Monday, April 25, 2011

Sofia Turns "1" & Luxe File Talks To "EveryGirl's" Maria Menounos

"1" is (not!) the loneliest number: Maria Menounos
helps Sofia's Ashley Zisook and her talented team
celebrate their first anniversary

Sofia was the place to be on April 27th when the posh Oak Street boutique celebrated its one-year anniversary. Sofia champagne was flowing as Chicago's elite guests nibbled on petite CRUMBS cupcakes and shopped for contemporary and vintage treasures. Celebrity-author, Maria Menounos, who was in town to promote her new "girl-be-great(er)" book, The EveryGirl's Guide to Life, dropped in to sign the glossy guides, delight guests with her top picks from Sofia's spring styles and helped her gal pal and Sofia owner, Ashley Zisook, get the celebration started!

Maria signs copies of her do-good,
be-GREAT guide for girls!

Picking her favorite pieces for spring

Girl Power: Maria with Ashley Zisook and Erin Kannett

Rachel Schwanz, Audarshia Townsend and Terri Hickey

Nancy Yacyshyn, Marc Gill, Allison Siebert
and Kristy Alderson

♫♫ What EveryGirl Wants, What EveryGirl Needs ♫♫:

In her interview with Luxe File Chicago, Maria Menounos shares her secrets for dropping a dress size (or two!), breaking into any field by working (gasp!) pro bono, and which Jersey Shore star, Snookie or The Situation, she'd pick to get trapped in an elevator with (you'll NEVER guess!).

At 32 years old, you have achieved more in your short career - Miss Teen USA, producer, journalist, actress, TV personality and, now, author - than most people will in a lifetime. What inspires you to set such lofty goals and to stay motivated: Watching my parents work so hard their whole lives and they always remained positive. Today, I feel so blessed for my work and with my life in general. I feel I owe it to my parents to push myself as hard as I can and to be appreciative that I have work in a time when many others do not. In my book, I write about how working hard is good for you. It not only helps you to succeed, it also helps to keep your mind away from negative and toxic thoughts.

You've recently published the self-help sizzler, The EveryGirl's Guide to Life. Great title! This empowering tome is layered with useful tips and helpful how-tos from styling like the stars to executing easy carpentry projects at home. What was your favorite part about writing the book: It was an amazing process and I have many favorite parts like interviewing my friends and other experts and giving them the credit they deserve. Also, whenever I express myself through writing, it feels good which is why I recommend that people do it.

Your book also promotes the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and recounts how you were able to lose, and keep off, forty pounds. What are your secrets for success: My success with weight loss came when I stopped obsessing about my size and weight and focused on making healthy choices in my diet and lifestyle. I eat when I’m hungry, reduced my portions and drink hot water throughout the day which curbs my appetite and keeps me calm.

You’re a noted environmental advocate and even dedicated a portion of your book to organic gardening. Saving the environment is one of the greatest challenges we face, give us some ways we can help Mother Earth: Like anything else, start by taking baby steps in becoming more green. Little things such as washing clothes in cold water, opting for water filters instead of buying plastic water bottles and keeping recycle bins near your trash receptacles for paper and plastic all go a long way at little cost to you.

In 2008, while Senator Obama was on the presidential campaign trail, you were the first journalist to interview The Obama family together. What was that experience like for you: I was the first and, to this day, the ONLY journalist to interview the family and I'm really proud of that! It is a career highlight and something I will remember for the rest of my life. What I took away from the experience was the fact that The Obamas seemed so down-to-earth, so normal and very much like the rest of us. They didn't have the air that many politicians I've met have. Watching the president playing soccer with his daughters, out of the cameras’ view, was very special.

From the Real World to the Jersey Shore, you’ve become the Barbara Walters of "reunion" hosts! Which was your favorite cast reunion and who would you rather be trapped in an elevator with, Snookie or The Situation: I'm such a huge fan of the “after-show” discussion which is why I launched! We produce after-shows for your favorite TV shows - from Jersey Shore and American Idol to Mad Men. I feel that fans, like myself, want more content and information regarding their favorite shows and want to connect with fellow fans. That's the reason I personally called MTV to do the Real World reunions.

