August 1, 2015 - Comments Off on Carol – Custom Couture Mother-of-the-Groom Dress

Carol – Custom Couture Mother-of-the-Groom Dress

Creating a couture garment is perhaps one of the most satisfying (in the thick of it) and rewarding (after the fact) activities. It's no walk in the park, however, and requires meticulous hand-work, continuous problem-solving, and extreme patience to get past the finish line. People often ask me about the pressure of working with such expensive and often irreplaceable materials, and catering to such demanding clients. Bottom line, you have to love it (or at least be well-compensated for it!). With any type of work that's so technique-oriented, it's the ability to apply intense focus, and to also walk away at intervals, that helps you navigate through the project. Having an incredibly skilled assistant named Aris also helps!

When my brother found his lady for life, I had the honor of making his beautiful wife's gown (blog post to come), the dress I wore (of course), a few rehearsal dinner ensembles, and also the dress my mom wore to the wedding as mother-of-the groom. My mom is a beautiful woman who takes amazing care of herself. She also works her ass off, yet always thinks first of her family and rarely treats herself to nice things. I could not have been happier to have the opportunity to create a custom, one-of-a-kind piece that made her look and feel like a million bucks (I wouldn't know exactly, but I guess that's a good feeling?)

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April 23, 2015 - Comments Off on Fashion Revolution: Who Made Your Clothes?

Fashion Revolution: Who Made Your Clothes?

We've come a long way when it comes to making transparency a priority in the fashion industry, whether that's focusing on ethical designs or dressing customers in sustainable materials. That being said, there's still a lot to be done in the journey to knowing exactly how clothes are made.

Two years ago today, the Rana Plaza factory complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, resulting in 1,133 people killed and over 2,500 injuries. What does this have to do with ethical fashion? Everything. The complex's structure was built to maintain shops and offices—not factory spaces. In addition to the original building, four more floors had been added without a permit to accommodate more production. The added manufacturing-related stress resulted in cracks throughout the building's framework, of which employers in the building were warned. The next day, the structural cracks caused the building the collapse.

It's unsafe work environments like this that have plagued the fashion industry for centuries. Since the accident, April 24th has been deemed Fashion Revolution Day—24 hours dedicated to keeping brands honest about their manufacturing processes.

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April 9, 2015 - Comments Off on Tips & Tricks: The Best Ways to Remove Stains

Tips & Tricks: The Best Ways to Remove Stains

StainsPhoto: Lara604 / Flickr

\There's nothing worse than slipping into your favorite dress and realizing there's a stain front-and-center, taking away from that head-turning look you were going for ten seconds earlier. Maybe we just like to be the bearer of good news, but we've got a few tips for that predicament. While it's always better to catch a stain as it happens or soon after, there are still things you can do once it's had more time to set. Nicole shares some of her tips for saving your clothes before a stain totally sets in.

"This is an essential thing you have to do: Treat it immediately. I think this is where a lot of people fall short. If you're at the dinner table and you just don't feel like dealing with it until later—you have to remove it as soon as you possibly can. You may not be able to get everything out, but if you can lift off some of the particles, do it. Run to the bathroom and use cold water and detergent if you can—hand soap or body wash will work, too, in a pinch. The longer it sits, the more it penetrates the fibers in the textile and the less likely you can get rid of it later. You may not want a big water spot on your clothes, but ultimately if you care about the longevity of the piece, it's an easy sacrifice. That's something my mom taught me from a young age."

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March 30, 2015 - Comments Off on Q&A: The Art of Tailoring, Passion, & The Importance of Quality with Joseph Genuardi

Q&A: The Art of Tailoring, Passion, & The Importance of Quality with Joseph Genuardi

Looking at Joseph Genuardi, you’d never expect the old soul that lurks within. He’s well-dressed with slicked-back hair, polite, and soft-spoken. What you won’t get at first glance is that he’s a trained master tailor with educators who had more than 75 years of experience, a five-month-old son who is well on his way to becoming a tailor himself, and the ability to make a mean suit. Joe is currently Head Tailor at Martin Greenfield Clothiers—a name well-known for hand-tailored mens clothing—amongst the best of the dressed.

Custom tailoring has quite the history, as do the most accomplished of tailors. But those accomplishments are more readily measured by the smiles of those fitted in a brand new custom suit than public recognition—and because of that, it may seem like the title of Master Tailor is slowly meeting its end. Joseph is living proof that the craft is alive and strong—and that everyone should get to know their local tailor (not only for their craft, but also the great stories they’re bound to have). We were first turned on to Joseph and his story at a viewing of “Men of the Cloth,” a documentary following a number of master tailors and their stories—Joseph’s weaving its way in, as well.

Nicole spent some time getting to know Joseph and the art of becoming a tailor. Get ready to be inspired!

