Tags: alison stewart, animal rights activism, anti-bullying, cancer research, charitable fashion, domestic violence prevention, drug addiction prevention, fashion stylist, fashion with a cause, karma for a cure, karmaforacure.com, margaux minutolo, style expert, stylewhipped.com
We all have a lot to be thankful for this year. Sometimes it may not seem so (with hurricanes and the like...), but there is always something to be thankful for. Sometimes they are material things, sometimes they are relationships, friendships and family. Sometimes they are monetary. And sometimes they are spiritual or just feeling lucky. So whatever big or small things you have to be thankful for, take an extra moment out today to acknowledge them. Say them out loud. And then go ahead and say outloud all the things you'd like to make happen so you can be thankful for them next year. Because putting your goals and wishes out in the universe often make them come true. And that is definitely something to be thankful for.
So enjoy a good meal (I'll be the one not eating turkey...), have fun with the people who are around you, be careful (please do not have even one cocktail and drive...), tell someone you love them, celebrate the small things, and be as festive as you can, even if you feel that you don't necessarily have so much to be thankful for. Because sometimes, acting happy can actually lead to being happy.
~ Alison & The Stylewhipped Team
I grew up in New Jersey. I have lived in Manhattan for close to 11 years. I have a house on the barrier island of Long Beach Island, NJ. My high school boyfriend's family was originally from Breezy Point, Queens. Everyone has a story to tell about an area that Hurricane Sandy has devastated, and everyone in the country has seen footage about the horrifying conditions that some people are still living in (and will be facing for too long to come). So what does this have to do with our little style magazine?
Well, my message today is two-fold. First, there are obviously people who have lost literally all of their possessions. So this is a perfect time to clean out your closet and gather up clothing to donate (especially needed are winter coats and anything good for layering, so your summer tank tops will still be super useful!). You could also quite easily take $100 (or $1,000!) out of your Fall shopping budget and donate it to the Red Cross or any other disaster relief organization. One less pair of shoes for you could mean hot food or fuel for a generator for days for someone else.
Second...yes, retail therapy is real and it makes us feel better. (I am guilty as well...seeing as I shopped just last night as a diversion away from watching the news for the 150,000th hour...) So why not use some retail therapy to make a difference and help rebuild our beautiful NJ beaches? There are two ways you can help:
Surf company Jetty has designed a t-shirt (and a very cool one at that...) whose profits will go toward helping those all over NJ who were hardest hit and also to emergency response units who need assistance. You can pre-order your $20 shirt (or shirtS! they are 100% unisex in design, so why not buy them for your whole family!) here: http://jettylife.com/store/Shop_item.php?id=1058&cat=1&sub=0&shirt=&photo=1
And specifically for my little island of LBI, you have two options. Check out LBI Love here: http://www.lbisource.com/island-skinny/love-in-a-bag for an adorable, $25 tote bag (perfect to use once our beaches are restored...and they WILL be restored!). And if tote bags aren't your thing (or if you want to spend the same amount of money and spread the word even further), LBI Love is also offering $5 "window clings," to show off your love for Long Beach Island as you drive around in your car or as people pass the front door of your house. Five bucks, people...buy five of them!
Tomorrow, Stylewhipped will go back to our regularly scheduled fashionista selves...but today, this is what we'd like you to do ;)
As you all know, NYC has been catastrophically slammed by Hurricane Sandy. Here at Stylewhipped, we are all (thankfully) safe and fine, but some of us are still without power (and some of us, like me, are horribly worried about our fragile houses at the Jersey shore...).
So in light of that, and seeing that it feels a little wrong to be writing about fashion and shoes and fabulousness while some people are surviving in the worst conditions, we are taking just a few days off. But we will be back by Thursday at the latest, and will even be introducing a super exciting new column! (Oh c'mon, you know I can't tell you about it beforehand...!)
So if you have been affected by the storm, we hope you are ok...and if you were outside of its nasty path, consider yourself very lucky!