My favorite cast reunion is hard to say! The casts are always so revved up when we tape them and I have a lot of orchestrating, taming and even counseling to do each time I host one. I have a genuine passion to interview the cast mates and to discover what motivated them to do the things they did. I'm actually really excited about the new Las Vegas Real World - there's so much going on between the violence and substance abuse. I’ve been the victim of it in my own life and know friends who have been, too, so I can't wait to get in there and delve deeper. I think there are things the cast and audiences need to hear that could be helpful. The biggest challenge with shooting them is always time. We tape six hours worth of discussion and have to cut it down to an hour.

Snookie or Sitch? I can't pick, they're both awesome. Sitch is very entertaining and Snookie is so genuine and honest. I find both traits refreshing. However, what I always say about both is that, deep down, I feel they're good kids. I’m not sure that's true of other reality stars.

Other than The EveryGirl's Guide to Life, what book is resting on your bedside table: The Guru in You by Cameron Alborzian. It's amazing for quality mental and physical health.

Where you go for inspiration: Church is a great place and by “church”, I mean any place of meditation or worship that is quiet and spiritual. I'm Greek Orthodox but I'll stop into other houses of worship in my travels when I come upon them and have the time. I pray, meditate and give thanks for all my blessings. Working out also helps to inspire me. Every time I run on the treadmill, I get new ideas and revelations that help me in my business and my life.

Worst advice you were ever given: People always said, “Don’t work for free. Always demand money and lots of it.” This is THE worst advice especially when it comes to breaking into a tough field, and Hollywood is one of the toughest. I worked for a year-and-a-half for free on my first film and that's what landed me my job at Channel One and launched my career. I’ve volunteered, worked pro bono and have spent hundreds of thousands on personal projects that didn’t pay off monetarily but helped me to diversify myself, open new doors and allowed me the opportunity to enjoy greater financial success in other areas. In the end, whether working for free or spending money on your own projects, you are investing in yourself.

You have interviewed some of Hollywood's most notable names. Who is your dream interview: There are few people I haven't interviewed in Hollywood and I'm blessed in that regard. Perhaps that's why my nightly news interviews mean so much to me - I love interviewing incredible people who have sacrificed, endured and have overcame the worst challenges life has had to offer. I had so badly wanted to interview the last living WWI veteran this Memorial Day and was saddened to hear he just passed away.

Luxe File Chicago has dedicated its site to the “love of living luxuriously”. Finish this sentence, “When it comes to living luxuriously, always…”: Remember that luxury and luxurious living should be about enriching our lives, not depleting our wallets. Find ways to do luxury on a budget! For me and my busy schedule, just being able to relax is a luxury. Here are a few of my favorites: a long, hot bath with candles and soft music playing; lounging on the couch with a nice comforter, a glass of wine and watching a great movie or TV show; taking a blanket and a good book to the beach.

Party photos courtesy of XA, The Experiential Agency, Inc./Tyler Curtis, photographer

Posted by Kerry Shorr

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day: Love The World You're With

If you don't think an oil spill can spawn an environment- al movement, think again. Gaylord Nelson, Wisconsin senator (D) and environmental activist, conceived Earth Day after witnessing the devastating toll the Unocal Corp. oil spill took on Santa Barbara's coastline in 1969.

When government was slow to react, Nelson proposed that universities across the nation host teach-ins to educate students about the deterioration of the environment. The idea took flight and on April 22, 1970, approximately 20 million Americans, thousands of high schools, universities, and environmental groups gathered together for celebrations and to protest against the destruction of the earth's natural resources.

Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day founder

In 1990, Earth Day went global and more than 200 million people from 175 countries took part; and nearly twenty years later, in 2009, the United Nations named April 22 "International Mother Earth Day".

In honor of Mother Earth, Luxe File offers these earth-friendly tips to try:

Sample Sale: Ever hear the saying: "Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour onto others without getting a few drops onto yourself"? Taken literally, perfume is one beauty basic that's hard to beat. The right fragrance can boost creativity, inspire confidence or spark sexuality.

