Happy Monday!

Hope everyone had a great weekend! This happened when my friend Jess James and I showed up at brunch wearing the exact same pants on Saturday. We decided to recreate the little “twinsies” emoticon in the middle of downtown Charleston:

Also, I attended the annual Red Party at The American College of The Building Arts.  This would be my second Gatsby themed event in the last two months, but this one I went for a more of a wintery flapper look, with the fox fur shrug I wore in my wedding, a black wig and a custom headpiece designed by Jan a milliner and owner  of AMuse, a little gem of a shop in Wilmington, NC:

My friend Lindsay lent me one of her fabulous CHANEL cocktail rings for the occasion as seen in this flapper selfie with my friend Stella.  It was my truly my glass slipper, because just before the clock struck midnight, a prince appeared while we were out downtown after the party and even took a photo with Lindsay and I!

Bill Murray was such a gentleman and I was a bit persistent about getting this shot (he looks so thrilled) so THANK YOU BILL!  You made our night : )  The Red Party is an Annual event and a fundraiser for The College, housed in an old jail in downtown Charleston.  It is one of the best events of the year, and always just before Halloween, so keep it on your Charleston radar for Fall 2014!

Behind The Scenes: Chatting With Chief Trunk

Last time I was in New York I traveled with this new and rather sophisticated duffel bag – The Weekender from Chief Trunk.  Normally, I’m pushing around my beat up rolling suitcase from our wedding registry over six years ago.  This is a real upgrade and I could sense the luggage envy projected at me while passing through airport security.

My new bag also got lots of love on instagram so I thought I’d feature a bit more about “The Chief,” as it was once called, on our blog.  The founder, Konrad Duchek, is a friend of mine.  We actually met in Charleston about three years ago where we worked together for a time.  He had just come from CHANEL and with luxury on the mind he shared his vision with me of a project he hoped to launch one day – reviving a defunct line of American luxury travel bags. Just a few weeks ago, I sat down with him again, this time in Chief Trunk’s new New York headquarters, surrounded by samples and his first complete collection– Chief Trunk has arrived. From the moment I saw the reimagined designs and the vintage inspiration they sprang from, I was in love with the signature burgundy and yellow stripe.  Konrad and his business partner Michael Sambrano’s bags have already been featured on Vogue, Esquire, end even spotted in the well curated collections of bloggers like the Man Repeller and The Editorialist.  Where to go from here?  All over, it turns out.  Konrad shared his thoughts with me on “the American good life” the history of Chief Trunk and some of his own travel tips.

Konrad and the new Chief Trunk Weekender, the signature striped canvas

Where did you first come across one of the original Oshkosh trunks  with the signature stripes (above) from The Chief line?

My parents picked up two of the early suitcases in the early 60’s not knowing the history exactly but probably just because they liked the design.  By the time my sister and I came along in the 70’s we had a lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and when the suitcases came out it was a sign that the family road trip was commencing.  A five, sometimes nine hour trip to the lake (if the traffic was bad) as a little kid is an eternity, so I became very familiar with the two suitcases.  Later on, working at CHANEL I was at one of the Parisian flea markets, perusing one of the luxury vintage luggage dealers and in the corner I spotted one of the Oshkosh Chief steamer trunks with the signature yellow and red stripes. I kind of went “Wait, I know what that is…”  I didn’t know much about the brand or that they’d even carried trunks, but having had this personal connection to it, a bit of a research project commenced.  I turned out that Oshkosh was essentially the American Louis Vuitton in the sense that it was a true luxury travel line.  Oskosh trunks and luggage were sold around the world and the brand (Oshkosh) died out in 1962 and was sort of forgotten about.  Well, until now.

an original Oshkosh advertisement

And the significance of the stripe?

The area where Oskosh manufactured was about three hours north of Chicago.  This canvas (with the stripes) was old stock used for diplomatic pouches in the territories that Spain controlled in the US going back to the 1800’s – these are the colors of the Spanish flag.  After they lost the Spanish American war, the Spanish were effectively kicked out of the US and the mill the canvas was produced in, also a few hours North of Chicago, sold off the extra yardage to the Oshkosh Trunk Company.  Oshkosh used it on their luggage but painted over it with solid black, grey, green, what have you… But then, one of the buyers from Marshall Fields came who was on a factory visit spotted the raw, unpainted striped canvas and specifically requested that Oshkosh send him trunks with that design because he liked it so much.  It was a total accident but it went on to become their best selling line. Oskosh is actually named after Chief Oshkosh, one of the areas Indian tribes and the the line striped line was dubbed simply “The Chief.”  It’s what the company became known for – it’s a distinctive pattern and color combination– one that you don’t see a lot.  Except for in the Spanish flag of course.

So you’re obviously not working out of their old factory since that closed down in the 60s.  Where is this new generation of Chief Trunk bags being made?

We are manufacturing out of the Brooklyn Naval Yard.  I mean there’s no way to be an American Heritage brand and be making it in Southeast Asia, right?

What does the Chief Trunk lifestyle embody today?

We like to look at ourselves as American luxury – that is the lifestlyle that evolves from the American good life.  Something to be used, enjoyed and experienced.  Something to get dirty on journeys, jaunts and gatherings.  Going to your vacation home in Charleston, South Carolina for example, Litchfield, Connecticut or Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.  We want to what the brand would be today if Oskkosh had existed for the last 50 years. That is to say, a sophisticated travel companion, one that represents adventure and the anticipation of things to come.

Along those lines, who is the  “ideal” Chief client (fictional or not, alive or otherwise!)

The entire Ocean’s 11 cast – either one really… the orignal or the remake.  They don’t take themselves too seriously but everyone just looks so nice all the time.  That classic, fun glamour.

