Archive | September 2011

Plus Model Magazine & Just As You Are Present Innovative Coats!


During New York Fashion Week, Plus Model Magazine and AUI Ltd. hosted a plus-size “blogger conference” to introduce their innovative line of plus-size coats, Just As You Are. We met for cocktails at the lavish Hudson Terrace. It was fully equipped with computers for Twittering. In attendance were Marie Denee, the Fat Apple, Curvatude, and other larger lovelies of influence in the curvy community.

From left, Rhea Norman, Maddie Page (executive editrix of PMM), Tulin Reid, organizer of the event, and friend.

Most coats sell in “standardized” sizes, which change from manufacturer to manufacturer. Not only do the sizes vary wildly, there is the issue of “vanity sizing.” I strongly disapprove of this tactic. Why should I be called a Medium? In a misses size a medium might fit around one thigh.

The innovation is that Just As You Are has created a “matching system” that pairs women’s key body measurements directly with those of each coat and jacket. This gives larger lovely a nearly customized fit.

Erica Watson

Tulin with designer Mark

As drinks were sipped, we were treated to a fashion show of simply gorgeous coats. Glamorous Erica Watson, actress and comedian, provided an entertaining running commentary. The designer, Mark, a handsome young man whose first language is decidedly not English, read from descriptions of each garment. Listening to him stumble over words made the event even more enjoyable, for some bizarre reason. What can one say, some of us have a twisted sense of humor. Rhea Norman styled the models impeccably.

The models, all plus size, walked through the crowd, allowing us to paw at the garments. What impressed your loyal epistler the most was the construction details: extra buttons, branded metal zippers, excellent workmanship. AUI Ltd. has been designing and making women’s’ coats for over 50 years. Their expertise showed. Their laudable intention is to bring fine fashion to the great unwashed masses, and they succeeded.

Your faithful correspondent examines a coat.

The Angola coat

The Aurora coat

My personal favorite was the Angola, a zebra striped boiled wool handkerchief hem coat. Alas it is unlined, so it is not for moi. I am violently allergic to wool. However, there was a wealth of velour, down, faux fur, faux leather in various styles. My other favorite was the wool melton Aurora jacket, a modern “mixed media” coat with an assymetrical zip front. Not my usual style. But when something looks that good on moi I am willing to bend my own rules.

After viewing the coats, the designer and Ms. Watson took questions from the audience. We were a vocal lot, and I do hope we were helpful. I know I was, with my vast store of fashion knowledge and superb style of expressing myself.

By far the best part (besides the cocktails) was the racks and racks of coats for us to try on! After the presentation an absolute riot broke out as we rushed to grab our favorites from the racks. I might have body-blocked Marie Denee.

Exhausted from the day, I did not attend the roof-top afterparty. In the elevator, the teenaged operator told me I was beautiful and asked for my number. The rest is silence.

Save for one thing: please visit to discover their selection. Yes, I know you don’t want to take your measurements, but do so, it will be VERY worth your while.



House MD Advance Review: "Twenty Vicodin" SPOILERS


The premiere episode of the 8th season of House M.D. is titled “Twenty Vicodin”. One suggests that if you do not care to be “spoiled,” as the saying goes, stop reading right here and go page through InStyle. Please bear in mind that this review is based on a review copy, so there may be significant changes before the episode airs.


When Dr. House plowed his car into Lisa Cuddy’s living room in last season’s finale, “Moving On,” fans and critics were left in various stages of bafflement and rage. Then it was announced that the superb Lisa Edelstein was leaving for greener pastures. What to do?

A quick makeover! From Homicidal Maniac House to:

Sad and Sexy House. This House not only has a smoother, younger complexion, wider eyes and less gray in his beard, he also sports a leonine head of brown hair, glinting with gold and red highlights. In the first close-up we have of House after the open, lying in bed facing upwards toward the camera, Hugh Laurie looks as dewy as a maiden on a Spring morning. Physically at least, prison has been exceptionally good to Gregory House. Maybe it’s the L’Oreal VitaLift cream.

Emotionally, House doesn’t seem particularly remorseful, maybe quieter than usual. It is left to the other characters to tell us how much he’s punishing himself. He has refused to take any calls or see any visitors in the months he’s been there. One does hope he sent his mother a postcard.

