Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Wine Tour of Portugal


Wine Club recently ventured to Tinto in Chesapeake, one of three locations for this small group of wine and cheese bars. Tinto specializes in hard-to-find wines from Portugal and Spain, and they were kind enough to accommodate us for a special guided tasting through the delicious varietals. We also had this spectacular cheese plate...seriously, this Midnight Moon cheese was so good we ordered an extra wheel.

 The cheat sheet for our journey through Greece, Spain and Portugal's grapes.

 It's cozy and cute! The other two locations are in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

We sampled a Greek Savvatiano, a tropical white that I really loved.

Basa Lore Getariako Txakolina, an effervescent Spanish white with hints of lime and a crisp finish.

Leira Reyero Albarino, a Spanish wine from Burgos. This was a lovely light, tropical wine with a dry finish and hints of apricot and pineapple.


Bajancas, from Douro, Portugal. This was a well-rounded chocolatey, spicy red.


We also had Bodega Picos Gran Gregoriano, a blend of tempranillo, garnacha, syrah and cabernet sauvignon. This was oak-aged and dry, with notes of cherries.

We loved our journey through Portugal that didn't include the obvious (port). Excited to try more wines from this region!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Oscars Fashion Review 2017

WOWZA what an Oscars ceremony! Just when you think, yeah yeah yeah, they're going to award another movie by Hollywood for Hollywood and reject new, creative storytelling depicting a young, black, gay male in the ghetto with a breathtakingly beautiful score...the whole thing goes upside down and you're questioning your own sanity! That show ended up being worth the HOUR it went over, which also gave me time to work out my feelings on the red carpet fashions.

All in all, it was more somber than usual, with a surprising number of the actresses stepping out in slim black columns. But there was still much to celebrate and surprisingly little to hate! Let's get to it.

Best Dressed


That look on Janelle Monae's face? "Oh me? Yes I did come to slay, bitch!" I had really high hopes for her and she totally delivered in this Elie Saab couture fit for a queen. It felt like a culmination of all her red carpet outfits this year, sticking to her palette of black and white and bringing it to a regal status. I loved her hair and headband and her make-up was #flawless, as only befits a Cover Girl. It's always fun to have a first-timer kill it.


At first, I thought Emma Stone's gold Givenchy was a little lackluster, but then I saw it in movement and what girl can resist a Cabaret-worthy shimmery fringe? It felt appropriate for the role, a throwback to old Hollywood and the business of show. Also, her make-up, jewelry and hair were Best in Show. A tour de force in styling.


Hailee Steinfeld was just a 14-year-old teenager when she last walked the red carpet at the Oscars, so she seized the opportunity to reintroduce herself as a beautiful woman in this ethereal gray and gold Ralph & Russo Couture gown. Her make-up was romantic, with smokey pinks and purples, and she just glowed.


National Treasure Viola Davis knew it was her night and she dressed accordingly in this chic red Armani gown, an absolutely timeless home run. I love the capelet design of the shoulders paired with a halter — super interesting detail I can imagine popping up on prom dresses and wedding gowns the world over. She looks so incredible in bright colors, so this fulfilled all my Oscar dreams for her.


Taraji P. Henson or Sophia Loren? Taraji rocked our worlds when she strutted onto the red carpet in this velvet Alberta Ferretti, accentuated with a diamond bandanna (not my fave), tousled Sophia bedhead and the smolder to end all smolders. I love sexy simplicity like this.


It was a great night for girls like me who love nothing more than a good black dress. Kirsten Dunst knocked me out when she appeared in this deceptively simple, but perfectly fitted Dior gown, paired with a diamond bow necklace, a messy bun dreams are made of and a flawless red lip. This was a bit of an understated year at the Oscars, but among the many, many black dresses, hers was one of my favorites.


On Twitter, I said Leslie Mann's citron Zac Posen looked like Belle's gown if she was in Dangerous Liaisons and I mean it in the best way! I love that she reliably will rock bright colors with her loose California waves and bright lips. She looked pretty and comfy and ready to rock a waltz with her own bearded fellow.


