Diamonds, Lit + Intrigue

We had the ultimate pleasure of sitting down with Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels. Herewith, the word on the best jewels in the world from the man himself, an education. Behold: van cleef & arpels articulated jellyfish

April Francis: Let's get right into it, Nicolas. How do you produce this ruby beauty, the Mystery Setting?

Nicolas Bos: The way it’s done is there’s a little architecture on the back, which is made out of red gold, which is rails, and then the stones are actually square stones that I’ve cut to size to match exactly all of the other stones. They are grooved and you slide them over the rail. That’s how you have the juxtaposition of stone. There’s no glue, it’s just the metal.

AF: And tension.

NB: And tension, and you always close the architecture with doors, which are architectural screws. You can unscrew them. You can always stagger other stones out and change one. It’s a very, very special technique.

AF: And it’s unique to you.

NB: It’s the holy grail of jewelers, technically. Particularly when they start and they are apprentice jewelers and wherever they work, setting pieces for, this is the most difficult. It’s crazy what it takes. It’s a combination of jewelry work and lapidary work, which is cutting the stones. We are only able to produce a handful of pieces every year with rubies and…

A lush cuff by Van Cleef & Arpels.AF: How much time goes into this piece?

NB: Production on a piece like that would be maybe a year. Because – and this is true for other pieces -- although they are all trained the same way, we do find very, very subtle differences in the way the jewelers work. If you want the piece to be really beautiful, you can’t have several jewelers working on the same. There would be slight differences. The difference in working with one stone versus all the stones -- you need the feel of the same hand. That’s why it’s so time consuming. There’s no way to scale. You can’t spread the work to different jewelers, different work. You need just one guy to do all the lapidary work and then a jeweler for all the metal work.

No issues here.AF: I love how everything moves, it’s very nice.

NB: There’s an idea of poetry, which is very, very important. And an idea of whimsy.

AF: It seems that literary references are very important to all of the collections?

NB: Yes, very much so.

AF: I'm a big reader.

NB: I like collections inspired by cities or places or art sometimes, but it’s much more difficult not to be... I love that [literature] and I think that’s kind of interesting in terms of reference. When you start working with paintings, with shapes and definitions, it’s much more difficult to get out of it. Whereas text, it’s very visual and you can get all the designers and everybody really relying on the same vision, but yet they will all have their own interpretations. So I find it a great source of inspiration because…

AF: …it keeps things original.

NB: You can read a page of [an author] and they will not see exactly the same thing. The same designer on your team will have a different interpretation from the exact same description, so it keeps things much more open than if they look the painting, of course there will be an issue in a way of it being in the style of the painting.

Emerald and diamond shoulder dusters ...AF: Do you think that’s sort of your input on the company or has that been historical? Or is that you?

NB: That’s me.

AF: That’s awesome, that’s really very cool. I appreciate that very much, because then you don’t get derivative work. It’s original.

NB: You have two risks in the industry. One is to kind of disregard the heritage, which I don’t believe in at all. Sometimes it’s kind of tempting, because we’ve been doing the butterflies and flowers for a hundred and something years – so let’s do skulls. You know, we’ve done roses, so let’s do roses with thorns. That’s not at all what we’re expected to do. This is not what we know how to do. Some of the lapiers have tried that, and… There is an issue with that…

... the pièce de résistance. Emerald and diamond earring and necklace set by Van Cleef & Arpels.NB: There is then, too, to just reproduce what was done in the past. If you have this amazing piece from 1962, this amazing piece from 1930s, let’s keep the tradition alive. Sometimes it’s so much of a preservative craft, making sure that traditional crafts are really maintained. But if you do everything the same as it was a hundred years ago, then you just lose the creativity because all the things aren’t as relevant in exactly the same ways as 80 years. Because the world is changing and different. And you don’t add anything and are just emptying the archive. That’s very much the idea, to find this very iconic inspiration, but then different interpretations.

AF: So, one more thing: the archive. I know all of the pieces are singular, or most of them.  But do you have drawings or illustrations of all of the pieces. You have a substantial archive, I would imagine.

NB: Yes, we have two actually, one in Paris and one in New York, which are different.

AF: And do those pieces get loaned out for things, or do they ever go on display? I know there was an exhibit.

NB: You mean the archive?

AF: Or the pieces, maybe there’s a special moment, maybe one of your spokeswomen needs to wear a piece to an event. Does she get to wear something from the archive or does it sort of stay in the archive?

