Saturday, September 29, 2007
Wonder Twins Activate: Form of Nick Verreos

Last month, my very good friend sent me this photo of himself---dressed up as ME!!! Well, needless to say, I just about fell off my chair! The first thought was "No he DIDN'T!!" The second thought was "What was this for? Halloween isn't for another month..." It seems that a mutual friend was having a Birthday party, and a very fabulous one, since it looks like he had his very own "Step-and-Repeat" Red Carpet for photo-ops. There was a sub-theme: Dress Like Your Favorite Reality Show Contestant. And my friend Spiro, seen here, chose to come as me. The fitted vest, the tie, the dress shirt, the hair--heck, he even walked around with his very own Barbie Doll, which he tried to dress like the one I did for the show back in Season Two. And of course, the piece de resistance : He even wore a faux beard and mustache! They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Spiro rocked it! I was also invited to the party but unfortunately, I was out of town (can you hear the violins playin'?). Wondering who I would have gone as? Probably Andrae... in a Red Lobster Uniform. Now that would have been a Kodak moment!
Monday, September 17, 2007
My highlights of the entire Emmy's Weekend were:
--Attending the Kate Somerville Spa and Gifting Suite, where I surveyed the PaigePremium Brand jeans all the stars are wearing (they make your butt look amazing!), Ajne Parfumerie and Apothecary, a company that creates custom perfumes out of the most precious ingredients for actresses like Reese Witherspoon and Hilary Swank (their bottles look they were found in the elegant bathroom of a Romanian castle!), and Frette sheets, maker of the most sumptuous bedding in the world. Last but not least, here I got a chance to meet Kate Somerville and speak to her about her famous products, especially the Quench Hydrating Serum, which actress Catherine Bell of "Army Wives" confided in me, was like a "skin miracle".

--I also attended Kari Feinstein's Emmy Style Lounge, where we had to drive to the highest hills of Hollywood and then be shuttled to a "secret location" where the suites were located in a private mansion. Now, this was the flossiest-flossiest lounge I had ever been to. There was a Reebok room where they had some of the coolest looking sneakers I had ever seen (the Voltron line is super-colorful and my favorite). Laura and I even filmed a PSA for Rockand Republic's "Rock The Cure" campaign while actors Seth Green and Andy Milonakis looked on. Laura kept saying how her kids would be SO jealous if they knew she was there with them! I saw so many stars file out of there with so many bags of stuff, my jaw just remained at dropped position the whole day! My half-full bag looked like a bad poor stepchild compared to theirs.

--At the Platinum Suite in the Luxe BeverlyHills Hotel , we were escorted to the Penthouse Suite and I got to stand near(but not too close to), $40 million worth of diamonds and platinum designed by various jewelry houses. It's just incredible that they are lent out to stars. I guess somehow actors wearing them and mentioning their name makes some (very rich) folk run out and feel like want to buy a $50,000 necklace. There has to be a reason, right? I just wore my $100 Nixon steel-plated watch--which I bought myself! Here, there was a La Prairie counter, offering a "taste" of why their skin caviar is the best skin cream in the world. The jar that was hidden in my "goodie bag" was larger than a jar of Jiffy Peanut Butter! Trust me, I ain't complainin'.

--I was invited to attend the Gersh Agency Dinner and Party for its Emmy nominees, given by Frederic Fekkai, to celebrate the opening of his eponymous salon on the exclusive Melrose Place street. There, I gossiped about fashion with Lilah Schechner, West Coast Editor of Elle Magazine. Leave it to the two fashion "queens" to hone in on each other and hang out for two hours and discuss fashion--at a very "A-list Hollywood Industry" non-fashion party!

--David and I attended the Entertainment Weekly Party and saw such A-listers as Vanessa Williams, most of her costars from "Ugly Betty", "Entourage's" Jeremy Piven, my friend and his on-screen assistant, Rex Lee, and Heidi and Seal. I had a lot of fun, sampling the hors d'oeuvres and drinking the yummy Margaritas. A notable absence was Tim Gunn, who was supposed to have shown up, but due to the fact that his car pick up NEVER arrived, he opted to just remain in his hotel and rest up for the big event. I missed him because we would have had "private time" to dish before the Emmy Awards the next day.