~ Alison & the Stylewhipped Team
No, I'm not suggesting we go back to the popular style of the late '80's (but oh man, did I love my dark green suede bomber jacket in 8th grade...). Instead, I am referring to an Official Selection at the Golden Door International Film Festival of Jersey City, called "Bomber Jackets." The festival itself runs this week from October 11th - 14th, and "Bomber Jackets" is premiering on Saturday the 13th at 4pm. I will be there to see it again, even after having the fabulous opportunity to privately pre-screen the film this weekend. Why will I be there? Well, to start, the movie is gritty and gripping, with break-out performances by talented new actors. It also brings a powerful message about acceptance and the fatally damaging effects of hatred...and someone especially close to me is one of the afore-mentioned talented new actors (I'll keep you in suspense and let you guess who it is...).
A true independent film, "Bomber Jackets" was produced and directed by Rob Santana on a shoe-string budget of a mere $8,000. Filmed 100% on location in urban Jersey City, NJ (right across the river from where I'm sitting now), "Bomber Jackets" was originally an off-Broadway play produced by Miriam Colon in 1996, and brings its audience a disturbing but important lesson in the importance of ending homophobia and violence towards the LBGT community. I don't want to give away the ending, but this is basically the story of an organized group of hatred-filled, homophobic young men in modern-day Jersey City, recognizable by their matching bomber jackets. When a small number of gays start moving into their old-school neighborhood, they become angrier and more violent in their sentiments. That violence escalates into physical attacks when the group's leader can't stand the idea of a cross-dressing gay man living right in their same building. Unbeknownst to him, though, one of his own buddies has fallen for the transvestite and will do anything -- anything -- to come to "her" rescue. To follow is the story of how all of their lives are changed forever.
With especially strong performances from the main character 'Patrick,' played by Robert James Ramirez, 'Tommy,' played by Dino Matis, and 'Patrick's Mom,' played by Kathryn Neville Browne, the ensemble cast has great chemistry and I look forward to seeing many of them in many films to come. Robert James Ramirez and Dino Matis both managed to convey a perfect juxtaposition of anger, frustration, and a secret, introspective softer side that separates them from their peers. And Kathryn Neville Browne brings a character to life you really aren't sure what to make of...in a good way. At only 83 minutes long, I was left wanting to know more about each character's individual story...which I think is a sure sign of an engaging film, especially one that still manages to touch on additional topics like domestic violence, dead-end jobs and infidelity. Which is exactly why you should buy tickets to the official premiere of "Bomber Jackets" at the Golden Door Film Festival. You can purchase them simply by clicking on this link - and at only $10 each, you can spread the word to anyone interested in being moved by the movie's important message...or buy tickets for more than just one of the festival's diverse feature films.
See you at the movies!
Tags: alison stewart, bomber jackets, dino matis, films, golden door film festival of jersey city, independent films, jersey city, kathryn neville browne, LGBT, LGBT issues, lifestyle expert, movie premieres, nj, rob santana, robert james ramirez, stylewhipped.com
To preface this month’s column, I need to rewind back to approximately a year and a half ago. While I may love music and own an extensive collection of more musicians than you knew existed, I am extremely picky when it comes to my favorites. The criteria is simple: the music must be just as good live as it is on the album, the material be strong quality, and the “full package” engaging me to want to listen to more of it. (Granted, if the musicians are decent looking, that never hurts either!)
So imagine my surprise when after a year and a half of performing, my favorite west-coast indie rock group Bonnie Dune (finally) released their first album, The Lost EP. Even though I have been content with my bootlegs of studio and live versions of the band’s tracks, it’s more than just about the music. It’s about Justin Wilczynski, Seth Roberts, Joshua Kerr and Cory Monteith (yes, the Glee guy) delivering songs that feel like pages from my own diary transformed into an album.
