Cammino per la città. Annuso, ricordo, penso.
Categories: New York Tagged: Flat Iron, Foto, New York
// 28/04/2012 at 11:41
// 28/04/2012 at 19:30
Meraviglioso Eataly, mi è piaciuto molto
// 22/05/2012 at 17:32
E’ stata la mia prima “casa” a New York.
Il palazzo di fianco, sulla 22a.
Penultimo balcone in alto a destra, 30° piano, appartamento 306.
Alla mia sinistra c’erano (ancora) le Torri Gemelle, alla mia destra l’Empire… Il primo giorno, era pomeriggio, me ne sono stato un paio d’ore – un po’ intimorito – al balcone a guardare quello che c’era sotto, quello che avevo attorno.
Poi mi son sceso ed è come se non fossi risalito più, da allora…
spyder womens jacket
// 27/09/2013 at 07:26
Luxury retailer has transformed its 84-year-old Christmas catalog into an application for what’s anticipated to be this year’s hot electronics gift: Apple’s .By putting the 2010 Christmas Book into an iPad app, Neiman Marcus is keeping up with its customers, said Gerald Barnes, president of the Dallas-based company’s catalog and online division. That doesn’t mean the printed catalog is dead. Neiman Marcus still plans to mail more than 1 million copies to customers, and the entire catalog is viewable on its website.The Christmas Book has been online since 2006 and now almost all of the company’s direct sales are made on its websites. Its Internet revenue increased 10.7 percent last year, while catalog sales fell 19.2 percent.Last year, about 85 percent of Neiman’s direct sales were online, up from 80 percent last year and 75 percent in 2008, according to the company’s annual financial report.Going mobileOne advantage of an iPad app is customers can browse the catalog from anywhere without an Internet connection once they download it, Barnes said.Imbedded in the iPad app and the online catalog are videos showing fantasy gifts, such as this year’s his-and-hers gift: a 48-by-12 houseboat with 7-foot ceilings and $250,000 price tag.There’s also video of this year’s car ? a 2011 Neiman Marcus Edition Camaro convertible with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that sells for $75,000.Other catalogs also soon will be accessible from the iPad app, Barnes said. “Catalogs continue to be a very important part of our advertising. This is how we get into our households.”Mailed catalogs are up slightly this year from just less than a million last year, Barnes said. Before the recession, the company mailed 2 million Christmas Books.Price rangesAbout half of the 450 items in this year’s 163-page catalog are again priced below $250 ? showing the retailer’s sensitivity to cost-conscious buyers.After skipping the $1 million and up price tag last year, this year the famed book contains a gift costing $1.5 million: International artist Dale Chihuly will transform a swimming pool into an original, private work of art.The least expensive item is a $15 silver-plated candlewick trimmer.Neiman Marcus extends its reach with catalogs. About 40 percent of its online and catalog customers in the last two years have been from cities where it doesn’t operate a store. And customers who shop both stores and online spend about four times more than single-channel customers.Last year, Neiman Marcus circulated about 48 million catalogs, down 25 percent from the prior year, as shoppers shifted to the Internet. It also sends out daily e-mails to about 4.7 million customers, alerting them to new merchandise and special offers.Even before online shopping took over, catalog represented only about 10 percent of annual catalog sales.His and hersBritish success story Burberry revealed today that it had hit a stumbling block as the luxury brand issued a profits warning.In a surprise update, the group said it had been hit by a slowdown in spending across the world.The darling of the fashion scene had once enjoyed sales growth in double digits, but today it reported that like-for-like sales ground to a halt in the 10 weeks to 8 September. Chief financial officer Stacey Cartwright said: “In the last two weeks there has been a global slowdown. We have seen this across the board in Asia, the US, Europe and the UK.”Despite its issues, the brand is gearing up for where it will present its womenswear spring/summer show on Monday.Cartwright said: “We have Fashion Week, and the tremendous new flagship on Regent Street that has just opened — our largest in the world — while our menswear-only Knightsbridge store will open in a few weeks. Traffic has been down globally but we will not change tack.”Burberry warned that profits for the full year of 2013 would be at the bottom end of market expectations at about pounds sterling 407 million. Retail sales, including from new stores, were up 6 percent.The slowdown compares with strong first quarter trading where retail sales had grown by 14 percent.Luca Solca, luxury brands expert at CA Chevreux, blamed Burberry’s reliance on very high-end clothing rather than accessories such as handbags. He said: “Apparel — on which Burberry is more dependent than other mega-brands — is softer. In difficult times consumers prefer leather goods and hard luxury accessories as they are more visible and work better as status symbols.”Analyst Kate Calvert at Seymour Pierce downgraded the stock to hold and said: “This news will obviously hit sentiment towards Burberry. However, we still consider Burberry a strong long-term growth story.”The company has enjoyed a remarkable decade with its shares rising fivefold. Today the stock slid more than 18 percent, down 249p to 1125.5p, on the news.However, Mike van Dulken at Accendo Markets said: “This morning’s selling may be overdone, providing a short-term trading opportunity.”___(c)2012 London Evening StandardVisit the London Evening Standard at Distributed by MCT Information ServicesDiamond baubles from Cartier glittering in one window, Louis Vuitton’s signature leather bags beckoning from across the street and another storefront displaying ‘ silk scarves.Within months this is the scene that will greet visitors to Miami’s Design District, as the neighborhood begins its dramatic metamorphosis into the new hot spot for luxury shopping.Cartier and have just opened their doors. Louis Vuitton will do so on Oct. 19. Hermes and Men are under construction. Right behind that will be Pucci. By the time and the holiday shopping season arrive, there should be 8 to 10 luxury brands lining the Design District’s Northeast 40th Street corridor. These openings are a sign of Miami’s ascent as a fashion destination.”For most luxury brands Miami is one of the top three markets in , along with New York and Los Angeles,” said Valerie Chapoulaud-Floquet, president and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton North America. “The Miami market has grown quicker than the rest of North America.”For decades the Bal Harbour Shops offered the only option for luxury in Miami-Dade County. But no longer is having one store in the market enough for these luxury brands.”Miami has been under retailed for luxury because of the strength of the local market and the strong growth of tourists coming to Miami,” said Emmanuel Perrin, president and chief executive officer of Cartier North America. “This market can support several Cartier boutiques. It was just a question of time before the luxury market evolved. Everyone has been waiting for the right project to come along.”Louis Vuitton and Cartier both left Bal Harbour Shops last summer because the mall didn’t have the space for them to expand. The retailers were also prohibited from opening a second store within 20 miles unless Bal Harbour’s owners got a piece of the new store’s revenue.Now, Louis Vuitton already has opened another store at Mall and Cartier is assessing the market. It’s all part of an unfolding game of musical chairs that ends the monopoly of Bal Harbour, which has controlled the luxury retail market since 1965.By 2014, developer Craig Robins expects to have 40 to 50 luxury brands spread throughout the Design District, creating a new urban destination for fashionistas. Already committed to the area are about 30 tenants, including , Bulgari, Pucci, De Beers, Zegna, Tom Ford, Burberry and Marc by . They will join the district’s original fashion