Making a Career Change

Basting, one of the many stages in constructing a tailored suit

Joseph Genuardi: My undergraduate was in industrial design at Carnegie Mellon. I loved it, but late into my college term and early into my working career this idea popped into my head that it would be awesome to make suits.  I started doing some art direction—product design and graphic design—and I saw myself move toward clothing. I launched a graphic T-shirt line where I was designing the shirts and having them printed in Philly by a local silk screener. I would sell them in boutiques in the area and at art fairs. The tailoring idea came back to me, but much stronger than the first time around.

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March 26, 2015 - Comments Off on Press: Nicole Lenzen in WWD

Press: Nicole Lenzen in WWD

We woke up to a wonderful surprise the other day—a fantastic write-up in Women's Wear Daily on Bene Rialto including a shot of our Bubble Dress. If you haven't heard, Bene Rialto is a multi-level marketplace changing the way we physically shop by blending a "retail experience with a showroom format," to borrow a few words from David Moin's WWD write-up. And not only can you shop, there are also special events held amid the floors of designers goods and on the top floor, which was designed to be a meeting place of sorts complete with artwork and ambiance.

9eRhUYsxVXA34RlJfUHPxo1XBe6MCwqlhaUSB3iixs8 Read more

March 24, 2015 - Comments Off on First Impressions: What to Wear to an Interview

First Impressions: What to Wear to an Interview

If there's one thing you want to last forever, it's a good first impression. Even more so now than ever, that first impression might happen far before that welcome handshake. With social media and Google searches leading people right into your digital world, it's important to put your best foot forward all of the time—and make sure to reiterate those positive vibes at the first meeting. Research has shown that you've got somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes to make an in-person impression on someone. So what can you possibly wear to show off your best of the best in an interview where two minutes could very well make or break you? Simple—don't think about it too hard.

There are the obvious no-nos (a considerable décolletage, visible panty lines), but there are a few simple rules to live by when it comes to meeting a potential future employer while still staying true to your style. Read on for Nicole Lenzen's tips, and go take control of that interview:

Kindness Looks Good on Everyone

"I saw something on Twitter recently... there was a subway confrontation where someone was blocking someone else from getting in the car. One of them ended up using some strong words against the other. They ended up at the same office space, one to interview the other. There was this whole thread of people sharing similar 'road rage' experiences. It's total karma. Leave yourself enough time to get there without worrying about angsty commutes. Be nice to everyone on your way—the person in the coffee shop, on the subway platform, in the car next to yours—because you never know."

Be Comfortable

"I think where a lot of people go wrong is that they trying to impress or make a statement. What you really want is for your clothes to be more neutral—you want to be the focus in an interview, not your outfit. Style level obviously depends on the nature of your interview. If you're not meeting with someone like Anna Wintour, you don't have to wear the latest Prada piece. (We've all seen the movie.) If you're not trying to interview for a specific fashion, editorial, or creative director position, the most important thing is being comfortable. What that really means is wearing something that's the perfect balance of 'conceal and reveal.' It's something you don't have to adjust or think twice about, something you feel your best in."

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March 11, 2015 - Comments Off on Round-Up: 7 Umbrella Designs That Will Get You Excited About Rainy Days

Round-Up: 7 Umbrella Designs That Will Get You Excited About Rainy Days

You're hearing it everywhere: "Spring has sprung!" And it's true, but in its first glorifying days, we all seem to forget that although winter's snow is on its way out (fingers crossed), there's another bit of weather we have to prepare for: Spring Showers. Reward yourself for all of that spring cleaning with another seasonal essential: an umbrella.

Not-so-fun fact: If you took all of the improperly discarded umbrellas accumulated around the world over one year, we'd have 25 Eiffel Towers on our hands. So maybe it's time to invest in an umbrella you won't mind looking at for the next 10 rainy seasons. Need somewhere to start? Read on and check out our top seven picks.

For the Art Lover: Frank Lloyd Wright's "Waterlilies" / MoMA
Photo cred: MoMA Store

Photo cred: MoMA Store

If you're looking to nestle yourself underneath a work of art, this umbrella from the MoMA collection is just for you. Just think of how nice this would look from underneath just as the sun starts to poke back out from the clouds.

Feminine Flair: Pagoda / Bella Umbrella
Photo cred: Bella Umbrella

Photo cred: Bella Umbrella

Sometimes an eye-catching shape can say a lot more than color or pattern. The Pagoda Umbrella from Bella Umbrella has an unusual bell silhouette that will make you feel footloose and fancy free even on the most dreary of days. Seriously—this one is channeling some vintage Mary Poppins.

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February 27, 2015 - Comments Off on Shopping Guide: Where To Shop in NYC

Shopping Guide: Where To Shop in NYC

Pro Tip: Avoid this scene at all costs // Photo by Joey Lax-Salinas on Flickr

Shopping in New York City can be a lot of things, but the first word that comes to mind is "overwhelming." If dodging camera-toting tourists, waiting in fitting room lines long enough to make it through your entire Instagram feed, and battling techno music-induced headaches (down with the trendy department store DJs), this round-up is for you.

