He’s baaaack

It’s been 7 years. Now, he’s back.

Leonardo Salinas will return to the runway to showcase his solo collection at an off-site, off-schedule event around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA).

Salinas last showcased his designs in a group show at the 2008 Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in 2008, before unveiling the collection in his first solo collection to a global audience in the Phillipines the following year.

Salinas believes his first solo show in Australia will not disappoint consumers.

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“You can expect the unexpected…the show will conclude with an emotional, breathtaking finale. My SS15/16 Concept Woman collection will incorporate classical silhouette, custom pieces and celebrations of female allure, and the return of quality dressing that empowers the wearer rather than the viewer”.

The designer said that women have been the sole inspiration behind his comeback collection.

“I chose the title ‘Concept Woman’, because I want this to be a celebration; a celebration and tribute to women, because without women nothing exists…women are my inspiration for this collection”.

Interactivity will be key to the event, providing engagement with Salinas’ wider customer audience through exclusive behind the scenes media and live streaming throughout the show.

Salinas’ return to the runway has been backed by Raffles College of Design and Commerce, Chadwick Models and Socraft Textiles.

The show will take place on the 12th April at the Australian Technology Park.

Around 450 guests are expected to attend including clients, bloggers, industry representatives, media and buyers.

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The Monterey Peninsula has become the epicenter of a student-led movement to reduce waste, for the ocean.

Anna Munoz is wearing a chunky necklace her students made out of upcycled corks, a touch of gold shadow on the edges of her eyes and an enthusiastic grin. It’s the Los Arboles Middle School Zero Waste lunch and fashion show, and she is pumped.

Her eighth-grade science class projects are on display inside the library. Munoz doesn’t let her students buy materials for these weekly homework assignments, so they have to repurpose things they find lying around. One of her favorites is a plant cell membrane made of Q-tips and plastic Easter eggs.

She’s like Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus. But instead of wild red hair, Ms. Munoz wears a dark plaited bun pinned with a colorful newspaper flower.

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The kids are in the courtyard eating today’s special zero-waste lunch. There’s not a speck of plastic anywhere on the recycled paper tray, just a pair of fresh sloppy joe sliders made with local Tassajara grass-fed ground beef next to a generous pile of salad.

It took 85 students five hours to pick, clean, cut and prep the 50 pounds of salad veggies: beet, kale, broccoli, radish and spring onion from the school garden, Munoz says.

Her students assemble for the trash fashion show in front of the library. As DJ Eric cues the first song through a staticky speaker (Katy Perry’s “Roar”), an audience gathers on the lawn. “What’s the point of this?” cracks an elfin boy in black jeans and chains.

The catwalk is edged by bright chalk art of ocean scenes. The kids clown a little as they model cardboard-box robot heads, a dress made of newspapers and a jumbo bow tie made of candy wrappers.

A low-pitched bell rings, and the students sort themselves into classrooms. Munoz shepherds hers out into the garden, a humble hodge-podge corner of campus with freshly planted citrus trees and raised beds made from salvaged furniture. Her classes have harvested 2,000 edibles out of this space in the past two years, says Munoz, who really seems to delight in the numbers.

Some of these students are special ed, she adds, and it’s less stressful for them to spend time in the garden than around thicker groups of kids on the paved parts of campus.

Chardnay Ogden is watering a veggie bed, one literally made out of a salvaged bed frame. She invites me to taste a cabbage leaf, then smell a lemon leaf. This is her favorite class, she adds, tapping her temple: “I’m smart about it.”

~ ~ ~

It’s Students for Zero Waste Week (ZWW) at Los Arboles, plus 12 other schools across the Monterey Peninsula. And the students are doing a lot of the teaching.

ZWW is something of a misnomer; the event actually runs from March 16-April 24. Each school picks a week within that window when their students showcase environmental stewardship projects, from the classic three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to the more progressive ones (refuse unnecessary stuff, restore landscapes and make rot, as in compost). A key part of this program: The kids are connecting their campus waste with the watersheds that flow to the sea.

This year, ZWW organizers are expanding the waste-reduction concept to include energy, because fossil fuel burning drives ocean acidification (see story, p. 32). By picking up litter on the land, they’re housekeeping for whales. By switching from incandescent to LED lights, they’re making life a little less uncomfortable for coral reefs.

“Zero waste” is a term that pre-dates ZWW, and it’s more an ideal than a literal end of all trash. As Zero Waste International Alliance defined it in 2004, “Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources.”

