Tag Archives: Interview

Interview with Laura Bennett (motherhood with style, Project Runway, and more!)

NOTE: See below for a link to the giveaway!

Did you see my review of Laura Bennett’s book, Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday?…um, yesterday? Well here is the follow up interview I promised.

If you want to know more about the book and Laura’s life, please read the review. Better yet – read the book. It’s hilarious, insightful and even a little controversial for those of you hoping to hate her – and it doesn’t disappoint.

For the interview, Laura was gracious enough to agree to answer some questions via e-mail. In honor of her jealousy that my name translates well into “vanity plate” – I am “K8.” And because I can’t come up with anything better (sorry Laura), she’s “LB.” Actually – I was going to use initals for my blog, but “TBPOC” is a bit awkward.

Now that we have all of that cleared up…on to the Q&A:

K8: You’ve described your NYC home as “a two bedroom loft.” But the real question Laura, is how many bathrooms? With potty training twins and a five year old who tends to leave his personal business until the eleventh hour, we need all three of ours to avoid complete potty chaos. How many bathrooms do you need for five boys, two parents and all of the other people who are in and out of your home all day?
LB: I’m not sure how many bathrooms I need for this crew; I only know what I have. Our apartment has one full bath, and one half bath. It’s funny because as many times as I’ve thought this apartment needs more closet space, or more shoe shelves, it never occurred to me that I needed more bathrooms. Thanks for pointing that out.

K8: As a stylish mother of six, you must have the hospital go bag down to a science. Many of my readers are either pregnant now or will be soon, Even after baby number one or two, many of us still make rookie mistakes when packing the bag that will be our lifeline for the two or three post-labor days at the hospital. Any suggestions for some “musts” that will make moms feel and look their best while they recover and pose for those endless pictures?
LB: Here I am, obviously having just finished labor and I am wearing lipstick and false eyelashes.


If I wasn’t me, I would so make fun of me. I think we should start a facebook fan page for women who wear lashes in labor. So It looks like my answer would be bring lashes (Andrea Brown #33) and long-wear lipstick (Maybelline superstay).

K8: You briefly explained that with reality TV, the footage is obviously selected for entertainment value. But that in the end – true personalities do shine through. Did you feel like this was true of yourself on Project Runway? Feel free to be candid about anyone else as well (I’m fairly certain that Jeffrey doesn’t read my blog).
LB: I think what you are really asking me here is if I still think Jeffrey cheated. I think he cheated. Even if he sewed every stitch of every garment, he still cheated. He was over budget, he didn’t have receipts, and he didn’t follow the production rules. He cheated, and then he won. It happens a lot in life. Maybe it doesn’t bother me because I wouldn’t have won anyway, Uli should have been the winner. For me it was enough that I called him out.
[Actually – that wasn’t what I was asking. But this was far more interesting than what I had in mind.]

K8: Living in Manhattan, do you ever run into the Project Runway judges socially? And if so – is it weird, having once been on the receiving end of their critical eye for an intense few weeks? If the answer is no – were there any that you particularly liked and could imagine having as a friend if the opportunity presented? (again you can probably say anything here – I’m skeptical that Nina will ever happen upon this interview…)
LB: You mean like I’m at Rite Aid buying a jumbo box of super absorbent tampons and I look up and see Michael Kors? Never happened. I have guest judged an episode, and I don’t feel awkward around them at all. My husband thinks Nina was hard on me, but I think most of the comments the judges made were right.

K8: Okay – so the accessories wall. Did you always find everything you could possibly need there? I don’t see how that’s possible…
LB: I don’t even remember the accessory wall. I was so tired, I have no idea how I did any of that. We go to sleep at 3 am and they wake us to start the next day at 6 am. After five weeks, I didn’t even know my own name. The only thing I remember about the accessory wall is the pair of sunglasses that I stole. I still wear them.