tenants Christian Louboutin, and Martin Margiela.”We’re starting to build critical mass,” Robins said. “We continue to find that more and more brands are interested in coming. This is an exciting moment for the Design District. People are going to feel the transition and the power of integrating fashion with art, design and food.”Many of the brands are giving up space at Bal Harbour, which the International Council of Shopping Center recently designated the top producing mall in the world. But they say they don’t believe the move will have any negative impact on their business.”We have made a seamless transition,” said Vira V. Capeci, president of Celine. “Our clients have followed us to this exciting location.”Right now, Cartier’s name sparkling against the backdrop of a bronze storefront may look a little out of place as the area undergoes a transition. But soon Louis Vuitton will make a dramatic statement across the street with a storefront covered by an original work of art from graffiti artist Marquis Lewis, known as RETNA.There may be growing pains in this gentrifying neighborhood. Will consumers be willing to spend thousands of dollars on jewelry, handbags and clothes just a few blocks away from some of Miami’s more impoverished neighborhoods?At Cartier a security guard stands close by watching over an offering that includes a rare yellow diamond and a $310,000, diamond-encrusted panther pendant and necklace.”I like the idea of an urban neighborhood where you have crackheads here and Cartier over there,” said Denia Roth, a Miami resident who was lunching this week at Michael’s Genuine in the Design District. “The diversity brings everyone together.”The retailers have more freedom to design the look of their stores and open bigger showrooms featuring a wider variety of offerings. Cartier’s new store is three times larger than what it had at Bal Harbour.And these stores are only the beginning. Cartier and Louis Vuitton are among several brands opening temporary locations, until they can design and build flagship stores. When these stores open in 2014, they’re expected to be among the brands’ largest stores in the U.S. outside of .”We want to take our client experience to the next level and serve our clients in comfort,” Perrin said.Louis Vuitton felt it was important to get into the Design District early.”We like to be part of building a story, it’s part of our pioneering spirit,” Chapoulaud-Floquet said. “We think we’re going to be able to communicate with a very different clientele that is younger, more trendy and much more open to art and culture.”Although it’s been a year since Louis Vuitton and others started leaving Bal Harbour, operating partner Matthew Whitman Lazenby says same store sales continue to grow — up 16 percent for the first six months of the year compared to last year.But Lazenby says his family has had a change of heart about allowing tenants to remain at Bal Harbour and still open a second location in Miami-Dade County.”You can’t deny there has been demand expressed by more than one tenant,” Lazenby said. “Miami has reached the point in its evolution where more than one store can be sustained. We are adapting to the marketplace and trying to accommodate the needs of our tenants.” ___(c)2012 Visit The Miami Herald at Distributed by MCT Information Servicesdesigner Monica Pedersen can be seen regularly on programs such as “Bang for Your Buck,” where she shows homeowners how to maximize their living space and beautify their homes. A well-seasoned traveler, Pedersen — who lives in the Midwest — sees the potential in taking trips to Wisconsin, as well as heading overseas for a longer vacation.Q: What is your favorite vacation destination? A: , Fla. It’s a low-key town right next to and about 45 minutes from . It is my go-to spot when I really want to relax. Working on TV for me means being constantly surrounded by the noise of saws and drills. So a vacation with good weather, the comfort of a private home, a charged golf cart in the driveway and no pressure to look presentable is heaven!Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?A: Kohler, Wis., is definitely at the top of my list and is a place my husband and I go at least twice a year. The American Club (destinationkohler.com) is charming, the golf is spectacular and the food is mouthwatering. Another fun place to go in Wisconsin is the Osthoff Lake Resort (osthoff.com).Q: What are your favorite hotels?A: The Pelham Hotel (pelhamhotel.co.uk) in London has beautifully decorated rooms. The Ritz-Carlton (ritzcarlton.com/neworleans) in New Orleans is comfortable and in a great location. The Four Seasons (fourseasons.com/dublin) in Ireland treated my mom, who was very sick while we were there, like a queen. The Soho Grand Hotel (sohogrand.com) in New York for its location. The bar can be pretty fun as well.Q: What are your favorite restaurants?A: Il Cantinori (ilcantinori.com) is my favorite restaurant in New York. I love great Italian food! In Las Vegas, definitely the Wynn Hotel and the Bartolotta Ristorante (wynnlasvegas.com/#dining/bartolotta), which is incredible.Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?A: Comfortable shoes, a variety of outerwear — like scarves, sweaters and my plaid Burberry rain poncho — BlackBerry, cheap pair of backup sunglasses, a good book and a small container of moisturizer.Q: What are your five favorite cities?A: San Francisco is so romantic. It’s where my husband proposed to me. New York for its great energy. Napa Valley is sophisticated yet friendly and has great food and wine. I love the details in New Orleans’ architecture. Charleston, S.C., is elegant and loaded with Southern charm.Q: What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?A: I talk to friends and do a ton of research online. A Web site I am working with, mastercardmarketplace.com, is a great resource for vacations.Q: Where would you like to go that you’ve never visited before?A: Buenos Aires, . I am heading there soon to shoot an episode of a show I work on called “Bang for Your Buck,” and I cannot wait. I am also going to track down the balcony where Eva Peron sang “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and do my own version. I’m kidding!For more from the reporter, visit ."I’M NOT saying I’ll never be with a prostitute again. But it’s hard. Parts of it are soulless and parts of it are nourishing. It’s always a roll of the dice."That’s our always candid friend, , talking to Playboy magazine for July/August ("Massive Summer Double Issue" it says, directly above cover girl .) Charlie is Charlie. Don’t try to make sense of anything he says, because mostly it doesn’t. And he knows it. Is it malarkey or the real deal or some wild combination of the two, which seems to be working for him. (His new show, "Anger Management" is doing well.)Yet at least he admits to being unfair to his longtime "" co-star , in the heat of Sheen’s firing. "I whaled on him unnecessarily … he’s a beautiful man and a fabulous dude and I miss him. I need to repair that relationship, and I will. I will reach out to do whatever is necessary."As for the now-legendary tale of a suitcase full of cocaine being delivered to his house, in the midst of a wild party, Sheen insists it never happened. Nope. He was watching a Dave Chappell sketch on TV and laughed so hard it gave him a hernia. The hernia did not occur because of too much partying and illegal substances.Look, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. And even if he doesn’t, it apparently won’t make one bit of difference to the fans who support him.WHICH LEADS us to the conundrum of . Tom doesn’t smoke (anything) drink, or carouse with hookers. He has never assaulted a woman or been accused of such a thing. He takes care of himself, his popularity has not waned. He is still, according to Forbes magazine, the highest paid actor in the world. And yet, on the front pages of the newspapers, Tom is the devil, scaring poor so much that she has to have a ring of bodyguards surrounding her when she ventures out. What’s Tom crime? He’s a control freak who belongs to the mysterious and controversial Church of Scientology. OK, maybe that’s not pleasant