Here’s How to Do It – The New York Times


Gigi Hadid, who used some hair
stylist magic for the American Music Awards on Nov. 22.
Credit Jordan Strauss/Invision, via
Associated Press

Three days before this year’s American Music Awards, held in
Los Angeles on Nov. 22, the hairstylist Bryce Scarlett received
a text from the model Gigi Hadid: “What do you think about

He replied: “I love them. Tell me more.” The two set out to
create a style that would dupe the Internet.

The resultant faux bob looked so real, social media immediately
began buzzing. Had Gigi cut her famously long, thick hair?

The fervor was fueled by more than collective celebrity
obsession. In Ms. Hadid, the public saw themselves. She was a
young woman who had faced a timeless dilemma: Should I go
short? (The look, for a few minutes, even fooled the E! red
carpet interviewer, Giuliana Rancic, who, when
complimenting Ms. Hadid on her new short style, was greeted
by a small smile and the suggestion that she “check back
tomorrow to see if I still have short hair.”)

Continue reading the main story
Slide Show

Bobs Are Back

CreditPeter Foley/European
Pressphoto Agency

Ms. Hadid’s mother, Yolanda Foster, the former model turned
Real Housewife, clarified on Instagram that the style was a
#JustOneNightBob. It was then that observers realized that Ms.
Hadid, like many, couldn’t quite commit to a cut.

Happily, Mr. Scarlett devised a wholly believable way to fake a

First, he separated and pinned away the front two inches of Ms.
Hadid’s hair. He saturated the remaining hair with water and
Matrix Style Link Super Fixer Strong Hold Gel, $18, and wrapped
it tightly around her head in a circular pattern. (Picture the
result looking like a cinnamon roll.)

“The hair must be as flat as possible to the scalp so there are
no lumps,” Mr. Scarlett said. He cut the front few inches off a
color-matched wig and glued it the scalp. He then covered the
wig with the free front section of Ms. Hadid’s hair.

“To pull this off, the only thing you really need is
face-framing layers,” he said. “You have to have enough short
hair to hide the wig. If you have long one-length hair like
Cher, you can’t do this.” It took two hours just to get the wig
in place, and there was still some additional styling to be

“But Gigi was really committed to the idea,” Mr. Scarlett said.
“Her dress had so much going on and a high neckline, so she
wanted hair that was easy-looking.”

Bobs tend to proliferate during fall and winter. During a
season when fashion encroaches upon the face — fluffy
turtleneck sweaters and scarves envelop us — bobs make a sleek,
unfussy pairing. Naomi Campbell arrived at the British Fashion
Awards on Nov. 23 with cropped hair. Coincidentally, she, too,
wore a rather involved dress (with a wide choker that gave the
illusion of a high neckline).

The bob to wear right now is disheveled. It eschews
blown-out-just-this-morning perfection. “The cut should be
tapered and layered with not a lot of weight in the ends,” Mr.
Scarlett said. “That way, the hair didn’t look wiggy.”

In terms of daily maintenance, there’s no better season to go
short. Low-humidity air makes frizz, a concern for short hair,
less likely. Mr. Scarlett suggests mousse for volume toward the
roots and a serum to sharpen the ends. He dusted Matrix Style
Link Height Riser (a volumizing powder, $18) along the hairline
and worked it through with a boar-bristle brush.

“It makes it look like you just casually pushed your hair back,
but it’ll actually stay there,” he said.

Mr. Scarlett’s No. 1 styling tip: Do not be afraid of product.
“There’s a misconception that hair products aren’t modern,” he
said. “Young girls are like, ‘My mom uses hair spray.’ But
you’ve got to embrace it. It took so much product to make
Gigi’s hair look that effortless.”

Source :

The Artist Behind Candice Swanepoel’s Leather Victoria’s Secret Wings


Jordan Betten in his West
Chelsea loft. Credit
Christian Hansen for The New York Times

A hairy wolf’s head that doubles as a shoulder bag glowers from
a wall at Jordan Betten’s studio in West Chelsea. Striking it
may be, but it’s not for sale, said Mr. Betten, the 41-year-old
founder of Lost Art, a leather goods company that caters pretty
much exclusively to fashion and rock royalty.

Also on view in the loft that is both studio and home to Mr.
Betten and Sun Bae, his wife and collaborator, is a crocodile
cape fashioned for Rihanna; a python bag commissioned for Lenny
Kravitz; and a sexy assortment of the woven leather jackets,
capes, vests, flared trousers and suede bikinis that draw a
steady stream of customers to the modest upstairs space.

But what you won’t see, except in a handful of photographs, is
evidence of Mr. Betten’s latest and arguably most eye-catching
commission: the leather angel wings that Candice Swanepoel
modeled on the Victoria’s Secret runway in New York earlier
this month.

Those wings won’t see the light of day again until Ms.
Swanepoel fans them out when the Victoria’s Secret show is
broadcast on CBS on Dec. 8. Even then, not many fans will be
aware that they are viewing Mr. Betten’s handiwork.


The Victoria’s Secret model
Candice Swanepoel, wearing leather wings created by Mr.
Betten. Credit
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

“For a lot of the work we do, we’re not credited,” the designer
said. Indeed, in the show’s program notes, Lost Art appears as
a footnote, in a font so small it may best be read with a
jeweler’s loupe.

Is Mr. Betten resentful? Not so much, it seems. In an industry
that thrives on hype and self-promotion, he remains an outlier
— one in a diminishing tribe of artisans working, mostly
unsung, in hidden pockets all around the city — by chance or
design, one of the style world’s best-kept secrets.

True, fashion insiders are well acquainted with his luxuriously
rustic output. A fashion model turned bag designer, he made his
runway debut as a designer more than a decade ago, when Anna
Sui asked him to whip up some rocker-style jackets and trousers
for her show.

He later collaborated with Thierry Mugler and Francisco Costa
of Calvin Klein; and his work has been showcased in French and
Italian Vogue, W and Elle.

“I’ve never had a P.R. person,” Mr. Betten all but bragged.
“We’re not doing seasonal fashion shows, because we can’t
afford it.”

Nor are his wares sold in stores. “As far as retail is
concerned, we haven’t been able to make it work and keep our
artistic cool,” he said.

But word of mouth has thus far secured him the kind of
deep-pocketed customers able to spring for, say, an $11,000
python jumpsuit or a vest made from a $2,000 animal skin.

His clients, walking billboards for his one-of-a-kind pieces,
have a hand in the design process, selecting skins from Mr.
Betten’s artfully culled collection and consulting with him on
color, fit and style.

His use of animal hides may raise eyebrows, but Mr. Betten
attempts to sidestep controversy, saying simply that he treats
every skin with love and respect. He tries to honor his
conviction that, as he puts it, “leather’s got soul” by
weaving, lacing and whipstitching every skin by hand.

There is, in fact, no sign of a sewing machine in his loft. The
only visible appliances are an old enamel stove and, tucked
beneath his bed, a dusty-looking exercise machine.

Poised at the juncture of art and style, his snakes and
alligators, along with his fringed and crystal-beaded suedes,
have been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the
Victoria and Albert Museum in London. A forthcoming exhibition
at the Museum of the City of New York will highlight one of his
designs, a pair of elaborately embellished leather trousers
commemorating 9/11.

As chance would have it, Mr. Betten’s fondness for rusticized
bohemia is perfectly in tune with fashion’s Burning Man moment.
As is the way he works. “Sometimes I’m literally working on my
hands and knees on the floor, with no glue, like an American
Indian in the 1880s, working on his buffalo robe,” he said.

And at a time when designers flare for a season or two, then
fade from view, Mr. Betten has had formidable staying power.

He will soon be celebrating his 20th year in the trade, though
he has no immediate plans for expansion.

