Live Blogging the Grammy’s

I’ve decided to live blog the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards pre-show red carpet – always the best place to critique the fashion of all our favorite rock stars. I’ve chosen to watch E!’s coverage, mostly because I can’t stand Chris Harrison and didn’t want to watch him on TV Guide. Not that I’m a huge Seacrest fan, but I figured his blabbing was better than Harisson’s.

6:01 – For now, Ryan Seacrest is blabbing on. The only thing I care about is that he’s wearing Burberry.

6:03 – Oh boy, a 360 cam. We get to critique them from all angles!

6:05 – Giuliana Rancic (I have no idea who she is, btw) is kind of tripping on her words. What a terrible interviewer.

6:12 – Pants on the ground? really? This is not Grammy material. I’m glad this is on DVR so I can fast forward.

6:14 – Zac Brown Band. They all need to shave.

6:16 – Mmmm Common. He definitely looks sharp. I wonder what brand he’s wearing – I definitely love the polka dot going on.

6:15 – “Oh yeah, Kanye is one of the most sincere and nice gentlemen I’ve ever met.” First of all, learn to speak proper english. Secondly, Kanye West is a jerk – you can’t possibly try and convince me that he is a good person – no good person would interupt anybody’s acceptance speech – country star or otherwise.

6:23 – I don’t think Kathy Griffin looks that great – her dress isn’t that flattering and her ego is a bit too inflated for my tastes. Calm yourself.

6:24 – Oh good the cleavage conversation. She loves to pitch herself, doesnt she?

6:25 – Brangelina are still together. Oh boy! Apparently, there are tons of rumors because they hadn’t been out in public together lately? Well, thats what happens when you have a million kids. Who knew.

6:30 – Ricky Martin is much better looking than I remember. His scruff is definitely attractive, and I love that jacket on him. Apparently Martin was in Haiti, which I think is really great. He’s discussing journalists coverage of Haiti, and says that his charity is going to help rebuild the country.

6:33 – MGMT look 16 and awkward. Their jackets are heinous  – I am not impressed.

6:38 – Gaga is on the scene! I have not been able to get her & beyonce’s song “telephone” out of my head all weekend – the beats to her songs are just so catchy! Her dress is pretty unbelievable tonight, I’m sure she’ll have 10 other outfits to gawk at. As much as I admire her for making a fashion statement, her dresses often seem unnecessary.

6:40 – Lady Antebellum looks hot! I’m very impressed

6:40 – Gaga’s dress is being called a solar system by Seacrest. Oh dear.

6:45 – I must be seriously out of the loop, but I had NO idea Justin Beiber was so young! Goodness!

6:50 – Sugarland! She is so gorgeous, and I absolutely LOVE her dress!

6:52 – John Legend. Goodness he is gorgeous. I am definitely not a fan of whatever hole-y vest he’s wearing, but his suit is definitely very nice. John, you can cook for me anytime.

6:53  – Katy Perry is up. What on earth is going on with this dress? I am not a fan, at all. And Russell Brand. Can you please close your shirt?

6:55 – T-Pain – he is certainly dressed down tonight. I like the shades, just not at the grammy’s.

6:56 – Lea Michele is gorgeous tonight – I love her dress!

6:58 – Helloooo Usher. What are you wearing? Checkered shirt, polka dot tie, beige three piece suit & giant shades? Noooo thank you.

6:59 – Kaley Cuoco from the Big Bang Theory looks gorgeous, I really wish I could pull off a gorgeous Nicole Miller plunge dress like that. She looks hot.

7:01 – Seal & Heidi Klum. They are such an adorable couple, and Klum is gorgeous, but I am not a fan of her dress tonight. I think she could’ve done much better.

7:03 – Black Eyed Peas – Fergie’s dress is very strange. I don’t really understand that long strappy silver thing?

7:09 – The Fray. Good looking group of guys – I like that they went with a simple shirt/tie/jacket combo. Very classy.

7:10 – Awww Travis Barker has his son with him. He’s so adorable!

7:11 – Keri Hilson’s dress does not fit her properly. Your boobs do not to pop out of the top, goodness. I dont think the Dolche and Gabana dress is anything special.