Yes, we love you Van Cleef & Arpels.NB: We have two archives. The drawings and production books, which is one archive. Then we have a private museum, which is not a location but a private collection of about 400 pieces iconic from different periods and different styles. So, a bit like the heritage collection, but this is a collection that we don’t sell. So for instance the exhibit that was organized [at museums] in September. They ask us to select from our collections some pieces that they went to show. Then they go to private museums or private owners for some pieces. From Paris or New York, which is about 450 pieces, from all one collection. They do have some access to jewelry collections, and so those pieces are lent for this exhibition. And then sometimes we do loan museum pieces to some celebrities. There is a diamond tiara in the archives that was actually worn by Princess Grace for the wedding of her daughter. We loaned it to Julia Roberts.


Lolla Style

We took 2,000 photos at Lolla this year. Here, our favorite style snaps: DSC_0033

The cuteness of Tennis' Alaina -- she's from the school of American Apparel. Dov, you must be delighted.


Taylor Momsen was lots of fun, scowl and all. She "did NOT get fired" from GG, y'all.

From her archive of vintage Heatherette, rockin' blue is the manager of the Drums. Wish we had re-styled her band ...


Lolla love, Chicago-style, via a molecular biologist and her band beau.


Tall drink in Forever21, head-to-toe. This is not something we condone but here, bien sur, mais ouis.


Nathalie is an aspiring actress from LA: excellent look on her.


We liked him and his Jay style.


The reigning mamacita of Grouplove, Hannah Hooper, and her four boys:


the fantastic brooder, Mr. Sean Gadd ...


the awesomerocket of schlub, Ryan Rabin ...

the cold quiet dreaminess of Mr.Christian Zucconi ...


 ... and ...


Now, for the up close and personal portion of this post:


grrr ... hark


rock & roil


bunny maus



A few more. First ...


our favorite Torontoans, the lady presenters of Much Music


a little rockin' bb


the adoration of Lykke Li






The Kills



See also: our Lolla coverage on refinery29.


We made a new friend the day Lynnette came to The Haute Closet to play dress up and ask us a few questions ... get into it, here.

So Pro

The ponytails on the first two models are pure luxury. Gaga smoking like an enfant terrible ... priceless. The one who stumbles, love. This is an incredible mashup of fashion and music. The blue! The black! The white! The nude! The attitude! What a space. The leopard. Alek Wek! "Don't be a drag/just be a queen." Truer words! Stam! Salvation. This is like a line in the sand. Thrown down! Thierry's geometry has always been forward but this is perfection. Sliced and diced. LOOK AT THE CONTROL WITH WHICH GAGA NAVIGATES THOSE PLATFORMS.

BRA-VO. Salivation. It happens.

Be ... Listless

So this was flinging around my Twitterverse last week:

Gotta hand it to the creators of Matchbook mag, a new online publication ... they know who they are. And they have made a serious effort making this online-only, ad-space-selling traditionally designed mag come to life.

But now about who you are: If this is your gist, keep with it. But if you have a personality that isn't that of a Stepford Wife, listen up:

There is no magic prescription for a well-dressed life. However, there is The Haute Closet.

Anyway, I do read everything. And take something away from everything I read. So, let's go through this list one-by-one, shall we?

Actually, let's not. In one glance we can surmise that this list is exclusively for the East Coast prep who has a family house in Nantucket and no interest in sequins. It is so ... buttoned up.

Want to have crazy sex? No one will suspect a thing if this is what you're rocking! Perhaps this is a list for the perfect Rules-endorsed disguise kit? OHMIGOD WE HATE THIS LIST. Show us what's new and fresh, not what is languishing in an Eastern seaboard shop! Although we can get into the Matchbook aesthetic (we like their mag and tumblr), just in doses)

But let's step away from the hate and make it fun for all of us.

Here's our must-have 50-piece list for the regular 20something American gal:

Or just chuck it, rock what you've got, and keep on doing what you love. It's all about buying - and wearing with conviction - what you love. And that's the only prescription for sartorial satisfaction.

Heart Thumping Vavoom Pinup Posing

MG_0150AprilFrancis721Chicago Magazine contacted us to host a party and pose for a set of pinup shots with Chicago's pinup poster girl, Heather Stumpf of Vavoom Pinups.