It’s a concept familiar to Ocean Guardians: K-12 schools that have committed, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, to conserve their local watersheds and the seas they flow into. The National Marine Sanctuary office in Monterey is the national base for NOAA’s six-year-old Ocean Guardian School program, which provides grants of up to $4,000 each to participating schools, including 15 in Monterey County.

Schools that receive the money are asked for data: How many disposable plastic bottles did the water-bottle refill machine prevent? How many square feet of invasive plants did the students remove?

Coordinating much of this from the National Marine Sanctuaries office in Monterey is a delicately boned woman with tidepool-colored eyes and a name that would suit a character in an ocean adventure book.

Seaberry Nachbar, director of the National Marine Sanctuaries’ Ocean Guardian Schools program, chats with me and several of her collaborators, including Ocean Guardian Program Coordinator Naomi Pollack, around a table piled with student-designed ZWW posters.

“We’re not just doing fluff, but showing it,” Nachbar says.

ZWW started in 2013, when Peter Hiller, then a teacher at Carmel Valley’s private All Saints Day School, rallied seven Ocean Guardian schools around the Carmel River Watershed to aim for the zero-waste ideal. There were already events calling themselves Zero Waste Week, including one in the Bay Area, but Hiller envisioned students at the helm.

“It’s a very lofty goal. And there was some pushback about that,” says Hiller, who’s now retired. “People said, ‘You can’t possibly have zero waste.’ That didn’t really dissuade me. Every step we take is toward that goal, even if we never live to see it.”

Declaring Students for Zero Waste Week, he decided, was a matter of manifesting a thought into action. He watched that singular focus bring together collaborators who hadn’t worked together before. Since then, their version of ZWW has become an official NOAA program, spreading to 40 schools – most in California, but this year expanding to a few other U.S. states, plus one participant in Madagascar. The Monterey County shoreline remains the headquarters, both as the National Marine Sanctuary’s organizational base and as home to one-third of the participating schools.

During ZWW, students design plans to cut back on their schools’ waste. The most common target is single-use plastic like water bottles and disposable utensils, which don’t biodegrade and are especially problematic when they reach the ocean as litter.

In a groundbreaking new development this year, Carmel Middle and Carmel High have partnered with the Monterey Peninsula Waste Management District to send their cafeteria food to the landfill in Marina, where anaerobic digesters turn it into compost and electricity. The Organics to Energy program kicked off earlier this month.

“One of the things we all identified as a major problem is the food waste in the school,” says Carmel Middle teacher Nicole Chupka, who advises the school’s Environmental Club.

That means kids are dumping compost buckets and picking through garbage cans after lunch. “It gets kind of messy,” Chupka says. “They’re really good sports about it.”

As part of the Organics to Energy program, students recently convinced school administrators to switch from plastic to compostable plates and utensils in the cafeteria. They gave names to blinged-out trash cans throughout campus, where students toss recyclables into sorting buckets. Kids cash in the glass and plastic bottles, generating up to $500 a year for environmental education.

Carmel Middle will celebrate ZWW just before Earth Day this year, culminating in a zero-waste dance with an “under the sea” theme. Students are crafting the decorations entirely out of recycled stuff, like turning plastic water bottles into jellyfish string lights.

Other Monterey County schools participating in ZWW: Monterey Bay Charter in Seaside/Pacific Grove, Ord Terrace and Highland elementaries in Seaside, Pacific Grove Middle, Robert Louis Stevenson in Pebble Beach, Captain Cooper in Big Sur, Tularcitos Elementary and All Saints in Carmel.

That’s a pretty broad range of schools – not just geographically, but also in terms of socioeconomic and racial diversity. Their playing fields aren’t exactly equal.

~ ~ ~

Only two school days of planning left before Seaside Middle School’s Zero Waste Week kicks off, and the Green Club is using lunchtime to strategize. Twenty-odd kids are divided into five teams, each tasked with planning a ZWW day.

I sit with an all-girl group that’s come up with a game. They’ll set up four bins, labeling each one with a sport and a recyclable – say, soccer and aluminum cans. The bin that fills up with the most recyclables determines which sport students get to play against the teachers at recess.

The kids love playing games against the faculty, says teacher Valerie Rivera, one of three advisers rushing to get the kids through their group sessions in the half hour before the next class. The kids, while scribbling out their plans, are eating lunches mostly out of disposable plastics: peach cups, juice boxes, mayonnaise packets, sealed packages of celery.

It’s disorganized. It’s also a good try. This is Seaside Middle’s first year as an Ocean Guardian school and its first participating in ZWW.

It’s not clear the message about plastic has made it much farther than the Green Club. On Feb. 27, students in the Seaside Middle School Leadership Club presented Seaside firefighters with six cases of disposable bottled water, each with a handwritten thank-you note.

