Tag Archives: Bloomingdale’s

8th Annual Indepdendent Handbag Designer Awards

With less than a week away, the preliminary judging panel will be meeting here in New York this coming Sunday to determine finalists for the 8th Annual IHDA (Independent Handbag Designer Awards).  I’m happy to report that I will be on the panel this year, yet again.  I can not wait to see what designers have in-store for us. Along with discovering new names, what tends to really excite me are those who create beautifully crafted bags that bring originality to the market.  If you haven’t entered, there’s still time to apply.  Curious to see which bags standout?  Follow the #HandbagAwards, myself and the others via Instagram & Twitter to stay up-to-date.


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Winter Blues

Feeling a bit blue lately?  The runways were full of it last February showing off every single shade under the cool sky.  I particularly love seeing it in stores this season since it is one of my favorite colors to wear besides red. Despite what some critics might say, I’m not afraid to layer several different shades on top of each other, and it seems designers weren’t either.  To break it up, mix in a pop of print or block it with another bold color.

Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Scarf: Fratelli Talli for Bloomingdale’s, Vest: Brooks Brothers, Jacket: J.Hilburn, Sweater: Appalatch, Shirt: Desigual, Chinos: Calvin Klein, High-tops: Salvatore Ferragamo, Tote: 3.1 Phillip Lim


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My Father’s Favorites

Leave it to me to always get things done at the last minute.  I just realized that Father’s Day is this Sunday and I haven’t even thought about what I’m going to buy.  I’m sure I’m not the only person out there in this same predicament, so I thought I would put together some of my pop’s favorite things to help out those last minute shoppers (including me.)

If there’s one thing my father can’t live without, it would be golfing.  Since retiring, he is literally at the country club almost everyday practicing on his stroke.  Unfortunately, I was never a fan of the sport as I was more interested in what I was going to wear to go play golf.  Something with argyle in it was always a MUST!  I did also enjoy driving the carts until the time I ran one right into a tree and knocked the wind out me.  Gave my dad and his friends quite the laugh.

One of my fondest childhood memories I have of being with my father are on Friday nights when he would pick up my sisters and I at my mother’s house to go with him for the weekend.  He would break out his favorite guitar and blast records to bands like Marshall Tucker & Allman Brothers.  Singing and playing like he was entertaining a stadium sized audience, I knew this was a favorite pastime of his.   Of course the kids had to get in on the act and we would pretend to be his back up singers (and dancers at times.)  I love that this type of genre is coming back with favorites today like Mumford & Sons  and Lumineers.

I’ve always had a sweet tooth since I was a little boy and my dad is no different.  He can never get enough of a chocolate treat called Turtles.  Growing up, I couldn’t grasp the idea of what the heck was even in it that made him so addicted to them.  At one point I thought it might have something to do with an actual turtle.  Yuck!  Quickly, I realized that it was just pecans and caramel dipped in chocolate.  To this day, I still don’t get why he loves them so much; I like chocolate and caramel minus the pecans.

When it comes to my father’s feet, you can either find him in golf cleats or easy to slip-on boat style shoes during the warmer months of the year.  Mostly in the color brown, he’ll have them on his feet till the souls wear through.  I could never understand what his obsession with this style shoe was until I tried on a pair for myself about a year ago.  Since then I’ve added several to my own collection.

Being irish, my father enjoys an occasional beer or two.  Aside from Coors, he likes to support local breweries like Saranac.

When not on the golf course, you can find my dad always working on or fixing something.  If  it’s not building a shed behind his house, working on a car, or cutting down a tree, he proves that where there’s a will, there’s a way.  He’s basically Macgyver but with an AARP membership.  To carry the miscellaneous tools, nuts and bolts that he needs to build or fix whatever he’s working on, he’s always got on a pair shorts with pockets as he refers to them.  Tool belts are for rookies and cargo shorts (as I like to call to them) are for my dad.