True, there are only eight tracks and most of them have been heard several times over through fans clamoring for every bit of the guys they can get their hands on, yet it works. (Well, that and I can’t get enough of those songs I have played hundreds of times over!) The tracks intimate precise selection and perfection in simple melodies, passion ever-present in the soothing timbre of Wilczynski’s vocals. The album tells a story we’re all familiar with: love, loss, friendship and the journey of self-discovery. (In fact, The Lost EP hits so close to home that my first tattoo may be lyrics from “Sailboat”, a tale of growing up and holding on to those things we love.)
Aside from the album, I was fortunate to see the band perform in Hershey, PA last year (and snag a super-cool VIP wristband to meet the guys), an experience I will always cherish. Also featuring Jacob Wick (The Honey Trees) on keyboard, the live show was not only amazing; it was full of love for the screaming throng of fans and glimpses into the friendship between talented (and sweet) musicians. Even after a rigorous ½ hour set, each VIP recipient was greeted with a smile and a “thank you for coming” (at the very least.) Some fans shared gifts, pictures, stories, even a joke or two with the guys. (Josh and Cory, I’m still waiting on a karaoke night!)
To snag a copy of The Lost EP (or share it with all of your friends), you can find it on iTunes here: The Lost EP. Although I love every single track, I encourage you to not only listen to “Sailboat”, but also feel free to check out “Better View” and “Quiet Confidence.” Maybe you’ll find what once was 'lost' too.
P.S. – Minus the full band photo, the rest of the pictures featured are from my experience at Hershey Park…enjoy!
I have always been, and will always be, a huge supporter of the arts. As a former ballet dancer, I think everyone should occassionally go to the ballet, the theater, a museum, a film they wouldn't normally see. However (and perhaps the reason I never would have really "made it" in the dance world), while I need my every-once-in-awhile arts fix, it's not something I need to do or experience every day. And I think that's what trips people up...they think that in order to appreciate the arts, they need to submerge themselves. And that couldn't be farther from the truth. But every so often, you do need a little culture, no matter where you live and no matter what your other interests are. Big sports fan? Go see the new Larry Bird/Magic Johnson show on Broadway. Fashion lover? Go check out the new Prada/Schiaparelli exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Don't want to commit to an entire afternoon of looking at "important" paintings? Find a small gallery that has pieces that somehow appeal to you.
This past weekend, Stylewhipped got on the arts bandwagon in a big way. On Friday evening, Men's Director Joseph Ungoco and I were so excited to attend the NYC premiere of the multiple-award-winning movie "Going Down in La-La Land," starring our lovely and talented friend Matthew Ludwinsky. We had our picture taken, watched the (really good!) film, listened to the Q & A with the actors...and also went to the super fabulous after-party (see, arts and a vodka sponsor at a nightclub...who said culture isn't fun?!). Following that, Stylewhipped's Sherin Botros invited me to see "The City Club" on Saturday night, an off-Broadway musical at the famed Minetta Lane Theater in NYC's West Village. While it was pretty
clear why the production was off-Broadway, it was still enjoyable to see some very good performances and feel like we supported up-and-coming musical theater talent...and not feel like we just went out to eat and for cocktails (our typical Saturday night in Manhattan...).
It is so important to be what I consider a well-rounded personality...you could drop me in any social setting and I can talk about fashion or have an opinion on art, but also know that both the NY Rangers and the NJ Devils hockey teams both lost important play-off games this weekend. I recently went to see (and LOVED) "Memphis: The Musical" on Broadway...but I also couldn't wait to watch the most recent episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" on TV. Don't pigeon-hole yourself by limiting your exposure to different experiences (and don't use living outside of NYC as an excuse...see a traveling production of a Broadway show, go to a local musuem, see an independent film at any movie theater, etc). Starting that exposure with some form of the arts is easy, surprisingly interesting and so important in a time when funding is being cut and our educational system often doesn't have the money to expose our children to anything besides getting through math class...
So go get a little culture. I promise it won't hurt.