It was meant as an act of kindness, a token of appreciation. It was also exactly the kind of disposable plastic waste ZWW organizers are trying to curb.

“This is a perfect example of the disconnect that exists,” Pollack says. “We have seen the gap close [at other Ocean Guardian schools]. Sometimes it takes a year. Sometimes it takes two.”

Of 13 Monterey County schools participating in ZWW, eight are in the more affluent districts of Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel, Pebble Beach and Big Sur. Five are in blue-collar Seaside and Marina; none are in Salinas.

Nachbar says almost half the county’s Ocean Guardian schools are Title I, meaning they have large low-income populations. But participation takes an above-and-beyond commitment from teachers and parents, she says, which is harder to come by in resource-strapped schools. One Salinas school received an Ocean Guardian grant a few years ago, she says, only to return the check when they couldn’t follow through.

“We don’t want this program to look like it’s just catering to the wealthy,” she says.

But the reality is, ZWW – and environmental programming in general – often tends to skew toward the privileged.

Carmel Unified, for example, is working toward becoming NOAA’s first Ocean Guardian school district. That administration-level commitment shows up in both the curricula and the campus infrastructure. For example, administrators agreed with students’ request to stop selling disposable plastic water bottles on campus, replacing them with water-bottle dispensers funded by NOAA and the school’s parent-teacher organization.

Carmel Middle’s bucolic valley campus shares space with the Hilton Bialek Habitat, home to environmental education nonprofit MEarth. Students tend a garden so big and beautiful it’s more like a mini-farm, cooking their harvests in a new LEED Platinum Certified school kitchen. Every student goes through a six-week eco-literacy program.

“We have the means to do this, and that’s where some school districts are left out,” Chupka says.

It’s a harder to make environmental changes at schools like Los Arboles in Marina, where the student body is a mash-up of cultures and income levels.

“We have like 50 languages spoken,” Munoz says. “You walk onto this campus and see so many colors and faces; it’s so cute. Environmental awareness has really bridged our cultures. Everybody can recycle, and we all need to do it.”

In the school kitchen, Food Service Manager Jose Rosa is closing up boxes of salad greens. I ask what prevents him from serving Zero Waste-style lunches every day.

A crew of five are working the school’s cramped kitchen today, he says, but normally there are only three kitchen staff. Still, they’re working to add a salad bar and supplement lunches with garden greens and local fruit.

“The idea is for the kids to start learning to eat more healthy stuff,” Rosa says. “I have to push them to take the fresh vegetables.”

In the library, I run into David Chandler, who used to have Munoz’s job. In March 2013, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District hired him into their newly created energy specialist position. Since adopting an energy-saving program in late 2012, he says, MPUSD has avoided more than $1 million in utility spending. Water use is down 41 percent district-wide, natural gas use is down 29 percent and carbon emissions have shrunk 22 percent.

That’s not counting the new solar panels now installed at four district schools, he says, with five more (including Los Arboles) in the pipeline.

~ ~ ~

Teachers like Anna Munoz and Nicole Chupka work with a network of supporting agencies and organizations, like Monterey Regional Waste Management District and Save Our Shores, to chase the zero-waste ideal.

Another is Bay Area-based Litterati. Zoom in to certain Peninsula school campuses on the map at www.litterati.org, and you’ll see a colonies of red pins. Click the pins and you’ll see photos of water bottles, plastic forks, bottle caps, straws.

Students at Los Arboles and Bay View Academy, among others, are Instagramming under the hashtag #litterati. Their photos are added to a “digital landfill” that doubles as a database – tracking what, where and how much litter the kids are picking up. Hundreds of tagged and mapped pieces of trash later, teachers and their students have the data they need to start tackling litter the source.

Another supporting org: Monterey Bay Aquarium, whose Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit offers a year-long framework for teachers like Munoz. Educators in the program hear from leaders in the ocean conservation and anti-plastic movements, review the latest data on littered marine debris and workshop ways to engage their students on the subject.

Back at the National Marine Sanctuaries office in Monterey, I ask Nachbar what lessons she hopes students will take home from Zero Waste Week.

“Make kids realize there really is no ‘away,’” she says. “Have kids make the connection that whether you’re in the Sierra foothills or Ohio, your actions can affect the oceans in many ways.

“Let kids see that it is one ocean.”

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NBAF & Neiman Marcus Partner For One of The Hippest Events in The City

“Give this ticket to someone on your way out Ms. Smith,” said the superbly mannered valet.

He proceeded to assist me from my car and bid well wishes for a wonderful evening as I headed toward the golden gates Neiman Marcus.