Nicole Kidman is an Oscars MVP. Look at any slide show of all-time best Oscar fashion and she'll make at least five appearances. So it's pretty laudable that, after nearly 30 years in the game, she's still killing it. I loved her sparkly Armani gown, with a pattern that seemed subtly to call back to her film, Lion, which partially takes place in India. Her red lipstick was the perfect shade. Also, special call-out for my favorite earrings of the night:




I have been disliking Jessica Biel since she first appeared as super lame Mary on "Seventh Heaven" and then tried to make a name for herself by posing topless on the cover of Gear magazine. Young feminist Amber was not impressed and I'm not sold on her yet, BUT for the first time ever, I was feeling her outfit! This gold camouflage Kaufman Franco leaves no room for extra calorie intake, and her fringed Tiffany necklace seemed straight off a Lion King costume, and somehow it all worked. Credit where credit's due.


At 63, Isabelle Huppert is carving out her place on my "aging like a rock star" inspiration vision board. This sparkly Armani isn't a surprise...this looks like the typical fare of most of her peers. But she sasses it up with black nails and the sexiest ear crawlers I've ever seen, along with make-up fit for a porcelain doll. She looks like she's ready to play Emma Stone's sexy man-stealing French mom.


Broadway goddess Cynthia Erivo looked so lovely in this voluminous floral Paolo Sebastian gown. It was perfectly unexpected and yet completely event-appropriate.


There were a great many blue suits (like...to the point it seemed like a conspiracy by indigo traders), but the blue-suited man of my heart was the swoonworthy Riz Ahmed in Ermenegildo Zegna.

Twinsies



Are you seeing double? I'm seeing double. Emma Roberts and Michelle Williams turned up in eerily similar black and white gowns, sweet in their simplicity. I have to give the edge to Emma Roberts in her vintage Armani, which had slightly more interesting details with the lace on the bust and the layers of the skirt.



And then — it happened again!!! Somehow not one, but two people took a look at Victorian red lace long-sleeved nightgowns and said YES, that is my ideal Oscar look. I give Ruth Negga kudos on her beautific aura and face, along with her ACLU support ribbon accessory. I actually prefer Ginnifer Goodwin's Zuhair Murad version of the dress but she seemed really bummed to be there...perhaps she was feeling mournful for former TV husband Bill Paxton?

Real Good


Charlize Theron is usually the leader of the pack in my book but something wasn't working 100% for me with her look. I love the metallic Dior gown, and I even can get down with her so-big-they-could-be-weapons Chopard earrings. But I thought her hair was just kind of strange...sort of old lady on top, lady at the gym in the back. I think I would have liked it better down?


Octavia's Marchesa is arguably my favorite gown she's ever worn, and it turns out they executed her vision. I loved most that she styled it with the sleekest bob. It wasn't terribly new territory for an Oscar gown, but it's certainly dreamy.


Naomie Harris was a daredevil on the red carpet and it wasn't even that crazy! Her clean and crisp Calvin Klein dress was refreshing, but I will always struggle bus with schizophrenic dresses that are half-business/half-gown. I'm still putting it in the win column, especially because of the next-level fun detail of her slightly different yellow and rhinestone shoes.


Priyanka Chopra has established herself as a red carpet heavy hitter, and I was delighted to see she chose one of the Ralph & Russo origami-style dresses I was digging on the runway. I preferred the full-skirted version, though, so I was a little bummed not to see that one rocking the red carpet.


Brie Larson wore black like everyone else. Her Oscar de la Renta gown was full-on flamenco emoji and the cut of the bodice was super sexy. Very pretty, but not one I think I'll be reminiscing about 10 years from now.


Halle Berry debuted the curliest hair I've ever seen on her and she seemed to be having so much fun with it! I loved the shimmery detail of the train on this gown. Not one of my all-time favorites for her, but she still rocks it and she knows her look.


Our girl Amy Adams got snubbed for her role in Arrival, one of my favorite movies of the year, and accordingly, she skipped the red carpet. But she was hard to miss in this quicksilver Tom Ford gown, fit for Bianca Jagger circa 1977. The best revenge is looking fantastic.

Also, she's nearing Kate Winslet level of being snubbed and I fear she'll finally win for something dumb no one saw because we'll all just be desperate for her to finally get hers. She's been nominated five times since 2006!


Chrissy Teigen came in full Chrissy Teigen mode with a tight, partially sheer Marchesa slit up to there. It's got beautiful beadwork and white is a gorgeous color on her, but ultimately I find this a little boring.


