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Happy Chinese New Year to a Globalized America

I’m late to the game, but Chinese New Year (which is celebrated throughout most of Asia and also here in America) started on Feb 03 this year with a celebration period extending somewhere between a week to a month.

Being from the fashion industry and living in New York, Chinese New Year is a part of our yearly acknowledgment. Factories in china close down for a week or 2 which affects garment deliveries & practically any other industry which manufactures out of China. In major cities throughout the U.S. there are large Asian communities which influence the residences that surround it.

America has truly gone global as the media, internet, accessibility of travel, immigrants & influx of refugees from war torn countries have enriched all of us to new foods, fashion, beauty standards and celebrations. It’s quite hilarious when I can go to my dear friend Debbie, who’s white-American stemming from Oregon, to update me on new Asian foods & to teach me how to speak Chinese. I love that a non-Korean can bring in Kimchi to the office for lunch and ignite a firestorm craving of Korean delicacies versus a repulsed reaction to an unrecognizable pungency.

For myself, growing up in a diverse household of Vietnamese roots (with a refugee past) fused with my step-father’s German-Dutch family lineage via the beautiful Midwest of Wisconsin, I’ve grown up straddling the 2 worlds and the richness of it all.

In the Buddhist religion which my mother embraces, they believe in remembering their ancestors, continually praying for them in the afterlife and sharing what ever celebratory meals we have here on earth.
When my family gets together to celebrate, you can expect the best of both worlds, from something as all-American as apple pie (pictured below) to something very Vietnamese as Banh Nam & Banh Bot Loc (pictured above) wrapped in green banana leaves.
I love that there’s cranberry sauce & stuffing sitting in the middle of spring-rolls & fishy dipping sauce.
 Wishing all of America, a Happy Chinese New Years, the year of the Rabbit.

Aunt Char - Very beautiful – well done!

ENGAGED | Reese + Melissa (Part II)

I have so much more to say about this couple. In a conversation before the photo session, Reese shared his thoughts on how he knew Melissa was the one for him & there never was an inkling of doubt as to his decision in marrying her. It’s so wonderful to see a man completely sold out on the love of his life.

Reese gave Melissa a BEAUTIFUL antique ring that belonged not only to his grandmother, but his great-grandmother. The picture below does not do this ring justice. As the sapphire radiates and the diamond pave’ around it brilliantly sparkles. What I love the most about the ring is its authenticity & originality. Now THAT’S style! 

CAREY DO - These are really awesome Twah!

T.D. - Thank you very much Carey! Got a ton more of your gorgeousness coming this month as well!

ENGAGED | Reese + Melissa (Part I)

Reese & Melissa were such troopers to brave a snowy beach (right after a huge snow storm had just hit) to get glammed up for the camera. During the shoot, I couldn’t help but gleefully scream with excitement as I saw the vision I had in my head come alive before my lens.

The biggest impression from the day was seeing how much Reese adored, cherish and loved his bride-to-be. When he kissed Melissa, it was in the most tender of ways. When he held her, it’s as if he wanted to protect her from harm. He looked at her as if she’s the only woman in sight. He was goofy and knew exactly how to make her laugh. It was so beautiful to see the depth of their love unfold before the lens. The pictures speak for themselves of the warmth that is their relationship.

I had the HARDEST time editing down which ones to show. Part II will be posted Thursday, and hopefully next week, you’ll see Part III (which has a totally different look).

I love the image above because this was in the middle of transition from one spot to the next. A very faint flurry had started to come down and Reese hopped over a mound of snow to make sure Mel was covered under the umbrella. Seeing that just made my heart melt.
Like all my Style Sessions, there’s always props involved. The image above was in the middle of setting up for the next shot. Reese couldn’t help but kiss his bride-to-be and I couldn’t help but capture it.

jullie - You are AMAZING woman! Loving the pics!

David - Amazing…

Bride Advice | Wedding Style

I recently spent part of my day emailing with a potential client on giving her wedding advice & tid-bits. From it, I got inspired to share my personal wedding style with you.  Fresh off the wedding circuit myself, I retained a load of knowledge from my personal experience.  I hope to share all of it over time in this blog-site.