K8: I really love your philosophy on personal style. Not everyone has it in them (or has the legs) to wear an LBD and stilettos to Target. BUT they can still look chic with some strategic closet planning. And it’s genius to choose a cinematic style icon and plan your wardrobe using them for inspiration. I’m guessing that many of my readers would say that they have avoided the spiral into crocs and sweats, but do find that they fall back on jeans with boots or flats. Do you have any style icons to suggest? And what basic pieces should be the foundation of that look?
LB: A simple dress and heels work for me, but I certainly don’t expect that to be everyone’s uniform. Jeans and flats still run a gamut of styles. You can be rocker chic, ingénue, or cowgirl. Here are some cinema examples of comfortable done fabulous. (I can not recommend leaving the house wearing a holster with or without a pistol, please replace with a belt.)


Audrey Hepburn


Diane Keaton


Jane Fonda


Jean Seberg


Katharine Hepburn


Lauren Hutton


Marilyn Monroe

AND OF COURSE!
K8:
Who do you think will make it to Fashion Week this season of Project Runway?
LB: My picks for the current season are Emilio, Seth Aaron, and Jay as finalists, and Jay to take the win.
[Although Laura did see the collections at Fashion Week this Fall, 10 are shown so that no one knows who the final three actually are. But this does tell us that Jay’s collection must have been amazing – wonder if stopped making the model’s butts look big…]

Don’t forget! I’m giving away copies of Laura’s book, Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? HERE.

And for those of you in the NYC area, she’s making a book signing appearance at Borders Columbus Circle in New York City today at 7:00 p.m. AND she’ll also be signing books at BlogHer this summer in NYC. Can’t wait to meet this lady in person.

Thanks again for everything Laura. It’s been a pleasure.

****************************************************************************************************

ELSEWHERE:

On Wishing True

Fifi Flowersblue shutters

Vinyl boxes via Draw Flowers

On As Good As Cake

Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? giveaway!

HUGE Kathlin Argiro Sale in Washington, DC

I just wanted to let everyone in the DC area know that my designer friend Kathlin Argiro will be holding her annual sale at the Georgetown Visitation Bazaar, November 7-8. If you don’t live nearby, I don’t suggest reading the rest of this – it will only make you really really sad.

This is a great opportunity to get new Fall dresses at sample sale prices! Good ol’ Visi devotes an entire room to Kathlin’s dresses and there are always tons to choose from.

Whether you need a dress for an event or just love a good sale – you can’t go wrong with a Kathlin Argiro frock. And sample sale prices? That’s probably the only way that I can justify buying a dress right now…

I’m thinking that I might need one of these for work:

Maybe the one in the middle? Not sure… I’ll have to see them in person to decide.

If you don’t live in DC and did in fact continue reading, I apologize for any tears you may be shedding right now. For everyone else, here are full details:

Annual Kathlin Argiro Sale

Georgetown Visitation Bazaar
“Esprit de Noël”

Friday, November 7th
11 AM – 9 PM

Saturday, November 8th
10 AM – 4 PM

1524 Thirty-Fifth St.
NW Washington DC

FREE ADMISSION & FREE PARKING

Hope to see you there!

Currently Making My Day: The Evening Picture by Janet Hill Studio

Doesn’t everyone have a “happy place” online? Usually these are sites devoted to beautiful images. Ones that make us forget about our daily grind or the political debates or the state of the economy… Just a little escape into a world where everything is beautiful and peaceful – and no one is running around the house with a non-washable red crayon….Oh wait – that last part only applies to me, but you know what I mean.

For me, this site is Ontario artist, Janet Woodward-Hill’s Janet Hill Studio: The Evening Picture. Materialistic Monday is not all about clothes and accessories. It’s about wanting something that you don’t actually need. And I can honestly say that I want every painting on this website.

I found Janet’s lovely work at one of my other happy places, The Paris Apartment. These little jewels that she creates DAILY (I’m not kidding – one each day) are usually on small canvases (6 x 6 give or take a few inches), and pretty affordable for original paintings. That is – if you can snag one from her Etsy shop before someone else beats you to it. They don’t last long.

As the daughter of an interior decorator, I was immediately drawn to the interior scenes and use of textiles. So of course, the first thing I did send the link to my mother. I also e-mailed Janet to see if she sold her work to stores since these paintings would be perfect for my mother’s shop.

As it turns out, The Evening Picture will soon be sold as limited edition prints on canvas. They will be in her Etsy shop (which should last all of five seconds) and also in retail stores throughout North America, Australia, and Europe. (If you are a retailer or designer and want to carry her line of prints on canvas, email her at janethill111@yahoo.ca and she’ll add you to her list.)

