Alexis Bittar at Neiman Marcus

If you ever wanted to get to know jewelry designer Alexis Bittar then today’s your lucky day. This Saturday was the Alexis Bittar trunk show I had mentioned last week and we had a nice little convo where I learned more about his fine jewelry collection, how he balances being CEO and Creative Director of his business (now something Burberry’s Christopher Bailey is juggling) and his favorite thing about Chicago (hint: it’s NOT the weather).

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Animal Royalty: Making It Reign

I recently met up and coming designer Chloe Mendel at an event in Chicago. I was immediately intrigued by her knowledge of fashion (being J. Mendel’s daughter will do that to you) and even more impressed that she’s still in school…and already coming out with her own clothing line. When she told me the line will be white t-shirts, I was already sold. I’m a huge fan of t-shirts and I love them even more when they make you do a double-take.

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Animal Royalty is the prodigy of friends Mat Devine and Chloe Mendel, with the debut collection consisting of 4 t-shirts along with fur accessories. I made my first Animal Royalty purchase just last week (keep reading to see more) and I am pumped about this collection. Best part? Chloe says they’ll be releasing new styles on a constant so be looking out for more from Animal Royalty soon.

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To really get to know the Animal Royalty brand, check out my interview with Chloe below.

First and foremost…why t-shirts? 
Mat and I create products that we both use and love. A good t-shirt is a good t-shirt; there’s no doubt about that. We wanted to create our ideal t-shirt which is flattering, comfortable, with a slightly dark and provocative twist (our inside-out stitching and cryptic sayings). Very much representing who we are.

How did you come up with the phrases for these t-shirts?
Well “Nice Shirt” was something Mat had sharpied across his tee while he was in college. This was the starting inspiration for Animal Royalty’s debut collection. We write down phrases all the time and have compiled a list which will never end. Anything that crosses as sarcastic, cryptic provocative or dark we write down or text each other. 

Where did the name Animal Royalty come from?
Our relationship of human to animal has always bewildered my mind. I saw “Animal Royalty” written across Mat’s mirror and it really resonated with me. The more we talked, the more it made sense that “Animal Royalty” represents what we both love about life and fashion. Animal being the raw and royalty being the chic.

What inspired the fur accessories?
As a kid my dad always let me design my own clothing and accessories and I loved fur. I even came out with a baby-pink fox bag called “The Chloe Bag” when I was nine years old! When I had noticed Mat wearing a raccoon tail on a key chain hooked onto his belt, I knew if we developed it well they would be perfect for Animal Royalty. Plus I am very fortunate to have access to high quality fur.

Are you looking to expand the accessories part of your brand?
Yes we are expanding on accessories for sure! These shirts and accessories are only a taste of what is yet to come from Animal Royalty.

Who is the Animal Royalty customer?
The ideal Animal Royalty customer is someone who is not afraid to be unique. We look for creative individuals with a good sense of humor; our friends, good people.

I have a feeling Animal Royalty is going to be huge, and you heard it here first! Already wore my t-shirt and I can’t wait to see what Chloe and Mat do next.

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Shop the collection at animalroyalty.com.

George Kotsiopoulos at Stuart Weitzman

Yesterday I had the pleasure of chatting with George Kotsiopoulos at the Stuart Weitzman cocktail party. FYI if you haven’t checked out their latest collection, you should definitely stop by and get yourself a new pair of heels. Lots of fun colors this season!

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Anyway, George is awesome and I totally appreciate his Midwest (specifically Skokie, Illinois) roots. I myself am from Northbrook so we bonded over the ‘burbs. When I asked him if his Chicago [area] upbringing influenced his fashion career, he responded “Well I did work at Lord & Taylor…” Hey you gotta start somewhere right (fun fact: my first job was at a shoe boutique called Never Enough Shoes). So how did he end up on Fashion Police? After being in the fashion industry as a stylist and making TV appearances in the past, it was inevitable George was meant to voice his fashion opinion. He knows what he’s talking about and has the experience to back it up. However, I did tell him if a guest cancels last minute I’d be more than happy to take their place on Fashion Police :)

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So you know I have to ask the “what do you like to do in Chicago?” question (my favorite!). Besides seeing his family in Skokie, George enjoys dining at Sunda and Pump Room, claims the gay bars in Chicago are much cooler than the ones in LA and gets excited to shop at Topman while he’s here. Sometimes I forget we’re so lucky to have a Topshop/Topman (the only other US location besides NY!)