“We’re small,” he said. “But we have influence.”

Source :

OMG! The Hyperbole of Internet-Speak Times


Tiffany Ford

The text exchange was unspectacular: a friend explaining a
video that had been posted by a classmate to his Snapchat feed.
Jordana Narin, my 20-year-old research assistant, was half
paying attention, sitting in my living room working on a
project, texting between breaks.

“Omg literally dying,” she typed back, not missing a beat. She
turned back to her computer.

But Jordana wasn’t literally dying. She wasn’t figuratively
dying, either. In fact, she didn’t even crack a smile.

“I don’t even know what she’s talking about,” she told me when
I asked. “I want to be like, ‘I don’t care.’”

But instead, she typed what to some may seem like the most
dramatic response imaginable. Except that it wasn’t.

“It’s almost like ‘dying’ has become a filler for anytime
anyone says anything remotely entertaining,” she said. “Like,
if what you’re saying won’t legitimately put me to sleep, I
respond with, ‘OMG dying.’”

R.I.P. to the understatement. Welcome to death by Internet
hyperbole, the latest example of the overly dramatic, forcibly
emotive, truncated, simplistic and frequently absurd ways
chosen to
express emotion in the Internet age (or sometimes feign

Other examples: THIS (for when a thing is so awesome you are at
a loss for how to describe it); feeeeeels (for something that
gives you multiple feelings); unreal!!!! (for when a thing is
totally believable and only mildly amusing); yassssss (because
“yes” will no longer do); -est (greatest, prettiest, cutest,
funniest) EVER, which now applies to virtually all things; and
“I can’t even,” for when something leaves you so emotive that
you simply cannot even explain yourself.

There’s also a;lsdkjfa;lsdkgjs; meaning “I’m so
excited/angry/speechless that all I can do is literally slam my
hands/head/body against the keyboard” (thus producing a series
of gibberish that usually involves the letters a, s, d and k).

“I use ‘I can’t even’ whenever I talk about babies or puppies,
or sometimes couples, but not like couples our age, but older
couples like my parents,” said Sharon Attia, my other
20-year-old researcher, a photojournalism student at New York

Other members of the “I can’t even” advisory system, she said,
include: “I can’t,” “I just can’t even,” “I cannot,” “I
literally cannot” and “I have lost the ability to even,” each
of which can be used interchangeably to express hilarity,
excitement, embarrassment, that something’s cute, that
something’s hideous, or just that you’re freaking out.

But hyperbolic death is perhaps its own linguistic category,
with recent causes that include (at least according to my
Facebook feed): Beyonce’s Instagram (“dyyying”); a video of a
huskie looking shocked when his owner wouldn’t give him the
last bite of his food (“*dead*”); and Hillary Clinton, who was
captured in a GIF brushing off the shoulder of her blazer
during the 11-hour Benghazi hearings (“This is the best thing
to ever have happened”).

Eternal rest can also take the form of “dying” (death in
process), “not breathing” (first sign of possible death), “all
the way dead,” “actually dead” and “literally dead” (just so
you know), as well as “literally bye” (for when you’re about to
die), “ded” (when you are dying so fast that typing an “a”
would delay the entire process) and “RIP me” (after you’ve had
a moment to process it). There’s also kms, or “killing myself,”
which, as 15-year-old Ruby Karp, a high school student in
Manhattan, explained it, can be used to say something like “ugh
so much homework kms!”

In Jordana’s case, “dying” or “dead” had been used in recent
conversations to respond to:

A friend drunk-texting.

Seeing a Dane Cook look-alike and his dog on the street.

An unlikely romantic pairing.

A friend live-tweeting “50 Shades of Grey” (so good she was
“dying AND dead”).

How good an article was.

Hearing an author she admired speak (“omg actually dying”).

Eating Pringles in bed.

“‘Literally dying’ has become, like, the new LOL,” she said,
referring to the acronym for “laugh out loud,” which, of
course, if you know literally anything about Internet
speech, means precisely the opposite.

The trend toward hyperbole appears to echo a broader belief
among experts that young women are its first adopters. Studies
have shown that women tend to be more expressive, using more
personal pronouns, more emotive words, more abbreviations like
LOL, as well as creative
emoji and even more
descriptive hashtags.

But such speech is not limited to them. “I can’t even” has been
around for at least
a few decades, part of a linguistic concept known as
polarity,” when there are two negatives in a sentence. The
use of “literally” in situations where “figuratively” would fit
perfectly — you know, it was literally 100 degrees
just last week — has been in use since at least the 1700s, said
Jane Solomon, a lexicographer at And hyperbole is in
some ways necessary, as the impact of certain words erodes with
time. (Think of how “great” used to mean really great,
like Catherine the Great great, whereas now it’s hardly better
than “good.”)

The Internet has taken all these speech patterns and hit them
with a dose of caffeine: the need to express emotion in
bite-size, 140-character bits; the fact that we must come up
with increasingly creative ways to express tone and emphasis
when facial cues are not an option. There’s a performative
element, too: We are expressing things with an audience in

“I think this may be one of the major parts for social media;
you are stepping onto a stage,” said Tyler Schnoebelen, a
linguist and founder of Idibon, a company that uses computer
data to analyze language. “Performance generally requires the
performer to be interesting. So do likes, comments and
reshares. Exaggeration is one way to do that.”

And so it is, then, that a member of the boy band One Direction
shows off his pecs onstage, and girls on Tumblr coo that their
“ovaries are exploding.” That when the pop star Taylor Swift
hosts a series of surprise listening parties for a new album,
her fans respond that
“My poor heart could not keep up,” “call me an ambulance,” “we
all died” and “I literally had to plan my funeral arrangements
cause I wasn’t going to make it.” Even editors
do it, writing headlines that declare
“This rapper will restore your faith in humanity” (really? Will
he?) or that you “need to drop everything and watch this.” Yes,
it’s as if we speak in click-bait now, every response more
dramatic than the last.

Yet if a bacon-flavored ice cream sundae gives you all the
“feels ever,” or you are “dead” over a cute cat photo, how do
you respond if something is actually dramatic?

One idea is to play dead. That’s the concept behind @omgliterallydead,
an Instagram account that features a skeleton (“Skellie”)
engaging in everyday activities: drinking a pumpkin-spice
latte, relaxing in a sauna; out for sushi. Skellie is a play on
death, clearly, yet when I mentioned him to a college student I
know, she responded: “Skellie is LIFE!!!!” (What’s more
dramatic than being six feet under, rolling in your grave,
actual skeleton dead? “The afterlife, obviously,” joked
Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist.)

Or, if you’re Madison Jones, Ms. Narin’s roommate who recently
responded “dead” to a baby picture her father had texted her,
you prompt a family-wide panic about the state of your health.

“What?? Dead what??” her dad texted. “Maddy?”

“Dad I’m fine holy cow!” she replied. “Dead at that pic cause
it’s rly cute!!!”

Source :

A New York Trainer to Men About Town Times


Brendan Fallis works under the
watchful eye of his personal trainer, Stephen Cheuk, the
founder of S10 Training in TriBeCa. Credit Deidre Schoo for The New York

Brendan Fallis, the D.J., entrepreneur and fashion model who is
engaged to Hannah Bronfman, had a conundrum that many men
concerned with fitness and style can relate to.

“I wanted to be in better shape, but I didn’t want to change my
wardrobe, because suddenly I’d have to buy all new clothes if I
really beefed up,” said Mr. Fallis, 36, a former competitive
skier who favors slim-cut jeans and trim-fitting jackets.

Last summer while D.J.-ing a party at the Surf Lodge in
Montauk, N.Y., he met Stephen Cheuk, a personal trainer who was
running a pop-up fitness class at the hotel. He was struck by
Mr. Cheuk’s holistic approach, which advocates working out, not
just to look better but to build a more efficient body.

