T Gardens: The Japanese Hair Salon in The Big Apple

T Gardens is a hair and nail salon in Midtown East, New York City. The dark interior is similar to that of a sake or sushi spot, but it is definitely a salon, once one sees styling stations and hair care products. The Japanese/Asian stylists who work there are dedicated to their craft and try to make the hair care experience as convenient and relaxing as possible. My stylist, Min, originally born in South Korea and educated in Japan, made the trip worthwhile. She showed me style images on her cell phone, of styles and we discussed the nature of my hair length, layering, color and texture. The phone brought up images of looks and I chose a straighter, yet, blow dried wave with a trim. Asians have naturally straight hair and often choose a digital perm. Not all customers are of Asian descent, so they have experience with other hair types. My hair is wavy and I wanted a look that was easy to blow dry. Min spoke of her experiences in Japan and mentioned that many Asians get lighter brown, red tones, or blond highlights to accentuate their black hair tone. The hair salon business is competitive, especially in a cosmopolitan city such as NY, yet T Gardens strives to be on top of hair care trends. The new nail design area, by Tomoko, takes care of nail care and focuses on design with patterns, gel and decals.


Le District; A NYC Spot with a French Riviera Feel

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Le District/ Liberty Bistro is a downtown cafe, wine bar, market and group of restaurants which face North Cove Marina. It is nice in the summer because you have a Hudson River view while tasting; moules frites, croissants, a glass of rosé, or an entree of French fare. On weekends, outdoor tables and a DJ are like a French fête. Inside, Le District is an upscale market where one can buy fromage, café, patisserie, crepes, macarons and products which have been imported from France. Le Beaubourg is a restaurant with an extensive wine and champagne list, poisson, melted fondue with a plate of bread or their classic onion soup. L’ Appart, the exclusive restaurant where a reservation is needed for an event dinner or formal affair. There is a wine bar, classes and an area for food. The boat slips, view of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, Battery Park promenade and a tune by Vanessa Paradis or Carla Bruni Sarkosy, makes you feel like you are at Nikki Beach in Cannes. Whether you choose to sip on Veueve Cliquot, vin de Cote d’Azur or an Alain Milliat blackberry juice, one can shop at Brookfield Place and relax by yachts which ripple on the water.

The Avatar of Feminist and Fashion Pop Art: Ashley Longshore

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Ashley Longshore was born in Montgomery, Alabama. She is the daughter of an ad salesman and studied ballet, jazz, voice and piano as a child. She majored in English Literature at the University of Montana. Longshore is self taught and decided to take her painting, sculpture, and design talent and opened a studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans. She developed a following on Instagram, but not liking the way one pays galleries to show work, she took an alternative route. Not a Gallery Girl, for anyone who watched the reality show. Ashley decided to move to NYC and made her debut with “Sugar Face” which was shown at Boîte à Epice in Chelsea, NY.. downtown. The area where street murals and graffiti art is de rigeur. One revels in walls showing street life, pop icons and history. The NY Times has dubbed her, the feminist Andy Warhol.

By 2011, Longshore had made her entrance into the art world scene. She did a series of paintings entitled: “Greed, Money and Status”. There is a painting of Gordon Gekko, the character played by Micheal Douglas in the movie; Wall Street. A painting of the hungry real estate agents in Chicago, the play by Glengarry Glenross. Ashley Longshore designed a chair which was stuffed with $500,000 of symbolic money. Chairs are another piece of work she is known for creating. She designs contemporary armchairs with painted trims in bright colors and velvet fabrics with images such as;  Frida Kahlo on the back. Longshore did a series, Fashionably Late. As well as a collaboration for French fashion company, Chloe, which was at Art Basel in Miami. Maybelline cosmetics had her paint graphic designs for a lipstick tube collection. Blake Lively, Penelope Cruz and other celebs buy her works. Blake Lively and Ashley Longshore worked on design for Lively’s Preserve site about southern life. Blake Lively collects many of her paintings and features them on her own Instagram. In 2011, Longshore provided fabric prints for a Project Runway, Season 18, contest. The contestant who used a butterfly print pattern, won. She later appeared as a Runway judge. Longshore has been featured in; Elle Decor, Forbes, Marie Claire Belgium, SPUR and Vogue. Ashley likes sparkles and glitter and uses these elements. She worked with bag designer Judith Leiber on an AL X JL sparkly 14,000  crystal bag collaboration. One of her well known slogans; ” I do not cook, I do not clean and I do not fly commercial”. A lot of the work is painting, but sculptures of gold bars and cake designs with inscriptions saying; “Can I Puke On Your Birkin”are  popular. She plays on commercialism and fashion as a way of expression. She is even featured in the 2011 film: Twilight Breakdown.