Global Message In A Bottle: Hiroshima girl band, Perfume, signs their support

Green Tip: Magazines are brimming with perfume-scented tear sheets encouraging readers to sample their scents. Instead of tossing them in the garbage, which ultimately will end up in a landfill!, tear them out and tuck them into your purse. When you're headed to a meeting, date or event, swipe them along your pulse points (wrists, behind your knees and below your jaw) for a pretty pick-me-up!

Wasteful Wattage: The Worldwatch Institute reported that the United States and Canada together were responsible for 50% of the energy consumed by the world's richest industrialized countries.

Green Tip: Next time you reach for the light switch, reach for a match instead. Nothing quite lights a room like candles do and they have a magical way of making everything around us glow. Pick ones with beeswax, soy or palm oil. She may not have a lucky love streak, but Sandra Bullock's eco-friendly Bessence soy candles will fill your home with a lovely light. Each hand-poured candle is packaged in recycled materials and will burn cleanly for 50 hours.

Save The Environment: Serve up some candlelight

Shop S-MART: The Clean Air Council notes that Americans use nearly 1 billion plastic shopping bags every year, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste. This is compounded by the fact that plastic bags are not biodegradable.

Green Tip: When gift-giving, JenChicago's Jen Knoedl recommends wrapping gifts in a recycled shopping tote and then tying with raffia. It's inexpensive, earth-friendly and, as Jen notes, "I know the bag will be reused!" Luxe File likes this Waste-Less Too Cute bag because it screams "rocker chic!" and holds up to 20 lbs. For additional green tips and to learn more about JenChicago, click HERE.

Present Perfect: Reusable totes make
great gift wrapping

Take A Walk On The Well Side: We like to think that when we splurge on a manicure or pedicure, our fingers and toes are in safe hands. That isn't the case if the salon uses nail polish or products containing DBP, toluene or formaldehyde. Bad for you and the environment, these toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer and other harmful ailments.

Green Tip: Next time you hit the nail bar, Bianca Alexander of Conscious Planet Media recommends opting for a toxin-free mani-pedi that uses organic, chemical-free products. In this clip, she previews a San Francisco nail spa that offers a luxe version we would all love. Want to know how you can live green-ly ever after? Visit Bianca Alexander's Conscious Living TV's website and get great tips from the woman who helped make green GORGEOUS!

Green Girl: Bianca Alexander, Emmy Award-winning
correspondent, environmental advocate and
co-CEO of Conscious Planet Media

Closer to home Luxe File likes the Organic Mani-Pedi at Salon Echo, a full-service salon in Edgewater that was built using 80% sustainable materials and offers a full menu of organic-based products and services. The salon is so focused on helping the planet, it donates hair clippings to Matter of Trust which uses the hair to make mats that soak up oil spilled in our oceans. Like to bike? Ride your bike to the salon and in addition to cutting down on harmful emissions, you'll receive a 20% discount on any service.

Keep the Carbon, I'll Take the Chanel: The airline industry isn't making a lot of friends these days. With oil prices at an all-time high, that trip to Europe to go treasure-troving or to Detroit for a sales pitch has become a lot more expensive, not to mention a toxic hotbed for the environment. Forget the "friendly skies": carbon emissions from airplanes not only pollute the air we breath, they leave behind a terrible carbon footprint*. For example, did you know that a round-trip flight to Los Angeles from New York creates between 2 and 3 tons of CO2 per passenger?

Green Tip: When traveling for business, consider taking a train for shorter distances or recommends meeting online or videoconferencing instead of flying coast to coast.

We know that many of our readers love to splurge on vintage-shopping trips to luxe locales like Paris, Milan and London. This summer, reduce your carbon footprint and stay domestic instead. Cities such as Dallas, Portland and Palm Beach are exciting direct-flight destinations for finding fabulous lost-era finds and Chicago even offers a plethora of fashion-focused vintage-consignment depots, you just need to know where to look.