7:15 – Jennifer Hudson is such a strong, beautiful woman. I’m not a huge fan of her outfit tonight, but I have so much respect for her.

7:21 – Pink’s dress is kind of strange, but I do think it fits her well and is very reperesentative of her style.

7:23 – Mary J. Blidge. What are you wearing? Why did a cat scratch out the top of your dress?

7:24 – Carrie Underwood is so gorgeous. You have to have guts to wear a white dress like that, and she looks so beautiful.

7:28 – Miley Cyrus. Her dress is…  very strange.

7:29 – Nicole Kidman is definitely not my favorite – her Prada dress is gorgeous and very slimming, but I definitely think there are pretty stars.

7:31 – Taylor Swift!! She is so gorgeous, although I’m not a huge fan of her dress, I think she could have done much better. Taylor Swift is definitely beautiful and so down to earth – I’m just kind of obsessed.

7:34 – Beyonce’s dress is… strange? I don’t get it.

7:38 – Definitely glad I have this on DVR and can fast forward through the boring parts – getting ready for the show already!

7:39 – Kesha’s dress is very strange. She explains her style as “Garbage Can Chic” – I am not impressed.

7:40 – Sheryl Crow looks like she’s wearing a sheet. Yuck.

7:44 – Ciara’s outfit is very strange. I don’t get it?

7:50 – Ne-yo is so fly with his top hat. I am very impressed with the all black & white tie look.

7:51 – Rihanna looks like a swan. Hmmm.

7:53 – Colbie Calliat is adorable – I don’t love her dress – it’s kind of a strange color and design and I think she could have done much better.

8:00 – Looks like that’s the end of the red carpet. I’m going to close my computer, grab some dinner & enjoy the rest of the show!

Update: Since I don’t have copyright permission to put any photos from tonight up, be sure to check out the StylePhile blog from Boston.com. They’ve got a bunch of great images & commentary from tonight’s red carpet. Enjoy!

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January 31, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Fashion. Leave a comment.

Declare Your Curiosity

In class on Wednesday, we were joined by Stephanie Miller, Director of Digital Media for CBS Boston Television.  Ms. Miller works at both WBZ-TV & WBZ Radio.

Ms. Miller touched on a number of interesting points in speaking about a relatively new campaign WBZ-TV has created. While many locals may be well aware of this concept, I am not a TV or radio news consumer while in Boston, so the campaign was news to my ears.

The campaign, which began a year and a half ago, is titled “Declare Your Curiosity,” and asks viewers and listeners to go onto the show’s website and tell producers and news anchors exactly what they would like to hear. Viewers have the opportunity to share ideas, questions or issues they find interesting with the show. All of their answers are compiled in a database which Ms. Miller and other CBS executives have access to. There, they can contact contributers directly to pursue story lines.

In speaking about this idea, Ms. Miller focused on the idea that as journalists, we need to be developing a community and relationships within that community. Part of that relationship is understanding what the community wants.  While journalists are often expert story tellers, they don’t often realize that local news need to reflect the issues and concerns of the community. So the question, in realizing this, is how do you figure out what that is?

In a traditional sense, says Ms. Miller, you read the Globe, think something is fascinating and go out and ask more questions. This new Declare your Curiosity campaign allows readers to go directly to a news outlet to declare what they want to watch on their nightly news.

This concept falls away from crowd-sourcing in that CBS is not putting the job of a journalist in the hands of a citizen. Instead, they are relying on citizens to find interesting stories and come to WBZTV, where they can do the proper job of a journalist.

Thus far, the program has had just over 6,000 users submit almost 10,000 curiosities – pretty impressive.

I think this idea is fascinating, and is without a doubt the future of journalism. Today, investigative reporters rely on tips and chance, bumping into stories and people who may just happen to bring us a great front page story. The reality is, journalists are such a small population of the world. Those who aren’t spending their lives digging for dirt are often the ones who have the best dirt right in front of them.

A great example of that was a story Ms. Miller discussed during her time with us on Wednesday. A truck driver submitted a curiosity about low hanging telephone wires. What developed was a short investigative article about the laws of hanging telephone wires in Massachusetts.