to live with, but the public seems to find his driven personality and religious/spiritual beliefs more unsavory than anything Charlie Sheen does.I guess bad boys do, somehow, get more breaks.As for Miss Holmes, she will be fine. She’s made her point, with her bodyguard photos, and the bits of business that have slipped out; her fears for Suri, etc. Nobody is going to be kidnapped or forced to do anything they don’t want to do. She’s been clever. I suppose she’s had to be.Let’s not forget, she knew exactly what she was getting into. It’s not like Tom became a Scientologist during their marriage. There were plenty of warning signs. But Miss Holmes, apparently, was in love or lust or infatuated with his image and the attention he showered on her. And so it has come to this sorry state of affairs.Tom? Another hit movie and people will probably go back to shrugging off his beliefs. Next time (if there is a next time) Tom should marry a nice, docile Scientology girl with whom he can share his religion.I WAS chatting with a friend last week about how much Internet technology and computers, cellphones, iPads, etc., have taken over every part of our lives. Everything is controlled and connected it seems to one huge grid. What if everything blanked out one day, even for 24 hours? We’ve all become so dependant.Well, just a day or two later, the had a story about a summer storm in Virginia that took out part of Amazon’s "cloud" computing service, in which hundreds of companies store data. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and Amazon responded pretty well, but this story gave me pause. The Times reported: "The ability to deal with failures has long been a feature of any computing system, but like much else in the cloud, there are no common standards to guide how much protection against disaster is enough."We are so concerned about our borders on the ground. Perhaps we should spend more time with our heads in the clouds. That’s where I think the real storm of apocalyptic nightmares stores its "data."WELL, IT’s beginning to look like all the fan-whining over is evaporating as "" continues to break records even before this all-important weekend. (But then these days, every weekend is "all important.") The film, which co-stars , has, as of yesterday, made more than $35 million in the United States. In Asia, the take was more than $50 million and climbing.So he was too tall, too gawky, too British, not ? Well, whatever he is or isn’t, Mr. Garfield is probably set for two more installments, and set for life financially, as well. That skin-tight Spidey suit is no fun to get into for hours on end. (And it’s impossible to wear anything under it.) But in-between films, he’ll be able to devote himself to more comfortable Prada, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein or Burberry. (He wears Burberry in a deep blue shade on the cover of Teen Vogue. He’s paired with Miss Stone, who is supposed to be his real-life girlfriend. Well, at least until the film hits the $500 million mark.)NOW THAT has come out, will on be as much smirky, giggling fun as it has been? Oh, you know — Anderson’s friend, comedienne , would come on and tease him relentlessly, implying, but never saying, what everybody knew.They’ve got to cook up a new act.(E-mail at .)Shortly before Daniel Hernandez moved from L.A. to Mexico to write a book about its roiling capital, a friend gave him an order. “I don’t want to see you back from Mexico City until it’s physically altered you, until you are different,” Hernandez was told. The Western Hemisphere’s largest metropolitan area, with about 22 million people, has its existential challenges: toxic air, epic traffic jams, “express” kidnappings. But it also can bestow transformative benefits on those willing to dive headfirst into its urban mosh pit. FOR THE RECORD: Daniel Hernandez: An article in the April 28 Calendar section about author-journalist Daniel Hernandez identified Hernandez as a former Los Angeles Times staff writer. Hernandez is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer and a current staff blogger and news assistant in the Times’ Mexico City bureau. — During a recent L.A. visit, Hernandez spoke about how his adopted hometown since 2007 has altered him and how he hopes to alter others’ perceptions of it with his just-published book, “Down & Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century” (Scribner). “I think as a journalist Mexico City pushed my barometer of crazy in my life,” said Hernandez, 30, a former Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly staff writer. “But of course sometimes it’s overwhelming and you think you’re going to pass out, you need a limonada. You need a run out of town.” Hernandez strives to capture that craziness with a combination of memoir, bildungsroman and an impressionistic essay-album of edgy young lives in a city that often feels perched on the precipice of chaos. Some reviewers have invoked Jack Kerouac and Bret Easton Ellis in characterizing Hernandez’s first-person immersion in Mexico City’s louche atmospherics. Matt Sledge of the Huffington Post wrote that “Hernandez’s book tells the stories that we should know, if for no other reason than American culture is increasingly Mexican culture, as his journey makes clear.” That journey, of course, is the reverse of one that thousands of Mexicans attempt every year. “The irony is not lost on me,” writes Hernandez, who’ll be appearing at this weekend’s L.A. Times Festival of Books. “While millions of Mexicans are migrating northward, I go south. It is an act of rebellion. My parents, who left Tijuana and settled in San Diego in 1976, shake their heads in disapproval.” Growing up as a bilingual, bicultural U.S. citizen, Hernandez often heard horror stories about Mexico City’s crime, smog and corruption. But rather than dissuade him, they aroused a desire to get to know this off-limits part of his cultural heritage. What he found, upon arriving, was a cosmopolitan, multilayered city (pre-Columbian, colonial and modern) with a complex web of youth subcultures: emos, “anarco-punks,” Condesa scenesters, rich trendy fresas from Polanco. “I just kind of went deeper and deeper,” Hernandez said. “I was adopting certain aspects of the subcultures. I realized I had to not judge anyone’s music or their style or their fashions but [ask] why had they adopted it, and to pinpoint what I see as the contradictions.”, an English professor at Loyola Marymount University, said that countless young Mexican Americans have made the reverse-odyssey to their ancestral homeland over the decades, but few have written about it in long form with Hernandez’s insightfulness. “Daniel is saying that the borders have to be crossed on all levels, including the self,” said Martínez, author of “The Other Side: Notes From the New L.A., Mexico City, and Beyond.” The haunts Hernandez describes in “Down & Delirious” are far from the places most tourists see. He hangs out with graying Marxists at the weekly El Chopo open-air swap meet and parties till sunrise with coked-up chilango teens and twentysomethings in the bohemian Roma neighborhood. He canvases fashion shows, gets swept up in a surging mob at a soccer match and flees an Aztec temazcal (sweat lodge), “gasping for oxygen” and deeply skeptical of whether ancient rituals can act as curatives for the ills of modern life. In surreal detail, he recounts pilgrimages to the worship halls of Mexico City’s dueling spiritual icons: the beloved Virgin of Guadalupe, the country’s church-sanctioned protector since she allegedly appeared to the peasant Juan Diego in 1531, and the fearsome, skeletal Santa Muerte, “Saint Death,” the unofficial patron of prostitutes, crime lords and cab drivers working the graveyard shift. Some episodes in “Down & Delirious” will ring familiar to readers of Hernandez’s blog, , which has a following on both sides of the border, particularly among readers 30 and younger. (Disclosure: Hernandez and I have been casual acquaintances for many years.) Just out of UC Berkeley, where he studied English literature, Hernandez first visited Mexico City in 2002 and stayed 10 weeks with relatives, an experience that “recalibrated” his