Invited guests dressed to impress trickled in behind me styled in head-turning floor length gowns, show stopping cocktail dresses and meticulously curated tailored suits.

Smiling courteously, the door man chaperoned us through the glass doors where photographers and a red carpet awaited us.

A wait staff stood attentively with wine and champagne in hand on the perimeters of the red carpet; harmoniously they stood uniformed in crisp white servers coats, accented by tangerine ties and corsages.

I could hear jazz in the distance and an air of social sophistication filled the room as camera flashes erupted like fireworks upon the arrival of our host for the evening. Emmy Award-winning Journalist and WXIA- TV Prime Time Anchor, Brenda Wood gracefully made her way on the red carpet in a fuchsia colored, classic fit and flare party dress complimented by metallic pumps.

Jack Sawyer, Bill Torres, Darrell Mays, Azede Jean-Pierre, Grace Stanislaus, Tara Mays, Cindy Voyles, Bill Voyles

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After checking in, I received my seating assignment on signature Neiman Marcus stationary and headed toward the ivy step and repeat that read NBAF in large silver lettering.

The acronym stood for the National Black Arts Festival. NBAF is a nonprofit organization recognized as the oldest multidisciplinary arts organization in the United States focused exclusively on the arts and on artists of African descent.

After a few pictures, I grabbed a flute of wine and joined the festivities.

A jazz trio, inclusive of a bass player, trumpeter and guitarist sat atop a reinvented stage constructed from white cosmetic display cases.

Gucci, Prada, Chanel- oh my! Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen handbags were on display to my left, and Jimmy Choo and Tom Ford slippers and booties shouted “Hello” from my right. However, luxury fashion was just the first addend to this evening’s occasion.

As I continued to explore the mall level of the Neiman Marcus Lenox location, I came upon a set of framed pictures all encasing rare still images of indigenous African tribes.

The article on display read “A Vanishing World: Natural Fashion from Africa.”

“Wow,” that’s pretty interesting I thought to myself. “I never considered indigenous African tribal wear to be fashion. ”

I was napalmed by arts and fashion from every direction. Trendy department store inventory, exceptional artistic displays and voguish guests’ fashions consumed my senses.

This installation among many others provided inspiration for the evening’s premiere event; so aptly titled Fine Art + Fashion.

It was the ninth year of Fine Art + Fashion and Neiman Marcus’ fifth year as title sponsor. In partnership, Neiman Marcus and the National Black Arts Festival created Fine Art + Fashion to recognize extraordinary artists who have a positive impact on global fashion, as well as a strong connection to the art of the African Diaspora.

In one evening I would experience a high-end runway fashion show produced by Neiman Marcus Fashion Director and Senior Vice President, Ken Downing, while also immersing myself in artistic talents with roots that resembled my own.

Time neared 7 p.m. and every attendee ascended to the upper level of the luxury retailer; it had been gridded into a square shaped runway with rows of chic clear chairs on its edges.

“Fine Art + Fashion is one of the hippest events in the city,” said our esteemed hostess for the evening.

“ If Brenda Wood vouched for it, I knew I was in for a treat,” I thought to myself.

The highly-anticipated event has been hosted by Steve Harvey and his style forward wife, Majorie Harvey, during its fifth installment, while Atlanta Mayor Kaseem Reed and Jasmine Guy, among other industry greats have all made appearances.

“Art provides transformative experiences,” sited National Black Arts Festival President Grace Stanislaus. “NBAF is important to the cultural fabric of Atlanta and all of America.”

With an over twenty-seven year legacy of providing stellar artistic and educational programs in music, dance, film , theater and the visual literary arts, NBAF President Stanislaus parallels the organization’s leadership to the mythological tale of the Phoenix rising from the ashes, “Still NBAF rises,” she proclaimed.

Honorary co-chairs, Darell Mays and Jack Sawyer were awarded the Sandra Anderson Baccus Legacy Award for their selfless philanthropy and supporting community efforts.

Sawyer’s unscripted acceptance speech humbly reinforced the large scale significance for the occasion, “We are in times where we are assaulted by Isis and Ferguson. These events polarize us,” lamented Sawyer.

Soon after Sawyer referenced his disdain for the University of Oklahoma fraternity scandal, I realized the magnitude of an event like Fine Art + Fashion.

Unlike major news headlines, Fine Art + Fashion unified backgrounds of every kind to collectively congratulate notable artists of African descent.

New York based young women’s wear clothing designer, Azede Jean-Pierre received honors as the Designer Extraordinaire. Haitian born Jean-Pierre was the two-time winner of the NBAF Emerging Talent Award and debuted her first collection in February 2012 at New York Fashion Week. This Designer Extraordinaire has styled several stylish and influential women including First Lady Michele Obama, Lady Gaga and Solange Knowles.