Interview With Brad Goreski

Saturday afternoon I attended Brad Goreski’s book signing at Brooks Brothers and scored an interview with him before the event started. He was such a pleasure to talk to and as always…I was obsessed with his outfit. Wearing Black Fleece head-to-toe (except for a killer pair of Louboutins), how can you not love this?

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We started off chatting about Fashion’s Night Out and how I thought it was great he decided to come to Chicago for that stylish evening. That night in September was his first time here and he’s been back a few more times since. He says he loves Chicago now, and enjoys dining at Pump Room and going to Underground. Before our interview he had just finished brunch at Luxbar, which let’s be honest…you can never go wrong. I also told him his boyfriend Gary is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter…and I’m kind of obsessed with his dogs, who get lots of air time on It’s a Brad Brad World.

So we all know Brad’s a stylist, has his own TV show and has written a book, but do you know his most prized fashion possession or favorite place he’s traveled? Well now you can find out!

What womenswear designer do you wish designed menswear?
Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. I wore a head-to-toe Chanel outfit once and I wish he did more menswear. I’d also love to wear Jason Wu.

Favorite place you’ve traveled?
Tokyo for fashion. Greece overall. (where he met his long time boyfriend Gary)

If you had to choose a title for your second book, it would be…
Brad to the Bone.

What’s your process for getting dressed?
I start with one key piece and build everything around that. It’s similar for when I’m styling a client, except the key piece doesn’t always end up being the star of the look.

What’s your most prized fashion possession?
Right now I’m loving my Simon Spurr jacket with leather sleeves. It adds a little edge to my outfit.  But my Louis Vuitton duffle has the most sentimental value. 

Brad, I leave you with one question…when am I going to see this Spurr jacket?? It sounds like something I’d be very interested in borrowing.

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Be sure to pick up a copy of Brad’s new book Born To Be Brad on sale now!

From The Runway To Your Nails: It’s Miss Ladyfinger

I think I’ve made it pretty obvious I’m beyond obsessed with nailpolish. When my friends in college thought I was crazy to even own glitter nail polish past the age of 9, I pursued my love of manis and even dedicated a #ManiMonday hashtag to them. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out about Miss Ladyfinger–the best runway mani blog…ever.

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I met Taryn, the editor, at an event during fashion week in New York and the second I found out about this blog I was addicted. I don’t know how she does it but she’s definitely talented. It’s really incredible look at these beautiful runway shows then see how Taryn interprets them to nail art for her blog. So because I’m curious/mani-obsessed, I decided to ask Taryn a few questions about how this all began…

Jena: How did you get into nail art?
Taryn:  I have always been obsessed with painting my nails (the last time I actually got my nails done in a salon was probably freshman year of high school). Over the years my collection of polish has grown to well over 200 colors. I work in the fashion industry and my day job requires that I attend New York Fashion Week. In September, I was so inspired by all the print and pattern coming off the Spring runways that I started to recreate the looks into nail art. I bought my first nail art brush and taught myself. 

Jena: Do you have a specific manicure you’re especially proud of?
Taryn: I’m most proud of the Marni-inspired manicure. It was my first translation of runway fashion into nail art and put Miss Ladyfinger on the map. My runner up is the Gucci. It’s pretty fierce.  

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Jena: I have to ask…favorite 3 designers?
Taryn: Prabal Gurung. Rodarte. Celine.

Jena: What runway show are you dying to turn into a mani but haven’t done for the blog yet?
Taryn: I can’t wait to turn Celine’s Fall collection into nail art. The graphic color-blocking is so eye-catching would translate really well.  

Be sure to check out www.missladyfinger.com and don’t miss out on the Prabal Spring ’12 mani…it’s my favorite :)