“Twenty Vicodin” carefully lays the groundwork for audiences to fall in love with House again. This is supposed to be an “out of the box” episode. But it’s the same box in new wrapping paper. As listlessly written by Peter Blake and directed by executive producer Greg Yaitanes, the script follows the House formula. Except that none of the other regulars appear. And it’s set in a penitentiary.

The opening has House before the parole board. House parrots all of the defenses David Shore gave in interviews after the disastrous finale. Nearly word for word. Which must have saved a few days in the writing room. Having served most of his sentence—and a damn light one it is, too—House has five days before he is released. However, if he gets into any kind of trouble, no matter how minor, he’ll be stuck in prison. From there any sentient being knows the ending.

For one thing, he has to appease the leader of a gang of quite well-behaved middle-aged neo-Nazis. (One can imagine them in lawn chairs muttering “Kids today…no values…”) James Cagney would scare the fertilizer out of any of these fellows. House must give the leader, Mendelson, half of House’s daily allotment of Vicodin. Before he leaves, Mendelson orders that House pay an “exit tax” of twenty Vicodin.

House and Mendelson discuss medicine

Yaitanes’s style tends to be over the top: explosions, musical numbers, and of course House smashing into Cuddy’s living room. One of the unexpected aspects of this episode is that it is quite tranquil. The prison setting has the feeling of a large dormitory, with worse security than PPTH. That is saying something. As the inmates mill about the two-tiered set, there is one or at most two guards to be seen. If this is a minimum security prison, why are there psychotic killers there? If it is a maximum security prison, why aren’t there more guards? Why are there female guards, nurses and doctors? None of the prisoners harass them sexually? I told you these men were well-behaved. Or the cooks put saltpeter in the chow. There are a few punches thrown, but that’s about it until House reneges on Mendelson.

House’s cellmate is a homicidal killer (Kaleti Williams). This character was my personal favorite. Williams manages a complex performance with only a handful of lines. Guest stars Jaleel White and Michael Pare’ also have a handful of lines each, the latter appearing as the prison warden in the cold open, and the former as a chipper fellow inmate.

There is the PTOW, a memorable one for a change, repeatedly misdiagnosed until the final epiphany (the reveal is the sappiest I’ve ever seen outside of a Lifetime movie). There is a Wilson substitute who provides obligatory lectures and tells House not to be House. There is Cameron 3.0 in the person of Jessica Adams, a wide-eyed pretty young doctor. Odette Annabel, who plays Adams, looks completely out of place, as if she’s wearing her mother’s lab coat. As well as a gold necklace that has magically managed never to get stolen in a prison clinic. She is further burdened with the largest amount of expositional dialogue (when House tells her he wants to study Dark Matter physics so he can avoid any more human contact, she exclaims girlishly, “You can read people! You understand them! You gotta go back to medicine!”).

There’s only so much suspension of belief one can work with. The POTW’s arm is broken in one dramatic scene then not treated or even referenced again. And House as a prison janitor? “We need a janitor—let’s get the crippled guy!” (Small note: how does he get up and down the stairs?) How is he surviving on two Vicodin a day? The show hasn’t bothered much about House’s pain problem since Season Five, so when his cane is stolen he’s able to limp about ably with his hand on his thigh. He rubs it now and again to remind us it is there.

Hugh Laurie turns in a workmanlike performance. His passion has moved on to music, and it shows. The rest of the cast is uniformly good. As for the script, as one fan put it,”All I wanted from this episode was for it to Just.Not.Suck.” It doesn’t.

If this premiere episode is formulaic, at least it’s a workable formula.


Photographs courtesy Fox/NBC

Fashion Week, S/S 2012 Day Four


I have little to write about Day Four of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. It was the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11th. Even though the torrent of media jibber-jabber and one-day-only patriotism incensed moi, it seemed disrespectful to go to the tents.

Instead, I went to the Firemen’s Memorial Ceremony on 100th Street.

Because of that, I missed Diane von Furstenberg, Custo Barcelona, and Tommy Hilfiger, among others.

No regrets.


Fashion Week, S/S 2012 Days Two and Three


An article in the past week’s New York Times by the estimable Cathy Horyn spoke of Fashion Week’s “Split Personality.” The real excitement is apparently downtown, where the young and tragically hip mix together. Uptown is far more staid, conventional, and…

Frankly, boring.

