Pantheia

The Ancestry Collection: Pantheia

The Ancestry Collection: Pantheia (“of all spirits”)

I recently learned about a new company named, Pantheia, and once again, I was moved by the story of sustainable fashion production. It comes from the island of Bali and was the inspiration of a designer named Alisa Kreynes …

In 2007, Alisa moved to East Timor from New York City for work. Bali became her escape; it was just a short flight away from the pressures of Timor. Just three years later, in 2010, Alisa had moved to Bali permanently, and started designing jewelry, bags and accessories. According to Alisa, designer and founder of Pantheia: “I was, and still am, enchanted with the Bali and wanted to incorporate some of its magic into my pieces. The concept behind Pantheia designs is simplicity and unity. Unity of different cultures, histories, traditions and beliefs as well as unity with nature and its elements.”

Scott Russell, Director of Marketing for Pantheia, shared more with me about the purpose and intention of this extraordinary company …

Pantheia was born in 2010 and expanded internationally in late 2011. The philosophy and values are centered around making unique and quality jewelry, clothing, bags and accessories, using the skills and techniques of Balinese artisans and craftsmen.

By utilizing local artisans to produce our products and traditional, responsible production techniques, the manufacture of our products helps support local communities in Bali.  Each item is made with special attention to detail and pride, and is infused with the ancient essence of Balinese culture. For example, we produce unique knitwear made from spun bamboo thread (rayon from bamboo), and our signature Banana Leaf Boxes are fashioned in a small village in Singaraja where natural banana leaves are dried, cleaned, and folded by hand.
A few days ago, we launched our newest collection called Ancestry. Not only is the collection beautiful, but it is also linked to one of our philanthropic initiatives, something that is close to our hearts at Pantheia. We have decided to donate 15% of the profits from Ancestry to the Sacred Childhoods Foundation. These donations are used by the Sacred Childhoods Foundation in Indonesia to provide instructors, tools, and materials to teach marketable skills, including knitting and crocheting to women who have had no other option than to beg for money on the streets of Bali. The Sacred Childhoods Foundation focuses on improving the lives of children, and adapting its programs to the changing needs of its beneficiaries, as well as developing sustainable long-term reductions in poverty as opposed to fostering aid-dependency.”  Scott Russell
What Alisa and Scott and the Pantheia team has accomplished is heartwarming and commendable. As Alisa says, “Real beauty doesn’t emerge from a fleeting trend. It sits inside each one of us waiting to be discovered.”
I couldn’t agree more. What do you think?
Pantheia production facilities

Pantheia jewelry production

The Banana Box

Pantheia resin jewelry production

The Banana Box

The signature Pantheia banana leaf box

“Like boys” …

Credit: The New York Times On the Street with Bill Cunningham

Credit: The New York Times On the Street with Bill Cunningham

Like boys … translation: Comme des Garcons

The way I approach each collection is exactly the same…the motivation has always been to create something new, something that didn’t exist before. The more experience I have and the more clothes I make, the more difficult it becomes to make something new. Once I’ve made something, I don’t want to do it again, so the breadth of possibility is becoming smaller.” Rei Kawakubo, Japanese fashion designer and creative force behind the label Comme des Garcons, Ltd.

Today I am inspired (as I often am) by New York Times On the Street photographer, Bill Cunnigham, and his piece entitled, Coated“. He highlights the coats and dresses from Rei Kawakubo’s collection from March 2012, and those women lucky enough to be wearing these colorful fashion-as-art pieces now.

Rei Kawakubo’s first collection, “Lace,” debuted in 1981 and since her debut, Ms. Kawakubo’s designs have been original and exquisite. She appears not to be interested in what others are doing, in creating the new, and in having the discipline to do so. I am thrilled to own my own small piece of Comme des Garcons, and for once I too, can be like boys!!

What do you think?

My very own Comme des Garcons shirt!

My very own Comme des Garcons shirt!

It’s the little things …

Jennifer Lawrence in her tangerine-red couture gown and slim black belt

Jennifer Lawrence in her tangerine-red couture gown and slim black belt- Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Details in dressing are important. It’s the little things that help you reach your style potential and create value that will take your look over-the-top. When I saw Jennifer Lawrence in her gown at The Golden Globes, the tangerine-red dress was beautiful, yes, but it was the slim black belt that made it stand out! Accessories, when done right, are accents that bring charm and identify you and your personality: a belt on a cardigan sweater, a necklace worn in an open v-neck, or the right bracelet on your wrist. Other details are critical, as well. I have spoken about the need for a good fit and having a tailor in your arsenal. Proper seams add sophistication to your shirts and jackets, and slacks hemmed appropriately for your size will do the same. Pops of color brighten an outfit, but more important, your mood. Think of a colorful handbag or clutch, or scarf worn around your neck, or even a manicure, the next time you want to feel brighter.

It’s the little things that bring huge benefits!

What do you think?