Laura Dern didn't get any screen time but this sparkly Rodarte was sexy as hell and she deserves some credit!

Meh


Felicity Jones ended up wearing a dishwater Dior ballerina dress that would normally be what I wear in my dreams, but in this scenario made her look 4 feet tall and severely underdressed. Tea-length is very hard to pull off if it doesn't even hit above the ankles. It just felt really rookie league.


Karlie Kloss looks spectacular in this Stella McCartney knock-off of Gwyneth Paltrow's iconic white cape gown. Give it 20 years before you recreate a memorable moment, honey.


Alicia Vikander's twist on the color of the night was a lacy Louis Vuitton frock that also looks like it was made for Spanish dancing. I could never say this was bad, but it was far from a fave.


Salma Hayek ALSO turned up in a black lacy dress that I would not wear to the Oscars, but maybe to a very fancy medical fundraiser. Also not bad. Also not exciting.


Oh, Meryl. Practically perfect in every way except red carpet dressing. She just strays way too far into mumsy territory for me in this half-gown, half-pantsuit from Elie Saab. I want Helen Mirren to mentor her in Senior Dressing.

Worst Dressed


Dakota Johnson here thinks she's real hot stuff and can pull off anything and I'm here to tell her, you can't and this is the worst. It starts off bad with her extremely blah half-up hairdo that looks like me at work on a day I didn't feel like washing my hair. Then it travels down to the Cartier museum piece getting woefully lost against the frilly collar of a dressing gown Joan Crawford would have worn to eat pancakes, but never out of the house. This looks like a costume from The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, not a movie I think anyone in 2017 has on their style Pinterest.


Jamie Dornan's love Amelia Warner wore this extremely covered-up polka dotted long-sleeved gown, with a cape that has extra large polka dots. It gives me the vibe of a Mormon wedding dress designed for fans of Spottie Dottie, a former Sanrio character of the 90s.




It's probably kind of harsh to dump Scarlett on my worst-dressed list. This Azzedine Alaia dress isn't offensive or in poor taste. It's just a completely unremarkable floral-ish print cinched with a belt from Hot Topic and it's probably one of the most forgettable dresses I've ever seen grace the Oscars red carpet. This is supposed to be fun, you guys!!


Apparently actress Blanca Blanco (of "Teen Star Academy" fame....right) had the world's least surprising wardrobe malfunction while she walked the red carpet, which almost begs asking whether it was planned in a misguided attempt to get some press. It's fairly obvious that slit is rated NC-17 and also, that she was going commando. But if those details weren't upsetting enough, we also have to acknowledge she's wearing the wallpaper of a Victorian pub with gift wrap bows for sleeves and the world's most distracting shoes. Perhaps they were intended to divert eyes from her platinum vagine (holla Bachelor fans!)?

So, do you agree or disagree with my picks? Until next year friends. Hopefully by then they work out the kinks in, you know, reading envelopes.

Friday, February 24, 2017

What I Would Wear to the Oscars 2017

Everyone knows nothing is worse than someone who offers criticism with no solutions. A few years ago with that spirit in mind, I started putting my stylist hat on, applying my imagination and envisioning what I would wear if I were invited to the Oscars. Travel down the virtual red carpet with me and let me know if I'd be on your best-dressed or worst-dressed list.

If I Were: A Nominee's Date


If you're on the arm of a nominee, you have the best ticket in town. No pressure, no one really cares what you wear, but you still get to have a great night out on the town. I immediately pictured Pauletta Washington, Denzel's wife, who has done this so many times. She always looks fantastic, so why not be comfortable, too? I love the Roman vibe of this Badgley Mischka that you can dress up as much as you want with accessories. In the '90s, Pauletta would always carry Judith Leiber sequined bags themed to his roles, like boxing gloves for "The Hurricane." So I like the idea of bringing that back...maybe minus the "Fences" theme.

These shell stripes almost look like fences, right? Bag by Judith Leiber.

If I Were: A Nominee for a Non-Acting Award


Every year, some lovely lady who is decidedly not famous has a moment in the spotlight. Maybe she's a producer, or costume designer or sound mixer or documentarian. Needless to say, she's suddenly standing on a stage broadcast to millions when she normally isn't, so she wants something special but maybe not ostentatious. I think this cool metallic Jenny Packham gown would do the trick for the right person. The color is interesting, the beading is pretty, yet understated, and I don't think America would look up and say, "Wait, what is this unfamous lady wearing?" in a negative way.