With its new, shiny, computerized approach, Lincoln Center may well have become a far less interesting mass-market version of an exclusive French dressmaker’s salon. (If that last sentence made sense to you, 15 points.)

For example, a photographer I know, Mohammed Kasim, cannot get into the tents any more. Season after season we found each other in the tents. Kasim likes to photograph the wanna-bes prowling the outer tent, every shimmer and spangle on their outfits screaming LOOK AT ME. However, neither the wanna-bes nor Kasim are allowed in. Not even strange little Painted Suit man was to be seen. A woman who went to great lengths to be mistaken for Lady Gaga never made it inside, either. Daily she was to be seen in one hideously elaborate outfit or another, but her tiny button nose gave away the game. No matter, dozens of tourists snapped her photo.

As for the fashion? Much of it was mundane. The Luca Luca show offered pretty colors, prints and soft fabrics. And not much else. (One knows a show is in trouble when the thing you lust after is the shoes. Mon Dieu, the shoes!) Honestly, how does one review a show when that’s all there is to say? It was pretty. Some of it might feel nice. End of story. The models were all, as usual, appallingly thin. So much so that their lack of thigh fat made them look bowlegged.

One is certain that the models would have vomited up the tiny 4 oz. cups of free “kefir” if they’d tried to eat them. And not because the product was that bad.

Nicole Miller’s collection, well.

The intarsia knit prints were loud. And I despised them. But maybe I am not their target demographic. Apparently the designer was inspired by the speed of a skateboard “shredding the air.” If there is a woman out there who has a fervent desire to dress as an elderly skateboarder, this collection is for you.

Vivienne Tam’s show was also a parade of pretty, soft fabrics and soft, wearable dresses. She has a weakness for orchids, and the design of the petals was embroidered, cut out, or detailed on skirts and the front of dresses. I enjoyed it by far the most, and I’m sure they will do well in the stores. But…

Perhaps I am too much of a classicist. But if I am, why did so many of the shows leave me with such a feeling of ennui?

Coming up: the Emmy’s Best and Worst Dressed, Plus Size Model Magazine’s Special Blogger Event, and more Fashion Week!



Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012, Day One


Last Thursday kicked off the festivities for Mercedes Benz Spring/Summer 2012 Fashion Week, held in the tents at Lincoln Center. The lobby tent resembles a car dealership more than anything else. The impression is reinforced by the two Mercedes Benz automobiles parked on either side.

In keeping with the new austerity, the sponsors had drastically cut down their offerings. Chambord was no longer. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the loss of the bar and consequent free drinks.

Frappucino was also not to be found. That sat well with moi. I missed the McCafe at Bryant Park, where huge sweet coffee drinks with whipped cream and chocolate sauce kept me going throughout the day. Tresemme’ is still there. But instead of shampoo and conditioner, they are offering dry shampoo. Pardon my lack of excitement. The Maybelline stand, formerly generous with its offerings, allowed you to pick one item. I remember two seasons ago running in without my lipstick. The lovely lady there gave me two, one for before and one after 5 pm. No such luck now. However, I did choose the Maybelline Falsies mascara. The two lipsticks offered were coral and fuchsia, the two colors I cannot wear.

Arizona set up large coolers of various tea drinks and the most nauseating virgin pina colada I have ever gagged down. There is never free food (nobody eats at Fashion Week), but there was a café at the perimeter where one could pay ridiculously huge amounts for a salad.

The tone was muted as well. Most of the female attendees wore little black dresses. Only the very young women wore bodycon dresses in garish colors. While waiting online for the Tadashi Shoji show, I noticed a beautiful young woman wearing a 1980s Tadashi blue ruched Qiana dress.

Pardonnez moi, but is that dress vintage?”
She turned and gave me a condescending look. “You don’t know Tadashi’s design history, do you?” And turned back.

Two Tadashi dresses from the 1980s

No, I suppose I don’t. Strumpet.

The runway show itself? Terne, terne et morne. I was oft reminded of Laura’s dress on Ep. 6 of Project Runway.

Yes, Tadashi was out of his comfort zone. One wishes he’d stayed put. Many dresses were ombre’. As some interstitial idiocy during Project Runway put it, “Ombre’ is the new black!”