Golden dreams

Golden Globe Trophy

Golden Globe Trophy

I dreamed a dream in times gone by – When hope was high – And life worth living – I dreamed that love would never die ...” ~ Fantine, from Les Miserables

By 6pm my family knew to leave me alone, so that I could turn on the television and watch The Golden Globes in peace. Not just The Globes, though; I watch the pre-game – I mean the pre-show – red carpet. And I watch with gusto. It is my Superbowl. I love to see what everyone is wearing; I guess it brings back memories of dressing up as a little girl and glamming it up in front of the mirror! In fact, I dressed as a bride in one of the first Halloween’s I can remember (was I four years old??). Even then, it was all about the dress!

But it is more than that. It’s about dreams. It’s about memories. It’s about movies and stories. It’s about reaching back to my childhood, to that place where fantasy met reality and there were no boundaries.

For the record, my favorite looks of the evening were worn by two friends – the Aussie women: Nicole Kidman (I love her shorter hair!), in Alexander McQueen and Naomi Watts in Zac Posen. Both looked so chic yet simple and with a hint of sensuality, in perfectly-fitted silhouettes. My other favorite was Jennifer Lawrence, in a tangerine-red Dior Haute Couture dress, with a simple black belt that accentuated her slim waist. She said she felt a little “flu-y,” but honestly, who could tell??

The Golden Globes. Golden dreams!

Irina’s skates

Irina's skates

Irina’s skates

Irina grew up in The Soviet Union; she was a speed skater. Not just any speed skater – Irina was a champion for the USSR and participated in the Junior World Speed Skating Championship in Seoul, Korea. Irina skated for ten years, from the ages of 11-21. It was the privileged life of a Russian athlete, and one that offered income and travel for precious few during the Soviet regime. By the time Irina was fourteen, she was making money; when she was fifteen she left the country for the first time, and traveled to Northern Italy to skate. She was based near Milano, and the experience left her breathless and excited for adventure. Irina says that she “loved it so much,” that in that moment she knew she would eventually leave Russia, where “we didn’t really live, we merely existed.” Sadly, when Irina was nineteen, she suffered a very serious injury to her leg and muscles, and although she tried, she could no longer skate to her top-level performance and eventually quit because “I can’t be bad at something.”

Had that not happened, Irina feels certain that she would have continued skating professionally, and who knows where her life would have led? But it did happen and the course of her life led her to different adventures and an eventual move to The United States, making her the survivor that she is today. But she remained focused and fearless and like any athlete, kept her eyes on her goals – no matter what.

More to come from Irina

Lipstick always makes things better!

Sending you kisses!

Sending you kisses! Wearing my favorite lipstick (Bobbi Brown Lip Color – Pink*)!

This was a rough morning: I had two places to be at the same time, and was not prepared. It is a state in which we mothers find ourselves all of the time, because life with children is nothing if not messy and chaotic. And just when you think you have your ducks-in-a-row something will happen to shake it all up and you are back to square one. I would like to say that it gets better as your children get older but this state of confusion has followed me into my boys’ teen years.

In times like these, a mother must remain calm and breathe deeply. And that is a good place to start, but the reality is that you need more to combat the chaos: you need lipstick. This morning, as I was rushing to my second place after delivering my son to his destination, I found myself grabbing my favorite lipstick* and telling my mother, “Lipstick always makes things better!” And it does. Applying lipstick in moments of stress is calming and instantly uplifting. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that lipstick is the gateway to the other stress reliever for any mother: her smile!

Sending you kisses! xx!

Phoebe

Phoebe

Phoebe

It warms the heart to enjoy a conversation with a young woman with whom you have history and have known all of her life. I sat down with Phoebe, who turned sixteen last month, and at first, all I could see was the adorable cherub of a baby I once knew. But as Phoebe spoke, I left the baby behind and saw only the young woman sitting next to me. And isn’t she effortlessly chic and stylish? Here is Phoebe, in her own words: on fashion, where she shops, and the need to express oneself …

My feeling about fashion is that you should dress the way you want to dress. I never understood trends. I just pick the things I like and I wear them …

My high school is big (Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, or simply, La Guardia High School), and like any other large school there is a wide range of fashion looks. But we definitely feel free to express who we really are without judgment. Sometimes students’ choices are wonderful and sometimes terrible, but at least they are their own and I think that is what’s important …

I shop at J. Crew, Forever 21 and The Gap. If I had to pick my favorite place to shop, I would say J. Crew, because their clothes are always current and classy. My friends and I also like to shop at Buffalo Exchange, a consignment shop filled with current looks and is geared toward a young, hip crowd. There really isn’t one store where I shop most, because I look everywhere for pieces that fit my style. As long as it’s not too expensive and I think I can make it work in my wardrobe, I’ll buy it …

I wonder about the connection between fashion and self-esteem and people who don’t care about how they dress or what others think. I have a certain level of self-respect and it affects how I choose to dress. From what I observe at school people care about how they present themselves, too; from their outfits, to their makeup, to their shoes and their accessories. I think it’s connected to having a more positive self-esteem …

I used to wear only jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. Now, I like to add different pieces to enhance my outfits and go a step further. I may choose a collared shirt under a sweater, with leggings and boots, for example. I’m also warming up to accessories like headbands and bracelets and I have a pair of pearl earrings that I wear with everything. I’m definitely more open to different styles.” ~ Phoebe

Phoebe, you are doing so well! I think you have a smart fashion sense and a solid perspective on the benefits of expressing yourself through your clothing choices. I love to see it and to see you too!  xx, Melissa

Be a trail blazer!