It can be tough to pull out the gems among the "quantity over quality" global retailers that seem to be on every corner of the city. Nicole Lenzen (who confesses to not really enjoy shopping in most cases) has a few go-to spots for low-key browsing of timeless wardrobe essentials and quality designs that will last for years to come—if you give them the care they need. Give our NYC shopping guide a read and start planning that buying spree.

Clothes: Eva Gentry Consignment

If you couldn't tell, we're really into the idea of clothes having a story behind them. Eva Gentry does consignment like no one else. All of the pieces comes from tried-and-true names (think McQueen, Margiela, Band of Outsiders, Helmut Lang, Proenza Schouler) guaranteeing that you're going home with a piece that's sure to impress.

Nicole's recommendation: Eva Gentry definitely has a knack for retail buying. I came across her stores in Boerum Hill by first wandering into her high-fashion boutique (killer avant-garde aesthetic leaning very Antwerp-Six). Then I discovered her consignment shop down the street (which now appears to be her sole business focus), with an amazing collection of designer pieces in impeccable condition, across a wider style spectrum.

371 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Clothes: Kaight

Photo: Kaight's Facebook page

Stop into Kaight for a taste of Brooklyn designers, and stories behind the brands. All of the pieces in the store (womenswear, accessories, and gifts) are made sustainability and/or are locally produced. The shop was recently named Best NYC Sustainable Fashion Boutique by Ecocult.

Nicole's Recommendation:  Kate (founder and owner of Kaight) has a nice eye for curation and I always enjoy browsing her shop. Plus she has always only carried lines with an ethical and sustainable focus. If I'm going to buy something new, I always try to shop from someone I respect. (Plus it's fun catching up with her if she's in the store, always a rewarding experience!)

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February 13, 2015 - Comments Off on Fashion History: 5 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Lace

Fashion History: 5 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Lace


There's a lot more to lace than its ability to add a feminine flair to any outfit it graces. Looking back, the fabric has hand a place in most fashion trends through the ages—from the overwhelming lace ruffles Queen Elizabeth would don in the 16th century to the "Below The Knee" dresses flappers so often turned to. For the custom evening and bridal gowns Nicole has created, she favors the exquisite laces made on traditional Leavers looms in France. But there's equally a place for modern-day stretch lace, and we also love the subtle sophistication and function it brings to our Evelyn Dress.

With so many delicate designs and patterns, it's hard to imagine the making-of being anything short of painstaking (and to call it "involved" would be an understatement). So, in our effort to bring everyone closer to the clothing they love, we're digging into a few highlights in the history of process of this elegant textile. Read on and learn.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 11

Lace History Tidbits

In the 17th century, lace was even used to decorate door knobs. Years later, "his and hers" lace collars would become all the rage. Today, the textile plays a much more strategic role in fashion—one that can put a design over-the-top or impress with its subtlety, depending on how it's incorporated. There's a lot to take in when it comes to the history of the fabric, but here are five things you probably didn't know before reading this.

  • Tatting (a specific type of lace making) was inspired by the intricate knotting of sailors—used for both functionality on the ships and as mementos for long-distance loved ones.  (Side note: Nicole's Great-Grandmother from Greece was an excellent tatter)
  • Lace helped people survive Ireland's Potato Famine. Once food became scarce, the women of Ireland created schools to teach crocheting and lace-making. The founders of the schools even assisted their students in selling their creations—helping them survive a time when money and food was hard to come by.

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February 11, 2015 - Comments Off on Event Recap: Re-Live Nicole Lenzen’s Stories & Style on Twitter and Instagram

Event Recap: Re-Live Nicole Lenzen’s Stories & Style on Twitter and Instagram

Photos by Joseph Gonzalez

Photos by Joseph Gonzalez

It doesn't get much better than a night of dress-up accompanied by two hysterical—and touching—story sessions from two empowering ladies, wine, delicious finger foods, and good company. The Nicole Lenzen team had a great time at Stories & Style and can't thank you enough for making it such a successful event. Hopefully, you've seen the photos, and maybe even found yourself in a few! (Feel free to tag and share them with your friends—you know you looked fabulous.) If you didn't make it out to the event or missed our pre-event Twitter chat, you're in luck. While social media is great for, say, sharing photos of your favorite outfits and ultra-artsy landscape shots, it's also wonderful for catching up on events you may have missed out on. We pulled together the Twitter and Instagram highlights from the #StoriesAndStyle event and conversations for your browsing pleasure.

Take a break from whatever you're doing and spend a few minutes re-visiting #StoriesAndStyle—don't forget to keep sharing your style stories and shots. We'd love to see them!

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