“Every other trainer I’ve had, people are just kind of training
you but don’t necessarily want to see you improve and get
better or care about your eating and the balance of your body,”
said Mr. Fallis, who now trains with Mr. Cheuk fives times a
week at S10 Training in
Lower Manhattan. “It’s nice to have someone who wants to see
the betterment of yourself.”


Mr. Fallis and Mr. Cheuk, right,
whose workouts involve a combination of strength, flexibility and
cardiovascular training. Credit
Deidre Schoo for The New York Times

In the era of cultish spinning classes and boot camps, Mr.
Cheuk’s highly personalized gym stands out. The self-selecting
clientele includes a number of stylish men like Mr. Fallis: the
designer Waris Ahluwalia, the D.J. Mick Batyske and the denim maker
Jake Sargent.

“We don’t really have any meatheads,” Mr. Cheuk said. “It’s not
that type of place.”

Like many personal trainers, Mr. Cheuk, 36, did not start out
seeking to become one. Born in Perth, Australia, he studied
graphic design before moving to New York in 2009 after breaking
up with a girlfriend, whom he had moved with to Dubai.

An avid athlete who played soccer, rugby and ran track, he
worked out regularly. He was looking for a job when a friend
clued him in on the fact that he could make money showing other
people how to exercise. “I kind of fell into it,
and it became a real passion, helping people, changing people’s
lives,” he said.

With his rugged good looks and affable attitude, Mr. Cheuk took
easily to training. He started at the Printing House and later
at Gotham Gym, both in the West Village. Along the way, he
learned the latest trends in fitness and nutrition, and
developed a client base that follows him still.

“He’s always taking courses and bringing that education back,”
said Mr. Ahluwalia, the fashion designer and actor who has been
working with Mr. Cheuk since the trainer’s Printing House days.
“In some fantasy world, I’d take those courses, too.”

In 2012, clients began asking Mr. Cheuk if he planned to open a
gym of his own, and when one offered to finance the majority of
it as a silent partner, Mr. Cheuk jumped. S10, which stands for
sub-10-percent (the level of body fat he encourages male
clients to attain), occupies an 1,800-square-foot storefront
space on Walker Street.

“We want to be very hidden,” Mr. Cheuk said. “We have tinted
windows. We train so many people that are in creative fields,
artists, people in fashion. To me, a lot of gyms are so ugly.
You go in there, the lighting, the pictures they have on the
walls, it’s just very tacky. I wanted something very chic, high
design, but very minimalist.”

New clients go through a process that includes careful
measurement of body fat. “In New York, everybody’s very vain,”
Mr. Cheuk said. “It’s all about vanity. It was always about
body composition so we just wanted to develop a system where
that was the main focus.”

Workouts at S10 involve a combination of strength, flexibility
and cardiovascular training. The workouts rely on equipment
common in pro football (like pushing a weighted sled down a
turf track). Clients who reach their “sub” level are rewarded
not only with taut tummies but also a month of free training,
which can add up: S10 charges $100 to $200 for each hourlong

Though his clients want more of him, Mr. Cheuk is trying to
carve out time for other projects, including a matcha tea cafe
in Sydney and a boot camp retreat in Costa Rica this winter.
Call it Club Med for the sub-10-percent set.

“You train in the morning, there’s activities to do during the
day, you come back in the evening and you do another training
session or yoga, and then dinner, then bed,” he said. “Then
repeat again.”

“We might drink on the last night,” he said. “But we want it to
be healthy.”

Source :

Direct Sales Parties for City Slickers Times


Mallorie Corcoran, center,
held a party at her Midtown East apartment to sell items from
Chloe & Isabel, a direct sales jewelry company.
Credit Christopher Gregory for The New
York Times

Nine women were gathered in the immaculate Midtown East
apartment of Mallorie Corcoran, 29. Tall, svelte and
long-maned, the guests and their hostess clustered around a
table in the living room, picking at fruit platters and
sandwiches but generously pouring themselves wine and seltzer.

“Thank you so much for coming,” Ms. Corcoran said. “We have our
new holiday collection, so there are lots of goodies for you to
try on.” The women laughed. “And there are lots of different
price points — a lot of our stud earrings are $30 and under. So
everyone just have fun. Drink wine. Eat.”

And, if they were so inclined, buy. For another table was
bedecked with sparkling wares from Chloe & Isabel, a direct
sales jewelry company started in New York in 2011. Soon the
women, any resistance mellowed by the convivial atmosphere,
were modeling convertible pendant necklaces in front of a
floor-length mirror, flipping through Chloe & Isabel
catalogs — and pulling out their credit cards.

If you live in suburbia, chances are good to excellent that you
have attended a direct-sales party, which mostly still follows
the midcentury formula pioneered by Tupperware and Avon.


The jewelry line Chloe &
Isabel. Credit
Christopher Gregory for The New York Times

A group gathers for canapés and drinks in someone’s home —
often, a friend of the sales consultant who acts as host for a
cut in sales or discounted wares. They hear a brief pitch or
view a demonstration, then make their way to an area where
merchandise is displayed and a representative waits discreetly
to ring up purchases.

Such parties are shucking the stigma of bored housewives making
a little pin money. Chloe & Isabel is splashed on the pages
of Vogue and Town & Country. Some jewelry pieces
made for
Stella & Dot, a favorite of celebrities, use hand-cut
stones and intricate beading from a workshop also contracted by
Lanvin and Prada. The cosmetics and skin care from the Santa
Monica-based Beautycounter are sumptuously packaged and tout
environmental responsibility. Mary Kay consultants are making
room for “coaches” selling Beachbody fitness products and
“independent business owners” vending Rodan & Fields skin

Though the Chloe & Isabel shoppers seemed enthusiastic
enough, such sugarcoated solicitation is not always going down
easily in get-to-the-point New York. “The supply is a runaway
train, and the demand doesn’t exist,” said Jessica Schilling,
41, a manager of a nonprofit and a mother of two who lives in
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and receives frequent sales pitches.

Maria Guido, 42, news editor for the website ScaryMommy and a
mother of two who recently moved from Brooklyn to Beacon, N.Y.,
said she bought from a friend selling for the nutritional
supplement company Shakeology, “and then I realized: ‘I just
spent $150 for a month’s worth of protein shakes. What am I
doing? This is absurd.’”

The Direct Selling Association, a trade organization based in
Washington, D.C., reported 18 million mostly part-time workers
in the industry last year, nearly three-quarters of them women.

Home-party sales have been around since at least the 1940s,
when Frank Stanley Beveridge opened a cleaning supplies company
in Massachusetts called Stanley Home Products. Mr. Beveridge
found that one of his door-to-door salesmen was making big
profits by doing demonstrations in homes with housewives’ help.

Modern hostesses add a contemporary spin with the use of
e-commerce, mobile credit card swipers, and heavy use of
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Many companies argue that
despite the easy allure of ordering online in your pajamas, a
significant sector of women crave the sociable aspect of trying
on clothes and jewelry together and assessing what works in a

The Los Angeles-based company CAbi, a large direct seller of
clothing, came about when the designer Carol Anderson noticed
women leaving retail stores “deflated by the anxiety and
inefficiency of endless, isolated browsing,” as CAbi’s website
puts it.

But Jamie L. Mullaney, Ph.D., a professor of sociology and
anthropology at Goucher College, and author of “Paid to Party:
Working Time and Emotion in Direct Home Sales” (2012), said
that monetizing friendships can be problematic.

“It’s risky because it promises women time with their friends,
and downplays the sales aspect,” she said. “But of course,
ultimately the goal is to sell products.”

