Friday, June 27, 2014

Nick Verreos Talks Under the Gunn, Twitter and His Advice for Curvy Fashionistas

Seldom does a fashion blog get to speak with someone who is not only enthusiastic, positive and energetic but also incredibly well-spoken. I had the pleasure of speaking with Nick Verreos recently and am quite excited to share the interview with you below. Read on for his advice for fashionistas of all sizes, current inspirations, some insider info on Under the Gunn and much more...






*Your personal style is legendary! Was it inspired by anything in particular, or did you put it together over the years?

First off: I’m blushing with your compliments Kendra! Thank you! In regards to my personal style, I think it is something that has “developed” over the years. I’ve always tried to be “On trend” or at least ahead of trends, especially when I was younger. I tried lots of different looks and styles, many times failing LOL! I didn’t realize it then—I thought I was looking “cool” and fashionable, unfortunately there are photos to prove otherwise. I feel my personal style now is what I like to call Euro-Elegant-Hipster; I like to blend great fitted tailored jackets and elegant dress shirts, silk pocket scarves (the “Euro” part) with super-skinny jeans (the “Hipster”). I also remember a crucial moment when I really decided to dress up—wherever and whenever: I was in Torino Italy in 2006 for the Torino Winter Olympics and there was an elderly couple (in their 80s at least) taking a stroll through the Torino streets. Both were dressed IMPECCABLY. But what really stood out for me was the man. He was dressed in a fabulous jacket, pants, scarf, and beautiful loafers. I thought “if he can pull it together at his age, I can do the same at mine!”


*I love those moments! Sometimes a complete stranger can change your whole life. Now, you've done a lot of traveling, in part thanks to your Project Runway fame. What is your favorite city to visit? And where would you most like to spend some (relaxing) time?

Well, yes, I have been lucky to visit lots of amazing cities and I’m very thankful and grateful for that. I LOVE traveling and if I must confess, I’m a big airplane/airline aficionado—whatever the airplane version of “foodie” is, that’s me! Going to Torino Italy (as I said above) to cover the Figure Skating Costumes for the Winter Olympics was a big traveling highlight. I also loved going to Florence Italy when I was invited to give Fashion Lectures for the Miami University of Ohio Summer In Italy Program. But I also enjoy traveling to different cities here in the US for my appearances, if even for an overnight trip, it gives me a quick chance to have a mental “postcard” of the US and to see cities that I wouldn’t normally have an inclination to visit.


*All throughout Under the Gunn, you came off as fair, calm and supportive of your designers. What moment really made you sweat, though?

Awww, thank you again Kendra for the sweet words. I really tried to be fair, calm and most of all supportive to my designers on “Under the Gunn”. When Tim Gunn and the producers contacted me and asked me to do the show, at first I wasn’t “all-in” as they say. I taught fashion design, sketching and pattern-making for many years at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, and run two fashion design companies but I never professed to be a Mentor; I am first and foremost a Fashion Designer. On “Under the Gunn” I mentored in the only way I knew—and how I was mentored—by combining all my knowledge, my teaching skills and my passion for all things fashion. I would have never thought that way of mentoring could be misconstrued as being ‘too hands-on” by Tim Gunn and that I would be edited as such. So, yes, I think one of the moments that really made me sweat as you said, was when in the beginning, one of my designers—Natalia—asked for my advice and suggestions on how to make one of her dresses better—and Tim ran in and completely chastised me like a parent chastises their 5 year-old child. It was definitely a moment. I quickly realized that I had to re-think what I had known and assumed was “mentoring’ and change it to how “Tim Gunn would mentor”.


*Yikes! Love hearing some of the behind-the-scenes info on that, though. Many of us wondered how you felt, because it did seem tense when you were asked to be less 'hands-on.' Speaking of mentoring, though... What's your best advice for the curvy fashionistas out there who love clothes and want to look their best?

I have several words of advice for the curvy fashionistas. First off: LOVE your body; pay tribute to it, don’t hide it. Also, re-think your thought process that Fashion and Fashion designers are your enemy. They are not. Get to LOVE fashion. And finally, don’t be afraid to do a lot of shopping; get out there. One big complaint I get from the SuperFabulous “Big & Beautiful” ladies is that ‘There’s NOTHING out there for us…” well, they are wrong. I visit a Macy’s “Plus Size” Department, for example and there are TONS of options. If you want to be “sexy” plus size, there’s clothing for you; if you want to be “proper and Lady-Like” plus size, there’s another clothing line for you…it’s all there. You just have to look for it, try on many, many clothes and once you find a brand that fits you and looks good on you, stick to it!


*Love it! And you recently visited my state, New Hampshire , for an event in Keene. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Yes!! This was my THIRD visit to New Hampshire but my first time in Keene. I LOVED it! This time, I was invited to give a Trend Presentation, go shopping and consequently, do a Style Makeover for two radio contest winners at the Women’s Expo in Keene. I especially enjoyed three things being in Keene for my appearance: I loved the 3 hour long ride from Boston to Keene and seeing all the GORGEOUS trees and varying colors of green in them; absolutely stunning. I also loved the New England homes. You don’t see that in LA! Finally, I loved styling the contest winners and interacting with the fans and people who came to the Women’s Expo. After all these years since first doing “Project Runway” and now, after winning “Under the Gunn”, I am still humbled that anyone wants to take a photo with me or want an autograph.


