin cancer, too much sun can produce age spots, heavy freckling (which, after 30, you might as well start calling age spots), premature wrinkling and a host of other problems.

Fortunately, this is not 1950, and if you want to look great, there are things that can be done at a good medi-spa – for the most part procedures that are non-invasive, moderately priced, and have minimal downtime, but take years off your face. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

I’ve made use of a goodly number of medi-spas in the area in the course of my writing, and I’ll tell you up front I only feel right recommending two – the place I’m going to talk about now is Bellevue MediSpa.

Yeah, I’m going to recommend that you drive to Bellevue – it’s right of I-40, if you’re in the Nashville area and can drive to Belle Meade from downtown, you can drive to Bellevue.

The why is that this particular medi-spa, to my mind, is one of the hidden gems in the area. Set just before you get into the heart of Bellevue (perhaps on your way to Ed Fryer’s awesome RED Wine and Spirits), Barry and Lori Knerr’s place is going to treat you with honesty and respect, and deal with your issues in the best way for you.

The location is pleasant, warm and welcoming, and for me a big plus was seeing Thistle Farms products on the shelves for sale as I walked in the door, instead of overpriced moisturizers with vanity labels. Against the south-facing wall is a huge tank of exotic fish.

Visiting gave me the opportunity to sit and talk with Barry and Lori, the husband-and-wife team of owners. Talking with them, it’s clear that when you come in here, unlike many places, they’re going to stress the least invasive, least intense treatment process to get you where you want to go. In my case, all I wanted was to get rid of a few pale brown sunspots that seem a permanent fixture on the lower half of my face, something that could be achieved in a single laser session with absolutely minimal downtime (like, say, the rest of the day, period).

What, though, do the “average customers” come into a medi-spa for in the first place? Turns out the typical customer is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a woman in her 30s to 60s trying to stave off the effects of age. In our reality, while men are allowed a few fine lines and a smidge or two of gray because they look “distinguished,” women are not.

Where once upon a time, the fix could have meant plastic surgery from which you need a long period of rest and recovery, the contemporary repair is often faster, easier and requires a whole lot less down time. A good medi-spa, like Bellevue, is going to give you options from laser treatments (one or multiple, depending on the extent of the damage you want to repair) that deal with everything from sun spots to promoting collagen growth to correcting rosacea, acne and other skin discolorations to spider veins, to Botox injections and fillers like Juvederm and Restylane.

Most skin and age related problems can be dealt with in a non-surgical manner, over time, whether you want to take a few years off your skin or deal with a larger and potentially more painful problem, like the afore-mentioned spider veins.

There will always be some things that will require genuine medical advice, and the folks at Bellevue MediSpa will let you know if that’s the case. What I like about them is their honesty – “this is what we can do” – and they mean what they say. You won’t get ridiculous promises, you won’t be pushed to spend far more than your budget allows for, and you won’t end up looking like a “Real Housewife” –there are other places that are better bets if you want to look plastic.

Among the biggest appeals is the presence of Brazilian native chemist and permanent makeup artist Bea (Beatriz), who does incredible work with cancer patients, tattooing super-fine hairs on as brow replacement for those who’ve lost hair via chemotherapy and remarkable work replacing areola for those who’ve had mastectomies. She also offers scar repair that’s off the charts amazing. This is a situation where you have to see her work to believe it.

But the thing is, the reason why I’m saying “hey, it’s January, go get some work done” is because you can, and you can feel secure doing it. That’s regardless of what you need done. Medi-spas are safer than ever, and you can trust good laser technicians – and that means you need to ask questions to make sure your technician is up on his or her training, but that’s what you’d do for any other minor medical procedure, now, isn’t it?

The folks at Bellevue MediSpa are being written about today because they’re people who actually care about you, not about making a fast buck – which means you’ll walk out looking real and natural, with the work you wanted done, and without 16 other procedures you’ve been pressured into.

Barry and Lori tell me they have a huge variety of clients, from kids who want to get rid of serious acne problems to 90-year-old golf aficionados who have serious sun damage they’d like cleared up to yes, guys who want to do something about their ear hair and need a little laser to fix it. That speaks to their appeal across the board, they’re not just aiming to help the ladies who lunch (not that they won’t, mind you), they’re aiming to make a difference for you.

Big hint here, right now is the perfect time of year to get laser treatment for sun damage, because you’re going to be keeping out of the sun for a good long while before spring – and those of us who are outdoorsy by nature need to stay out of the sun and keep sunscreened immediately after laser treatment, to avoid side effects like hypopigmentation.

And while we’re at it, on that sunscreen? Yeah, your SPF is probably good for about an hour before you need to reapply, so if you don’t want to find yourself treating more sun damage, think to reapply carefully before you go out in the sun at lunch and after work, if you put it on in the morning before you left. It really does make a difference.

Bellevue MediSpa, 631 A Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, Tennessee.

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