Tags: alison stewart, culture, going down in la-la land, joseph ungoco, movies, musicals, sherin botros, sports, stylewhipped.com, the arts, the city club musical, theater
Here at Stylewhipped, we celebrate almost every holiday you can imagine...we represent multiple different religions, spiritualities, and beliefs. But what we have in common is knowing the importance of mutual respect, regarding each other's holidays without judgement, enjoying traditions (and the food that goes with them!), and using every opportunity to spend time with our friends and families (even if we don't necessarily follow the religious importance of each and every holiday!).
So today, which is Good Friday, the beginning of Passover and a precursor to Easter all at once, we are taking the day off.We will be back on Monday (of course...we couldn't stay away for that long...!), and wish everyone a happy, safe weekend. No matter what you celebrate ;)
~ Alison & the Stylewhipped Team
When I think of Album of the Year, I picture it being the biggest honor any musician can have bestowed upon them. (I mean, besides the Lifetime Achievement Award…which I will get into with my regular column later this month!) It means that everything about the artist and their musical masterpiece was perfect. From the songs, to the production team, even down to the delivery of the album to the public. It’s probably one of my all-time favorite categories to watch, especially since I really love a strong album over a hit single any day; and the nominees are certainly winners!
Foo Fighters brought rock back into the forefront with Wasting Light; their first single “Walk” makes me reminisce about how I felt when the band first emerged on the scene. They have come so far in their career and still manage to keep making rock a staple in our music collections.
Rihanna surprisingly has come into her own this year with Loud. Before her separation from Chris Brown, I had no interest in her music or who she was. But after growing and evolving from her relationship through her songs, particularly with Loud, I can’t help but want to want to hug her in ”Love the Way You Lie” or assert a darker, more decadent side with her in “S&M.”
Lady Gaga is always in a category of her own, especially with Born This Way. Gaga’s music always pushes the envelope and encourages us to be who we are and accept it. Granted, I can’t always get into her music the way many others have, but the message from her title track makes for a great campaign to stop the bullying and have some self-acceptance.
Adele has been on fire with several Grammy nominations (as you have read in previous columns!) Her sophomore album 21 really embodies the spirit of a woman who struggles and pushes through her life with dignity and just a little humility. Instead of making love all about flowers and rainbows, her broken heart bleeds into her lyrics.
Finally, we have Bruno Mars, who shines through with Doo-Wops & Hooligans. Just about every single that has been released from this album has been magical. Mars knows how to keep the balance between the smooth R&B, yet reinvent the modern-day crooner.
So who wins? Who takes home the coveted award? While Arcade Fire may have secured that win last year, I don’t think it will go in the same direction this year.
Jenn’s Pick: Adele. This has really been her year. She’s been through so much with her music and her health that she has earned it all.
Who will most likely win: Lady Gaga. She’s been pushing the envelope with her music, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see her win this for her avant-garde style.
The Wild-card: Foo Fighters. While they’re not my favorite rock band (or one I’d go to as a staple in my collection), their 2011 release deserves recognition. They have had a previous Grammy nod with their 2007 album Echoes, Silence Patience & Grace; but this year it’s their time to shine and bring rock back into the fold.
***Tune into CBS on Sunday, February 12th night at 8/7c for the 54th Annual Grammy Awards!***
Song of the Year and Record of the Year appear to look like the same category, yet they’re not. While the “Song” award is given to those who wrote the single that catapulted the artist into the spotlight, the “Record” is given to those who produced the song (i.e., the producer & sound engineers). But since both focus on the singles, I thought it would be fun to talk about them together!
Song of the Year is always a tough choice for me…well, tougher this year for sure. I normally can locate my favorite by the number of times that particular track has played on my iTunes. But this year, it’s difficult to pick a clear winner; each and every artist nominated has brought their A-game to the table in 2011. Choosing a winner almost feels like which of your children do you love the most.
For Adele, her big hit “Rolling in the Deep” has topped just about every chart and played every time I turned on the radio. She’s broken all stereotypes with her style, attitude, and image; the role of strong female performer became her theme in 2011.