--Emmy Awards:
My favorite moments were meeting the GORGEOUS Padma Lakshmi, hostess and judge of Top Chef--looking divine in a white stretch silk Dolce and Gabbana siren gown, Tom Colicchio, also of Top Chef, "Ugly Betty" actor Christopher Gorham, who's a big fan of Project Runway. My best moment was meeting actress Patricia Heaton. I delicately pulled her to come to be interviewed for my MSN piece and once she recognized who I was, she literally began jumping up and down screaming. She was like "Oh my God, Oh My God, you're Nick from Project Runway!!!!" I returned the favor by also screaming "Oh my God, you're Patricia Heaton..and I am a big fan! And can I design a Gown for you next time???" Check out the MSN Emmy video to see what she had in her purse. It's the best! Click HERE to watch the video of Laura and I going through the Stars purses!

--I attended two Emmy's after parties: One for DIVA, Diverse and Inclusive Visionary Artists/Hector Monserratte at East West Lounge where I ran into Survivor star and Janice Dickinson model, JP Calderon. The 2nd party was for Magical Elves, the producers of Bravo's Top Chef and Project Runway, among others. There, I had a great time chatting with Bravo's Andy Cohen and seeing my old friends at Elves, especially the sexy Michael Rucker, looking like a British aristocrat with his tuxedo tails, skinny pants and flower pin. Here, I also ran into model Amanda Fields and several of the chefs from Top Chef well as the over-the-top Bobby Trendy(go figure!). They were still viewing the awards show that I had just ended up attending. Unfortunately, I arrived right as they were announcing Amazing Race as the winner of Reality Competition Program. There were lots of booos in the party.

-- Two Interesting Observations regarding the Emmy Awards:
I always somehow thought that the WHOLE theater/auditorium was always FILLED with stars--all of its 6,000 seats were somehow occupied by "famous people". When, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Maybe 5-10 % of the seats are filled with famous people while the majority of the seats are "other" industry folk--producers, writers, costumers, grips, agents, managers--not so famous.
The other observation was more of a fashion one. A lot of the women attending looked like they were going to the Miss Tennessee Pageant Finals, instead of the Emmy's. Beaded polyester satin Leg-o-Mutton sleeved gowns with front thigh-high slits would not have been my choice of a gown to wear to the Emmy's. And I saw SEVERAL! Ah well, all I can do is continue to offer advice and encourage women to "DRESS LIKE YOU MEAN"! Click HERE to watch video of Laura and I giving advice on dressing for your body type.
The Story of a Jacket

Oh the joy of Emmy Awards Season! Usually, I would have just planned to watch the show at home or go to some exclusive "Viewing Party". Nothing too exciting you might argue. All of that changed several weeks ago when I got the call from MSN, wanting me and fellow Glam Squad Diva, Laura Bennett, to actually cover it for MSN Style Studio. Not only were we going to attend some of those VIP Gifting Suites, but also THE Emmy Awards and do fashion coverage from the Red Carpet. One small thing: The clients thought it would be a "cute" idea if we both designed--and wore--something that said "Dress Like You Mean It", our tag line on our MSN Style Studio segments. Laura and I debated and went back and forth on what we were going to do. Numerous emails, phone calls and scenarios were passed around, all in an effort to figure out how we were going to "carry this off" without, how shall I say this delicately, ending up on "The Worst Dressed List".

Laura was inspired by a photo of a dress with caviar-beaded lettering and decided she would do that. We know that if anyone knows beading , Miss Laura Bennett does! I could just see her employing 100 15 year old Bangladeshi boys and girls, sitting there hand-beading every D, R, E, S and another S into a fabulous gown! She actually ended up finishing the beading herself by hand on the plane ride from New York. Could you just see her sewing on the plane! I am sure the flight attendants were doing many double-takes while passing the champagne and warm nuts!

Now, on my end, I struggled for weeks trying to come up with something that would not make me look like Milli Vanilli's secret gay cousin, or Elton John Does Cirque Du Soleil. My first idea, involved me designing a tuxedo jacket with Swarovski crystal lettering saying Dress Like You Mean It. Thankfully, that was scrapped when everyone I mentioned that to would gasp in horror. I thought about making a vest with crystal-encrusted lettering. Next. Then that vest turned into a screen printed one. No vests, since that would take effort on my part to show it and would not be so visible from immediate viewing. I was going to make a tie with the words "Dress Like You Mean It" , like a logo, on it. Too small, no one would see it. How about wearing a crystal buckle with those letters, someone suggested. Can you say "Blazing Saddles?" Next. Laura even suggested that I just wear a regular tuxedo (good!) but walk around with a crystal- encrusted FAN , a la Karl Lagerfeld, with those words on it ! OK, on the "Gay-o-Meter Scale", that one was even too off the charts for me to consider! She felt that since she was wearing a gown with the crystal lettering throughout that I should go subtle. But I could not go TOO subtle since the main request was that the tag line Dress Like You Mean It must be instantly visible. Sorry guys, no fan.