You know a show is not going well when the photographers’ “pit” barely flashes a light, and the audience sits quietly until the end. I would write more but thinking about that show causes my narcolepsy to kick in.


Fashion’s Night Out 2011: At Avenue


Before your dutiful scrivener (look it up) shares her midway Mercedes Benz Fashion Week runway report, I should like to begin with Fashion’s Night Out. It is a pulsing climax of retailing, with “pop-up” stores throughout the city. Liquor flows freely to encourage shopping madness. The lines at Missoni alone were simply out of control.

Your faithful correspondent had decided to stay in and take a hot scented bubble bath (my special scent created by Sarah Jessica Parker). My teens and twenties are far enough behind me that the notion of spending the night body-blocking other fashion hounds whilst wearing high heels was less than appetizing.

However, the siren call of the bathtub had to wait. Avenue, the plus-size clothing line for women, invited me as a celebrity guest blogger, along with Brooke Elliot, the star of the Lifetime television show “Drop Dead Diva.”

My fashion choices were an Avenue black dress with lace and ruching, 4″ black heels, and a huge vintage black hat. No jewelry. I believe the rule of “before you leave, take one thing off” applies particularly when you are wearing a huge feathered black hat.

Ma chérie jolie lecteurs, the store was so crowded you couldn’t’t get a nail file between the bodies. So many gorgeous plus-sized women, all shapes and sizes! All happy to be there among their own. Champagne was passed, as was finger food.

Alicia, the publicist, a shy, sweet redhead was not at all the usual fast-talking PR machine. I was introduced first to Selina Zaccagno, Avenue’s Divisional Merchandise Manager for Avenue Body, Shoes & Accessories. Selina in turn introduced me to almost all of the corporate staff. To be honest, after a bit it was a blur of black dresses and name tags. I saw the stylish @Curvatude, wearing a gray shrug tied under the bust and a long green skirt.

Brooke Elliot
Brooke Elliot arrived. She is stunningly beautiful, probably a size 22/24. Decked out in an Avenue animal print chiffon dress, Ms. Elliot posed for endless pictures with gaping fans.
I had a private consultation with stylist Jacqui Stafford. She praised my “beautiful bust, waist and hips,” naturally. Then she proceeded to tell me how best to cover them up. She was quite nice but there was definitely an element of cognitive dissonance there.

Brooke Elliot and Jacqui Stafford

Then came the runway show. My major quibble is that the models were small. Not nearly as terrifyingly thin as the usual Fashion Week models, but thin enough so that they did not do the clothes justice.

Ombre wool coat

Apres the show – damn that camera man!

The line is more chic than their previous clothes, particularly the new denim separates. Brooke Elliot helped Selina on the runway, discussing the styles and what she would wear. Before my camera died, I was able to grab a few snaps.

After a long day under the tents at Lincoln Center, I staggered back to my (featured in Architectural Digest) flat, and gratefully sank into my long awaited bath.

Plus tôt, je le promets.



all photos Elisa DeCarlo

Avenue’s Fashion’s Night Out Extravanganza!


My fellow larger lovelies, are you feeling frustrated by the miniscule sizes offered at most of the FNO Pop-Up-Stores?

While others may run hither and thither tomorrow night, you shall find moi in midtown, at Avenue, one of the finer retailers for plus-sized women. They are throwing an FNO party that promises to be delightful! Particularly since I will be there.

As you can see above, guests shall have the opportunity to meet the beautiful and talented star of Drop Dead Diva, Brooke Elliot. Ms. Elliot is one of the few Hollywood actresses who has not succumbed to the pressure to lose weight (yes, I’m looking at you, America Ferrara).

And one on one styling sessions with reknowned stylist Jacqi Stafford.

FNO at Avenue will take place from 6-10 PM at Avenue, 711 Third Avenue near 43rd Street. I keenly anticipate the runway show! There were also be surprises, raffles, and a DJ.

Not only can you meet me, you can also meet my fellow bloggers Plus Model Magazine, Stylish Curves, The Big Girl Blog, Curvatude, & The Fat Apple.

But of course the most important reason to attend is to meet moi. Imagine those bragging rights!

See you tomorrow,