*You've had an extraordinary outreach on twitter, thanks to your fun and engaging personality. Your fans love it! But have you ever been starstruck to talk to someone on twitter?

You know, funny enough, I was a bit “slow” and reluctant to do the social media thing and especially Twitter. I remember saying to myself “Why does anyone care that I’m going to the bathroom?”…”and why do I need to tweet that?”. I finally opened up to it and use it as a way to interact with fans; say Thank You for their support as well as notify them of when and where I’ll be so they hopefully can come and say “Hi!”. Also, in terms of my business, it’s been useful to let people know where and how they can buy my dresses, etc. In regards to being “Twitter Starstruck”, a while back I began writing on my blog about Figure Skating Costumes for the Olympics or every time there’s a big international or national competition. Well, I really didn’t think the actual skaters—or former skaters--were reading it. But as I found out, they were. When I got a tweet from Olympic Gold Medalist Tara Lipinski saying how much she loved my blog, that’s when I lost it…in a good way!


*Anyone you'd particularly love to design an outfit for?

I’m very lucky that many celebs like Katy Perrry, Heidi Klum, Beyonce, Carrie Underwood, have all worn my designs. It’s always nice when your designs are worn on the red carpet or for an event by someone like that. I would love to design for the First Lady Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez and a royal here and there—such as Queen Rania of Jordan or Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.


*Anywhere in particular that you're drawing inspiration from right now for a future collection?

Several weeks back I visited the Charles James Exhibition at the Met in NYC and was very inspired by his art, gorgeous gowns, and technological/pattern-making feats of wonder. He thought outside the “pattern-making/draping-book” box and that’s inspiring me right now. Also, an old high-shool friend of my partner David Paul, gave us a bunch of vintage Vogue pattern Magazines spanning three entire decades—the 60s, 70s and 80s and the fashion editorials in those magazines are making my head spin!


*Current favorite song or album:

It sounds so silly but I cannot get “Happy” by Pharell out of my mind! I feel like a 13 year-old school girl just thinking about it! But what I have really been listening to lately is the late 70’s/early 80s music of Chic and Sister Sledge. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards were music geniuses!


*Last book you read:

The last book I read was “Black List” by Brad Thor. I LOVE his books and I’m a big fan of international political thrillers. Thor’s novels are perfect for my airplane travels—I literally get so engrossed that before I know it, I’m almost done with them, and it was just a six-hour flight!


*Movie you can't wait to see:

The “Yves Saint Laurent” movie. The trailer made my hairs stand up and heart a beat a bit faster. I cannot wait until it comes to the US at a very “artsy” cinema near me.



Thank you so much to Nick Verreos for being a guest on the Kendry Bird blog. It was an honor to speak with you, Nick! Looking forward to hearing and seeing much more from you in the future!

Visit Nick's website:  http://www.nvnickverreos.com/
Follow Nick on twitter: @nickverreos1

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Send Kendry Bird to England!

The Kendry Bird blog and its stylish owner would very much like to visit England this year for a research trip (for novels), to visit friends and to get some insider looks at English style.



You can help me get there by picking up a piece or two of Half-Lucid jewelry here or making a donation through Paypal to kendralsaunders@yahoo.com (any donation over $15 will get a postcard from England once I return to the US. US addresses only though, please!)

 See more here! http://kendralsaunders.com/sendkendratoengland.html



Once over there, you could expect photos of street style, a full write-up and maybe even some interviews with some stylish English ladies (and gents!) Ultimately I'd love the trip to take place in late September over to early October, so please share this link to your friends who love great jewelry and order some Half-Lucid! :)


Monday, June 16, 2014

Kendry Bird's Top 10 Style Rules

1. You don't have to put on your pants.

Really! I mean, you should probably wear something on your lower half, but it doesn't have to be jeans. Ever since I can remember, I've preferred skirts and dresses to pants. While everyone else talked about how comfortable their jeans were or how much they loved shorts, I waited and waited for the day that I, too, would magically fall in love with jeans and turn into a 1980s supermodel in denim.

At some point I realized I just don't like pants, and that's okay. They rarely fit my body type (curvy, small waist, short legs) and always feel too tight in the tummy area. So I gave up on the pants thing and shopped for skirts and dresses that I love, and never looked back. Frankly, I still don't understand the gals who pour themselves into restricting pants all day... especially with belts. *shudder*



2. Two statement pieces are better than one.

You know how Coco Chanel famously said that you should take off one accessory before walking out the door? I've always thought that's cool for those minimalist people who can weirdly pull off an itty-bitty gold chain necklace, plain white t-shirt and jeans, but reaaaaallllly. The rest of us just don't need to live with those kinds of limits. If you've got a killer bib necklace and some sparkly bangles and red lipstick and you're trying to decide if you should wear the pink heels or the black ones... don't be afraid to go full on awesome. More is always more for me.