I'd pair it with this lovely set of Ippolita hoops, just as multicolored and intriguing as the gown.

If I Were: An Ingenue Presenting an Award


It's really Janelle Monae's year. She decided to try acting and ended up in two of the movies nominated for Best Picture. She's already cemented a reputation as an adventurous risk-taker in the fashion realm. I'd like to see her straddle that line between innovative, intriguing and classic Oscar style, so I'd love for her to pop up in something like this Ralph and Russo origami gown.

If anyone could pull off a Victorian diamond starburst tiara, it's Janelle. How gorgeous would this be atop one of her signature amazing updos?

If I Were: a Grand Dame of Acting, Nominated for Every Role


Meryl Streep could get nominated for coughing, so it's a given that if she acted within the year, she'll be going to the Oscars. She usually doesn't turn up the glamour too much unless she knows she's winning, but I think it would be cool to see her wear something as fancy as this Elie Saab cornflower gown (obviously with a few more layers in the skirt). It would look gorgeous with her blonde hair and blue eyes.


I really love the styling on the Elie Saab runway, so I'd take some of that inspiration and wear Indian-inspired earrings, like these by Rebecca Koven.

If I Were: A Supporting Actress Nominee Not Likely to Win


Although her performance in "Manchester by the Sea" was beautiful, Michelle Williams doesn't have a shot at the Best Supporting Actress award. She can still grab attention and have fun in the process, though! She loves simple silhouettes with a bit of edge, so why not have her pop up as a glamorous bird? I'm a sucker for feathers, and I think the high neckline of this Naeem Khan would look fantastic with her short hair.

These futuristic and edgy green amethyst earrings would perfectly complement the feathers, and might even be kryptonite, to boot.

If I Were: An Actress Nominee Not Likely to Win 


Ruth Negga definitely won't win, but this is a great chance to introduce herself to a wider audience. At the Golden Globes, she wore a cool metallic robot dress and a quick Google image search shows she gravitates toward florals, lace and fussy details. I'd like to see her instead in an extremely simple, balletic silhouette in a color that will make her skin glow. 

But to keep things unexpected, I'd swerve away from the standard diamond necklace in favor of something edgy and interesting, like this antique victorian pearl necklace.

If I Were: A Pregnant Nominee


Natalie Portman is real pregnant, y'all, and she's also dressing in full Jackie O mode. I think something simple and elegant like this Naeem Khan could be adapted for her baby bump and still be relatively comfortable. I'd skip the big necklace and HUGE earrings shown on the runway, however.

To get in full Jackie mode, it would be a nice tribute to wear jewels by the First Lady's favorite designer, Jean Schlumberger, like these ear clips...

And the famous enamel and diamond bangle!

If I Were: Likely to Win Supporting Actress After Multiple Noms


It's Viola Davis's moment to shine, after so many close-call nominations! She looks amazing in bright colors and silhouettes that show off her toned arms. I'd love to see her in something with more volume, like this Zuhair Murad gown. Dressed like she's ready for the ultimate blue ribbon!

It would be fun, especially with Viola's skin tone, to use another beautiful bright color for pop on her jewelry. I'd pair that royal blue with these gleaming emeralds.

If I Were: America's Sweetheart Finally Winning


I think our girl Emma Stone has a shot at winning, y'all! She's been putting in great work for years, and her peers (Jennifer Lawrence, Brie Larson) have already taken the gold man home, so it's her turn. She's pretty open to risk-taking on the red carpet, and usually does it with aplomb. I'd like to see her tackle an edgy and fascinating gown like this pleated architectural wonder by Versace.


I wouldn't want to distract too much from the detail of the dress, so I'd just pick a lucky star ring (perfect for La La Land) of moonstone and diamonds. 

If she'd rather wear something more classic, and even more starry, she would do well to consider this classically beautiful Zuhair Murad gown. I'd pair it with a red lip and a beautiful updo.

I'd finish the look off with dainty and pretty 1950s diamond drops. This would be an outfit that's truly "no ragrets."