I decided on wearing a velvet evening jacket that I would somehow find a way to embroider the words on it--without looking tacky. Talk about a Project Runway design challenge! I contacted a screen-printing and embroidering company called Los Angeles-based Total Access, that does all the embroidery and lettering for various companies, such as Nike, Hustler Clothing, and Kohls and worked with its owner, the wonderful Damian Kim, on how to create lettering that would achieve a cool-yet-stylish piece for me to wear to The Emmy's. He even enlisted the help of his lovely daughter, Jin, who is what I called the cutest 16 year old "computer geek" I have ever met! She was so fast and so good in locating, and re-configuring all the lettering and helping us with the designs. We spent DAYS on the right font, the right size, the placement. At first, Total Access was going to embroider faux-leather lettering on the jacket, Damian spent hours cutting each and every letter and placing it on the jacket only to make an "executive decision" that it just did not look right. My partner David even got into it, designing all these different graphics to possibly incorporate into the jacket. After much deliberation, we decided on hand-embroidering a customized "Gothic-like" silver lettering into the black velvet jacket and that's it. No other graphics, it would be clean, simple and to the point. No beading , no studs. I didn't want to be Laura's "matchy-matchy". I think they did a great job and I was happy with the results (and so was my client). One would never know the thought process--and labor--that goes into such a seemingly simple and basic piece of clothing. Total Access "Made It Work"!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Fashion Schmashion

Last week was NY Fashion Week, and I spent it in Los Angeles. Much to the contrary of what had been rumored, I did not show at the Bryant Park Tents . Let me explain: I received many emails and calls here in LA from friends and industry people saying, "Did you know you are showing?". I was like "No, I ain't". Well, a line called "Nicholai" is on the roster, they would tell me. Sorry guys, my line is NIKOLAKI. Nicholai is the brand-new line by Nicky Hilton, and while yes, the names sound familiar. They are not the same. You can see of my recent gowns from Spring 2008 above and to the left.

I stayed here in LA, because I was working, teaching and filming segments for MSN.com/Style Studio for the Emmy's. So, to get my NY Fashion Week style fix, I turned to various fashion sites I love , such as Style.com, Cathy Horyn's blog for the New York Times and the fabulous Frillr.com site. This site had most of the NY designer's full runway videos up the next day, if not the same day. So I felt like I was there--without the rude people pushing, shoving and trying to get into a show, pretending they were "somebody".

Speaking of videos vs photos, I would first look at the photos and my immediate reaction with some of the collections was a very Michael Kors meets Nina Garcia "I am underwhelmed". However, after I looked at the full runway video, with the models moving, seeing the backs of the gowns or dresses, plus the music, my view would change 360 degrees. This is a lesson in how photos DO NOT translate exactly what the clothes really looked like or what the designer had in mind in putting forth their "vision". I argue that a photo from Style.com cannot portray this accurately, but seeing the full-on video can. And in several instances, it changed my mind. Particularly, after seeing Vera Wang's Roman-inspired collection and Ralph Lauren's ode to "My Fair Lady". At first I wasn't moved but after watching these videos, I actually loved them. I was especially thrilled to see Vera Wang do a Grecian/Roman inspired collection, since that was essentially the theme for my recent NIKOLAKI Spring 2008 show at the W San Diego. Her take was less glam, but serenely beautiful. The draping was on-mark!

My other favorites were the controversial Marc Jacobs collection and Diane Von Furstenberg, among others. Marc Jacobs' show began 2 hours late and was shown backwards (Marc took his bow at the beginning and the models came out from last look to first. ) Few fashion journalists and bloggers I read even commented on how the amazing Viktor and Rolf had done this "backwards show" several seasons before, as well as the illusive Martin Margiela. Jacobs' collection, at first, looked a mess. But after much viewing and thought, I thoroughly understood it. His take on sex, society and wearing your underthangs a la Britney and "Grey Gardens" meets Madonna circa 1985 was on a whole other level. People loved it or hated it. The argument I keep hearing towards Marc Jacobs is that we (Americans) need our own Galliano, or Viktor and Rolf--someone who goes "out there" and tantalizes, polarizes--and Jacobs, is the closest thing.