life. Then in 2006, he was assigned by the L.A. Weekly to write a piece about Mexico’s upcoming presidential election, which led to the contract for “Down & Delirious.” Laurie Ochoa, the former L.A. Weekly editor who , said that while “Down & Delirious” touches on Mexican politics and hot-button issues like immigration, its greater achievement is to personalize the phenomenon of second- and third-generation Mexican Americans reconnecting with their cultural roots. “Through his individual story, he’s telling the stories of a lot of people,” Ochoa said. Although his book doesn’t dwell on it, Hernandez writes with an awareness of the drug-war mayhem that has swept Mexico since late 2006 and of the toll that the country’s economic and social afflictions have taken on its youth. One section deals with the curious persecution of Mexico’s ambisexual “emo” youth, whose ambiguous identity aroused the wrath of other urban tribes. Perhaps the book’s most affecting chapter, “A Feathered Serpent in Burberry Shades,” recounts Hernandez’s adventures with his late friend, the designer and “semi-androgynous party boy” Quetzalcoatl Rangel Sanchez. “You’re dealing with real histories here and real traumas and real violence and real loss,” Hernandez said. So how has his Mexico City sojourn physically changed him? Hernandez pointed to a pair of tattoos that he’s acquired since living in Mexico: “La Libertad” (Spanish for “liberty”) and another depicting a symbol for “speak,” derived from a . “I’m a nerd, I’m a bookish Berkeley nerd,” he said, “but living here has just flipped everything upside down for me.” For now, Hernandez’s plan is to keep getting flipped in Mexico City and maybe inspire other young searchers — his target audience, he hopes — to do the same. “I think it would make me most happy if it were a younger reader like that, a young reader interested in learning something about Mexico.”Dear Answer Angel: I’m a little embarrassed to ask this question. I’ve been using the same deodorant since I was in high school, and it has always “done the job.” Now, many decades later, it isn’t working. I was in a crowd the other day, and I started thinking someone near me had not taken a shower after a workout or something. And then I realized that I was the guilty party. The product I’m talking about is the “regular” red label Ban roll-on. When that changed to a green container, I stuck with the roll-on “regular” with a red label. But lately, I’ve been having not-so-good results. Did I change, or did the deodorant?— Not So Fresh AnymoreDear Not So Fresh: Your favorite Ban roll-on has changed. I asked the company and learned that it did make “relatively minor” changes in the formula. But that might not be the cause of your problem. It could be you. Ban research leader Erica Palmer says, “We are learning that as people age, they may need to switch products to compensate for physical changes in body chemistry.” Palmer suggests you switch from roll-on to solid. Roll-on is gentler but “not as effective in controlling odor and wetness” as the solid, she says.You didn’t ask, but others have inquired how to remove the inevitable white deodorant streaks on your sweaters and shirts that you notice just as you’re racing out the door. Easy and cheap: Rub the area with dry pantyhose (or knee-highs) or a dry Mr. Clean Eraser household cleaning pad.Dear Angel: I have been struggling for years on my quest for a raincoat that’s stylish and has a hood. All the stylish raincoats/trench coats I find lack a hood. I carry an umbrella with me on rainy days, but I would still like a hood to protect me from the humidity, not just the water. Are there any affordable waterproof, stylish raincoats/trench coats out there with a hood, or am I asking for too much?— Mary B.Dear Mary: In fashion (as in life), you can never ask for too much! The perfect coat — with a hood — is out there. But it will require some searching. I like to touch, feel and try on, so online shopping isn’t my favorite. But it’s the way to go when you’re looking for something really specific, such as your perfect coat. An online search for “hooded trench coat” (or leopard rain boot or whatever esoterica is on your wish list) will turn up a ton of options. In your case, I found a high-end lemon sorbet-colored taffeta Burberry for (gulp) $1,295 () and a cute Marc New York in black jersey knit with a hidden hood, $255 at ). Also: Gallery makes cute, colorful coats with detachable hoods, including one in bright spring green for $118 at . Happy hunting.Dear Answer Angel: Can you settle this dispute with my wife? We were in a restaurant, and the people at the next table were having a lively discussion about a movie we were about to see. We actually had just purchased the tickets — for a ridiculous $11 apiece, I might add. I asked them in a pleasant way if they’d change the subject because we were about to see the film and wanted to be surprised. They seemed OK with that. But my wife wasn’t. She was mortified and says I was out of line. I say I was just protecting my investment.— Spoiler AlertDear S.A.: I’m on your side. As long as you were nice about it, you’re fine. And, because your dining neighbors did stop talking about the movie, they, too, must have been OK with your request. Whether the issue is free upgrades on your cell-phone contract, honoring an expired discount coupon or a change of topic at the adjacent table, I say it never hurts to ask — politely.Dear Answer Angel: I found the perfect jacket at a consignment store. The sleeves had been altered by the previous owner and it fit me perfectly. It’s clear that whoever consigned it is exactly my size. Is it possible to find more clothes from whoever my body double is? How?— No more tailoring billsDear No More: Yes! Many consignment stores — such as the national chain Second Time Around () — have computer software that can track all the clothes in the store from that same seller. Even without a computer program, managers of consignment stores often know their sellers so well that if you ask (preferably keep tags and receipts with identifying numbers), they can locate all the clothes in their shop from that person.Woof. Reacting to my advice to people complaining that their best friends’ dogs leave them covered with hair, several e-mailers raved thusly: “Buy your friends a Furminator. Best dog comb ever.… It is amazing.” (furminator.com)Shop, drop, ask for helpYearning for a friend (only better) to tell you what to choose, where to look, how to get good value? Relax, now you’ve got an angel on your shoulder. Send questions large and small to Tattered, precious clothes: Can’t bear to throw out your beat-up, beloved favorites? Those jeans? A baseball cap? A shredded sweater? Tell me your stories. Even send a photo! E-mail me atThe proprietor of Handbags in the City has a fashion sense that favors the classical, whether he’s wearing a belted Burberry trench coat with a standup collar, lounging in a cashmere sweater or modeling a jacket lined with shearling.And Sparky’s owner, George Sakellaris, also in Burberry, doesn’t look too shabby, either. “He’s a little old man, and he loves dressing up,” says Sakellaris, co-owner of the store at 840 Aliceanna St., the shop where Sparky, a 13-year-old Brussels Griffon, can be found most days.”Sparky has worn clothes ever since he was a baby; now he has two coats and about a dozen sweaters. Mostly, we dress him because he’s short-haired and he gets really cold when he goes outside. If it’s raining, he doesn’t like to go out at all, but he minds it less if he’s wearing a raincoat.”Despite the recession, Baltimore dog owners have been snatching up sweaters, coats, raingear and, yes, even booties this winter to help keep Fifi and Fido toasty and dry.”You’re talking about a passionate product for a passionate consumer, and passion overrides any economic downturn,” says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group, the New York-based market research organization.”Even during the recession, where the consumer was cutting back, certain items became identified as necessary luxuries. Pet owners wanted to insulate their and cats against the recession in the same way that they