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Thursday, April 9th 2009

A 1920s Redux, Big Kids’ Sleepover & Hamptons Road Trip—all in 24 hours

News from Our NY Editor at Large

I just got back from a video shoot in East Hampton, and my apartment is an explosion of fine china, vintage fabrics, peacock feathers (don’t ask!), and dresses fit for a modern-day saloon, courtesy of shopbop! I was hosting and styling an entertainment video for Elle.com where I “threw” a retro-themed brunch complete with a Waldorf salad, red velvet cupcakes, and a gorgeous arrangement of red roses and bear grass—just call me Martha Stewart!

The night before the shoot, we drove down to East Hampton in an over-packed SUV with 5 adults squeezed in the front two seats. New Yorkers are radio-deprived so we bonded instantly over old favorites, like Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” where, yes, I sang every word even though I am tone-deaf. When we arrived at the gorgeous beachfront house the production crew was already there. What to do when you are sleeping in a house full of semi-strangers? Stay up late bonding, drinking, and basically act like high schoolers, of course. It was like an adult slumber party complete with dares.

We started early the next day and the unsightly bags under my eyes made me regret staying up so late. It is totally unfair to have to get camera-ready while the rest of the crew rolls out of bed and devours bagels in their sweats. I believe no one should have to wear loads of camera makeup while in the Hamptons—très horrible!

The theme of the brunch was inspired by these gorgeous peacock feathers I found. The colors were so vibrant and sexy, and peacock feathers are a classic reference to the ’20s and ’30s. Enter Depression Era Chic, a trend many designers are inspired by today. I wanted to incorporate rich colors like red, turquoise, gold, black, and fuchsia in the table setting and the clothes, and have a menu that was nostalgic but still something girls would want to nosh on today.

It took me several takes of our first shots in the kitchen to get warmed up. I am always nervous in the beginning, especially with seven people staring on a silent set—uh, no pressure! But once I relaxed and quit getting tongue-tied, we were on a roll. Matt, the producer, kept yelling (well, asking nicely) at me to smile at the camera for five seconds after each take instead of looking at him for approval in my last breath. Talking shouldn’t require this much thinking, oy! Smile at the camera, smile at the camera, smile at the camera…

Matt, Giga, and Jake setting up for my floral and food prep segment.

For the shopping segment in town I wore boyfriend jeans and my new obsession: a turquoise and chain necklace from flutter by Jill Golden.

After we shot all the prep, it was time to fake the party! I settled on a fuchsia Nili Lotan ruffled dress that reminded me of a modern-day flapper girl, but without looking like a costume. A thin grey cardigan, necklace nest of pearls, and sweetly rolled socks with Mary Janes completed my Depression Chic look. My guests (Elle.com’s Senior Marketing Manager Anna Plaks, Photography and Video Director Kelly Stuart, and my intern, Natacha Hildebrand) got ready for their beauty shots. I put Anna in a Haute Hippie white baby fringe dress that looked great with her olive skin. Kelly wore a black silk beaded-sleeve dress by Foley + Corinna that reminded me of a silhouette made famous by Coco Chanel in the 1930s. Lastly, and one of my favorites, was the drop-waist studded dress by Dallin Chase that Tash wore. It is a sexy take on an easy 1920s sack dress.

Acting like you are at a party is hard work! Notice the cupcakes in the martini glasses? My favorite touch.

It’s a wrap! Now time to eat those cupcakes we have been staring at all day…

Check back soon for the link to the video so you can throw your own version of my retro brunch, and tune in two weeks from now when I will be reporting live from Paris, where I will be scouring the streets for the ultimate in Parisian style and making a quick stop at the flagship Antik Batik boutique for a boho fix and an interview with the designer, Gabriella Cortese. Hopefully she will disclose the secrets to that enviable French style!

Until then you can follow my blog, Style Secrets, on SELF.com.

Au revoir,

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