All jokes aside,  I want to acknowledge my father’s love and support throughout the years.  He’s not only accepted me for who I am, but has stood by me in some my darkest hours.  He’s taught me in life to do what you love first and the money will come after.    He’s also taught me that if you want something in this world, you’ve got to go out and get it.  As I grow older, I’ve become more aware of these lessons he has tried to instil in me since I was a little boy.   Not always believing him, I now realize that he just wanted me to be the best that I could be.  At times, seeing it in me when I couldn’t.  BTW-The picture below was taken in May of 1983.  I was only 15 months old.  Wow, does time fly!


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Let the judging begin…Again!

Despite the amazing weather we’ve been having in New York lately, I was invited to spend it indoors (air-conditioned of course) at the Hyatt 48 Lex this past Sunday.  For the third year in a row, I’ve been asked to be on the preliminary judging panel for the Handbag Designer Awards.

For those of you unfamiliar, Emily Blumenthal is the founder of the HBD Network.  Home to Handbagdesigner101.com, The Independent Handbag Designer Awards and author of Handbag Designer 101: Everything You Need to Know About Designing, Making, and Marketing Handbags.  Emily has earned herself the title of industry’s leading handbag scout who’s recently been on the casting panel for Project Runway’s spinoff, Project Accessory.  She is also their official blogger.

A process that began back in December, interested candidates were encouraged to submit some of their latest designs to one of the following categories-Best Overall in Style & Design, Student Made, Best Handmade, Best Green, Most Socially Responsible and Fan Favorite.  With over a 1000 applicants who applied worldwide, the chances of becoming the next big name within the handbag world is like winning the lottery-slim to none.

Although if lucky to be chosen as a finalist, winners announced at the Handbag Designer Awards in June here in New York, are given opportunities to have their lines featured in major fashion magazine’s like Instyle, who has partnered with Emily for several years now and features the winners in their September issue.  Along with free publicity, the overall winner will receive a complimentary booth at one of the largest fashion trade shows in the US-WWD Magic, have their line picked up at Bloomingdale’s and a collaboration with this years iconoclast recipient Rafe.

Past winners include Clara Kasavina, who won 2011’s red carpet ready category.   Since their win, their evening style handbags have been seen in magazine’s like American Vogue, Instyle, Teen Vogue and Lucky.  They’ve also been spotted on the red carpet adorning celebs like Leslie Mann, Rihanna and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  I even had the opportunity to pull several pieces for supermodel Coco Rocha for an appearance in New York.

Bloomingdale’s and Henri Bendel’s have expressed interest in carrying their line since being recognized, and they are now being sold at various boutiques internationally.

Rouzita & Bita Vahhabaghai have also experienced this kind of success since winning in the overall category last year.  Their line ita was quickly picked up by Sak’s 5th Avenue and Intermix.  Selling out at certain locations have put them on track to expand to even more doors.  They say being apart of this competition was the best decision they could have made to help grow their business.  However, since being recognized by leaders in the industry, they feel the pressure that comes along with all their new business.

Speaking of pressure, Aimee Kestenberg, at only 24, felt the need to make a name of herself within the world of fashion.  After being named a winner in 2010 and finalist in 2011,  she received her work visa and quickly partnered with the Adoni group to create her line Aimee Kestenberg.  Her dream once a mere thought is now her reality.

In a market where names like Hermes, Celine, Coach and Michael Kors dominate, being the next break out star comes with its challenges.  Emily and her mission are slowly changing that allowing  emerging names to float to the surface with the Handbag Awards now in its seventh year.  Her continued efforts to fight for the underdog are being noticed by big names like Brother, Timberland, Charming Charlie’s, Pantone, and Vitamin Water which are all official sponsors of this year’s awards.

Emily continues to inspire those around her with her passion, dedication and spunky personality.  She saw a need and instead of thinking of herself, she thought about helping others.  The mind of genius if you ask me!

On a personal note, I’ve absolutely enjoyed being apart of this particular project for the past three years now. Looking back and seeing how far some of these designers have come, to know that I was apart of that, reminds me why I got involved in fashion.  You can’t be successful yourself without helping others become successful too.  Emily proves this theory with the Handbag Awards.

annual-independent-handbag-designer-awards-handbag-designer-101-2011-winners(Photo Courtesy of Styleandthestartup.com)

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