wanted to isolate and protect their children.”For instance, Beth Crisman, who lives in Northwest Baltimore, can’t afford designer duds for herself or her dog on what she earns as a practicing artist and part-time professor. (She teaches photography and art history at several area community colleges.)But Crisman would no more go without sweaters in winter for Cody, her 3-year-old Boston terrier, than she would go without a coat for herself.”Bostons don’t do well with either extreme temperatures of hot or cold,” she says, adding that she orders Cody’s clothes either through online sites or catalogues, spending about $10 on average for a sweater.”But he looks really cute, and he loves the attention he gets when we go for a walk. What dog wouldn’t?”Virginia Byrnes, co-owner of Dogma in Canton estimates that about 30 percent of her canine customers come into her shop wearing attire of some sort. Across town, Chris , co-owner of Pretentious Pooch in , estimates that canine apparel makes up between one-fifth and one-quarter of his winter sales.Cohen said that boutique-style stores peaked in popularity about five years ago — or about the same time that such top labels as , and Coach decided to expand into the pet market.Once the recession hit, many boutiques had to branch out into other dog and cat products, such as food and bowls, to remain in the black.Baltimore is a city that places a high value on being down to earth, Woodside said, so frou-frou products that sell strongly in such cities as New York, Los Angeles or even Washington do less well here.”People in Baltimore are definitely more practical,” he says. “It became clear a year or so ago that we were either going to have to morph into selling other products or close the front door.”Still, there’s practical, and then there’s “practical.” A sweater or coat may be a necessity for short-haired dogs such as chihauhaus, terriers or even Dobermans who walk outside when temperatures are in single digits.And if that coat happens to be quilted, beige and made by Gucci (retail value, $280) or a striped Coach cashmere sweater ($148 and up), that doesn’t make it less functional.For instance, Cathy Brennan, an attorney who lives in Rodgers Forge in , enjoys dressing Dante, the surviving member of a pair of Boston terriers, in sweaters, a cape and bow ties.After their two sons headed off to college, Bill and Carolyn Walter thought the time might be right to downsize. Coming from a large, single-family home in , they wanted something smaller with a strong community association to handle outdoor maintenance, and also in the same area of northern Baltimore County.The house-hunting ended when the two came across a lovely villa for sale in the nearby community of Pebble Creek. Carolyn Walter knew instantly she wanted to move into the traditional home that connected to four others on the street, resembling a row of cottages with deeply pitched roofs and front dormers. The interior design, with meticulous attention paid to details such as two wood-burning fireplaces, wide molding and oak flooring, appealed to her taste for traditional furnishings.In spite of herself, Carolyn Walter gushed over the great find. “I told her, ‘Don’t say you love it so much when I’m trying to negotiate price,’” Bill Walter said, decidedly, but with a smile that indicated the outcome was inevitable.The Walters, who would be the second owners of the house, paid $410,000 for a two-level, plus finished lower level, 4,000-square-foot home on approximately one-tenth of an acre. While the home, built in 1994, was in very good condition, the Walters have made several improvements and upgrades since they moved in in 1998. During the past twelve years, the couple added new kitchen appliances, cabinets and granite countertops, hardwood flooring on the home’s second level, and a deck. They had the master bathroom renovated.The couple also added a decorator wall from the entrance to the kitchen. In keeping with the traditional aspects of the interior architecture, Carolyn Walter called upon a construction design company noted for its exquisite restoration, renovation and millwork, SouthFen Inc. to create the paneled wall over the original plain one. The raised panels, Colonial in style, are painted the same shade of eggshell found in the living and dining rooms, with the trim painted a deep shade of wheat. The sight of this angled wall, embellished with three brass sconces, upon entering the hall sets the formal tone for the rest of the home.”We live in the kitchen and the family room that has two doors out to the deck,” said Carolyn Walter. These rooms, with walls painted a deep shade of Duron’s Burberry Red, contrast in a casually elegant style with her vast collection of Delft pottery and porcelain prominently displayed in every room, on every shelf and wall and in every cabinet. From platters to large bowls, houses, urns, plates and even an umbrella stand, the delicately painted blue and white pieces perfectly accent every room’s decor and wall color.The formal elegance of the dining room is enhanced by a crystal chandelier that drops from the 23-foot ceiling. A mahogany suite of Chippendale-style furniture features a double pedestal table that will seat 12 and a china closet filled with a Royal Copenhagen service for eight.The living room boasts one of the home’s two wood-burning fireplaces, while cherry furniture and an entire wall of framed prints depicting various scenes of horse and hound hunts give the room a decidedly English country feel. The look is carried out in the second-floor hallway, where several services of silver sit atop mahogany side tables.The second-floor bedrooms, especially the master, which is painted soft yellow, have a distinct, manor style achieved with artwork, artfully placed armchairs and benches, needlepoint pillows and rich fabrics on furniture and beds.The finished lower level follows the same circular flow as the two above it. A library filled with hundreds of books segues to a sitting area before moving to a craft studio and finally, a separate office for Bill Walter.The couple shares a laugh over the mention of their new home being almost as large as the one they left.”Yes, but we’re close to everything, and the community has strict covenants when it comes to exterior work,” Carolyn Walter said.”And it’s maintenance-free. We lock the door and go!” her husband added.Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it! Send an e-mail to .Making the dreamDream location: Bill and Carolyn Walter’s villa home is located in Pebble Creek, a neighborhood development in Timonium. Though nestled in a wooden area, they are close to the amenities on the York Road corridor.Dream design: The homes are painted a light khaki and cream color with wooden trim at windows and doors that feature arched transoms. Chunky stone chimneys, stone half-walls, double-car garages and sloping roofs with prominent gables contribute to the traditional design of each house in the row.Dream element: A large, angular entrance hall presents onto a winding oak staircase that sweeps to the open hallway of the second level. The circular flow of the first floor leads to a rear kitchen and breakfast room. The layout is, Carolyn Walter says, “great for parties. Everyone is comfortable, [and] every room is used.” What is it about the British and great fashion?Even in his death, ‘s exhibit drew thousands upon thousands to this year. Effects of the royal wedding are dominating a number of fashion trends for women this season. Lace, fancy hats are still huge. Tartan patterns, tweed, fur accents are a must. Peter-pan collars are regularly sported by personality and British import Alexa Chung, And British songstresses such as Adele, Duffy, and Estelle are red carpet regulars. And let us not forget style icon . The British are here to stay. And so are browns, grays, and nudes, which will all be big colors this season. Pop colors such as red and blue will also be everywhere.Many of these trends don’t come cheap. Yes, you could head to Burberry and dress like one of their mannequins, but what is the fun in that? Be authentic and go vintage for some of those classic looks that top designers are recreating