Wetseal Will Soon Be a Distant Memory

Say it isn’t so!

Late yesterday evening, I revealed on Level21 Magazine’s website that popular teen-centric retailer Wetseal suddenly announced that it is closing all of its doors, forever. The contemporary clothing company sent a letter to all of its employees late last month, warning them of the imminent termination of business and that layoffs would ensue. Some sources allege that Versa Capital, its parent company could not find a suitable partner to salvage the mass merchandiser. But sadly, as most store closings, this did not happen overnight. About two years ago, Wetseal shut down about two-thirds of its doors and laid off close to 3,700 laborers.

Once a cult favorite, Wetseal attributes the significant financial blow leading to all 177 of its doors closing, to the lack of foot traffic. Swapping immediate gratification for virtual convenience, many shoppers  are responsible for the spike in online shopping. Reportedly, the store was also no match for its competitors. Fast-fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M dominated the very same youthful market that Wetseal were once proud to consider their own. What is also unsettling, is that other stores may face the same fate. if they cannot anticipate the needs of their customer, as in forecasting what the masses want, many more chain stores will find themselves putting “EVERYTHING MUST GO” signage in their windows.


GiuseppeXJennifer: A Match Made in Footwear Heaven

On Level 21 Magazine’s blog, I recently reported that Jenny from the Block, aka the Puerto-Rican triple threat from South Bronx, has launched a shoe collection with Giuseppe Zanotti, the Emperor of Glam. Not a stranger to fashion, we have seen her give us a mean sashay down the catwalk with her killer dancer legs for over two decades. With titles such as singer, actress, clothing designer, mother, and American Idol Judge strapped across her tiny waist like a champion belt, it was almost instinctual yet reasonable to expect that Jennifer Lopez would add shoe designer to her list of accomplishments.

And why not team up with shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti, who is notable for his sky-high, alluring designs. See, his luxurious footwear is for the daring, those who were born to stand out, and not blend in with the crowd. Without a doubt, JLo epitomizes just that. She is bold, fearless, and stunning. Recently, she was spotted celebrating arm-in-arm with her partner-in-glamour (and business) Zanotti. In true fashion (bask in the pun with me for a moment), she attended the launch wearing marvelous ankle strap heels from her own collection.

As we all would hope, the tawny beauty wanted the line to mirror her own personal style. To make the collection even more personal for her, JLo named the shoes after the women in her life. Inherently she knew the shoe names almost immediately after Zanotti implored her to do so. She has shoes named after her daughter Emme, her sisters Leslie-(after whom the ankle strap heel seen above, is named) and Lynda, and her cousin Tiana. They remind her to stay grounded throughout her journey, just like her fabulous shoes that keep her feet firmly in place.

Iris Apfel: A Rare Bird Indeed

I couldn’t sleep.

…so I began to surf Netflix to find something to watch. Just enough to entertain my sleepy yet alert eyes, but lighthearted enough to lull me into a much-needed slumber. That is when I discovered Iris, a documentary on Iris Apfel who has been crowned “The Rare Bird of Fashion”. I was mesmerized the moment this 95-year old emerges onto the opening scene with her distinctively New York accent, strikingly silver hair with hints of purple. Effortlessly, she looks intently at the camera with her brilliant eyes shining behind her trademark oval shaped specs.

Likening the daily routine of selecting her wardrobe to a jazz composition, and if you are a fan like I am, you can relate to her metaphor; jazz tends to have sudden, and unpredictable crescendos which decline into delicate, soft scales. Her over sized, exotic accouterments overlap elaborate tops oftentimes paired with denim. Smoking slippers of her own design collaboration with Home Shopping Network, HSN don her feet. She marries Park Avenue with Canal street; mixing opulence with frugality.

“I like individuality. So loss these days. So much sameness. Everything is homogenized, I hate it,” she laments. As an esteemed collector of all things strange yet beautiful, the Rara Avis (French for Rare Bird) expresses her adoration for the shopping experience, which she admits enjoyment more so than dressing herself . This fashion darling began her career as an interior designing tycoon with a enterprise she started with her now late husband, Carl Apfel, called World Weavers. They traveled worldwide seeking inspiration to create historical reproductions of beautifully crafted fabrics for international museums, the White House, and other political architecture.

While most people her age, and even younger retire, she continues her labor of love featuring in magazine photo shoots, attending Fashion Week, offering lectures and interviews, and consulting with museums who commemorate many of her vestments into exhibitions. The way she merges art, fashion and interior design, is instinctual. Although she has embraced that she is not considered an industry’s beauty standard, Iris epitomizes refinement because she intuitively identifies it in most things people may overlook or dismiss as inelegant.

I appreciate how she literally allowed us a glimpse into her personal life, past, present and future. She has obvious style, which Iris captures in great detail, in so little time.