So today’s topic of discussion is “What is your wedding style?” I think when you’re a newly engaged bride-to-be, the idea of where to start is OVERWHELMING!! Even for the brides who know what they already want. The choices & options are endless. There’s a whole industry dedicated to this funny business. It’s practically a circus act at times.

So, where to begin? My most important advice for starting out is to figure out your relationship’s personal style. There’s nothing worse than to cut & paste from another wedding that you’ve seen.  If you’ve always dreamed of a circus themed wedding, then by all means, work your magic and go with what represents you as a couple. One thing I will emphasize over and over throughout this blog is PERSONAL STYLE.

A wonderful idea that I highly recommend is to create an “Inspiration Board.” I used to do this all the time back in my young “assistant designer” days. This can be a collage of images, swatches, paint chips & magazine rips of images that inspire you. Putting a board together helps to give you a cohesive image of your wedding. Having something visual goes a long way especially when you’re dealing with vendors who need to execute your vision. Even for a multi-tasking do-it-all like myself, I was still limited to what I could do on my big day (though I was still nailing mirrors to trees the morning of my own wedding….but I’ll save that for another post).

Having an inspiration board also helps an indecisive person like myself stick to a concrete idea. Every day I had a new idea and a new direction I wanted to go in. I used to joke about wishing I could have 5 different weddings with the same man so I could execute all the different wedding styles I loved.

**All images above were taken by me on my own wedding day.
So what did we end up going with for our personal wedding style you wonder? Since we got married on a private vineyard estate (on the bluff overlooking the water with access to a private beach…umm..yeah, pretty nice): We went with the concept of ”Town & Country“. It’s the idea of bringing our love for upscale elegance brought out doors and made casually tangible. It’s the love of crystal chandeliers mixed with burlap details, velvet chairs with metal lanterns set against the backdrop of the water’s edge. It’s the juxtaposition of both my husband & my love for the city & the country.

Here is my inspiration board: **Note: images in the board below are not original to Style Art Life and are a compilation of other photographers.

If you haven’t already noticed, I identified so much with my wedding style & color scheme, I carried that same look into Style Art Life!  

Jen Salcedo - I absolutely agree with your post. Creating an inspiration board was key during my wedding planning. It really helped me to make sure my theme/design was carried cohesively throughout.

Food File | The Impromptu Storm Sandwich!

Recently, my husband & I got snowed in together during one of New York’s big snowstorms. With both of us working from home and not wanting to venture out into the blistering cold, I had to get creative with our lunch plan. From searching my fridge & cabinet, I gathered enough makeshift ingredients to make a hot open-face gourmet sandwich which I now call the “Storm Sandwich!” It was an unitentional variation on the french sandwich called the Croque Madame. I’ve made this twice with varying ingredients since the two snow storms.

Just thought I’d share to inspire some scrounging in your own kitchen for a creative way to use simple ingredients to make something gourmet!

Though I must admit, I am a bit of a high maintenance person…ok…a lot high maintenance, so truffle oil & fresh basil may not be normal ingredients in most people’s pantry. But I hope this will inspire some to know that tiny luxuries, even if it’s a really great olive oil, can make that food life in your kitchen a little extra special.

Sometimes, using something as nice as free range farm eggs is what makes the difference in an egg sandwich. We love the eggs from Egg Innovations. It truly tastes like fresh eggs straight from the farm, packed with real flavor.  
The sandwich is about to meet its death as my husband is about to stop working in the background and devour this hot mess.
The best part about this sandwich is the ooze that is then sopped up with bread!
On another day, we had some great brick oven hard bread that also makes for a great storm sandwich!

Fashion Feature | Joseph of Portland

While in Maine, I met Jeff Lauzier (owner of Loyal Citizens Clothing see previous post) who runs the Joseph of Portland men’s boutique on Fore Street. Both my husband & I were impress with what Jeff offered at the boutique as well as his t-shirt designs. A great conversation on style led to a photoshoot which led to a follow up interview. 

There are tons of style insight from Jeff who I consider to be a part of a new emerging group of men, like my husband as well, who are still manly men at heart, but also understand the need for a groomed look as representation of who they are…so dwindling are the days of the metro-sexuals who are more prim than their woman and hopefully if you’re a manly men, you’ll be inspired to man up and dress out…to your personal style that is. 