Artist, writer, curator, film critic and professor, Dr. Amalia Amaki earned the Visual Artist Award for her efforts in redefining the lives of past and present African American heroines and heroes while contrasting their depiction in the mainstream media.

Last but not least, the NBAF Emerging Talent Awards were given to three deserving Savannah School of Art and Design students.

The NBAF Emerging Talent Awards were established in 2010 to recognize student fashion designers of African descent who have distinguished themselves for their academic achievement, talent, creativity and cutting edge and innovative approach. Along with a cash rewards, each NBAF Emerging Talent award honoree earned exhibition space in the Neiman Marcus windows to showcase their winning design.

The lights dimmed giving show designer Ken Downing the cue to turn up the fringe.

Svelte models walked fearlessly down the cat walk in avant-garde styles; combining elegant plays on 70’s era fashion with a hint of a Bohemian influence. Runway looks incorporated bright and vibrant day looks, whilst evening styles integrated bold and glamorous sparkle.

Earth, Wind and Fire tracks Boogie Wonderland and September helped create Ken Downing’s psychedelic runway experience. Outkast’s The Way You Move and the Beach Boys God Only Knows also made playlist appearances.

Before heading downstairs for the post show party, NBAF President Stanislaus detailed the NBAF Contemporaries program which provides volunteer leadership for young professionals, ages 25 – 45, who are interested in the arts.

Accessibility to the arts via programs like NBAF Contemporaries made it all too obvious of the importance of NBAF.

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Accountant follows her fashion dream

Lusaka “IT’S high time women realised their potential to define and shape their destiny. They should not allow anyone to trample on them and make them objects of shame. Women will be amazed to discover that the power to shape their destiny is in their hands.”

So says Chisoma Lombe, a former finance director at Action Aid International Zambia who has taken up fashion designing.

Ms Lombe believes that women are capable of excelling if they are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses in things they do.

“If someone thinks that working for a reputable organisation makes them happy and fulfils their desires to be happy, then let it be. But my emphasis is for people to follow their dreams and put in their best to achieve such dreams,” she says.

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Ms Lombe, who does not regret resigning from Action Aid to pursue her passion in fashion and designing, advises women and young girls to not be lured in careers which they are not passionate about.

“Besides, when a person wants to pursue a certain career, they should not think of money or how much profit they will earn when they embark on that journey; money should be the last thing on their minds. Let money pursue us and not us pursuing the money, otherwise we stumble and fall,” she says.

Ms Lombe worked in various positions in different companies before resigning and setting up her own creative and fashion designing company in Lusaka.

She says she did not have peace of mind while in employment as she had a convincing thought that she ccould do better as a fashion designer.

But before venturing into that, she just used to design furniture and slippers. In November 2013, she bought a sewing machine. She started with two workers and month later her business boomed and she employed two more workers.

Today, Ms Lombe is a fashion designer in Lusaka, but her dream is to establish herself as an international designer and travel worldwide to compete on the international market.

Ms Lombe hails from Mufulira on the Copperbelt and was born into a humble Catholic family from Lewis and Mwila Lombe (both deceased) as a fourth child in a family of seven and was determined to excel in her education. Her dream was to become an architect.

“I love doing things which are challenging and especially that architecture is believed to be a maledominated career, I thought I should do it. But things did not go as planned as I ended up becoming a chartered accountant,” she says.

She did her primary education from 1982 to 1989 at Mufulira Trust School and then moved to Ibenga Girls Convent School in Luanshya from 1991 to 1995.

After passing grade 12, Ms Lombe was among few selected students to pursue a degree in electrical

engineering at the Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe in 2005.

“As I mentioned earlier, my passion was to be an architect, but things could not go as I wanted, so after two years, I left CBU and went to ZAMIM Chilanga campus to study Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 2007 for one year and six months,” she said.

While pursuing her career in ACCA, Ms Lombe worked at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation as acting country controller.

Some of her duties entailed the management of the country audits for five provincial SNV offices as well as heading the administration department.

She later moved to Grant Thornton Associates as a liquidation officer.

“As a result of good performance, I was seconded to continue working on the liquidations of ZIMCO Ltd and its subsidiaries when Grant Thornton took over from Paragon Consulting. I worked in the Corporate Recovery Department as part of the liquidation team to work on the winding up of Zambia’s biggest liquidation under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance,” she said.

Between 2011 and 2014, Ms Lombe worked as finance director at Action Aid International Zambia.