What are your favorite travel destinations – international, within the US and a weekend getaway (being that you live in New York City)?

The international would have to be Jamaica.  Some of my wife’s (now my) family is from there. Jamaica’s awesome. We got married in Half Moon, the sort of old school colonial British area.  We’ve been down to Jake’s in Treasure Beach which is sort of a luxurious Jamaica camp.  The food is fantastic, it all feels very old school and it was done so well.  Of course I love Scotchy’s which has two locations, does all the food with the classic jerk sauce… so good.

Within the US, I do have an affinity for my old home, Charleston which has both the on-the-beach and city, old world/new world all going on.  It is kind of the antithesis of New York but also that’s why it’s so great.

Locally, a weekend getaway there is of course Wolfeboro New Hampshire – the lake I grew up going to – as well as the Washington Depot area of Connecticut – anywhere Litchfield county.  Even being just two hours outside the city, you feel like you are in a different world.

What are three things you can’t travel without throwing into your weekender?

Probably my ipad.  And some Bourbon for when the ipad gets boring.  And my Hickey Sweater.  Hickey is a defunct brand – it used to be the younger version of Hickey Freeman – very classic Americana but with a slim cut.  US men’s brands tend to be cut terribly – like you definitely don’t need a suit that’s purposely cut to look like a sack.

Best and worst travel experiences?

The quick joke would be Vegas.  For both.  All the same trip.  But really, actually Chicago is another great city I’ve loved visiting.  It gets overlooked but the architecture’s fantastic, the food’s great and there is a nice transition from downtown to suburbia without the sprawl, the art world is great and it’s very user friendly.

We all have a vegas story…

Konrad heading out on a day trip into the wilds of NYC, his vintage Jamaica travel poster
(I can attest to the fact that the Chief Trunk weekender is also very user friendly, having put it to the test with about 40 lbs. of jewelry flown to and from New York.)  I love the details, the sturdiness and most of all, the look of the stripes.  Follow along with the new generation of Chief Trunk bags – as more styles and designs evolve from a well-loved American Classic – you can never have too much glamour or too much adventure.

Sweet Sounds

Hope everyone had a good weekend!  I tried something new this past Friday – I DJ’d for the first time!  My husband is a DJ and has all the necessary equipment to help me not look like a total novice.  He gave me a few crash courses and I provided the music and my friend Anne’s new contemporary art gallery opening in downtown Charleston – The George Gallery at 50 Bogard Street.  (Check it out, it’s fabulous). I got to wear my Gatsby blouse again, a little bit of a different take.  It goes well with these earrings:

She had a great turnout which made me nervous but it was also crowded enough that no one could hear my first time mistakes, like playing the same song twice in a row.  Maybe I’ll start posting some of my own mixes on here.

Congrats on a successful opening night Anne!


Get Your Gatsby On

In the spirit of Halloween and getting dressed up I thought I’d share a few photos of The Great Gatsby Gala I attended last month in Wilmington, NC – another charming Southern coastal town where Dawson’s Creek was filmed.  My friend Jess James hosts the fab Gala at Wilmington’s Historic Downtown City Club every September.  This is my second year in attendance and it was even better than the first!  Here’s a shot of myself and the hostess at the entrance hiding behind our 1920’s perfume fans (Image via Style Girl):

I decided to don a black flapper wig for the party for a change and I have to say, I think it totally worked with the lighter outfit and my genuine 1920’s jewelry and black sparkly purse.  Short hair is so liberating – I just wish my curls would tolerate it in real life.  My outfit itself was also vintage – probably 80’s but very 20’s in feel.  I got it at one of my favorite Wilmington vintage spots – A Second Time Around.  Shoes from Zara:

This year, I had a date for the evening, my husband John (last year it was just a girl’s night out).  I helped him pick out his outfit and we had a great dinner and pre-dinner cocktails (& coffee, much needed after a long drive!) at a Wilmington gem Manna – with hands down the BEST mixologist in the area!

It was one of those perfect Southern fall evenings, with just a hint of chill in the air.  The light was beautiful and Jess did a fantastic job bedecking The City Club.  All of the guests really got into the 1920’s spirit and came dressed to the nines.  I love a theme party where people really respect the theme – it makes it so much more fun!

Jess even had some models she styled walking around looking the part, like this perfect Daisy, played by Adrienne who is wearing a handmade headpiece from Amuse Artisanal Finery, another great local Wilmington shop.  (Image via Style Girl):

If you need more inspiration, check out Jess’s full gallery of photos from the Wilmington Gatsby Gala here.  And if you live in the Charleston Area and need to scratch your own Gatsby itch, get tickets to The Annual Red Party at The American College of The Building Arts – a great fundraiser and a fabulous party on Friday, October 25th – guess what this year’s theme is?

We Heart You NYC

I just got back from a whirlwind five days in NYC, hosting a four day trunk show at Henri Bendel in their jewelry department and also working on a new project that I think you guys are going to LOVE. It was great to see so many familiar faces at the trunk show and of course, great to be hosted by one of my favorite stores in New York:

Here’s a photo of our table.  Our name was a bit abbreviated on our table’s sign but nevertheless we got lots of compliments on our “Candy Shop”:

And in addition to jewelry, we were in good company with the book that inspired THIS New York style dinner party:

I tried to take a few breaks here and there to enjoy the city and catch up with friends, this guy being one of them:

And these girls with whom I attended my 15th(!!!) high school reunion:

But it all flew by way too quickly and the next thing I knew I was on the plane back to Charleston:

Check back on our blog next week to learn more about this fabulous striped luggage inspired by a vintage travel collection from the Oshkosh Trunk Company. Until next time NYC!