Even though Professor Mullaney and colleagues who helped her
with the book attended as researchers, when they were gently
herded to the merchandise-bedecked kitchen island at night’s
end, “we’d still walk out with mascara, or a kitchen utensil,
which is useless to me because I don’t really cook,” she said.
“So even then, we felt obligated, which was fascinating to us.”

Some companies encourage branching out of one’s social network
to target more distant acquaintances, what sociologists call
“weak ties.”


“Thank you so much for coming,”
said Ms. Corcoran, right. “We have our new holiday collection, so
there are lots of goodies for you to try on.” Credit Christopher Gregory for The New
York Times

“I remember one company guidebook said, ‘You think you don’t
know that many people, but write down the 2,000 people you know
on a first-name basis,’” Professor Mullaney said. “As an
example, they used ‘the woman who works the cash register at
your local store,’ and ‘the person who delivers your mail.’
When we start stretching the boundaries like that, it doesn’t
seem very sustainable.”

The money earned from such undertakings can be scant. Although
these companies typically trumpet the six-figure success
stories of megasellers, according to research published by the
industry critics Douglas Brooks, Bruce Craig and Robert
FitzPatrick, the top 1 percent pull in an average income of
about $128,000, but up to 99 percent of sales reps do not earn
any net income at all.

Mr. FitzPatrick and his colleagues studied publicly available
data from 11 of the biggest companies, including the cosmetics
global giant NuSkin (whose consultants, Mr. FitzPatick
found, made a mean average of $300 a year).

Unlike many companies, Rodan & Fields provides an “income
disclosure statement” on its website, which states that in
2014, entry-level consultants made an average annual income of
$769, while an executive consultant, the next level up, made an
average of $3,196.

“Virtually nobody makes money except the top 1 percent,” Mr.
FitzPatrick said, “and that’s usually made from recruiting
other distributors, which is where the real money is made. So
is that worth it to ruin your social network?”

Indeed, Ms. Guido, after feeling besieged, promptly “hid” 10 of
her more relentless Facebook friends selling various wares. “At
least with home parties, there’s cake or something,” she said.
“With Facebook, nothing about it is fun. It’s just being
inundated with these announcements, and being opted into a
group you never asked to be a part of.”

Though home sales in New York may be more fun, it can be a
challenge to spread out the goods in apartments the size of
many suburbanites’ walk-in closets. “I did a show in a 350-foot
studio, and I just put my trays of jewelry on the bed,” said
Jessica Sigler, 30, a Stella & Dot stylist in Manhattan.

(Chantel Waterbury, founder and chief executive of Chloe &
Isabel, countered that the parties can be a fun way to gawp at
real estate, a favorite New Yorker’s pastime. “I’ve been to
beautiful garden parties in Brooklyn and tea parties on the
Upper East Side,” she said. “The décor is at a higher level.”)

Ms. Sigler has also tailored her trunk shows (in company
parlance) to account for New Yorkers’ famous lack of free time.
“Everyone’s so busy, so I’ll layer them on events that are
already happening,” she said, mentioning one pop-up event at a
blow-dry bar. “The women getting their hair blown out are often
going to an event,” Ms. Sigler said, “and need something to
complete their outfit.”

But not everything sold brings a feeling of completion, as
Ashley Yancey, 29, an executive assistant at a book publisher,
discovered. Two years ago, after moving to the city from a
small town in Ohio, she was working as a restaurant server and
looking to supplement her income. She thought of an Ohio friend
who did well hosting home parties selling for Pure Romance, a
company that offers “sensual items” such as a purple dildo
called Mr. Dependable.

“In Smalltown, U.S.A., those parties were an event, sometimes
the highlight of the weekend,” Ms. Yancey said. “In New York,
you’d never make a night of it. You’ve got so many other things
you can do.” She hosted three parties, she said, which were “an
epic failure.”

“I had nice snacks, had the catalog ready, alcohol to loosen
people up because of the subject matter, but the few people who
did show just did pity buys.”

After two months, Ms. Yancey gave up. “And I still had all
these sex products, and that was weird,” she said. “It’s like,
how many vibrators does a person need?”

Source :

The Return of Werner Erhard, Father of Self-Help York Times


Mr. Erhard was the subject of
a “60 Minutes” report, an I.R.S. investigation and allegations
of abuse by his daughter. He sued the tax agency and won
$200,000, and his daughter recanted her claims.
Credit Tom Jamieson for The New York

The silver-haired man dressed like a waiter (dark vest, dark
slacks) paced the aisle between rows of desks in a Toronto
conference room. “If you’re going to be a leader, you’re going
to have to have a very loose relationship with this thing you
call ‘I’ or ‘me,’” he shouted. “Maybe that whole thing in me
around which the universe revolves isn’t so central!”

He paused to wipe his brow with a wad of paper towels. An
assistant stood by with a microphone, but he waved her off.
“Maybe life is not about the self but about self-transcendence!
You got a problem with that?”

No one in the room had a problem with that. The desks were
occupied by 27 name-tagged academics from around the world. And
in the course of the day, a number of them would take the mike
to pose what their instructor referred to as “yeah buts, how
’bouts or what ifs” in response to his pronouncements — but no
one had a problem with them.

In some ways, the three-day workshop, “Creating Class Leaders,”
recalled an EST training session. As with that cultural
touchstone of the 1970s, there was “sharing” and applause.
There were confrontations and hugs. Gnomic declarations hovered
in the air like mist: “We need to distinguish distinction”;
“There’s no seeing, there’s only the seer”; “There isn’t any


Mr. Erhard and Buckminster
Fuller on stage at the 1979 event Making the World Work for
Everyone. Credit
Werner Erhard Foundation

But the event was much more civilized than EST. There were
bathroom breaks. No one was called an expletive by the teacher.

This is significant because the teacher was none other than the
creator of EST, Werner Erhard.

Pound another nail into the coffin for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s
notion that there are no second acts in American lives.

“I am committed to the opposite of that idea,” Mr. Erhard said
a few weeks after the leadership class in Toronto. “I don’t
think there’s a person who walked out of that room who isn’t a
second act.” To say nothing of their instructor, who, at age
80, may be more of a third or fourth act.

There was a time, boys and girls — the Me Decade, Tom Wolfe
called it — when Mom and Dad wore mood rings, attended
encounter groups and in general engaged in a tireless amount of
navel gazing. If the so-called human potential movement had a
single avatar, it was Werner Erhard.

EST (Latin for “is” and an acronym for Erhard Seminars
Training) was equal parts Zen Buddhism and Dale Carnegie.
Aspiring “ESTies” flocked to hotel ballrooms across the country
for combative training sessions during which they forwent meal
and bathroom breaks to take responsibility for their lives and
“get it” by discovering there was nothing to get.

Diana Ross, Joe Namath, Yoko Ono, Jerry Rubin and several
hundred thousand other seekers got it. Newsweek anointed Mr.
Erhard “a celebrity guru who retails enlightenment.” There were
doubters. To New Times magazine, he was “the king of the brain

The criticism intensified as EST grew. It was labeled a cult
that practiced mind control (verbal abuse, sleep deprivation),
a racket that exploited its followers (heavy recruiting,
endless “graduate seminars”).

Much was made of Mr. Erhard’s tangled Don Draperish past: his
days as a car salesman in Philadelphia, his dabbling in Mind
Dynamics and Scientology, his desertion of his first wife and
their four children to reinvent himself on the West Coast.

Even his name was fake, lifted from an Esquire article he read
on the plane to California. (“The Men Who Made the New Germany”
included references to Ludwig Erhard, the minister of
economics, and Werner Heisenberg, the atomic scientist.) Mr.
Erhard was born Jack Rosenberg.