right now. Plus, doesn’t it sounds so much better when you can say that a piece of clothing is vintage?About the shootb teamed with CoverGirl and Towson Town Center to conduct a regional model search for this Fall fashion spread. The models: Christie Beran, Natalie Hessler, Farrah Palmer, Michael McVearry and Ramar Robinson, were chosen from more than 100 hopefuls. CoverGirl makeup products were used exclusively for the shoot.Styling: John-John Williams IVAssistant styling: Adee Lawal and Toria TurnerHair and Makeup: Leah Sarah Bassett, T.H.E. Artist AgencyPunters have donned their tin hats and are feeling defensive today.Riskier stocks — including most of the mining sector — dived to the bottom of the index with Vedanta Resources and Anglo American falling hard.Revelations of a mining scam in India pushed Goa to place a temporary ban on mining. The state is the country’s second-biggest iron ore producer and the news has hit Vedanta Resources. Vedanta’s Indian arm Sesa Goa is currently merging with Sterlite Industries and both have been hit by the ban. Vedanta lost 45p to 957.75p but experts expect the ban to not impact the business in the long term.Anglo American, down 83.5p to 1918.25p, which is facing legal action in the High Court from African gold miners who claim that health and safety conditions have caused their lung diseases, received a downgrade today. It denies liability. Analysts at cut its price target to 1750p from 1900p.A cautious feeling swept the City ahead of a German court’s ruling on its participation in the planned European bailout.Defensive stocks were in favour with British American Tobacco leading the FTSE 100, up 47.5p to 3171.5p.Hopes of progress in the eurozone were crushed as a hurdle emerged in the process to sign off the ‘s bond-buying scheme, causing European markets to stutter.The FTSE 100 lost 19.63 points to 5773.57.Software giant Sage fell 1.9p to 302.45p despite being given a buy rating yesterday by Galvan Research on rumours of M&A activity. Analysts said there was “the distinct possibility that Sage could be a target of German sector peer SAP”.At the bottom of the FTSE 100, luxury fashion group Burberry found itself down 249p to 1125.5p, after a profits warning. The 18 percent fall saw this year’s share price rise disappear. Its highest point this year came in April when it hit 1586p. But the fall today prompted some traders to start bottom-fishing and buy the shares.On Aim, drug discovery company Summit has signed a technology license agreement with US based and its shares gained 0.88p to a healthy 3.38p.Sefton Resources, the US focused oil and gas group, reported that oil production increased in the first half but it recorded a loss for the period as costs increased. The California and Kansas-focused explorer saw its shares tumble 0.24p to 1.58p. Unlike many other oil and gas explorers, Kazakhstan-focused Zhaikmunai Group has announced it will pay a dividend but its shares lost 0.46p to 9.14p.There was a bad smell in the air for environmental technology group Aerte. It needs more cash after an order of air disinfection products, that it manufactured and delivered in May, were cancelled by the Chinese buyer.It found itself at the bottom of the AIM index, losing more than 41 percent, down 0.24p to 0.34p.The board said it will be “difficult to recover payment for these devices in the medium term and it is no longer expecting to receive further orders from this distributor”.___(c)2012 London Evening StandardVisit the London Evening Standard at Distributed by MCT Information Services"HE’S QUITE … blessed!" says Calamity Chang, a British burlesque star who appeared with actor/leading man/hunk in some of the many nude scenes in the movie "Shame."Fassbender is the one made a sexy reference to at the — in case you’ve been under a rock. But the actor, of German and Irish extraction, has a real claim to fame. It is in being one of the hardest-working men in international films. He has completed a 20-month spell of work where he shot six movies.I just saw him onscreen being kicked through a door by martial arts expert Gina Carano in the perfectly silly movie "Haywire." (This is the one your teenage male offspring are so crazy about.)WAIT FOR it! The’70s super band is about to release its first new song in 20 years. In April, their first album since 1994 will be out. It’s titled "A Twinkling Star to a Passing Angel.""" — the hit musical based on ABBA songs — is still seen worldwide, still making money since it opened in 1999 in London’s West End.UGGIE, the dog from the award-winning silent film "The Artist," is being retired by its trainer, Omar Von Muller. He doesn’t want to put ‘Uggie’ through anymore long hours. Von Muller says, "He’s getting tired." But does this mean the adorable Uggie won’t turn up at the ? Say it isn’t so.THEY SAY only seven people turned up for actor Nicol Williamson’s burial the other day. The bad boy of English theater had not worked since 1997 and had turned down some great offers in his time.His obit describes him as a hell-raiser; one of the patron saints of bad behavior, "almost deliberately badly behaved," prone to walking offstage in mid-performance, throwing things, an exhibitionist and the last of a breed.One of Williamson’s obits by Roger Lewis refers to the actor as being possibly influenced by and method acting. This led to the story of and in "Marathon Man." To look sweaty, Hoffman ran around a football field. He was panting when Oliver remarked, "Why don’t you try acting, dear boy? It’s far easier."I SEE why movie stars like don’t like to give interviews. He gave one to the recently in which he cited his "depression" in the 1990s when he was coping with ‘the celebrity thing.’Depression is serious stuff. But almost everybody suffers from it occasionally. Headlines reporting his remarks make it seem he is seriously "down." But Pitt seems very happy these days. He has Oscar nods, a stimulating relationship, lots of good charity efforts and six children.IN THESE days when the 1 percent is being excoriated, guess what? Even though the global market is shaky and buying of luxury goods is a bit shaky, LVMH is still going strong. Sales of Louis Vuitton and Loewe handbags, Krug champagne and Hennessy cognac, Tag Heuer watches, and other spirits, leather, feather and fashionable goods, including Burberry, seem to be soaring.MICHAEL JACKSON began his showbiz career as an adorable, phenomenally gifted child. He didn’t need a lot of razzmatazz to showcase his pure voice and amazing dance technique, a technique that even the great would come to admire.But as the years rolled on, Michael ramped up the sets, the style and the strangeness. Sometimes he appeared to get lost under the "stuff," when all he really needed was to sing and dance, period. But when people pay hundreds of dollars for concert tickets, they want spectacle as well as talent. Perhaps more of the former than the latter.And spectacle is certainly the attraction of tribute show, titled — with typical understatement — "Immortal." The show features all the usual Cirque bells and whistles: acrobatics, LED screens, huge balloons, animatronic recreations of Michael, and, but of course, his real image and voice, as compelling as ever.Apparently, although the show was a huge hit in Montreal and Las Vegas, raking in more than $100 million, some consider it tasteless, overblown, exploitive, especially as the Jackson family is involved. Well, they have to be involved. The Jacksons, in tandem with , control Michael’s music and likeness. While Michael was alive, the Jackson family didn’t seem to be thriving, nor did their golden goose.But now Michael is the most successful dead celebrity ever. His estate has garnered a whopping $450 million since the pop icon’s tragic death almost three years ago. Michael, who loved to break records and boast of his accomplishments, would be so happy to know he’s still the King of Pop, so crowned by his friend . Michael’s children, Prince, Paris and will never know a day of financial need. Nor will anybody else in the family."Immortal" has plans to move on to London and other spots in Europe. As one newspaper review stated, "It’s like a Michael Jackson tour, without Michael." But that seems to be good enough for Michael’s fans.Oh, and these fans don’t care if some condemn the show as "tacky, sentimental and visually overloaded."It’s as close to the old Michael Jackson experience as those who adored him can get. They love it.