Despite her commitment to her work, Ms Lombe devotes some time to having fun. Her hobbies include

listening to music, public speaking, travelling and playing basketball.

She is a mother of two girls (Kasano, 13 and Chipampa Kasolo, 11), who are both at Banani International School in grade eight and six respectively.

“I am happily engaged to a wonderful man and soon to be married. I divorced my first husband sometime back and I have moved on in life. Women should not think that divorce is the end of the world because it is not over until God says so,” she smiled.

She is a devoted member of the Love and Mercy Pentecostal Church in Lusaka and as a prayerful woman, she believes that God answers prayer in His own way at the right time.

“I want to mention that I have been in two different worlds, that of being married and divorced. And I understand the pain women go through when they are disappointed by people they love. I counsel married couples and my advice for the married, single and divorced is to seek God in all situations and not to lean on our own understandings,” she said.

Ms Lombe says she is ready to partner with any organisation as a motivational speaker for young girls, especially those in school. She believes young girls need mentoring to help them to shun practices that may hinder them from fulfilling their dreams.

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No slowing down for mother of Les Enfants Terribles

Statistics tend to support the theory that the vast majority of new restos rarely make it past their fifth birthdays.

Francine Brulé paid no heed to conventional wisdom or survival stats when she decided to leave the rough-and-tumble fashion trade and start up a brasserie in Outremont, Les Enfants Terribles. Her friends and family, including her three “enfants terribles,” suggested she undergo a saliva test to determine if she was in her right mind.

Well, seven years later, her Outremont brasserie is doing booming business. So, too, is her second Les Enfants Terribles, which opened two years ago on Nuns’ Island.

And at an age when most restaurateurs might be keen on retirement, Brulé, 60, is opening a third outlet in Laval next month. Plus, she has sold the franchise rights to another group planning to open a Les Enfants Terribles brasserie on top of Place Ville Marie.

“Our wish was to become a second home for many, and that has been the most gratifying for us,

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She has also been approached to open outlets outside the province and the country, as far away as Dubai.

It’s no accident that Brulé won the Prix d’Excellence as Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014, presented by the Quebec Women In Business Network.

Over a caffe latte at the Outremont outlet on Bernard Ave., the ever-ebullient Brulé insists that it has never been her goal to be the Colonel Sanders of Quebec, both in reference to her age and accumulating more restos.

“I’ve never thought of myself as an empire-builder,” Brulé says with a smile. “I just love to work and to have fun. Here, I can do both. And I’ve always been a survivor.”

Brulé gives ample credit to her longtime companion Serge Bruneau for his organizational savvy in keeping the business on track. “We not only wanted to create a place for solid bistro fare but we also wanted a place where people would feel comfortable and come to hang around to get away from the craziness.”

And that they have. The Outremont brasserie, with its warm barn-wood walls and cozy bar fashioned from a vintage bowling lane, has succeeded in offering shelter from storms both meteorological and socio-political. It has become a refuge for politicos of all stripes, entertainers, entrepreneurs, artists and even journos, from the hood as well as from the rest of Montreal.

With a similar motif, the Nuns’ Island location has become a haven for condo and apartment dwellers in the area, as well as outsiders – particularly for weekend brunches – who get to partake of the resto’s idyllic riverside views.

“Like Outremont, Nuns’ Island also has a strong neighbourhood feel and it’s growing all the time – and it has all the same (amenities) offered by other communities,” she says. “What’s funny and also flattering is that we have customers from Outremont going to the Nuns’ Island brasserie for a change of pace.”

Brulé is optimistic that les Lavallois will also embrace the concept next month.

“I think that making people – from all ages and backgrounds – feel at home is really the key,” says Brulé, who lives downtown. “There is a lot of stress out there. It’s nice to get a break from it on occasion.

“I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I try to run the restaurants like I run my life. Trying not to remain static. Bringing a different party idea every few weeks. And always celebrating.”

To that end, the brasseries pay tribute to everything from Halloween to Mother’s Day to maple-sugar season to Easter. She hands out chocolates to passersby and their kids on Bernard during the latter holiday.

“We celebrate birthday parties and anniversaries for people who met at Les Enfants Terribles. We’ve done weddings for customers who met here. We’ve done christenings for kids of customers. We’ve even done the wake for a regular client.

“Our wish was to become a second home for many, and that has been the most gratifying for us.”

Two of Brulé’s three enfants terribles work with her. Her eldest son, Alexandre, is involved in the design and concept of the brasseries. Her youngest son, Marc-Antoine, oversees the construction of the outlets. Middle son, Martin, is in New York, toiling in the fashion trade.