In 1985, he repackaged EST as the Forum, a kinder, gentler
iteration of the training that was also more success-oriented.
“In the ’80s, people started to think a little bit, and it was
possible to use a less-confrontational style,” he said. But tax
disputes, company lawsuits and an ugly divorce from his second
wife kept Mr. Erhard in the news media cross hairs.

The flameout came in 1991. In March of that year, at the same
time that I.R.S. officials were publicly accusing him of tax
fraud, “60 Minutes” broadcast a report on Mr. Erhard that
depicted him as an abusive father and husband who had sexually
molested two daughters from his second marriage. Shortly before
that show was televised, he sold the Forum to a group of
employees, gave his Great Dane to a friend and fled the

“My reputation was destroyed by ‘60 Minutes,’” Mr. Erhard
shouted between sips of Dragon Well Supreme green tea and a
fistful of the pills he takes for various ailments. (He has no
indoor voice — a professional hazard, perhaps.)

He had taken a suite at the London NYC hotel, where he had
traveled with his Dutch-born third wife, Gonneke Spits, from
Toronto to see friends, do a little business and visit his
favorite chiropractor and tailor. He was also in the city to
meet with a reporter — virtually the only press he has done in
more than two decades.

“It was clear that I had to remove myself from the work, or the
work was going to get very damaged,” Mr. Erhard said of his
self-imposed exile.


Mr. Erhard with the Dalai Lama
in 1979. Credit
Werner Erhard Foundation

But it was the Church of Scientology that actually drove him
out of the country. According to Mr. Erhard, the “60 Minutes”
allegations were the culmination of a smear campaign organized
by Scientology officials to get back at him for poaching
clients and ideas.

“There’s no question that I was declared fair game by L. Ron
Hubbard,” he said. “In the doctrines of Scientology, that meant
they could destroy me financially, socially or reputationally.”

This was a long time before the book (and the movie) “Going
Clear” exposed some of the shadier practices of
Scientology. But a 1991
article in The Los Angeles Times described how the church
had indeed targeted Mr. Erhard as a “suppressive person,”
hiring at least three private investigators to dig up dirt on
him and pass it on to the news media. One of them, Alan Clow,
said he shared his findings with “60 Minutes.”

As for the I.R.S., Mr. Erhard sued the agency
(winning $200,000 in damages) for falsely claiming he had
evaded taxes.

The daughter who had accused him of abuse later recanted, admitting she had lied to
receive an advance on a book. And an article in The Believer
stated that the “60 Minutes” segment was riddled with so many
discrepancies that CBS deleted it from its public archives.

After leaving the country, Mr. Erhard settled in a friend’s
apartment in Tokyo, with, he said, no more than “a pocketful of
cash” to his name.

He had kept the business rights to the Forum in Japan, and for
several years, under the rubric of “mastery,” he conducted
seminars for professionals coping with Japan’s financial crisis
of the early 1990s. He also did some consulting work for
Landmark, the Forum’s successor, run by his brother Harry

In 1996, Mr. Erhard came down with a mysterious debilitating
illness. A friend referred him to his doctor in the Cayman
Islands, who ultimately diagnosed the Epstein-Barr virus. Mr.
Erhard recovered on Grand Cayman, where he and Ms. Spits (a
former EST executive) bought a villa in George Town, which
remains their home base when they are not traveling.

For several years before his latest professional reincarnation,
Mr. Erhard consulted for businesses and government agencies
like the Russian adult-education program the Znaniye Society
and a nonprofit organization supporting clergy in Ireland.

Enter the Harvard economist Michael Jensen. Dr. Jensen, who is
famous in financial circles for championing the concepts of
shareholder value and executive stock options, had taken a
Landmark course in Boston at the suggestion of his daughter,
who mended a rocky relationship with Dr. Jensen after taking
the course herself.

“I became convinced we should work to get this kind of
transformational material into the academies,” he said, adding
that he considers Mr. Erhard “one of the great intellectuals of
the century.”

In 2004, with the help of a Landmark official, Dr. Jensen
developed an experiential course on integrity in leadership at
the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester. The
class was offered there for five years, with Mr. Erhard signing
on as an instructor during its third year. It has since been
taught at several universities around the world as well as at
the United States Air Force Academy.

As far as its philosophical underpinnings go, Mr. Erhard
struggled a bit to describe the
course without resorting to its Delphic phraseology
(“ontological pedagogy,” “action as a correlate of the

Sitting in front of a bank of computers in his hotel room, he
read excerpts from the 1,000-page textbook he is working on,
such as: “As linguistic abstractions, leader and leadership
create leader and leadership as realms of possibility in which,
when you are being a leader, all possible ways of being are
available to you.”

Briefly, the course, which owes ideological debts to the Forum
and to the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, takes an
experience-based, rather than knowledge-based, approach to its
subject. Students master principles like integrity and
authenticity in order to leave the class acting as leaders
instead of merely knowing about leadership.


Werner Erhard in Hampstead,
London. In the 1970s Mr. Erhard created Erhard Seminars Training,
which taught strategies for self-actualization in workshops that
could turn combative. Credit Tom
Jamieson for The New York Times

Its promoters believe the course has broader applications both
within and outside of academia. “They should take it to
government,” said Paul Fireman, the former chairman and C.E.O.
of Reebok, who has consulted with Mr. Erhard on his recent
work. (Mr. Fireman says that Reebok’s stock price jumped “from
the $6 or $7 range to the $25 to $30 range” after he introduced
his employees to the Landmark training.)

Landmark, for
which Mr. Erhard continues to help develop new programs, is far
more mainstream than EST ever became. Currently, according to
Harry Rosenberg, 130,000 people a year participate in its
offerings, which are available on every continent except
Antarctica. It has a stronger corporate presence than EST or
the Forum; in addition to Reebok, clients include Microsoft,
NASA and Lululemon.

Still, Mr. Erhard’s emphasis on personal responsibility, on
being rather than knowing, is embedded in the Landmark
workshops. “All of the Landmark programs are based on the ideas
and methodology that Werner developed,” Mr. Rosenberg said.
“The basic intent has not changed.”

In fact, Mr. Erhard casts a fairly long shadow in the culture
at large. His influence, wrote Lucy Kellaway in the
Financial Times, “extends far beyond the couple of million
people who have done his courses: there is hardly a self-help
book or a management training programme that does not borrow
some of his principles.”

Whether that’s a good thing or not probably depends on one’s
attitude toward such books and programs.

“Erhard made palatable the notion that the end justifies the
means,” said Steve Salerno, the author of “Sham: How the
Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless.” “Which is partly
responsible for the climate of what I call happyism. If your
happiness is all that matters, anybody who stands in the way
becomes detritus in the ruthless pursuit of individual

Criticism of this sort does not faze Mr. Erhard. Certainly,
he’s weathered worse.

In his ninth decade, he is consumed with his latest mission,
putting in 10-hour days lecturing and teaching three courses a
year in addition to completing the textbook.

His recent health challenges include a battle with septicemia
that left him having to learn to walk again (a timer in his
suite reminded him to stroll around every half-hour), but he
still works six days a week.

While he writes, he listens to music: Renée Fleming, the
Serbian composer Stevan Mokranjac, Sérgio Mendes. “You’re going
to get a kick out of this,” he said, scrolling through the
playlist on one of his computers. “Gonneke! Where’s
‘Brasileiro’ on here?”

His wife, a stylish platinum-haired woman whom Mr. Erhard leans
on to negotiate the more mundane demands of life, helped him
find the album by Mr. Mendes in question. The surdo-drum
thumping of a batucada band filled the room.

In their downtime, the couple likes to travel. Tokyo, Amsterdam
and London are favorite places, along with Hawaii and the West
Coast, where Mr. Erhard’s seven children live. He now enjoys a
very strong relationship with four of them, he said, and a good
relationship with the other three.