Interview: Jeff Lauzier from Joseph of Portland Men’s Boutique
In regards to managing and buying for Josephs’ of Portland, you have an excellent edited selection of items covering all basis, age group (17 – 70 yrs old) and lifestyle. Each season when you look into new items for the store, what is your thought process in covering such a wide demographic?

  • I learned a lesson a long time ago: buy for your client and not yourself. We are in a very diverse city. We have 18 year olds that buy tees and jeans, 40 year olds that buy suits and 80 year olds who buy sweaters and pants. We do not have a narrowed focus because of that. We need to appeal to most but be selective enough to differentiate us from our competition. Everything we carry has been hand selected by our buying team with all clients in mind. The result is a store that is conservatively stylish yet edgy enough to be different.

Any advice for the woman who want to help improve their man’s wardrobe?

  • Women!, you know what you want to see on your man. Let him know or let us know what you want to see and it will be done. Most guys want your input. That is why they trust us (the staff) and the women in their lives. We are vain also. Tell us we look good and we will wear what you buy us. After all, YOU have to look at us.

What are some must-have key items for the men out there this season to refresh their wardrobe?

  • Spring 2011 is going to be colorful. Gone are the days of basic colors. Look for brighter cotton pants. Khakis are boring. You are going to see a ton of light blue, yellow, pink and green shades of pants. Embrace them. Here in the North East guys have about three months of “summer.” Have fun in that short span. Also look out for brightly colored gingham shirts. A return to a more natural fit is starting this spring. Fitted is always stylish…tight is out …oversized never looks good on anyone.**Note from StyleArtLife: Couldn’t agree more with all that Jeff just mentioned. Plus, Jeff & staff really know what they are talking about. My husband has been searching all over Manhattan for months for a particular gingham plaid shirt in a particular color & fit…who knew we had to drive to Portland, Maine to find it at Joseph’s of Portland. They also had a sick snakeskin belt that both my husband & I went nuts over.

What can shoppers expect to see in Joseph’s of Portland for the Spring Season?

  • The Americana look is huge again this spring. Basic chambray shirts, oxfords, buck shoes, denim and cotton pants are what you’ll find on our shelves…and really cool tees.

What are some recommendations for an awesome Portland, Maine Experience:

  • An awesome Portland experience: breakfast at the Porthole, a tour of Casco Bay on a lobster boat, the Portland Museum of Art, lunch at Walter’s, shopping in the Old port, a Chamberlain Ale at Shipyard Brewing, A walk on the promenade, dinner at FiveFifty-Five and local music at Port City Music Hall. Portland is such an eclectic town. There is something for everyone here. The food is amazing, the music is top notch and culture is uniquely New England. And most importantly, the people are real AND friendly…no bullshit here just honest hard working people.

maurice cozart - Ok…I am LIVING for the “rustic-old town look” of this place! I have to say that I am not one to dabble with too much color, but clearly I have to agree that it looks to be that it is a definite upcoming trend. I am very conscious about ” what colors match each other….” but I think that haphazard arrays amongs shirts, ties, socks and sweaters is actually very edgy….

Fashion Feature | Loyal Citizens Clothing

I had the opportunity to interview Jeff Lauzier, owner & designer (along with Julian Redman) of Loyal Citizens Clothing . When I first met Jeff, I was impressed with the breadth of knowledge he had for style and what was current. On tomorrow’s post he’ll give men insight into what to wear this coming season and how the woman can help their men step up their game in the wardrobe department.

Loyal Citizen Clothing
What made you want to start a T-shirt company?

  • I have been in the upscale men’s clothing business for over a decade, and in that time I’ve seen the trend go from a very formal work environment to a more casual one. In that change, a pair of jeans became a staple in the wardrobe. We started carrying jeans in the store [Joseph of Portland which Jeff runs], but never had tees that had a message. [Loyal Citizens Clothing] LCC tees definitely have a message but aren’t so outspoken as to limit the wearability.  I have always been an artist at heart so when it came to creating something that would match my store and mission…it was an easy and fulfilling leap.