3. If you can't afford to buy it, make it.

I'd love to own some Dolce & Gabbana but it's not in my budget just yet.. Many times, though, I can take inspiration from something on the runway and recreate it at home. Whether it's an outrageous pair of earrings or a dress with foxes on it, I've made DIY versions of favorite luxe looks... for much, much less. If you like a certain look, google DIY videos for it and then enlist the help of your creative friends for any part of it that you can't do (sewing, pattern making, etc)




4. Inspiration can come from boys, too.

Even though I'm usually a traditionally feminine dresser, I love snagging style ideas from my favorite male rock stars (Matt Bellamy, David Bowie, etc). Whether it's adding a pair of suspenders to an outfit or seeking out a t-shirt I spotted on a fashionable guy, it's fun to add a bit of boy-spo!






5. Wanna try that new hair color? Try it.

It's your hair. It's your life! If you wanna try pink hair or blonde hair, do it. DO IT. I've tried red hair, black hair, brown hair, dark blonde hair, platinum blonde hair and have had blue and pink streaks. In the end, I've always gone back to blonde, but do I regret my forays into other colors? Not a bit! Don't let anyone stop you from trying something new. Same goes for haircuts. If you really want to try it, just try it.




6. Not everyone looks good in a cat eye.

I've tried! I've tried so many times to draw on a cat eye; I've tried liquid eyeliner, pencil eyeliner, and magical alien marker pen (okay not really but might as well have). No matter what style or color of cat eye that I've experimented with, though, it never looks right on my naturally-squinty eyes. Instead, I've discovered after many years of trial and error that my eyes look best ringed lightly all around, tight on the waterline, with no extensions on the side. Keep experimenting with eyeliner, if you haven't figured out your best look, and take note of famous gals you respect with a similar eye shape to yours. They probably have a fancy makeup artist to give them their most flattering look, so it'll almost be like getting help from a professional.




7. Find good shoes. WEAR THEM. Always.

If you wear uncomfortable shoes, you're going to unexpectedly have to walk for 6 miles uphill or something. Seriously. Or, like me, you'll have spent the day at NYFW and be at a party with fashion designers and realize your feet are so swollen that they're about to burst out of your shoes, at which time you're going to limp very, very, very slowly to Old Navy at 10:30pm and buy a pair of fluorescent orange clearance-priced flip flops.

Conversely, if you wear ugly comfortable shoes, you're going to run into someone important. Or, like me, you'll end up being asked to take part in an impromptu photoshoot, photographed for a magazine and tagged in about 199 pictures, all while wearing the ugliest flip flops that exist on the planet.

Spend however long it takes you to find a pair of comfortable and cute flats. Spend however long it takes you to find a pair of comfortable heels (you never know when you'll need them). And really, for the love of God, find a pair of great ankle boots that look good and feel good. You'll live in those, trust me.
 


8. Short skirts are great.

As I've chronicled on this blog previously, I've struggled with self image/body issues for most of my life, but something particularly freeing took place when I discovered how great my legs look in short skirts. I've tested the limits of job dress codes and personal comfort zones ever since.



9. Find your style muse and borrow without shame.

My go-to style muse is Kate Hudson. She's a gorgeous blonde who can pull off the breezy boho looks just as easily as the glam ones. I love her inner and outer glow, easy laugh and don't-care-what-others-think attitude. I love to keep an eye out for what she's been rocking lately, because we share a similar fashion sensibility and facial features. One of my recent style mantras is "Be the fabulous Kate Hudson-esque boho babe you were meant to be." Find your muse and your mantra and keep it in mind when you're in a fashion rut.




10. If you're having a bad day, rock some lipgloss.

You can ask my Mom... this is my greatest advice to all gals. If you're having a bad day, you need some sparkly lipgloss. It just makes everything better.


Happy dressing and shopping, fashionistas! <3

***Note: I'm currently raising money for a research trip to England. You can help me get there by buying some beautiful Half-Lucid Jewelry or adding a couple dollars to my donation button. Check out all the info about the trip here: http://kendralsaunders.com/sendkendratoengland.html and look at my Half-Lucid inventory here: http://kendralsaunders.com/halflucidjewelry  :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

New!! "Boho Swingers" from Half-Lucid

Soooo I got creative the other day and made a new style of earrings called Boho Swingers. The prototype was made specially for me, but I'm thinking of adding them to Half-Lucid's inventory. (And speaking of Half-Lucid, two pairs of Half-Lucid's Babecatchers will be featured in a fashion shoot for an upcoming issue of a magazine. More details on that soon!)



What do you think of the Boho Swingers? Leave a comment or tweet me @kendrybird !

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Return

It's been almost a month since I've been able to make an update, mostly due to tight novel-writing deadlines, but this month I should have a lot of wonderful content for you, fashionistas! Make sure to check back regularly for more interviews, tips, pictures and fun stuff.

Sparkle on!
-Kendra

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