Green Tip: Skip Paris' flea markets this year
and shop for vintage treasure online instead

If you'd rather let your fingers do the walking, Luxe File recommends a visit to Edrop-Off Express, an online consignment site that offers "gently loved" luxury essentials from well-known fashion houses like Chanel, YSL, Prada and more. When Edrop-Off Express' owner, Corri Mcfadden, told us how much energy we'd save by skipping the trip to the City of Lights and purchasing a vintage Hermès instead, we knew it was the perfect trade. We decided it was better to save Paris for another day so we could save the world today. Nice mantra.

Happy Earth Day!

*Merriam-Webster defines a carbon footprint as "the amount of greenhouse gases and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by something (such as a person's activities or a product's manufacture or transport) during a given period".

Posted by Kerry Shorr

Monday, April 18, 2011

Natalie Getz Gets Us Ready For The "Pink Is The New Black" Party

When Luxe File learned Mantra For Good - a locally-based, grassroots organization founded by NBC Chicago's Sonya Jackson which embraces the belief that, through benevolence and leadership, we all have the extraordinary power to impact the lives of others and the world around us - was presenting the spring fête, "Pink Is The New Black", we took one look at our monocratic wardrobes and wondered "what are we going wear?" Luckily for us, pink is the hottest color this season and with a plethora of stylish, stylist-friends, we knew the perfect pinafore was just a click away.

Natalie Getz: Reality Star, Stylist and
Breast Cancer Advocate

We asked The Bachelor and Bachelor Pad's Natalie Getz, who is also a stylist and breast cancer advocate, what she would recommend in this pretty-in-pink palette. Check out Natalie's dress picks below and the accessories we would pair them with!

I like Betsey Johnson's "Pink Star" and "Dahlia" strapless cocktail dresses because they are so fun and flirty. Luxe File recommends mixing them up with Giuseppe Zanotti's strappy stud-embellished heels or jewel-encrusted booties for a rocker edge.

For something more conservative, I would wear Mason by Mason's One Shoulder Silk Dress in Coral Pink. Stay on-trend with Miu Miu's black patent leather Mary Jane pumps and a pearl-and-diamond statement necklace by Lanvin.

If you prefer more timeless silhouettes, then you will love this silk strapless dress by Barneys New York Co-Op designer, Parker. This dress has a lot of interesting details including a ruched waist, quilted bodice and sweetheart neckline. Buck the conventional nude heel and pair with sexy, nude-pink leather sandals by Fendi. Luxe File loves the sheer tulle straps, ruffle details and perspex platform.

If you prefer something longer and more formal, the strapless "Moriza" dress by BCBG/Max Azria is absolutely captivating with its layers of lace and soft tulle. Chloé's "Elsie" gold beaded clutch gives this look the perfect twist with just the right touch of glimmer.

Still need the 4-1-1 on Mantra For Good's "Pink Is The New Black" Party? See details below.

What: Mantra For Good's "Pink Is The New Black"
Where: Park Hyatt Chicago
800 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
When: Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tickets cost $150 and can be purchased HERE; all proceeds benefit the Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization.

Along with honoring the heroes who make it their plight to fight breast cancer, guests will be treated to distinctive French cuisine artfully prepared by NoMI's Executive Chef Ryan LaRoche, specialty cocktails and a silent auction featuring sporting, fashion and deluxe items.

"Pink Is The New Black" Host Committee include: Sonya Jackson, Katie McLenaghan, Lynne Bredfeldt, JR Kerr, Amanda Samuels, Mick Masuka, Kristen Stone, Nicole Lee, Regina Taylor, DaVida Rice and Maurice Wills.

Photo courtesy of Natalie Getz
Posted by Kerry Shorr

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Luxe File Stocks Up For Summer @Sofia

Sofia: Where the Pretty Things Are

Springtime in Chicago. Sunny skies and balmy temps teased us to open up our closets and replace our favorite winter pieces - faux furs, double-breasted wool jackets, thick cable-knit sweaters and suede over-the-knee boots - with crisp, summer essentials. Barren of the looks we love - relaxed LA-cum-Chicago glamour - we headed to Sofia, one of our favorite boutiques nestled along Chicago's tony tree-lined Oak Street, to see fashion guru and style soothsayer, Ashley Zisook. Buzzing around her boutique, she helped us pick through piles of luxe accessories and feminine, utilitarian pieces.