He also has 11 grandchildren, and one of his current
preoccupations is the numbing effects of digital technology on
millennials. Warming to the subject, he read aloud another
passage, this one from a dense Heidegger essay calling for a
“comportment toward technology which expresses yes and at the
same time no.”

”The cost to this generation is enormous,” Mr. Erhard said.
“They are losing access to their humanity.”

Maintaining access to his own humanity may be Mr. Erhard’s
biggest project. Floating around the screen of another computer
was the word “impeccability,” a reminder, he said, “to deal
with whatever I touch with care.” If he learned his lesson the
hard way, maybe there is no easy way.

“Here’s how it is for me,” Mr. Erhard said, leaning in, giving
his vocal chords a break. “When my integrity is lacking, I am
clear that I just got to be a bit smaller as a person. And the
thing you have to remember about integrity is it’s a mountain
with no top.”

The clock chimed. He stood and stretched. Time for another few
laps around the room.

Source :

Elaborate Holiday Windows Dress Up New York Department Stores

It was 61 degrees on a recent November evening, but the
scaffolds outside Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue were
trimmed with artificial fir, and Santa Claus himself was
bopping with Liz Rodbell, the store’s president, to Austin
Mahone’s “Mmm Yeah.”

Mr. Mahone, a clean-scrubbed pop star, was crooning it live to
a gathering of hundreds of teenage girls, who were crowded
behind the metal barricades that surrounded the makeshift
theater, chirping “mmm, mmm, yeah, yeah” in response.

The occasion was the unveiling of Lord & Taylor’s holiday
windows, an event that, like similar vernissages at competitors
such as Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York,
has increasingly become a big-budget spectacle. (Mr. Mahone’s
performance, which ended with “The Christmas Song,” followed Nick Jonas’s
from last year.)

After hugs and thanks, the curtains covering the windows were
pulled back: a conveyor belt of iced cakes revolved through one
window; a Victorian gingerbread house was hoisted by a platoon
of gingerbread men (and a digital video montage of more) in

These windows — assembled in a cavernous shop (Santa’s Workshop
meets “American Horror Story” set) located stories below Lord
& Taylor’s 1914 building and lifted into place on original
truck-size hydraulic elevators — are the store’s largest and
most involved of the year. They have to be: For Lord &
Taylor, as for most department stores, the holiday season is
when the money gets made.

“The Christmas season is like the Super Bowl for us,” Ms.
Rodbell said.

In the two weeks before Thanksgiving, all of New York’s major
department stores would follow suit, revealing the holiday
windows that have been, in some cases, more than a year in the
making. It is a city tradition stretching back to the 19th
century. R. H. Macy had Christmas-themed windows in his
original store on 14th Street in the 1870s; this year, at
Macy’s Herald Square, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang are
recreating key scenes from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

None of this is news to the merchants who must plan and execute
ever larger and more effective displays. The talk is jolly
(these windows are a “gift to New York”), but the stakes are
real. According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks
retail sales across all payment types, 24 percent of annual
department-store sales are made in November and December.

Continue reading the main story
Slide Show

Where Mere Mannequins Fear to Tread

CreditStefania Curto for
The New York Times

This year, the season arrives on a tide of bad news: Many
department-store stocks have tumbled in recent months,
inventories are bloated and customer spending is down (3.3
percent since February for department stores, according to

But here come the windows. Day after day in the lead-up to
Thanksgiving (and the all-important Black Friday, so named — at least
according to widely accepted legend — because it is the day
when stores’ ledgers finally move from the red to the black),
the New York department stores showed their long-in-the-works

“I’ve actually never been to the actual unveiling of windows,”
said the actress Jane Krakowski, at the debut of Bloomingdale’s
Lexington Avenue windows, whose flowers and faceted sculptures,
representing the five senses, had been designed in
collaboration with her friend, the florist Jeff Leatham. A
marching band had just finished playing. “As I drove up in the
cab, I was like, ‘Oh, this is a thing!’”

In investment and planning, competition and anxiety, pomp and
circumstance, a thing is what it is.

“This is the largest visual investment of the year, every
year,” said Joshua Schulman, the president of Bergdorf Goodman,
declining to specify an amount. It is such that, as with many
stores, partnerships with outside companies help Bergdorf to
underwrite it.

This year, the store’s window maestros Linda Fargo and David
Hoey and their team worked with Swarovski to hand-set more than
seven million crystals in its tableaus — about 70 times as many
as bedazzled the most recent Oscars ceremony. The windows are
Swarovski’s biggest collaboration ever: fantastical scenes in
which a monkey fortune teller gazes into a crystal ball and a
faux-pearl-studded Poseidon presides over the sea. The store
ran a contest on its Instagram
account, awarding a gift card to the person who came
closest to guessing the total number of crystals used.

The theme, “Brilliant Holiday,” grew out of a need to promote
its renovated jewelry salon, which will open in December. (The
windows also celebrate Swarovski’s 120th anniversary.)

The “Brilliant” theme also dominates Bergdorf’s holiday catalog
mailer and is expressed through limited-edition merchandise
created for the store. Alice & Olivia designed a
Swarovski-blinged jumpsuit ($898); Brett Heyman of Edie Parker,
a selection of stone-crusted Atelier Swarovski clutches ($1,400
to $4,200); Badgley Mischka, an embroidered evening gown

The dresses created for the windows themselves, by Johnson
Hartig of Libertine, Naeem Khan and CD Greene, are available
for those flush enough to inquire. Last year, Ms. Fargo said, a
client asked about a gown Dolce & Gabbana made for the
window. (The high-five-figure price was ultimately too steep;
it was donated to the Fashion Institute of Technology instead.)

Many stores still do not put products, even special-edition
products, in their holiday windows, but the move to integrate
windows into the store’s business and marketing is nearly
universal. At Bloomingdale’s, Mr. Leatham will have pop-up
stores selling his book, his candles and his Waterford crystal
designs in select stores, a first for a window collaborator.

Even Lord & Taylor, the most traditionally minded of the
stores, will make the concession to contemporary commerce: It
will sell holiday gingerbread and sweets, inspired by its
gingerbread and patisserie windows.


Fans of Austin Mahone lined
up to see him perform outside Lord & Taylor on Fifth
Avenue. Credit
Stefania Curto for The New York Times

“I think with each consecutive year what gets more important is
that we’ve become more and more holistic and integrated in how
we approach holiday with the store,” Ms. Fargo said. “It’s not
just a window discussion. Everyone throws the word ‘omni’
around. It’s kind of an omni world now.”

At Saks Fifth Avenue, the store’s new president, Marc Metrick,
a veteran executive who took over in April, agreed.

“I’ve been at Saks for a long time,” he said. “I’ve seen all
the iterations of the windows from when it was — I hate to say
this — just windows.”

Saks spared no expense to make sure its holiday display
dazzled. Its six central windows depict six icy wonders of the
world (a frozen Taj Mahal, a cold Colosseum), with the seventh
being the enormous Winter Palace erected in lights above them
on the store’s Fifth Avenue facade.

The wintry theme will be expressed in all Saks stores (even in
locales as unchilly as Palm Beach, Fla.), store mailers and new
products commissioned or selected for gifting — like
entry-level lip balms and holiday teddy bears, and $250,000

“What we’ve got to do is convert,” said Mark Briggs, the
executive vice president of HBC Creative (the in-house
promotional unit of Hudson’s Bay Company, the owner of Saks),
noting that, after last year’s holiday event, foot traffic in
the New York store increased. “What we don’t want is, ’Oh,
that’s very nice,’ come to the door, click, click, click, they
do Instagram, and go. What we’re doing is hopefully converting
them to customers.”

Window tourism is, after all, a time-honored New York holiday
tradition. According to NYC & Company, the city’s
destination marketing organization, 30 percent of last year’s
total visitation took place in the fourth quarter of the year,
more than in any other season; typically five million visitors
come to the city between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve alone.