(E-mail at , or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.)Historically, travel hasn’t been fashion-friendly. No matter how you pack, your clothes are destined for Wrinkleville. And that expensive bottle of perfume in your checked bag is likely to arrive broken or not at all.But fret not. Designers and cosmetic companies have taken note, launching mini-sized, wrinkle-free or collapsible products that help travelers stay fashionable while jet-setting. “So many designers and companies are conscious of travel-friendly fabrics and products,” said Stephanie Bradshaw, a stylist based in Cockeysville. “And cosmetics have certainly come a long way — particularly in the past few years.”Wrinkle-free clothing has been downright hideous in the past. Not anymore. Designers such as Jude Connally and Desiqual offer colorful, trendy clothes that will hold up to the bumps of travel. And you don’t have to go far to find them — local boutiques have stocked up with plenty of the fashionable threads.At Trillium, a high-end boutique in Green Spring Station, some of the best-selling items are travel-friendly, said owner Sima Blue.”Most of my customers travel a lot,” Blue said. “They go back and forth to their second homes. They travel abroad. They want to look good when they travel.”Travel-friendly selections at Trillium include wrinkle-free raincoats by Mycra Pac, cashmere ruanas by Minnie Rose and wash-and-go T-shirts by Michael Stars.”These clothes are great because they are great on the plane,” Blue said. “They are easy to pack. And they don’t take up a lot of room.”Frances Burress, owner of the boutique Caviar and Cobwebs, carries Desiqual, a popular line of clothing based in Spain that happens to be wrinkle-free.”The colors are bold and beautiful,” Burress said. “They are washable, and they hold up very well.”She said the line has a distinct European feel that allows wearers to stand out in a crowd.”They are contemporary, and they fit people,” said Burress, who added that the designer has lines for men, women and children. “Their styles are for folks from 8 to 80.”Octavia II, a boutique in Cross Keys, carries Jude Connally, an American line that touts its wash-and-wear clothing.”You can just throw them in your bag and go,” said owner Betsy Wendell, who was wearing one of the designer’s dresses. “They don’t wrinkle. I’ve slept in this dress. It looked just the same when I got out of bed. They are perfect for travel.”In the past, customers would scoff at the thought of wearing wrinkle-free clothing, Wendell said. Those times have changed.”The clothes have gotten much better,” she said. “These clothes work into everyone’s busy lifestyle.”Cosmetics companies have also made changes to their products, mostly as a result of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Since the Transportation Security Administration limits the amount of liquid passengers can take in their carry-on luggage, a number of companies — including cosmetics giant MAC — have launched travel-size products that meet airline regulations.Travalo is a fairly new product that allows travelers to transport smaller amounts of perfume on airplanes. Other companies are offering new features aimed at protecting a product’s pricey contents. Burberry, the luxury clothing line that also has a line of cosmetics, now offers lipstick packaged in magnetized gunmetal tubes to prevent spillage during travel.Stylist Bradshaw likes the new offerings for cosmetics and clothing. She said the latest advances have left travelers with no excuses to look sloppy when they are on vacation.”It’s just as easy to put on a pretty dress as it is to put on your juicy sweat suits,” said Bradshaw, who added that the days of T-shirts, sneakers and khaki shorts are over. “Why not chose to be pretty? Pretty is fun. It also communicates to the rest of the world how you feel about yourself.”Miles of styleCockeysville stylist Stephanie Bradshaw suggests packing these fashionable and practical items for a trip:Scarf: “I always carry a scarf with me when I travel,” Bradshaw says. “Sometime you get cold on the plane.” When you arrive at your destination, scarves are perfect to dress up an outfit. “You can put a scarf on any outfit and look chic in two seconds,” she adds.Sensible shoes: Pack the more flexible shoes, and wear the bigger shoes on the plane, Bradshaw says. She also suggests that you put any sparkly shoes in a plastic bag so that the glitter doesn’t get on your clothing.Fashionable bag with a comfortable handle: “I would like to take something a little more chic,” Bradshaw says. Pick a bag with a supple, durable leather handle, according to Bradshaw. “It won’t dig into your skin,” she says.A good cosmetics bag: ‘s eco-friendly cosmetics bag works because it’s a good size for fitting everything for a weekend getaway, says Bradshaw. “It’s not too big and not too small. The fact that it is fabric means that it can squish down in your travel bag.”With the holiday shopping season already under way, many of the nation’s leading retailers say they plan to avoid the kind of deep, across-the-board discounts that gave last year’s season an air of desperation — and crimped profits.Instead, many are using more subtle, under-the-radar promotions to lure shoppers this year. Several big chains, including and Limited Brands Inc.’s Express division, are cutting back on the number of blockbuster discount events that they’ve relied on in past years to pack their stores.Even , whose buy-one-get-one-free deal helped spark a frenzy of similar activity among rivals last year, insists it’s changing course.”We think that particular promotion for our store has gotten a bit stale,” said , a spokesman for the New York-based chain.Wall Street likes the new discipline.”The trend has been to rein in harmful promotions,” said Todd Slater, an analyst with Lazard in New York. This year, he said, “retailers may be prepared to leave some pockets of business on the table, which is healthy.”Better outlookRetailers can’t afford to reprise last year’s disappointing holiday season, when sales of apparel, toys, electronics and other gifts rose by a modest 2.2 percent, according to the National Retail Federation in Washington. Early warning signals abounded last year: Sales actually slowed heading into the holiday season, prompting many merchants to rev up the promotional machine in earnest.John Morris, an analyst at Harris Nesbitt Gerard who has been tallying holiday discounts for several years, said the number and severity of markdowns increased 10 percent in 2002, on top of a 15 percent rise in 2001.This year, thanks in part to a healthier economy, retail sales are accelerating as the holidays near. And despite the better outlook, stores generally have refused to stock up on extra inventory, which means they have the luxury of being more measured in their discounting strategies.”It is going to be a less-promotional holiday selling season,” Morris said.Still, even while they are avoiding undignified 50 percent-off signs, some retailers are encouraging their best customers to come in early with special, targeted discounts.”I think people are tired of the all-day sale,” said JoAnn Brosi, general manager for the Galleria, a mall in California. “When they’re on a mailing list and they’re asked to be part of a small promotion, it makes them feel special.”Invitation-only salesSharon Chortek, a Dallas-based TV producer, has a stack of special pre-holiday promotions she’s received in the mail over the past three weeks. Each come-on has a little different twist.One, from — a top-tier Texas mall anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and — offers a $25 to $50 gift check to any number of Galleria specialty stores, including , Coach and Cartier.To qualify, shoppers need to spend $200 at the mall. The promotion, which began Nov. 7, runs until supplies last — a “big incentive to get there early,” Chortek said.Last