Cool Rules: Designer duds in subdued tones

Ch-Ching!: Chic Chains

Summer Ritual: Soludos espadrilles

Pretty Little Thing: Vintage Louis Vuitton bag

We loved the ethereal minidress by Grey Antics, Corson's edgy, distressed knit tops in soft flesh-colored neutrals and Soludos slip-on espadrilles in navy and olive. "We have more things coming," Ashley intoned, as we looked through a rack of citrus-colored dresses. When Erin Kannett, Sofia's ever-chic manager, nodded her approval at the delicate Hero Crane tank we were modeling, we knew we had found something special. "I love that," she said. "I just wore it to Ashley's birthday party!" When asked if the top had been "man-approved", she laughed. "Oh, definitely!" With a sigh, we handed over our credit card. We were sold.

White-and-Bone Halter Minidress by GREY ANTICS

Crepe Terry Knit Boatneck Tunic by CORSON

Drape Back Jersey Tank by HERO CRANE

Sofia is located at 72 E. Oak Street. 312-640-0878

CORSON photo courtesy of Sofia
Story posted by Kerry Shorr

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Scarlet Fever

Luxe File turned on its party radar and one event - the Chicago Red Dress Party - nearly melted our MacBook. If you don't know about it already (and why wouldn't you?), it is The Party that everyone is talking - and tweeting - about. The evening promises a heavy dose of socializing, cocktailing, DJ spinning and open bars. Monies raised will benefit the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Equality Project, a nonprofit in Chicago that focuses on advocacy and social consciousness.

Still need the #411? Here's what you need to know:
When: Saturday, April 16, 2011; 8:30 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.
Where: 525 W. Monroe, Chicago, Illinois
Why: Monies raised will benefit the Aids Foundation of Chicago and Equality Project
Dress Code: While other city's have been known to require "dress-only" dress codes, Chicago's party goers can ditch the dress as long as they wear scarlet-colored designer duds or accessories.
Cost: General Admission tickets cost $80 ($130 at the door) and includes open bar, gourmet hors d'oeuvres, entertainment by Kristen W and a late-night dance party with DJs Harmonix and Jeannette. VIP packages are also available.
Purchase tickets HERE
Note: Online ticket sales close at 5:00 p.m. on April 12.

Event Backgrounder: This event is based on the power of a promise. In early-1990, two men bonded in a loving relationship, contracted HIV/AIDS. In deference to each other, they pledged to wear a red dress to the funeral of the first one to pass away. The first Red Dress Party was hosted in Portland, Oregon, in 2001 and it turned that promise into a party. Today, these celebrations are hosted around the nation to raise awareness, monies and resources to abolish AIDS/HIV.

On April 16th, Chicago will host its first-ever Red Dress Party. The event's Executive Producer, Kyler Powell, noted the event was two years in the making, a veritable labor of love. The Chicago Red Dress Party has quickly become a media sensation and will include appearances by Candid Candace's Candace Jordan,'s Miss Foozie and NBC Chicago's Marcus Riley. Powell predicts over 800 guests will attend and our sources tell us the guest list boasts the city's Who's Who.

The dress code may sound simple, but don't dismay if you don't own a stitch of scarlet - there's still time to pick up the perfect party attire. To help us figure out what to wear, we caught up with some of the Chicago Red Dress Party Committee Members to find out who (or what) they will be dressing up in.

*Kevin Aeh, Time Out Chicago: When asked what he would be wearing, Kevin tweeted: "a red tie...That's okay, right?" The rest of his wardrobe remains a mystery. #SherlockHolmes

*Ari Bendersky, Eater Chicago: Ari will be dressed in a classic Men's Collection suit by H&M and red tie but it's his post-party dining suggestions we want to know!