We have worked with a lot of photographers and we have to say Heather is a dynamo! We arrived, were transformed by her team of talented hair and makeup people and jumped into the set! But first we had the pleasure of picking out our wardrobe from her racks of clothing and shelves upon shelves of pinup girl props!

MG_0240AprilFrancis721... and when we say Heather is an ace photographer, each of these was gotten from only one or two clicks of her camera before we moved on to a new prop or outfit. Efficiency on a photoshoot? Viva la Vavoom!

We highly recommend your booking some time to get your own Vavoom shots done: who doesn't want shots like these to be saved for posterity?


Lolla Reloaded

Alright darlings, you've waited long enough. Real style at Lollapalooza was hard to come by. We were absolutely lost in a sea of uninspired trends, i.e. Keds Keds Keds!, crop tops, neon and, above all, general slovenliness. But backstage there was a ton of good stuff going on. Check out our favorite girls from the fest - the Australian DJ duo known as NERVO - to the right and loads more of our Lolla style coverage on Lucky Online herehere, here and here. Also, be sure to check out what the musicians were wearing and saying in our refinery29 post. Plus - don't miss this this video from lastnightsparty: an instant hit and exactly the energy you missed if you weren't at the fest. And, of course, Chicago's Darkroom Demons - they've got the pics from all the parties! We will definitley be back again next year (it is, after all, our favorite weekend in Chicago - you're familiar with our Haute Tunes, no?) to capture those who truly make this the fest. Here are some of the best looks from Lollapalooza 2010:


We are going to turn this, our favorite festival, upside down.

Corresponding for Lucky, we're going to be staking out the best festival looks, talking to your favorite performers and attending all the best parties.

We've featured quite a few of the Lolla artists on our THC in Your Head mixes and we can't wait to get their take on style.

SO: What are you going to wear?

See you there.

Fix Me, Please

Zippers, shoes, pants ... things break. Don't be ashamed. If it's not something cheap (as in super low quality, and if it is, scrap it, you should be ashamed) you ought to get it fixed. Maybe it's not so fun to take it in, but it is fun when you get it back. And it will be as good as new or better if you take it to one of our favorite apparel specialists. If you need something doctored, take it here: For SHOE REPAIR/LEATHER REPAIR Joseph's Shoe Clinic 6173 N Lincoln - (773) 478-3228

Sandburg Shoe Repair & Leather Crafters 115 W. North Ave - (312) 266-8966

For EVERYDAY CLEANING to TOUGH SMELLS/STAINS Gibson Couture Cleaners 3447 N Southport Ave - (773) 248-0937

Davis Imperial Cleaners 3325 West Bryn Mawr - (773) 267-4560

For EXPERT TAILORING Golden Needle (female tailor) 814 N State St - (312) 787-3416

Boguslaw (male tailor) 65 E Oak - (312) 640-1521

For FUR/LEATHER CLEANING Davis Imperial Cleaners 3325 West Bryn Mawr - (773) 267-4560

For REWEAVING Without a Trace 100 E Walton St - (312) 787-9922

Sharon Brunsher

Of course, everywhere we go we seek out boutiques. It's our main sport! When in Tel Aviv, we were floored by one in particular: Sharon Brunsher. A mini-empire with three lush, luscious stores filled to the brim with the designer's all-Israeli made goods, we live for their basics, especially their pants and bodysuits, and their INCREDIBLE line of linens for beds and lounging. They asked us if we wanted to play in the store and get photographer while doing it ... how could we NOT pass this up?!

So much fun and so comfortable. If you are ever in Tel Aviv, make sure to stop into one of their three stores ... and we hear they will be expanding to NYC in the near future! Stay tuned!

Nena Ivon: Retail Icon

If someone were to play her in a movie, she would be Meryl Streep. She teaches at Columbia. She’s a big supporter of Chicago theater. Red wine is her drink. And she is Saks Fifth Avenue’s most storied employee. 53 years of folding sweaters, trips to Paris and staging fashion shows.

We ask her a few questions over drinks and eel terrine at Boka:

If she wasn’t a retail legend: “I would have been an Egyptologist.”

On a good wardrobe stylist: “It’s like being a decorator. If I would have a decorator doing my home I would want them to say, ok, your apartment is you, how can we make this more you? I want it to be mine.”

On her apartment: “My apartment looks like a gypsy caravan – king of the gypsies as you understand – very layered, very eclectic, layer upon layer upon layer – literally. It doesn't interest me if no one else likes it.”