Saks Fifth
Avenue spared no expense to make sure its holiday display
dazzled. Credit
Stefania Curto for The New York Times

Jon Harari, whose company, WindowsWear, offers guided tours of retail
windows year-round, said that demand is two to three times
greater during the holidays than the rest of the year, and he
increases capacity of the tours that his company runs to 50
people, from 30. Mr. Harari added that the tours, which run
five days a week for $34.99 a spot, were sold out until Dec. 5
even before Thanksgiving.

Windows alone will not carry stores from decline to success,
but industry analysts believe that they can help.

“The department stores are facing Generation Z and the
post-millennial,” said Oliver Chen, a managing director at the
financial services firm Cowen and Company. “They’re thinking
hard about bricks and clicks, the integration of on- and
off-line. The reason for going to a store — the bar is higher.
It’s really up to the retailers to provide the right balance of
theater and commercial.”

Theater has long been one of the draws of the windows at
Barneys. It was a hallmark of the windows under Simon Doonan,
now the store’s creative ambassador at large (“There’s nothing
I haven’t put in a window,” he said, including the writer David
who saw “patients” behind glass as a costumed Sigmund
Freud). Under Dennis Freedman, the current creative
director, live performances have become standard.

Last year the holiday program, created in collaboration with
the director Baz Luhrmann, featured ice skaters and a
break-dancing elf; this year, sculptors in custom (and
for-sale) Moncler puffer suits carve giant ice blocks in
refrigerated windows. The theme is “Chillin’ Out,” and other
windows feature a huge icicle sculpture by the glass artist
Dale Chihuly and a slot-car track racing mini Lexuses (a
sponsor) through the tundra.

“It is more ambitious than anything we’ve done,” Mr. Freedman
said. “We did not chill out. In fact, I think we had more

Nationwide, Barneys stores will have Chillin’ Out hangtags and
gift wrap, Chillin’ Out holiday gift cards, Chillin’ Out
specials at store restaurants and Chillin’ Out merchandising in
print mailers and online. Chillin’ Out marshmallows on sticks,
covered in white chocolate and coconut, will be given to
shoppers each weekend.

While it is important that the windows reach even larger
audiences digitally through online extensions and social media
courtship, bringing crowds to the actual store remains a
priority. Creating a destination “is potentially more important
than ever,” said Mark Lee, the Barneys chief executive.
“E-commerce and the digital world continues to boom, so to have
a reason to visit the physical store, that is an important
driver today.”

Though many executives drew a line between the art of window
display and the science of commerce, Mr. Freedman believes that
the right window leads to sales. “I absolutely do, 100
percent,” he said. “The reason you come in — you either go to
our competition or you go here — is because it feels right. You
walk in here and you relate to it.”

None of the retailers interviewed would share specific holiday
numbers, but the ends, they suggested, justified the means.

“There’s a commercial element that makes it a viable way to
spend our marketing dollars, for sure,” said Mr. Metrick of
Saks, calling the holiday season “the biggest opportunity of
the year.” A few days later, the company shut down a stretch of
Fifth Avenue to inaugurate the first Winter Palace light show
(it will continue every evening until Jan. 10) with fireworks
and a 200-member chorus.

In the name of secrecy and the least possible traffic
hindrance, the team tested the show in 4 a.m. run-throughs in
the days before its start. A crowd of V.I.P.s, press and
passers-by watched from across Fifth, sipping cocoa; a much
larger group tuned in via an Internet live stream.

The night it was revealed, temperatures hovered in the 30s, and
Mr. Metrick gave a short speech thanking his team and their
partners, as the last major set of department-store windows
after more than week of unveilings up and down the avenue were
about to be seen.

Then he added the grace note: “I wouldn’t be a retailer if I
didn’t remind everyone that after the show, the store is open.”

Source :

The Season’s Fashion Books From Cindy Crawford, Terry Richardson and More


“Terry Richardson” is a
two-volume set of Mr. Richardson’s dynamic, outrageous
portraits and fashion photography. Credit Terry Richardson

There’s often an exotic quality to the massive, lushly
photographed books that emerge on coffee tables every holiday
season: They dazzle the eye with distant icebergs,
cheetah-flecked savannas, endangered birds midflight, coral
reefs and majestic mountains. But some of this year’s most
striking gift books evoke the natural beauty of monuments much
nearer at hand.

Cindy Crawford’s winsome memoir “Becoming
(Rizzoli $50, 256 pp.), for example, tracks the all-American
model from her school days in DeKalb, Ill. — when mean girls
tricked her into showing up for a nonexistent modeling job at a
local store — to Chicago, where an agency signed her; then New
York, where Richard Avedon landed her on the cover of Vogue
before she was 20.

Soon she was striking a pose for Arthur Elgort, Steven Meisel,
Patrick Demarchelier, Irving Penn and Herb Ritts — who invented
the “supermodel” in 1989, she suggests, when he photographed
her, Stephanie Seymour, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz and
Christy Turlington coyly entwined on his Hollywood Hills deck
in a “naked supermodel twister.”


Cindy Crawford’s winsome memoir
“Becoming” tracks the all-American model from her school days in
DeKalb, Ill. to Chicago, where an agency signed her.
Credit Gilles Bensimon

Luscious poster-worthy photographs signpost Crawford’s journey
from teenager to a woman in her 40s, accompanied by
affectionate recollections of the image-makers and intimates
who shaped her happiness and success. In this book, published
ahead of her 50th birthday (Feb. 20), Ms. Crawford admitted
that, while aging isn’t easy, “I have had a lot of fun in this
body.” And she honors “the girl I once was by embracing the
woman I am today.”

Extraordinary men, meanwhile, are the subject of
Fantastic Man: Men of Great Style and
,” edited by Emily King, (Phaidon, $49.95,
572 pp.), which marks the 10th anniversary of the suave and
playful men’s style journal of that name.

The Dutch tastemakers Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom
conceived the magazine as “an oversized fanzine,” personal,
pithy and chatty, “devoted to modern men.” Their book’s 69
entries show as much variety and “pizazz” (as Diana Vreeland
would have put it) as the characterful men they portray. And
the profiles showcase, among others, Ewan McGregor, Hamish
Bowles, Rem Koolhaas, Thom Browne and the film director Steve
McQueen. The scruffy, messily coifed Olivier Zahm, editor of
the racy fashion and erotica magazine Purple Fashion,
is pictured in black lace underpants and leather ankle

The bad-boy photographer Terry Richardson is a regular
contributor to Fantastic Man magazine. But this fall he
released his own book, or rather, books: “Terry
” (Rizzoli, $135, 632 pp.), a two-volume set
of his dynamic, outrageous portraits and fashion photography.
Chloë Sevigny wears a skateboard; Lady Gaga relaxes in a trash
can; and Ms. Crawford, in red heels and bustier mini-dress,
sprays champagne across the Hollywood Hills, with the Hollywood
sign in the background. (The inveterate bachelor unleashes
another twofer on the landscape next spring: twins, expected by
his longtime girlfriend and onetime assistant Alexandra


“The Sartorialist: X” captures
the radiant originality of the dress sense of ordinary
people. Credit
Scott Schuman

Another eye-catching book of portraits, “The
Sartorialist: X
” (Penguin: $30 or Limited Edition
hardbound for $150, 512 pp.), captures the radiant originality
of the dress sense of ordinary people, spotted on city streets
in America, Thailand, France, Italy Peru, Morocco, India and
elsewhere, snapped by the photographer and blogger Scott
Schuman, sometimes with his iPhone 6. Never has anyone paid
greater tribute to the allure of the fascinating stranger.