week, Chortek was invited to the special three-hour sale at called Private Night, offering 25 percent to 40 percent off on such merchandise and products as Burberry, which rarely go on sale.Things just keep getting sexier along Stevens Creek Boulevard.To the north, diamonds and pearls shimmer at the newly expanded Tiffany & Co. inside a Westfield Valley Fair mall that’s gone gaga for glitz.To the south, 10-year-old Santana Row is bursting with new retail, residential and office projects. There’s a new lingerie line at the beefed-up H&M opening this week, a hipper-than-thou Italian coffee joint coming soon, and a high-end rental complex called Misora — which, for those of you not fluent in Japanese, means “beautiful sky.” With the dawning of Valley Fair’s and Santana Row’s “resort-style” rental apartments packed with status-hungry scenesters, the Stevens Creek corridor near Interstate 880 may well start calling itself the South Bay’s Champs-Elysees. And its denizens and visitors are both fueling and feasting upon the region’s ever brightening business climate.”With the Silicon Valley economy coming around, especially in tech, you’ve now got 20-year-old entrepreneurs in flip-flops buying Cartier watches,” said Valley Fair senior general manager Gavin Farnam, standing near the high-end jeweler, just one in a cavalcade of top-drawer stores settling into the mall’s luxury lane. “And it’s not just luxury items, but everything. We’re at our highest sales level now in the history of the mall.”This bifurcated boom could cause whiplash for passing motorists. With dozens of projects under way at bothsites, a tale of two malls is unfolding to the sound of jackhammers and ringing cash registers.”This retail expansion is another indicator of the jobs and wage growth helping Silicon Valley lead the rest of the nation out of the recession,” said Steve Levy with the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto. “And for companies like Apple (AAPL) and (GOOG), employees are seeing their stock worth more, too, so it’s kind of a perfect storm, at least within the tech world. People in the valley have more to spend, and that’s spilling over into retail.”Santana Row seems to be firing on all pistons as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary next month. Despite initial criticism that the upscale retail-residential complex would suck the life out of downtown San Jose, and naysayers who questioned whether the European-style village concept would ever work, the project now claims design awards and traffic numbers that would makeany shopping mall green with envy.”It took people a while to sort of get this place,” said Collette Navarrette, spokeswoman for the mall’s publicly traded owner, . “It was a whole new concept when it opened in 2002 with just 35 tenants and no office space. Ten years later, we have 100 merchants, 403 rental homes and 219 condos, as well as 115,000 square feet of office space.”As Santana Row’s residential occupancy rates push 100 percent, Silicon Valley’s boom is reflected in real time inside the erstwhile Borders on the faux village’s faux main street. This week, the popular Swedish clothing retailer H&M formally moves a few hundred feet down the Row into the closed book store, tripling in size to 27,000 square feet and adding new lingerie, maternity and children’s sections.Lifestyle is the Row’s middle name. And with a boutique hotel, spas, wine bars and enough luxury retail to satisfy the most discerning shopaholic, its owners are planning yet another phase of the expansion: They’re planning to build a 220,000-square-foot office tower, then fill it with employees who can tap into the smorgasbord that surrounds them. Federal Realty’s West Coast president, Jeff Berkes, said the tower is part of the economic evolution under way in the region.”San Francisco and Silicon Valley are leading the United States through its economic recovery,” Berkes said. “We started to see that first in 2009 in the performance of the Hotel Valencia and our restaurants, followed by the occupancy levels and rents we’ve been able to get for our apartments. Then we saw it in retail. And these are all signs of the confidence people have in the local economy.”While it pretties itself up with new paint, a beefed-up valet station, and even plusher seating in its common areas, Valley Fair is welcoming a roster of luxury stores to a mall that has seen double-digit sales growth every month this year. Along with Cartier, a new Burberry, TAG Heuer and Wolford are joining the family.With business booming on both sides of the boulevard, the two malls say the synergy between them serves both well.”Anytime you have retail nearby, it’s competition,” Farnam said. “But when you have that lifestyle component like you’ve got at Santana Row, with residential and offices, that brings more people to the area and helps all of us.”Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689. Follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc.A Tale of Two MallsWestfield Valley FairSpring merchandise has officially hit the stores, and one trend should be immediately noticeable: bright colors. They were everywhere on the spring-summer 2011 runways, including at the show, where candy colors managed to look minimal when shown with crisp white shirts or layered with sleek black coats, and at and Burberry, where various tones of shocking aqua and cobalt were paired for a cool (and somehow punchy) look. Color blocking, as seen on the runway, is another major trend.Other designer and contemporary brands explored the color wheel as well. “For spring we bought a lot of color, from acid pinks to orange-red to cobalt blue to tangerine,” says Jeannie Lee, owner of 3rd Street’s Satine Boutique, which stocks lines from designers including , , and . Retailer Hillary Rush, who owns her eponymous boutique, also on 3rd Street, has already starting seeing the color craze take effect with customers. ” The oversized raglan shirt from Monrow has totally sold out in the hibiscus color,” a coral-orange Rush says. “When a bright color like that sells out before the black or white, it’s always a statement that people are wearing color that season.”On the other end of the spectrum, shoppers are likely to encounter lots of white. The natural, yet luxe look of an all-white ensemble (which also works in winter, but is a lot more practical in the warmer months) looked fresh in the runway collections of , and . is also turning out a number of white items, from easy button-downs to wide leg trousers, all in shades of white and off-white and in stores this summer. And there’s no shortage of white jeans, which are showing up in the spring and summer lines of J Brand, MIH and 7 for All Mankind.Shoppers may also notice a ’60s and ’70s aesthetic dictating the shape of denim this season.”Denim flares are really hot,” says Caprice C. Willard, vice president-regional planning manager for Macys, where brands such as and Levi’s have incorporated the style. Flared and wide-leg jeans are also big sellers on the boutique level; Satine’s Lee says wide-leg jeans have been flying off the shelves.On spring-summer 2011 runways such as ‘s, models wore wide-leg jeans with tucked-in white button-downs and chic wedge sandals. On the street we’re bound to see a more relaxed version of the look, with women wearing bell bottom-style jeans with T-shirts and sandals or perhaps flared jeans with a tucked-in tank top and a blazer for evening.The other denim trend for spring is a gamine, ’60s crop. The pant leg ends at least 2 inches above the ankle. The jeans look great with ballet flats or a low-mid wedge sandal.The ’70s vibe also includes versions of the maxi-length skirt and dress. Floor-grazing styles were featured in the collections of and Jil Sander and are showing up in stores such as the Gap, and Club Monaco. “The maxi-dress is really important this season and we are seeing a resurgence with it,” Willard says. “The maxi length actually stays important in Southern California all year long.”Holiday travel is right around the corner, and you probably already dread some of the beauty pitfalls.Try to breeze through airpo
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