Ipsy Glambag Nov ’16 Review: Part 2

(for Part 1 of this lengthy review, click here). Let’s start with Tarte Maracuja Oil, because I have been eyeing this purple-bottled oil at Sephora for a long time, but the hefty $48 price tag was a repellent to my debit card. So, I was elated to see it in my Glambag! That first night I couldn’t wait to try it, a bit leery about using oil on my face during the day. It surprisingly left my face velvety smooth, and melted right onto my skin, since I was concerned that I would either break out or look greasy! I’ve tried a certain drugstore facial oil before, which ironically left my skin deprived of moisture, but Tarte was a pleasant surprise! I even apply some drops of this slightly nutty-smelling oil onto my beauty blender before I apply foundation, and it gives my face a fresh, dewy look. So, I definitely recommend this product and would buy a full-sized bottle.

The second item in my bag that I couldn’t wait to try was the Pur-lisse Balancing Moisturizer. Part of a facial care line created by former Power Rangers villain, actress Jennifer Yen, I was again concerned because I have sensitive skin and worried that this moisturizer would cause irritation.  Reading that it contains blue lotus, which is known for anti-inflammatory benefits, eased my mind. It also has white tea, known for anti-bacterial agents as well as Vitamin E which prevents premature aging. With that being said, it left my skin with a cool and lightly refreshed feeling, making my face supple and amazingly smooth, so much so, I utilized my Ipsy 30% discount towards a full-sized bottle. I will definitely continue to use this moisturizer, and intend on trying other Pur-lisse products.

Since I have tried a laundry list of mascaras before, with some, little, or no “wow factor”, so honestly I wasn’t really pressed to try  The Balm Black Mascara out. But, I was impressed with the wand, which had tiny bristles spaced apart perfectly so that each lash could get a fair share of mascara without clumping together. But…that’s it. This is the only item in my Glambag I could have honestly done without. Not a bad product, but not good enough to buy. I wouldn’t have known this have it not been in my bag. So, nothing lost nor gained.

I am normally a nude lip gal, so when I saw Color is Bae in Red Chili I was both thrilled and horrified! But then again, it is always good to try new things; after all, the things you are now comfortable with were once new to you too…So yeah. I tried it and loved it! First of all, I was delighted to find that this lippie was matte, which means it has staying power. It was also soft and didn’t sink into the lines of my lips, which is a plus, so I wouldn’t have that chapped look.

Finally…I tried Formula X Nail Color in Huntress, so if you cannot guess by the name, it is “huntress” green with flecks of gold, and with a hint of teal upon application. I adored how this color dried to a luster finish, although I added a top coat for extra shine, which wasn’t necessary. BUT….this nail color already chipped after less than 48 hours, so don’t expect your mani to last long. Mind you, I used a base coat, top coat, and two coats of nail color. So…this is a “no” for me. More like “Hell Naw, to the Naw Naw Naw”, but theres always that chance with nail polish, so overall I’d say my first Ipsy experience was overall pleasant. I appreciated the variety of products as I suggested in my questionnaire, so I know someone at Ipsy was attentive to my wants, and I look forward to my next Ipsy bag.

Ipsy Glambag Nov ’16 Review: Part 1

I love online shopping, and the highlight has been for me the anticipation that shopping  in a store cannot provide; it is more instant gratification, you grab, head to the register, then go. To me, there are some things that are just worth the ground shipping wait time, especially when it comes to beauty products. I obsess over them all, from hair to skin care and make up. I love them all equally! But just like most beauty lovers, I truly treasure cosmetics on a budget. So, I decided to gift myself a monthly subscription to Ipsy, which is an affordable $10.00/month (pre-sales tax). This way I could sample a combo of five luxury, mid-price, and/or drug store brands before I take the plunge to actually buy them.

So, I signed up, which was seemingly straight forward, but then I was asked to “share” my new status as an Ipsy subscriber via social media, in order to be removed from the waiting list! At first, I was a bit impatient with this step, but then quickly reminded myself that I usually share things I am passionate about with my relatives and friends, so I quickly got over it! Since I subscribed to Ipsy during the middle of October, I finally began receiving Ipsy emails: the first confirming that I would receive my first Glambag in November and what to expect on a monthly basis; the second was a “spoiler” email option to reveal which products I will receive by “sharing” my bag contents via Facebook or Twitter. I thought this was an excellent customer service strategy, since it did take the edge off of waiting.

I received my first Glambag, which was contained in this pink tin-foil packaging. Once opened, I see a palm-sized navy blue bag with gold cosmetic bottle and brush designs embossed on it. I was impressed with the bag’s unique design. Enclosed were my goodies, along with a card that had Ipsy’s monthly theme, Rockstarlet, along with suggestions on how to be interactive with social media while sampling the products. AT LAST, I took out my travel-friendly sized products, to my delight they were the following…drumroll, please…Tarte Maracuja Oil, Pur-Lisse Balancing Moisturizer, The Balm’s Mad Lash Black Mascara, Color is Bae Lip Lacquer in Red Chili, and Formula X’s Nail Color in Huntress. For part 2 of my experience with these products, click here.