I told Janet that I planned to feature her on my blog, and asked if she’d mind answering a few questions about her work and process. Here is what she so graciously sent back:

BPOC: When did you decide to start “The Evening Painting” site? What prompted it? Friends, clients? Just a desire to have a virtual portfolio for your miniature work?

JH: I started “The Evening Picture” site when I decided I wanted to shut down my retail store. For six years I owned a store called The Great Dame in Stratford, Ontario. It specialized in European bath and beauty products, but I also displayed my paintings on the wall. After a few years, I realized that it was the paintings that were drawing a lot of customers to the store and it no longer made sense to keep up the high overhead of owning a bricks and mortar shop. I had heard of other artists selling online, more specifically on Ebay, so I decided to start selling my ‘oil sketch’ paintings online and that lead to the blog and Etsy. It was a leap of faith I suppose, but I enjoy taking risks.

BPOC: Where do you get your inspiration? Do you paint strictly from your imagination or do you sometimes actually set up still lifes? Or both?

JH: I get my inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Magazines are a big component, as are other blogs, movies (I have a portable DVD player in my studio and will often have movies playing in the background), and my imagination. Often it’s an odd combination of all of the above that leads to a painting. I never work from still lifes as I’m too lazy to go about setting it all up.

BPOC: I am particularly drawn to the details you include in your work – especially the textiles. Have you ever done any work in textile design – or interior design?

JH: I don’t really have an interior design background, unless you count the three days that I worked in the Schumaker fabric library which I found a little hellish. I graduated with a fine art degree and never really knew what to do with it. I considered going to design school but never felt that I would be a particularly great designer as I tend to get annoyed easily. All my friends and family told me that I was a natural painter, so somehow I combined my love for interiors and painting and found a way to make a living off of it. Every day I wake up and can’t believe that I am able to do this.

BPOC: Obvious question: how do you find the time? Your small paintings are like little jewels – it’s hard to imagine that you don’t spend all day on them.

JH: It’s pretty much a full-time job for me, so I try and approach painting as a job. Doesn’t sound too glamorous, does it? After I walk my dog in the morning, I try to discipline myself and head into my studio for most of the late morning and afternoon. Money is also a pretty good motivator I hate to admit. If I want that pretty, new hot pink clutch, I have to buckle down and paint. My husband is quite jealous that I’m able to do this for a career, as he thinks I don’t “technically” work. In many ways I have to agree with him when I reflect back on previous jobs – particularly office jobs that I had that required an hour of highway commuting every day.

Thank you Janet for taking the time to exchange e-mails! And more exciting news – I will now have a little piece of my happy place in my own house (which I guess is supposed to be my real happy place…) I told a close friend about my near obsession with these paintings, and she purchased one for me as a belated birthday gift (very belated since my birthday is in April – but I’m not asking questions!)

Need a quiet moment in a place where colorful shoes are perfectly lined up and Spring flowers never wilt? Visit The Evening Picture. I do this every day and it’s better than…dare I say it?…CAKE (and a lot less fattening).

My First Big Interview: Fashion Designer Kathlin Argiro

There is nothing I like more than thinking that I know important people. Well – maybe there are a few things like more…my children playing together happily, a nice dinner with my husband, blah blah blah. But seriously – I do know some really interesting people and I LOVE talking about it.

And if there’s anything that runs a close second to my love of feeling important, I mean, my family, it’s a well designed dress. I’m not kidding. Admittedly, my daily uniform does tend to revolve around pants lately – but that is based more on practicality than self expression.

I’m a dress girl at heart. I once devoted my summer wardrobe to what could only be called “worship” of the classic sun dress. There was even a time when a funny male friend called all of the girls in my 20-something beach house “the sundress brigade.” And I’m not even embarrassed by that – we were hot.

So you can imagine how much I have enjoyed telling people that I know successful NYC fashion designer, Kathlin Argiro. And on Friday, I had the opportunity to actually interview her. How appropriate for Materialistic Monday!

