Re-Tales: confessions of a shopaholic

Haute Coats

imageIn L.A., it’s not who you are, it’s what you drive. In New York, it’s what you wear. And since the Big Apple was blessed (or cursed) with four seasons, we need to make our style statements with our coats. With fall/winter on the way, it’s crucial that I’m covered in outerwear that’s not only stylish, but also warm enough to fend off those frigid temps. That’s why my closet is crammed with Mackage (13 at last count) – a luxe Canadian coat label with an insane international following.

Touted for its ultra-flattering fit and unusual mix of fabrics, Mackage actually makes blustery weather fun and bearable. Created by design duo Elisa Dahan and Eran Elfassy during their elementary school days, Mackage has since been churning out dozens of cutting-edge leather and wool collections. Designed for fashion conscious femmes who want to look and feel fabulous no matter how low the mercury level dips, Mackage is more geared toward an attitude than an age. No wonder these haute coats are even coveted by leading Hollywood babes from the likes of Jessica Biel and Halle Berry. Known for its signature details such as waist-cinching belts, textured wools, leather piping, asymmetrical zippers, exaggerated collars and moody color combos (black, midnight blue and fog grey), Mackage is easily spotted from a block away. 

The latest styles to swoon over this season include a mod, thigh-grazing get-up with a built-in scarf and bell sleeves (the Demie, pictured above), an A-line beauty with a belted leather back and extra wide pleats, a chic wool cape adorned with a matte gold belt buckle and patch pockets and a jaw-dropping 3/4 length flared design with princess sleeves, which I snagged for myself. As if that’s not reason enough to raise your heart rate, there’s even a series of sleek, down-filled puffy coats (not to be confused with those bulky sausage styles) and a knockout knitwear line featuring sexy, oversized cardigans, turtlenecks and tube dresses. And since each classy cover-up seamlessly translates from year-to-year, you won’t feel pressured to constantly stock up to stay in style. But then again, throw on a Mackage and I’ll bet you can’t buy just one.

  • Mackage
  • 212-391-5287 (USA) & 514-388-5287 (CANADA)
  • $280-$785
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Filed: Clothes Encounters

Material Girl

imageWhen it comes to shopping for clothes, I’ve always favored small, boutique-y environments over busy chain stores. Call me high-maintenance, but I like getting special attention from sales staff such as frequent phone calls informing me about all the latest merch, free alterations and the ability to buy anything on layaway. Judging from the friendly vibe at Helianthus, a hip East Village hideaway, which recently popped-up on LaGuardia Place, I’m hoping to get even more of the same star treatment.

An unassuming street littered with casual eateries catering to the NYU crowd, LaGuardia Place is the last locale I expected to find a hidden shopping gem like Helianthus. Stocked with a well-edited mix of girly gear with an urban twist, Helianthus is a true shopper’s paradise thanks to prices that won’t break the bank. Owner Grace Wong, a recent FIT design graduate who apprenticed for Anna Sui, initially opened Helianthus (which is Greek for “sunflower”) to showcase her soon-to-be-designed clothing label. But since business has been booming from day one, those plans were temporarily put on the backburner. So for now, Helianthus’ racks are hanging with a bevy of established and indie brands from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea.

Expect an eye-opening palette of purple, shimmery silver and charcoal grey silhouettes that perfectly complement the hot pink plastic chairs and matching trash bin. Get a jumpstart on your fall wardrobe with flirty, punk-influenced ’80’s ensembles ranging from blousy ruffled tops by Alisha Levine, knee-grazing knits by Ulla Johnson, silk halters by Samantha Treacy and buttery leather carryalls with gold hardware by Bulga. And for jewelry junkies, there’s a gargantuan glass display filled with rhinestone-encrusted headbands, pendants with skulls and pretty chandelier earrings. Throw on a pair of patent leather skimmers, a bunch of silver studded bracelets and a wide cinch belt and you’ve got the Cyndi Lauper look down to a science. Multi-colored hairdo not included.

  • Helianthus
  • 552 La Guardia Place (btw Bleecker & West 3rd)
  • 212-677-6888
  • Mon.-Sat. 11-8pm; Sun. 11:30-7pm
  • $100-$400
  • exchange or store credit within 7 days of purchase
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Filed: Shop Talk

No Fro!

imageWhen I think about Brazil, images that first come to mind are caipirinhas, string bikinis and of course, extreme bikini waxing. For a culture that’s so obsessed with stripping, it’s surprising that the hottest new hair-straightening technique to hit salons stateside is, you guessed it… Brazilian!