Diane Von Furstenberg's show was Tahiti-Meets-Hawaii-in 1982. The French Disco soundtrack was sexy-hot and so were the flowy dresses shown on the runway. The bold colorful prints, sexy mumu's (I would never think those two words would go together!). The fact that she used so many models of color: HOT!!! After looking at her collection, I wanted to go to Hawaii and bring every single DVF mumu with me! Tres Chic.

Click HERE to view the Ralph Lauren show.
Click HERE to view the Vera Wang show.
Click HERE to view Marc Jacobs show.
Click HERE to view the Diane Von Furstenberg show.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Nick and Andrae Show visits Seattle

Last month, I had the privilege to be invited back to the International Academy of Design and Technology (IADT), Seattle, for their Finale Gala Fashion Show, titled "Do You La Mode?". This time around, I was happy to be joined by the one and only Andrae Gonzalo. We were asked to host the actual show , judge it, and give a special seminar/lecture the day after. The day we arrived, after checking in to the Hotel Monaco, we were drawn by some stylistic galactic power to this wonderful sculpture right outside the entrance of the hotel. It was a Disco Ball Pig! Well, you just KNOW we had to take a photo! It took a while for the hotel staff to try and pry us away from that damn pig! I want to commission the artist to make me one for my Loft/studio back in LA.

I always have such a fun time in Seattle, thanks to the fabulous Hotel Monaco, the staff and students at IADT Seattle, who work fearlessly to further the knowledge and instruction of fashion and all types of design in the Emerald City and beyond. I also had an amazing time with my friend, Eduardo and his Seattle-based "Venezuelan Posse", who have incorporated me as "one of their family". We had the best empanada-and-wine dinner at a friend's house, I would have stayed there all night! Needless to say, he decided to show Andrae the sights and sounds of Seattle-at-night. Thanks Eduardo. You are the best!


It was a quick three days in Seattle and I wish I would have stayed longer, but alas, I had to come back to LA to get back to designin' ---and to order all the glass needed to make a new Disco Ball Pig for my Studio!


Click HERE for a Seattle Times article about Andrae and I standing by the Disco Ball pig.
and HERE to read my entire posting on BravoTV.com about my wonderful visit to Seattle.

Thursday, September 06, 2007
Tim Gunn's House OF, I mean Guide To Style is debuting tonight on Bravo, and I will be watching my former mentor on his debut. I can't wait to hear all his acerbic wit and see his now-infamous lifting of his eyebrow and lowering of his glasses (which on Project Runway, would send any of us designers running to cry over our future demise!).

The last time I saw Tim was when I was asked to introduce him at a Bravo event for Los Angeles' Outfest. He was, of course surrounded by his "handlers" and even I, got barely a chance to say "Hello" and get a hug in. The next thing I realized I was being pushed by about ten people who wanted to get a photo for their MySpace with Mr. Gunn. He was almost being suffocated into a corner and all I could see was his face saying "Help me!" Boy, things have changed since two years ago when we would be walking down 7th Avenue to go to Mood and no one even blinked an eye. I wish him all the best and luck on his wonderful new show. I'm already a fan. He had me at "Hello".
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
DRESS LIKE YOU MEAN IT!!!

MSN.com's Style Studio has been a hit! Or so they tell me! Friends , family (they better!), as well as strangers I run into on the street, at airports, hotels...No, I am not running around town at the wee hours of the night wanting to find out what people think of us , "The Glam Squad"--even though that's what you might think! And now, more than ever I find myself telling girls randomly to "Dress Like You Mean It". I think the catchphrase has been embedded so much in my brain that I dream it! So everyday I wake up , I try to follow my own advice.

I have been making monthly trips to NY to film the segments and enjoy doing them--even though during these recent blistering summer months, the studio/loft where we film has felt as if we were filming in an oven! (they turn off the air conditioning while we film in order to lessen on the noise it makes) So, in the event you see my T-zone glistening (more like dripping!) now you know!

Here are some photos from one of the last shoots where I hung out with the lovely models as well as the fabulously chic hairstylist to the stars (and Heidi Klum's personal stylist), Helena Faccenda (working her fierce Prada ensemble). Check out the site HERE
You can see some of my most recent style segments under "Everyday Focus"; segments include "Clean Sweep", "A Blank Canvas", as well as "Eco Chic" . You can also check what my favorite "celebrity" clothing lines are as well, under the "Trends" section.
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