Longshore is the first female artist to have her work on display at Bergdorf Goodman’s. Homeware, scarves, pillows, paintings and furniture are all creations in which she prides herself. Longshore has written two books, one; My Rizzoli Coffee Table Book and You Do Not Look Fat, You Look Crazy. Soho, The Hampton’s and Palm Beach fashion boutiques, Kirna Zabete, had 20 of Longshore’s pieces for Christmas called: Jingle My Bells. During International Women’s Month, in February, 2019, Longshore had paintings of female figures at Diane Von Fustenberg’s flagship store gallery. Some of the paintings are; Maya Angelou, Audery Hepburn, Greta Thurnberg, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Diane Von Furstenberg, Princess Diana, Gloria Steinem, Malala Yousfei and Marlene Dietrich. These portraits gave DVF’s #InCharge and Be The Woman You Want to Be, a visual perspective on influential females, She is going to have an upcoming painted butterfly display at  Brookfield Place’s Art Exhibition which will show the beauty of nature in troubling times. The AL Charitable Foundation provides three scholarships for young artists, one in memory of photographer, Alix Martinex, one in memory of Patrick B. Hale, a theatrical performer, and a third for a female artist who is underrepresented as a minority or is from a vulnerable community. Longshore has a non profit with Miley Cyrus called The Happy Hippie. It auctions off work from artists in the LGBT, youth and homeless populations. Ashley Longshore is on the go, following her passions and creative drive.

Fashion: East Versus West

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Monica Vinader: Jewelry with Symbolism and Exotic Travels

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Monica Vinader is a jewelry brand creating a sensation in capital cities around the world. Monica Vinader, started her jewelry business in 2002 with headquarters in London and a factory in Norwalk, England. She was born in San Sebastian, Spain and has used her travels and business experience to create a unique line of earrings, necklaces, pendants and bracelets. The line uses sterling silver and gold vermeil as well as colorful semi precious stones; quartz, moonstone, onyx and agate. The colors represent birthstones and characteristics such as; loyalty and love. The lines have names such as; The Riva, which has wavy lines and stones symbolic of the Riviera with water images. The Nura Collection uses pave diamonds and gold/silver with small circles, symbolic of pebbles she has collected from Mallorca and coral reef designs. The Havana, Alphabet, The Fiji and Siren Coins are other looks Vinader carries. There is a current collaboration with Caroline Issa; Monica Vinader X Caroline Issa . This will be featured with an appearance at the new NYC Nordstrom as well as a meeting with the Museum of Arts and Design. Caroline Issa is a British style icon with Iranian and Iraqi heritage. She organizes London Fashion Week and established Trunk Magazine. One can find Vinader boutiques in places such as; Soho, NY, Madison Avenue, Canary Wharf in London and Hong Kong. Nordstrom’s in California and NY also carry selections. Customers can choose charms and stones to attach to a variety of link bracelets and necklaces. The bohemian chic and modern design highlight the brand’s positioning. There is a popular friendship bracelet collection and personal engraving. Vinader started the business while living in Patagonia and Mexico with her husband while running a fishing business. Her background and training in jewelry design was completed in England. Some proceeds from Vinader’s collection go to Women to Women International, a non profit charity. Monica Vinader is an up and coming fashionista and her jewelry is reasonably priced yet stylish. Fashion icon, Kate Middleton favors the green onyx earrings and Bella Hadid wears the collection as well. In a market saturated with high end couture pieces, vintage and fashion designers, Vinader’s line is an excellent choice for the “modern woman” who can purchase her own jewelry. Monica Vinader’s travels give the jewelry line a competitive edge, plus there is a five year warrantee if pieces are in need of repair.