Explain to readers the concept of your company

  • LCC (Loyal Citizen Clothing) is just that a loyal company that designs, produces, and prints within the USA. Our tees are made here, the inks we used are made here, and all of our tees/hoodies/bags are printed by hand in Maine. My Mom was a shoe maker for 30 years and when that industry left the U.S., she had a skill that was no longer needed or applicable. I promise that will never happen with LCC.

What inspirations/plans/ideas do you have in the works for this coming season?

  • Julian and I are focusing on the idea of flight for our spring/summer 2011 campaign. We have always been fascinated by the idea and want to convey that in print. Of course we will always have our “Maine” collection which features prominent Maine historical figures and symbols of our great state.

Being a historical buff with tees that have a lot of historical New England refrences, what historical figure has influenced you the most?

  • Joshua Chamberlain has been my biggest inspiration. He left a high profile job as a professor to serve in the union army and defend his country. He spoke 7 languages fluently, was an amazing leader of men, understood the importance of a liberal arts education, helped young women excel in math and sciences, was a man of God, governor of Maine, and a pillar of the community. He was what we should all strive to be.
    **Style Art Life Note: Jeff is wearing his own LCC design of Joshua Chamberlain in this shoot.

Your designs have a fine-art appeal packed with brains yet are really street cool. Are there plans to branch into a woman’s line of t-shirts?

  • We do plan on launching a women’s line this spring. It will be a lot of the same designs just on women’s tees. We are also working on a line called Be Your Own Goddess….but that is still in the works.
    **Style Art Life Note: Uuuummmm….as a woman, I’m super psyched about this. You can expect an image of me in one of the tees down the line!

**Images below are courtesy of Loyal Citizen Clothing, yet edited & color corrected by StyleArtLife for cohesiveness.

And now, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask some of my favorite personal questions:

What do you do in your free time?

  • I don’t have much free time. When I do have time, every second I have is devoted to spending time with my wife and daughter. I love golf, photography and working on vintage American Muscle cars…in the shop now is a 1935 Buick Humpback streetrod!

What was your big dream as a child?

  • My dream as a child was to design cars for Dodge. My Dad is a mechanic and I grew up in the garage. I have always had a passion of cars and wanted to design them. I thought about going to General Motors Institute but never did. I still like to get dirty and work on my own cars or help out at the garage once in a while. It is therapeutic for me.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

  • I see myself working harder than ever in 20 years. My daughter will be 22 and I’ll have to work on my menacing stare. I’m very protective of her. I hope to be playing more golf, polishing a fleet of muscle cars and enjoying life. We only go around once…live while you’re here.

What does the Art of Living a Styled life mean to you?

  • The Art of Living a Styled Life to me means being who you are with no pretense. When it comes down to it, people either like you or dislike you based on you. But remember that your appearance is part of you. When you look good, you feel good. Your clothing and general appearance should be an accompaniment to you, and not who you ARE. Many people don’t have a firm grasp on that concept. Style can be a ratty tee, a faded pair of jeans or a bespoke suit…everything has a time and place…and style.
    **StyleAtLife Note: And just that last answer alone is what this site is all about!

Donna Lauzier - Very nice Jeff, and a mother how is very PROUD of her son.

ENGAGED | Darlene + Alonzo

I was more than honored when my very near & dear friend, Darlene (+Alonzo), asked if I would shoot their engagement pictures.

On the day of the shoot, we were limited on time but managed to have a ton of fun while I captured the pure moments between them. 

Like most men who have been “persuaded” to do these engagement shoots, they are usually hesitant, nervous, stiff and just awkward. Alonzo was adorably shy to start…But once we got going, he became a superstar. It is so important to click with your photographer. A good photographer should be able to make you feel comfortable and help direct you to bring out the true essence of the relationship.  

The relationship between Darlene & Alonzo is full of contentment, respect, sweetness and jam packed with all-around sillyness. Alonzo knows how to make Darlene smile just right and feel like she’ll always be safe in his arms. It took a while for these two to finally meet after having years of mutual friends…it’s as if time needed to align the stars and now there’s a whole galaxy waiting for them!

There were so many special moments captured that I am saving for Darlene+Alonzo’s eyes only. Click on the image below to see a  short slideshow edit of some of my personal favorites.

F a c e b o o k   U P D A T E S