Be sure watch the advertisement for the campaign – maybe you can even submit your own curiosity.

January 29, 2010. Tags: , , , . Class Posts. 1 comment.

Bostonians respond to Haiti

With news about the aftermath of Haiti’s devastating earthquake looming on the front page of every newspaper in the country, it’s no secret that the worlds eyes are focused more on Haiti now than they ever have.

Boston bloggers have certainly taken this story to heart as well, and have been reporting on how locals have been responding to this horrific natural disaster.

President & CEO of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center keeps a blog in which he writes about how to run a hospital. One of his recent posts describes the hospital’s reaction to the earthquake. He includes a hospital memo, which reports that two of the hospital’s staff have volunteered through Partners in Health to provide medical assistance to those in need. The letter also explains that BIDMC is working with PIH directly to ensure aid and supplies get through to the Haitian people in need.

Marjorie Arons-Barron, another Boston blogger, wrote a very interesting post about the Haitian earthquake.

I keep thinking about what Boston, Lowell, Minneapolis or New York would look like after a 7.0 earthquake, the crumbling buildings, bodies pinned beneath, the unavailability of food, water and electricity, the difficulty of getting medical care. The anguish is unimaginable. But the reality is now in the poorest country in our hemisphere. One wonders if Haiti will ever be able to make economic and social progress.

What Barrons writes is a tragic truth. Can you imagine Boston, New York City or even your home town in such shambles? Although we have been plastered with thousands of pictures of the quake and the tragedy that has unfolded,  it’s hard to truly imagine what the destruction and devastation look like. On top of this, knowing that Haiti was in such dire need prior to this disaster makes those aware of the situation wonder: can Haiti move forward from this?

It’s estimated that the celebrity telethon this past weekend raised almost $57 million dollars, and that’s just a single fundraiser. Hundreds of organizations, including cell phone companies, are raising money for the Haitian cause. My worry is that the money and aid we are donating won’t make it to Haiti. There are reports of roads being blocked and airplanes carrying aid forced to sit on runways because they cannot distribute their food and water.  Other articles report that although food is making it to some places, not every survivor is being reached.

Jatropha is considered to be a vodou flower in Haiti, but Dr. Jean-Charles believes it can be turned into bio-fuel for Haiti

Barron offers a spark of hope in her post. She refers to a doctor by the name of Roger Jean-Charles who works at Boston Medical Center & is currently focusing on Haiti. Barron reports that generating electricity has always been a problem for Haiti. Jean-Charles believes that Jatropha, a flower native to the area, can provide bio-fuel for the area and links to this Miami Herald article. However far fetched the idea may seem, it’s at least nice to know that there is some hope on the horizon.

Other bloggers are simply getting out the word about how they are helping. Anali, who writes a local Boston blog about her sweet tooth, has posted information about the online bake sale she is participating in to raise money for Haiti. HubArts, a blog run by Joel Brown about Boston news, art & culture, has written a post about a Jazz for Haiti event that Bostonians can attend on January 31st.

January 26, 2010. Tags: , , . Class Posts. Leave a comment.

Crazy for… Oprah?

So this isn’t exactly fashion related, but I was too fascinated not to post about it.

Photo Credits to Alan Light (http://www.flickr.com/photos/alan-light/)

My roommate and I turned on the TV the other day and The Bonnie Hunt Show was on. Don’t ask me why, and please don’t ask me why we kept watching it, but regardless, her guest was a woman by the name of Robyn Okrant. According to her website, Robyn believes that Oprah Winfrey is one of the most influential people in today’s media, and more specifically, has an incredible impact on women. As a test of Oprah’s advice, Robyn set out to “Live Oprah” – every day in 2008, Robyn lived her life completely based on advice Oprah was giving women on her show, website and in her magazine. Robyn listened to everything from shoe advice (apparently Oprah believes leopard flats go with everything – I may beg to differ although I do own a great pair from Target) to who to date to how to decorate your home, Robyn did it. She began by writing in her blog about her year’s worth of activities, attitude changes, and goals and eventually wrote a book about her experiences.