Longtime cosmopolites often stop paying attention to the
cityscapes around them; inured to their surroundings, they
don’t bother to look up. The photographer George Steinmetz has
shown New Yorkers what they are missing by looking down. He
spent much of 2014 hovering above Manhattan in a maneuverable
three-seat helicopter. In “New York Air: The View from
(Abrams, $40, 224 pp.), he sees the city’s
landmarks with new eyes, presenting a feast of unexpected color
and geometry in 120 photographs that test your powers of

His aerial views of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at cherry
blossom time, of New York Marathon runners resembling
Lite-Brite dots, of golfers stacked in the driving range at
Chelsea Piers or of Washington Square under snow in indigo
light evoke abstract Meiji tapestries.

As the Salvation Army’s sidewalk Santas begin ringing their
bells, even the most jaded New Yorker sometimes pauses to gaze
into the fanciful shop window displays on Fifth Avenue. Louis
Vuitton conjures such vitrine magic year round, and the
sled-size volume “Louis Vuitton: Windows”
(Assouline, $845, 168 pp.) showcases the spellbinding
“freeze-frame theater” that Faye McLeod and Ansel Thompson have
staged in the luxury purveyor’s windows since 2009 — which
non-flâneurs may have missed.


“Louis Vuitton: Windows”
showcases the spellbinding “freeze-frame theater” that Faye
McLeod and Ansel Thompson have staged in the luxury purveyor’s
windows since 2009. Credit via

In the book’s introduction, Vanessa Friedman of The New York
Times notes, “Sometimes the displays need to be installed by
mountain climbers.” Highlights include T-rex skeletons bearing
handbags in raptor claws; life-size ostriches with gold-plated
legs and elongated necks (their supersized eggs “hatch” pairs
of shoes); floor-to-ceiling metal sails designed by Frank
Gehry; and 3-D polka-dot octopus tentacles conceived by the
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Ms. Kusama appears in several of the dream diorama shots in a
stiff, smooth red long-sleeve dress — a modern variation on the
furisode kimono. A gorgeous four-century overview of that
traditional Japanese form of dress, “Kimono:
The Art and Evolution of Japanese Fashion”
& Hudson, $80, 304 pp.), edited by Anna Jackson of the
Victoria and Albert Museum, honors the artistry and variety of
these wearable masterpieces, which “served as a kind of blank
canvas, or scroll, for designers,” Ms. Jackson says. Four
hundred richly detailed color photographs bring out the
distinctive traits of each furisode, uchikake or haori, and
engaging text explains their history and myth. The images burst
from the page like silken bouquets.

The Belgian floral innovator Daniel Ost fills another kind of
canvas with his sculptural organic inventions. Goethe called
music “frozen architecture.” Mr. Ost transforms blooms, boughs
and bark into breathing architecture. “Daniel Ost:
Floral Art and the Beauty of Impermanence”
$100, 440 pp.), by Paul Geerts, shows off Mr. Ost’s imagination
with illustrations of his lavish biomorphic creations.

There are hammocks of red cabbage leaf; orchids and branches
woven into a mystical cathedral-size dome, trailing streamers
of maidenhair; moss molded into undulant hills linked by water
bridges blossoming with peonies; towering columns of green, red
and golden bamboo, interlacing at the ceiling like broad satin
ribbons; a crimson sun rising from a field of slender green
dogwood branches, afloat on a wave of red smilax berries.

Leave Mr. Ost’s book open on the coffee table, and you will
have no need for holly and ivy.

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‘Black-ish’ Star Yara Shahidi is a Role Model Off-Screen – The New York Times


Ms. Shahidi, 15, won
the N.A.A.C.P. Image
Award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy
series this year. Credit
Emily Berl for The New York Times

“Life as a teenager can be down right chaotic,” the actress
Yara Shahidi, 15, told an audience last month at Cipriani 42nd
Street, where she was being honored by the Young Women’s Leadership Network.
“We must also realize that it is up to us whether these years
will feel like a melancholy struggle or an opportunity for
growth or experiences of a lifetime.”

For Ms. Shahidi, it’s certainly the latter.

As the actress who plays Zoey, the smart but entitled daughter
on ABC’s “Black-ish,” a situation
comedy about a prosperous black family wrestling with racial
issues, Ms. Shahidi certainly has a platform to be heard. But
she has not stopped there.

When she’s not taping “Black-ish,” she is a full-time social
activist, inspiring young women to excel academically,
volunteering at medical clinics and starting her own mentoring

“I’m filming nine and a half hours a day five days a week, but
whenever I have a free moment, I’m talking to the U.N. or
working on how to get Yara’s Club launched,” Ms. Shahidi said,
referring to her mentoring program. “Giving back is not just
something you do as an adult.”

There are few African-American actresses her age who are having
the kind of cultural and social impact that Ms. Shahidi is,
both on and off screen. This year, she was nominated for a
Teen Choice Award for
best breakout star. She won a
N.A.A.C.P. Image Award for outstanding supporting actress
in a comedy series.

She was also recognized by the N.A.A.C.P. for her commitment to
service and scholarship. Last month, Ms. Shahidi met with
UN Women, an
organization dedicated to gender equality. And before that, she
spoke at the Paley Center for Media on a panel titled “Cracking
the Code: Diversity, Hollywood & STEM.”

Plus, she was featured in the Brooks Brothers fall 2015
advertising campaign.

“I think one of the things that makes Yara so unique is that
she is really breaking down a lot of stereotypes for people,
but she is also such a normal teenager,” said Colleen Wormsley,
a public relations and talent manager for, a
nonprofit group that helps young people take action on social

This year, Ms. Shahidi recorded a public
service announcement for the organization to encourage
young women to go into what educators call the STEM fields (for
science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Activism runs in her family. “I was raised by a bunch of
humanitarians,” she said, referring to her African-American
mother, Keri-Salter Shahidi, a commercial actress, and her
Iranian father, Afshin Shahidi, a cinematographer. Her maternal
grandfather was involved in the civil rights movement.

Born in Minneapolis, Ms. Shahidi has been in front of the
camera since she was six months old, appearing in a print ad
for a life insurance company.

These days, she is breaking the mold of the self-absorbed,
vacuous and angst-ridden teenage star. While she does post
plenty of selfies on Instagram,
none of the photos so much as bare her midriff. “I frequently
wear things that are far too conservative for a teenager,” Ms.
Shahidi recently
told InStyle.


Yara Shahidi, at the Recess
Eatery in Glendale, Calif., a favorite spot for the
15-year-old. Credit
Emily Berl for The New York Times

Indeed, her Instagram biography describes her as a “current

She also takes her academics seriously: She is enrolled in AP
calculus and honors chemistry and maintains a 4.6 grade point
average. She is tutored on set and is enrolled in the Dwight School Open World, an
online program.

While she plays a technology-addicted teenager on “Black-ish,”
the driving force in Ms. Shahidi’s social life is not centered
around her iPhone 6 (pink case, lots of stickers), but in
giving back.

She says her mission to advance equality includes her character
Zoey, who is also 15. “Before I auditioned for ‘Black-ish,’ I
received scripts that portrayed black people in a negative and
stereotypical way,” she said. “But ‘Black-ish’ is a more
positive portrayal of what it’s like to be black in America.”

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British Fashion Awards Red Carpet – For Monday night’s British Fashion Awards, more than 800 fashion insiders voted for the

For Monday night’s British Fashion Awards, more than
800 fashion insiders voted for the 16 winners in categories
representing women’s wear, men’s wear, red-carpet design, model
of the year and more. This year, the ceremony will also honor
Karl Lagerfeld with an Outstanding Achievement award and
Alessandro Michele of Gucci with an International Designer
award, as well as provide stellar red-carpet moments from
guests like Kate Bosworth, Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham and

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