On customer service: “It’s clicking – that’s the hard part – getting the trust level.”

On retirement: “I walk by the store and think shouldn’t I be upset? Shouldn’t I have some kind of pain? But not in the least. It was time to leave.”

On style: “Style is of the moment. Something at a certain time, in a certain place, with a certain person and how they handle that. Confidence, elegance, and assuredness is what makes a person memorable. Style is fleeting. Fashion is very definitely fleeting.”

A Nenaism: “When one loses one’s femininity, one loses everything.”

On all of the attention following her exit: “I didn’t ask for any of this. And if I had, I wouldn’t have gotten any of it.”

You would be a great guest judge on Project Runway.

“I want a pop-up book.”

With Angels

Alexander McQueen

As one of the many mourning the untimely passing of designer Lee McQueen, we can celebrate what will surely be an enduring legacy in fashion, art and the myriad stories recounting the unique way he moved through his life.

The last time I was in LA, I went shopping. Obviously. But I walked out of a boutique without taking home a gorgeous gold leather belt with McQueen's stamp and signature skull to adorn it.

But it stayed with me! Dreamt about it that night. And directed my taxi driver to return to the boutique on the way to the airport so that I could pick it up and take it home.

A certain astrologer says "lacking any significant earthy placements and dominated by water ... [McQueen] wasn’t really ever on the Earth plane fully."

Whether that is true or not, the above image says, very clearly, angel with wings.

And speaking to LOVE before he took his life, he said "I want this to be a company that lives way beyond me ... hopefully this house will still be going. On a spaceship. Hopping up and down above the earth."

Of this last collection, you could rightfully say he was inspired by the divine.

Long live McQueen.

Here: Ingrid Sischy on McQueen Here: Cathedral by Raymond Carver

The Cream of Your Closet

Seven Ensembles that Speak the Haute At THC we like to give it to you straight. And the only way to do that is by giving you basic info you can run with or getting us into your closet so we can detail exactly what's what when it comes to your wardrobe.

That said, here's the cream on the looks you've got to have:

An Event LBD or Killer Tux: Because you absolutely must have this ammunition in your arsenal.

A Knock 'em Out Interview Outfit: Because your resume is only as good as your attitude.

The Office to Cocktails Ensemble: Because work to fun means layering and a subsequent stripping down.

Your Casual Weekend Look: Because looking great and being comfortable is more than possible. We promise.

The Dress Up Date: Because regardless of age, you need to be able to amp up the sex appeal, male or female.

Your Sport Wardrobe: Because well-being necessitates working out, getting fit is better with good gear.

A Sleep Suite: Because there's nothing more haute than nighttime clothes and underthings that turn you on.

And there you have it. So, now what? Go play in your closet!

If you need help pulling these essentials together from what you've got, let us know and we'll answer your questions and/or get you a Haute Closet.

NOTE WELL: The most important part of this equation is the ingredients. Like cooking, if you want the best meal, you've got to use the best ingredients. Every piece - from your LBD to your underthings - should be 1. Unique 2. Elegant and 3. Economical. In translation, that adds up to every piece - from your trench coat to your date skirt - being something you absolutely love, something that looks extraordinary on you and the very best you can afford. All ofthat will add up to a Haute Closet, a perfectly wearable wardrobe.

Illustration via Laura Laine

THC in ‘Where’s Yvie?’

Spreading the Haute Coast to Coast


We've always been a huge fan of Hejfina. And ShopNastyGal. And Refinery29, a site we fell in love with way back when.

So, when Piera came calling from Refinery29 we were there to do whatever we could to help her out on her adventure in the Windy City. When told to meet at Reckless Records - a spot close to our heart - we fell in love. And when asked to wear a most precious purple vintage YSL jacket, the most charmingly named Yvie, we fell deeply in love.

A huge thank you to Christene and Piera, YSL and Parisienne for inviting us to share the love.

Check out all the fab ladies Yvie met on her tour to search out and spread the message of Parisienne in the great USA (don't miss, she did it drippingly well, darlings) here. And where did we tell Yvie and the ladies to go while in Chicago? Robin RichmanChalk, and Ikram, of course.

And lastly, as we were particularly excited about meeting Yvie at Reckless Records - there's nothing we love more than a music + fashion fusion - we'll clue you in to our dream affair. Check out Home by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and fall in love. Then come back for more when we press THC in Your Head Vol 7. X

photo via