I think the concept behind Robyn’s crazy quest is fascinating. We live in a society which practically revolves around celebrities – everyone from the Jersey Shore stars to Anderson Cooper is put in a pedestal and worshipped, whether they deserve it or not. Many, like Oprah Winfrey, dispel advice left and right. So how realistic is it, financially or otherwise, to follow that advice? Robyn Okrant certainly took that question to heart when she set out on her goal, and for that, I admire her.  The concept reminds me a bit of the movie Julie & Julia I saw last summer, a story of a woman who cooks one of Julia Child’s recipes every day for a year.

I wonder if Oprah follows her own advice, or if it’s just Robyn who takes every word she says to heart. I also wonder what Oprah’s reaction to Robyn’s year long goal was. According to a January 4 USA Today article Oprah has not commented on Robyn’s blog or book, nor has Robyn ever heard from Oprah.

January 24, 2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Menswear Trend

This morning, I clicked over to Vogue and stumbled upon the site’s “Most Wanted” article. Today’s subject? Menswear.

The article begins with a great question, and I am immediately intrigued.

“Menswear. You hear the word everywhere, but how, exactly, do you steal from your boyfriend’s closet & make it your own?”

Vogue's Menswear Suggestions - Credit to Vogue.com

As shown to the left, Vogue suggests a $1,595 Maison Martin Margiela blazer, a $795 Matthew Williamson scarf-neck blouse, a $2,375 Hermes bag and $600 Rupert Sanderson pumps. No questions asked, the outfit pictured is gorgeous. and when I am a millionaire, I will be sure to purchase all of those items.

In the mean time, what’s the trick to duplicating this outfit without spending your entire savings account?

My first advice would be to stay away from your boyfriend’s closet. Plenty of women’s stores create clothes specifically tailored to women but based on men’s fashion. Another option is to shop in the men’s (or boys) section. Sometimes you’ll find nothing, but other times looser mens sweaters can look great when paired with leggings and a fun belt.

In searching specifically for blazers like the one Vogue suggested, I discovered this blog post about blazers and how women can pull them off. Her advice is definitely solid: keep it lose, add girly details and never, ever wear shoulder pads.

A great example of how to pull off the blazer look! For photo credit, click on image.

Flickr user idhren posts a huge number of fashion images, including the one to the right of a model in a women’s blazer. The model pulls of the style beautifully, and although I could never wear an outfit like that, I admire her ability to!

In searching Forever 21 for “blazers” I was given over fifty search results. My favorite is the Shoulder Studette Blazer. I’d probably pair it with my favorite skinny jeans, a simple blouse, a bold necklace & bright flats (if I could manage to walk around in pumps all day I would, but I’ve got to be realistic!).

However you wear your blazer, just keep it simple. The beauty of the blazer is that it immediately dresses up an outfit, but because of the baggy style, you still look comfy and fashionable. Overdoing it, wearing too many colors or buying a blazer that’s too tight can make this simple outfit a giant flop.

January 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Fashion. Leave a comment.

Update: H and M – What a Waste

When I chose to write about the issue of H&M destroying unsold merchandise, I had no idea that the articles I found were just the tip of the iceberg. Upon further inspection, I have come to realize that the reporting Jim Dwyer did at the beginning of the month opened a giant can of worms I failed to fully understand or research properly.

Jim Dwyer‘s original article was posted on January 5 and began with a description of homeless people digging through the trash outside of H&M to salvage any clothing that hadn’t been purposely destroyed. The article then states that in the same area of New York City, a graduate student had found bags of tagged clothing from Wal-Mart that had also been purposely destroyed and thrown out. The next day, Dwyer posted a follow up article quoting an H&M spokeswoman and recapping his original post. These are the two articles I read and wrote about in my previous post.

third article, posted by Dwyer on January 10, does further reporting on the New York Clothing Bank, an organization which collects unsold clothing from retail stores, strips the labels and tags and donates the goods to other organizations, who assist more than 80,000 needy individuals. Dwyer then discusses the reaction to his two original posts – he claims to have received hundreds of emails from people working in retail who stated that their stores destroy garments the way H&M and Wal-Mart were caught doing.