As a fellow graduate of Georgetown Visitation High School, I have followed Kathlin’s career and the success of her label (going on 11 years now). I’ve seen her designs on the Today Show and Fashionably Late with Stacey London, as well as in Vogue and In Style magazines.

While Kathlin does maintain a couture line, she is quickly becoming best known for her ready to wear line, Style Me Chic. I have purchased some of her pieces through sample sales (always one for the bargains, me). And a particular dress that I bought on a whim several years ago has actually become my “go to” for evening events (a long black lace column with tiny spaghetti straps…how can I go wrong?)

Kathlin’s designs are known for their classic lines, but always with a twist. When I asked about her design philosophy, she explained that “while women ultimately want to wear simple clothing, there has to be a reason to buy it.” Life is fast and busy, and we all want to look great without spending hours on that look. But we also want to have fun with current trends. Designing clothes that translate well for multiple occasions while staying fashion forward in the details is a signature of Kathlin’s design style.

One thing that I love about Kathlin’s designs is that she is always coming up with something new. This past summer she released a dress trademarked as the Dressong. I had to laugh because I actually bought a sarong style skirt from her back when I was in high school (I knew you when Kathlin!) The Dressong is a “unique dress/sarong that can be worn countless different ways and takes you from the beach to poolside cocktails with a simple twist of fabric.” No kidding! Check this out:

Now that summer is over, the Dressong will have to hibernate for the colder months (with the exception of tropical locations and resort wear needs of course). Fall is at our doorstep, and those of us feeling a chill in the air are ready for long sleeves. One of the biggest challenges of the “in between seasons” is finding clothes that will be comfortable in fluctuating temperatures. Enter my favorite solution: The wrap dress.

Kathlin favors this dress for her own lifestyle and finds that it can move easily from a business meeting, to a custom fitting, to an evening out. The jersey fabric doesn’t wrinkle, the simple lines can be dressed up or down and the color and pattern selection offers something for every personality.

When I asked Kathlin about her favorite styles for this Fall season, the wrap dress was at the top of her list. She continued that purple is an important color in fashion this year. In fact, the long sleeved wrap dress in chocolate brown and purple has been selling out faster than they can get them in stock (one drawback to online shopping…I seem to have slower fingers than most…)

I followed up with a request for Kathlin’s advice on how those of us with decidedly unglamorous lifestyles can look stylish for the holidays (the office holiday party, a neighborhood open house, etc.) While the wrap dress presents an excellent option since it is both comfortable and versatile, she suggested trying to add a bold color or print for a little drama. This will still look appropriate in less formal settings, but makes for a great alternative to the ubiquitous little black dress.

If your needs do tend to run more formal, Kathlin also offers a line of customized ready to wear that can suit your personal preferences for style and color. This “design your own dress” option “allows you to create your own unique, semi-custom dress in a simple 3-step process.”

Step one: pick a silhouette Step two: pick a fabric Step three: pick a treatment

This is particularly popular with bridesmaids since they can each wear the same length and fabric with a variation on style and finishing. And what better way to look at these dresses with your bridesmaids, than to visit her New York studio at 265 West 37th Street!

Kathlin has started holding regular Shopping & Champagne parties at her studio, combining efforts with various co-sponsors such as Social Diva, Smashbox Cosmetics, Arbonne International and Lingerie Fit Expert. Guests sip champagne, shop for dresses and recieve demonstrations on the co-sponsor’s products and services.

These events are only advertised by word of mouth and e-mail, so contact the studio if you want to be on the list. It is also possible to organize private parties at the studio, as well as at your own home. Something I wish existed when I was planning my own wedding!

At the end of our interview, I asked Kathlin how she would describe the woman who wears Kathlin Argiro. Her response:

“The Kathlin Argiro customer is a woman who wants to be noticed in the ‘right’ way. She wants to be stylish but always appropriate. She likes sleek, chic, feminine, sophisticated, timeless clothes that are easy to wear and make her feel GREAT!”

Don’t we all…

Thank you again Kathlin. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

EXITING GIVEAWAY ANNOUNCEMENT! Remember our friend Brooke Galardi from Bee Gee Bags? She has offered to give away one of her gorgeous clutches to a lucky Big Piece of Cake reader! Check back tomorrow for a picture and details.