Then again, you also have Mumford & Sons competing against her with their biggest hit, “The Cave.” Coming from across the pond, these boys are bringing back a folk/bluegrass-style of music to the mix; something we haven’t heard in a long time amidst the haze of hip-hop & club music anthems. Bon Iver adds his indie vibe to the fold with a haunting melody about redemption, “Holocene.”
On the other side of the music spectrum, you have Bruno Mars with “Grenade” & Kanye (& Co.) with “All of the Lights.” Mars has brought the soulful male singer-songwriter more into the spotlight, while Kanye has kept up with just doing his thing and raising the bar in the hip-hop industry.
Song of the Year is more of a popularity contest than anything. If you’ve heard the song enough times to need a hiatus from their music altogether, it’s almost a guarantee that they’re taking home that coveted gramophone.
Jenn’s Pick: Adele’s “Rollin’ In the Deep.” That song has made 2011 in more ways that we can even understand; she's earned it!
Who will most likely win: Bruno Mars “Grenade.” Everyone loves a cutie that can pen an angsty love song and sing it almost effortlessly.
The Wild-card: Mumford & Sons “The Cave.” The music scene has been making some huge changes within the past year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these boys take home the Grammy Gold.
Record of the Year, while featuring the singles nominated, really focus on the quality of the recording and those who help make the song sound pleasing to our ears. And this particular culmination of artists will certainly make my selection process a little difficult!
Just a disclaimer to this category, when it comes to the production/engineering end of music…it’s more like unchartered territory! I probably wouldn’t know who The Smeezingtons (minus Bruno Mars) or Marcus Dravs (Mumford & Sons) was if they passed me on the street. I’m a writer, not a sound engineer or a music producer. Fortunately, I do know (and love) music and the quality of what I listen to are important to me, especially when I suggest music to all of you. (I’m also quick on learning about the competitors’ strengths & weaknesses in their industry, even if I am not as learned on the subject.)
Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” has such a distinguishable sound, one that can be attributed to Paul Epworth, who has earned his credits working with U.K. acts. (Think Florence + the Machine and Kate Nash.) Then again, Bon Iver’s “Holocene” also brings a different sound to the table, especially with lead singer Justin Vernon being responsible for the producing & engineering on the album.
Bruno Mars went with his production team that he runs with Philip Lawrence & Ari Levine, The Smeezingtons; Mumford & Sons had their folk/bluegrass sound ‘rocked’ out a little by Marcus Dravs, also known for his work with Coldplay on their most recent album, Mylo Xyloto. And last but not least, we have Katy Perry for her work with Swedish production team Stargate (Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen), who earned a 2008 Grammy nomination for Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable."
So who has the best production team? Is it based on experience or how the industry feels about the music itself? Or maybe it's more about the quality...we'll see.
Jenn’s Pick: Mumford & Sons “The Cave.” Markus Dravs (the producer) worked with last year’s Album of the Year winner, Arcade Fire. He’s proven that when it comes down to the wire, he knows how to make a band sound Grammy-worthy.
Who will most likely win: Bruno Mars “Grenade.” The Smeezingtons are known for their work with Cee Lo Green on “F**k You” and B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You”; this production team has been a strong one, as their work has now earned them a third Record of the Year nomination.
The Wild-card: Adele “Rolling in the Deep.” Paul Epworth has worked with a lot of talented artists (in and out of the mainstream) and is also just as deserving to be recognized for this work. (Not only has Epworth worked with Adele and the above mentioned artists; Cee Lo Green, Bloc Party, & Foster The People are just a few on his list of clients.)
***We still have one more category to go! (The big one: Album of the Year.) Stay tuned!***
Tags: adele, bon iver, bruno mars, grammys, jennifer corcione, justin vernon, kanye west, katy perry, markus dravs, mumford & sons, music, paul epworth, record of the year, song of the year, stargate, stylewhipped, the smeezingtons