He then delves into the reasons, many of which didn’t (but should have) occurred to me. He discusses branding & imaging -the notion that a clothing company does not want homeless people wearing their label, as it “defeats the purpose” of pouring millions of dollars into advertising and modeling.

In addition, he states that if a store were to throw out or donate clothing in good condition, individuals could easily take the items and attempt to return them at stores, causing the companies to lose huge amounts of money.

These articles have created a whirlwind of reaction – other articles and blog posts have reported on other stores that have done similar things and the outrage is clearly rampant. The most shocking blog post I found was written by another NYC resident who found hundreds of dollars worth of slightly worn down Urban Outfitters merchandise in boxes placed on the street and marked “broken glass”. Once the blogger was caught digging through the boxes, a staff member at Urban Outfitters threatened that the police were on their way and claimed that the boxes were being donated to the Salvation Army.

This post brings up a whole slew of other incredibly interesting, confusing and heartbreaking issues. I cannot really even begin to wrap my head around all of it, but the bottom line is this: no matter how much money you’ve spent on advertising your brand, whether you are Wal-Mart, H&M or Urban Outfitters, it should never be okay to let protecting the value of your label push you to do something so bizarre as destroy clothing that is desperately needed not only in the United States, but across the world.

January 19, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Class Posts. Leave a comment.

H and M: What a Waste

Recently, it came to the attention of the New York Times that H&M was deliberately trashing and destroying unsold clothing from their store on 34th Street in Manhattan. Homeless adults living in NYC went on record with the New York Times to state that H&M often leaves clothing outside of their store and that they often visit the store’s trash bins after hours to salvage any clothing that hasnt been deliberately cut or destroyed. 

“Gloves with the fingers cut off,” Ms. Magnus said, reciting the inventory of ruined items. “Warm socks. Cute patent leather Mary Jane school shoes, maybe for fourth graders, with the instep cut up with a scissor. Men’s jackets, slashed across the body and the arms. The puffy fiber fill was coming out in big white cotton balls.” The jackets were tagged $59, $79 and $129.

In a later article posted by New York Magazine, claims are made that the NYT attempted to contact H&M 10 times, and were finally given the following statement:

“It will not happen again,” said Nicole Christie, a spokeswoman for H & M in New York. “We are committed 100 percent to make sure this practice is not happening anywhere else, as it is not our standard practice.”

Ms. Christie said it was H & M’s policy to donate unworn clothing to charitable groups. She said that she did not know why the store on 34th Street was slashing the clothes, and that the company was checking to make sure that none of its other stores were doing so.

A TreeHugger blog post states that Wal-Mart is guilty for the same crime – cutting holes in unsold clothing and leaving them in the dumpsters.  The blogs author, Lloyd Alter, gives information from a Wal-Mart spokesperson as well.

A Wal-Mart spokesperson said that the company typically donated or recycled such items, and did not explain how the store just happened to have a giant hole-punching machine.

 In today’s day and age it seems almost ludicrous that an organization as large as H&M  would do something this wasteful. Although throwing unused clothing in a dumpster is bad enough, knowing that clothing was specifically ruined so it couldn’t be worn is a whole other level of negligence.

As somebody who worked in retail for years, I remember the painful process I went through counting inventory, boxing up sale items and sending them to other stores across the country. I always scoffed at the company for wasting so much paper and plastic, but throwing out clothes and destroying them intentionally is never something I would expect from any clothing organization, big or small. If sales are down and sale items aren’t selling, wouldnt getting a tax return on a large donation to needy homeless shelters come off as much better PR than catching a homeless man dumpster diving for an intentionally ruined jacket?

Seems pretty negligent to me. I’m just hoping H&M’s store managers are feel pretty moronic right about now.

January 14, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Picking up the slack

Once again, I let this blog fall to the wayside. As I am back in class and taking a “Reinventing the News” course, I am once again required to keep a blog. So for my 12 loyal readers, I’m back!

More to come, and I’ll have to do an update with all of my purchases as of late. It seems some retail therapy was in order over winter break. Oops?

January 13, 2010. Uncategorized. 1 comment.