“I’m happy for Martin, but I can honestly say that I don’t miss the fashion business one bit. I spent so much of my life in that business, but I don’t remember it at all any more. It is such a tough business. Maybe I’m blocking.

“There’s no question the restaurant business is also tough and tiring. We’ll soon have 250 employees. But the restaurants keep me young. I’m only 60 and I’m as passionate as ever.” Pause. “Really, I’m still a baby. And there’s so much more ahead of me, too.”

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Classic houses of Paris are still doing it

Paris is the last date in the catwalk presentations for the next season and the city knows it is today, without doubt, the centre of the fashion world with its unrivaled line-up of the world’s most important labels – from Yohji Yamamoto and Celine, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, to Stella McCartney and Lanvin.

As befits the most important fashion capital, celebrities were everywhere and doing everything. At Valentino, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson robbed the real models of their front pages, as they revisited their ‘modelling’ roles in Zoolander and walked the catwalk dressed in gorgeous embroidered coats and pyjama style ensembles.

At Chanel, Kendall Jenner sat with model Cara Delevingne as they ‘ate’ croissants at the bistro bar set that Karl Lagerfeld created to showcase his collection for the house.

A model presents a creation by Chinese designer Yiqing Yin as part of her Spring/Summer 2015 women's ready-to-wear collection for fashion house Leonard during Paris Fashion Week September 29, 2014.   REUTERS/Charles Platiau  (FRANCE - Tags: FASHION)

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Everywhere, it seemed, was an extremely unhappy-faced Kanye West, sometimes with wife, Kim, nearby. But not always. At Stella McCartney, one of Stella’s best in years – full of beauty as well as her trademark sharp tailoring – Cara Delevingne seemed to be very busy doing selfies of herself with a grumpy looking Kanye, an affable looking Woody Harrelson and a genially willing, Sir Paul McCartney.

Paris was also consistent in delivering the strange and the wonderful on its catwalks. From the eccentric and dramatic, like the almost costume drama presentation of Vivienne Westwood, to the dark, heroine chic-esque punk babes of Saint Laurent, to the monochrome, 3-dimensional constructs of the designer’s designer, the brilliant Yohji Yamamoto.

Louis Vuitton under the stewardship of Nicolas Ghesquiere’s creativity was the hot ticket to have.

The big players were all out – from Xavier Niel, founder of French broadband Iliad, to Dior’s chief executive, Sidney Toledano and of course the ubiquitous-at-all-big-shows, Mario Testino.

The grungy-looking models we have seen before on Ghesquiere’s Vuitton catwalk were still there, but the clothes were less edgy, more funky and very definitely young money. The all-important handbags were stronger than they have been in years and were very, very wantable. Ghesquiere is fast proving he has the right stuff to make the brand as hot as it was in the early years of Marc Jacobs’ stewardship.

Just as I had Sarah Burton written off as the designer to continue steering Alexander McQueen, she delivers an exquisite collection that finally feels like something new is going on.

Sheer, lace, ruffles and devore fabrics made for a sexy, feminine, largely dress, collection.

Hermes, under French designer Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski, was a master class in how striking simplicity and confident strokes make for bold and brilliant direction. One of my faves.

Another new fave, Chinese designer, Yiqing Yin, presented an apparently simply constructed collection, that was exquisite, luxurious, contemporary.

Fresh from showing his collection in London two weeks ago, David Koma delivered another strong collection for Mugler.

Celine, the design-discerning woman’s favourite label, is – I think – soon going to catch the Marni faithful as the collection is full of play, unusual constructs and humour. Under Phoebe Philo, Celine becomes ever more confident, experimental and stunning. For next season it is positively joyful in its expression.

Paris fashion week not only signaled the end of the international catwalk season, it signalled that there is, finally, new energy in their old fashion houses again. It is great to see.

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ENTER TO WIN AN AH-MAZING LUX & ECO PRIZE PACKAGE

One lucky EcoSalon reader will win $642 worth of swag from Lux & Eco! Here are the deets on how you can enter to win.

Lux & Eco, the premier store to shop for “the finest in conscious living,” has partnered with EcoSalon to give away the coveted eco luxury gift bag of Oscar season for Suzy Amis Cameron’s campaign, Red Carpet Green Dress. In addition to the gift bag, Lux & Eco is giving away two SLVRBK yoga mats and The Garwood wooden watch! Cha. Ching.

To enter, all you have to do is sign up for our newsletter. And if you don’t win, don’t fret: Lux & Eco is also offering a 15 percent discount for the entire month of March! Just use the code ECOSALON upon check out.