*Ryan Beshel, Agency Galatea and Chicago Red Dress Party's style-star publicist: In perfect runway style, Ryan will rock the Red in a custom velvet suit by J. Cheikh.

*Peach Carr, Peach Carr Inc.: Bravo's Project Runway alum will be wearing designs from her Fall '11 collection, along with her signature combat boots. #Winning

*Kevin Conroy Smith, Story From A New Friend: A red Theory button-up shirt and New Balance sneakers was about all he would tell us. #JustTheFactsMa'am

*Miss Lucy Foozie, Entertainer: For Miss Foozie, it's simple: either you wear the dress or the dress wears you. In honor of the Chicago Red Dress Party, Miss Foozie is thrilled to let her custom designed gown take center stage. #WeLoveLucy

*Justin Jacobson, Platinum Events: Waxing Tom Ford, Justin will be dressed in a vintage Christian Dior tuxedo and a red bow tie.

*Candace Jordan, "Candid Candace": Everyone's favorite model-actress-Playboy-centerfold-cum blogger-playwright-socialite-philanthropista has selected a dress by emerging designer, Chloe Flora.

*Katie McLenaghan, Philanthropist/Beauty Maven: Katie will be wearing a Carmen Marc Valvo dress she fell in love with at the Joffrey Ballet's Couture & Cocktails event which featured the designer's Spring/Summer '11 Couture Collection.

*Bill Pritchard, GoPride Corporation (and guest, Michael Kane): Jury is still out but Bill's confirmed one thing: he'll be sporting red briefs (not boxers). We'll just take his word for it.

*Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago: Everyone's favorite newsman-about-town 'fessed up that he would be dressed in a dark suit and Red Dress Party-inspired accessories.

*Cesar Rolon, Jr, Co-Executive Producer, Latino Fashion Week: "A Hugo Boss suit" was what he told us. Decimos: ¡muy elegante! (trans., "We say: very elegant!")

*Rachel Schwanz, The Entertaining Company: Chicago's top caterer and event planner extraordinaire plans to heat the party up in a Jil Sander dress.

*Michael Snell, Best Gay Travel: Michael alerted us that he and his partner, Derrick Sorles, will be keeping it real in red dresses. This we've got to see!

*Lauren Zeien, Social Media Specialist: This pretty-in-anything young lady will be hitting her fashion stride in BCBG and a gold vintage Hermès bag. #Disco

In case you needed more options, we tasked our friend, Style Tribe blogger and eDrop-off Express' Corri Mcfadden to give us a few of her stylish suggestions.

For the ladies who’re more traditional, try this long silk chiffon Notte by Marchesa gown. It's simple, sophisticated and can easily be accessorized with a pair of fabulous drop earrings. I like the Aphrodite Swarovski crystal earrings by Erickson Beamon.

If you're looking for a younger, more modern look, a feminine silhouette like this Motel Gemma Cut Out Waist Dress is a lovely option. I would skip the accessories and opt for these sparkling pair of Louboutins instead (the red soles perfectly complement the theme!)

For a more casual look, this Rag & Bone colorblock dress is perfect. It's also a great option that you can wear to other events too, dressed up or down.

Although it's the Chicago Red Dress Party, I would not endorse solid red-on-red from an accessories standpoint. If you want to inject some humor into your outfit, try this whimsical Kate Spade Emanuelle Book Clutch. It incorporates red and pink and it's not your standard satin clutch.

Another option is choosing a red skin or hide with embellishments to break up the red. This Alexander McQueen clutch encompasses both and is absolutely stunning.

For men, this occasion calls for a red tie, whether it be a regular tie or a bowtie. For something bold, try Drakes Patterned Silk Bowtie.

If you prefer a lighter toned red, this Paul Smith London Knitted Silk Bowtie is perfect.

If bowties aren’t your thing, this Charvet Dotted Silk Tie will do the trick.

For the man who wants to go the extra mile and wear a red tie with a red shirt, try a patterned dress shirt like this Burberry Check Shirt with a solid red tie for a festive yet stylish look.

Chicago Red Dress Party logo provided by Ryan Beshel

Posted by Kerry Shorr