Luxe Rachel Zoe chocolate suede jacket

Luxe Rachel Zoe chocolate suede jacket

There is something about a well-fitted modern jacket that feels like armor. If it’s cut well, it adds a dose of cool to anything you wear it with and does the heavy lifting when it comes to creating a flattering shape.” ~ Stacy Londonstylist, television personality, and author – from her new book, The Truth About Style

Do you own a blazer? Have you checked your closet recently? Blazers are so important for pulling a look together, and having a few well-fitting jackets, as Stacy London says, is necessary for feeling your best. I like the notion of a jacket as armor and I agree. Sometimes you want to say more rather than less. Sometimes you need the extra coverage; not just to complete a look, but to go deeper – to give you a sense of control and purpose when you need confidence. Sometimes, as your body ages, you simply need a little more structure and form, especially in the shoulders. And nothing, nothing gives a man or woman a sense of power and elegance like a blazer.

The expression ‘go to’ really fits when it comes to wearing a blazer. I have a few; a white and yellow for spring/summer, and my recent purchase – this Luxe Rachel Zoe chocolate-suede from her QVC collection. I chose it because of its good fit and interesting detail, including the puffed-sleeves (love!) and multiple zippers. And brown looks great with black, which makes it a classic for everything.

Take care of yourself and add your own protection with a proper jacket. Be a trail blazer!

What do you think?

New Year, New York, New You!

Oh, the windows of New York!

Oh, the windows of New York!

Whenever I am in New York, especially at holiday time, I come alive … much like Farnoosh’s sister, Fara. The walking and the windows are a constant source of energy and inspiration. And so, when my mom and I had the chance to meet our friend Jodie for omelets and coffee at our favorite spot, Pastis, I jumped at it! New Year, New York, New You! New Me!

What do you think?

Breakfast at Pastis

breakfast at Pastis

Farnoosh’s sister

Farnoosh's sister Fara

Farnoosh’s sister Fara

Do you remember Farnoosh? She moved to The United States from Iran ten years ago with her parents and two older sisters. We spoke about how difficult the move and transition was for her at the tender pre-teen age of twelve, about how Farnoosh views fashion, and about the need for us to express ourselves, no matter what our circumstance; even when restrictions are placed upon us and our expression comes in the form of colorful fashion accessories, as in the case of Farnoosh’s female cousin, who lives in a modern-day Iran.

I spent the last morning of 2012 having a cup of coffee with Farnoosh and her oldest sister, Fara (her middle sister, Farnaz, lives in San Diego). Fara is 29 and is living in Chicago as she pursues her Master’s Degree in Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Like her sister, Fara is lovely and creative and full of energy. She has her own story and relationship with fashion. Here is Fara …

When we left Iran I was nineteen. It took me a while to get comfortable, but I was open to the move. I had already graduated from high school in Iran and had an idea that I wanted to be an artist. I stayed local when I first arrived, and for the first year and a half learned English as a second language at Seton Hall University. Immediately I knew that the school was too small for me and that I needed more. I was drawn to New York City and left Seton Hall for New York, where I attended NYIT, the New York Institute of Technology, and graduated with a degree in architecture …

I’m a city person and from the minute I came to New York I was happy. I loved the energy and the diversity and how people in NY are original, especially in the way they think and dress. My favorite thing to do became walking: I would walk everywhere! I was inspired by the streets and the windows. That might be why I dislike shopping in malls where everything is so generic and everyone looks the same. I can’t be linked to only one brand and one designer, head-to-toe. I like variety and dressing high and low. That is why I am a fan of H&M …

I would describe my look as chic enough but not too fancy. I enjoy mixing pieces and remaining eclectic. My passions remain shoes and handbags!” ~ Fara

Fara and Farnoosh have adopted their American life but also embrace their Iranian culture. We had an interesting conversation about what that means. I shared with them that I have Colombian blood and at one time I wasn’t comfortable embracing it, but as I get older, I understand that it is a major part of who I am and I treasure it. I guess that explains why I love Latin music and always want to start salsa dancing … even though I don’t know how!!

I hope I meet Farnoosh and Fara again soon – and meet their middle sister next – Farnaz!

What do you think?

Farnoosh and Fara

Fara with Farnoosh

Fara with me

Fara with me