Based on a protein-packed chemical solution that magically eliminates even the frizziest of fros, no matter how bad the humidity, the Brazilian hair-straightening process is perfect for girls on the go who want a professional, pin-straight coif every day of the week. Sexier and safer than Japanese thermal conditioning, Brazilian hair-straightening treatments are formulated with Keratin, a natural substance that strengthens strands without singeing them, leaving your hair with a silky sheen. A saving grace for fancy affairs and weddings, Brazilian hair straightening even brings life back to dull and damaged color-treated locks.

imageTired of pulling your hair back into a painful ponytail or bun like my friend Jennifer Dowling-Coticchio, the pretty blonde shown in these before and after snapshots? A busy Wall Streeter who used to spend 2 painstaking hours prepping her unruly waves for work, Jennifer recently test drove the temporary treatment and has never looked (and felt) better. Since being Brazilified this summer, Jennifer now struts out the door with a magnificent and manageable blow-dried mane in a matter of minutes, without the accompanied carpal tunnel syndrome.

Ready to simplify your morning routine? If you’ve got 4 hours to spare, head to a salon to trade in your Roseanne Roseannadanna pouf for an ultra-sleek finish that lasts up to three months. Some words of wisdom: better not breathe during the treatment, as it contains formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that can irritate the eyes and lungs if the fumes are inhaled. Also be prepared to look like a grease monkey for the first 4 days following treatment, as shampooing or even wetting hair is strictly verboten (water instantly strips off the solution). If you can survive all that, you and your hair will get along just fine.

Where Jennifer Got Brazilified: Cactus Salon & Day Spa, located at 1109 Old Country Road, Plainview, NY. To book an appointment, call 516-932-0458 or visit Make sure to ask for hair color specialist, Danielle Bernous.

Where To Get Brazilified: Visit or to find a salon near you. Price Range: $150-$600 (depending on length of hair and thickness)



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Filed: Beauti-Fixation

Dynamic Duo

imageOne of the things I love about living in New York City is that it allows me to freely express my individuality. So when cruising the shops for clothes, I thrive on finding versatile pieces that complement all the diverse aspects of my split personality, particularly like the ones I found from Hunter Dixon. A Hitchcock heroine-inspired clothing line worshiped for its ultra-flattering fit and wearability, Hunter Dixon is quickly becoming one of the hottest new names in retail.

The offspring of two close friends, Hunter Lingle (who designed for Nanette Lepore and Rebecca Taylor) and Jennifer Dixon (an ex-model and entrepreneur), Hunter Dixon was born on a whim last winter after the two noticed a void of haute-couture styles with attainable price tags in the marketplace. These twenty-something Southern belles, who somehow manage to keep separate day jobs (Hunter at a hedge fund and Jen at an ad agency), had always yearned for high-end garments with a flirty, ’40s-inspired flair, but couldn’t find frocks that suited their style (and bank account). The rest, shall we say, is herstory. The girls recently debuted their second smash collection, which includes a mix of modern silhouettes such as blousy leaf-print silk shirts to sophisticated charcoal grey tunics, all of which are meant to work seamlessly with everything in your wardrobe. Other standouts you won’t want to be without: a brilliant metallic brocade dress, a knee-grazing camel-haired coat, a pale pink high-collar tank with pretty ruffles, menswear-inspired wide-legged trousers, a puffy-sleeve herringbone sports jacket and a swing coat with pleats and antique buttons. Neither cutesy nor conservative, Hunter Dixon is a luxe line of day-to-night separates with price tags that won’t send you into sticker shock. Judging from the duo’s skyrocketing success, it won’t be long ‘‘til Lingle and Dixon bid adieu to their day jobs.

  • Hunter Dixon
  • 917-421-9712
  • $160-$525
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Filed: Clothes Encounters

Billion Dollar Babes

image and cordially invite you to attend BillionDollarBabes’ annual red haute summer sample sale!

Not one, but three fun-filled days of discount designer shopping with some of the biggest names in the biz at up to 80% off, all under one roof! From first fall finds to irresistible summer steals, this sale of sales offers fabulous frocks from over 50 heavy hitters including Tocca, Cynthia Rowley, Tibi, Nicole Miller, YaYa and Gryphon.

But wait… there’s more! Cutler Salon stylists will be on hand to provide free “sexy socialite hair-to-go” along with pointers for caring for your coif. You’ll also receive special deals on Stella McCartney’s sultry new fragrance, Stella, along with complimentary cocktails and serious swag. Plus, Fashion Junkie will be stationed at the VIP lounge, offering expert tips and tricks for building your wardrobe.

Don’t delay… RSVP Today!

  • Event: Billion Dollar Babes
  • When: Tuesday, August 21 – Thursday, August 23, 2007
  • Time: Tuesday, August 21st: 12pm-9pm (VIP & Members Only), Wednesday, August 22nd: 8am-8pm & Thursday, August 23rd: 8am-6pm
  • Where: The Altman Building, 135 West 18th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves.)

Special Deal Just For YOU! Billion Dollar Babes is offering Fashion Junkie subscribers a special VIP start time of 5pm on Tuesday, August 21st so you can get first dibs on all the dazzling merch. Make sure to pre-register here and present a print out of your email confirmation at the entrance for admission. Happy shopping!

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Filed: Shop Talk