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Red Carpet Green Dress, an innovative dress design contest, was founded by Suzy Amis Cameron in 2009 (yes, she’s James Cameron’s incredible wifey), and was inspired by the global red carpet opportunity presented by James’ blockbuster hit “Avatar.” (You may have heard of it.) The positive fashion campaign challenges creatives and designers worldwide to create a Red Carpet-worthy dress—and now tuxedo—using environmentally and socially responsible fabrics.

Not only are the winning designers mentored by an established fashion brand within the industry to get his or her design worn on the red carpet by a surprise actress and actor, the proceeds raised from the campaign go into funding Muse School, a California school based on teaching children how to lead mindful, thought-provoking, eco-conscious lives (and makes me want to go back to school!).

Here’s what one EcoSalon reader will win:

Lux & Eco partnered with RCGD to create a chic gift bag for the campaign’s pre-oscar shindig this year, and now it could be yours!

The tote includes Previse Skin Care‘s Sunsheer, Under the Canopyorganic cotton robes, I AM Enlightened Nutrition, Purely Elizabethgluten free granola, Environmentally Friendly Products eco laundry detergent, organic Zhi Tea, Jax Coco coconut water, Makana Candles,Modern Minerals Make Up, Pascha Chocolate, an entire hair care kit from Marulagold, and Leafware plates made from fallen leaves.

And don’t forget the two yoga mats by SLVRBK, the premier cross-functional exercise mat, as well as The Garwood wooden watch (but I know you wouldn’t do such a thing).

Enter to win:

For your chance to win this exciting prize package from Lux & Eco, all you have to do is sign up for our newsletter—and if you’re already a subscriber, you’re already entered!

So go ahead and sign up now! Good luck!

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Top Brands Align For Collection Showcasing Handmade Items By Women Around The World

Nordstrom is all about their partnerships lately! Hey – if they continue to be as impactful as this one with Piece & Co. we’re all for it.

As you may or may not know,Piece & Co. is an organization that strives to end global poverty with sustainable employment opportunities for female artisans around the world.

Piece & Co. worked with Alice + Olivia, Current/Elliott, DVF,Joie, Rebecca Minkoff,Theory, The Honest Company, and Tory Burch to create an incredible capsule filled with sourced items that all incorporate handmade materials and fabrics.

Here in Seattle we’re lucky for many reasons, and one of them is definitely that since Nordstrom is headquartered here, we’re almost always included in their special pop-ups and boutiques. As such, the Piece & Co. capsule can be found at downtown Seattle and Bellevue Square stores beginning March 9.

Top brands align for collection showcasing handmade items by women around the world

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Check out the gallery for all the pieces, and the stories behind them.

DVF’s iconic wrap dress, this time made with hand-printed indigo batik, an ancient fabric printing technique that incorporates wax resist and dye.

Alice + Olivia’s A-line dress in an artisan-made bold blue and white loom-woven fabric, made in a weaving cooperative in India.

Rebecca Minkoff’s ‘Mini MAC’ cross-body in cognac leather accented with backstrap loom fabric, an ancient weave technique from Vietnam.

Tory Burch’s crackle printed canvas separates made of hand-painted fabric from Zambia.

The Honest Company’s nursing scarves made from hand-woven stripe and chambray designs and silk-screen printed fabrics from Maheshwar and Jodhpur, India.

Theory’s tunics and city shorts in fatigue and block prints from India that are created using a hand-carved wooden stamp.

Current/Elliott’s prep school shirts in black & white ikat or floral block prints made in India.

Joie’s blue and white ikat on casual summer staples: jumper, shorts and a sleeveless dress.

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Allison [in wine country] fashions a Napa Valley niche

Allison Molinatti is bringing to the Napa Valley a sister shop to her Manhattan Beach store, Allison [by the beach], through which she sells women’s clothing and accessories. Her new venue is called Allison [in wine country], and with it she hopes to provide a line of products more tailored to her new location.

“Allison [in wine country] differs from Allison [by the beach] in that it’s geared for the Napa Valley local so it’s a bit more casual and doesn’t have as beachy a vibe as my other store,” Molinatti, said. “It also differs because we carry children’s clothes. My first location only carries women’s clothing and accessories whereas this one also carries children’s clothing and gifts.”

“There was a real need for children’s items in St. Helena as there is no other store in town that carries children’s clothes,” she said. “We wanted moms, grandparents and tourists to be able to pick up clothes for their little ones.”

Tara Rokstad and Allison Molinatti at Allison [in wine country] in St. Helena

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Bringing in a partner to help her run Allison [in wine country], Molinatti has hired family friend Tara Rokstad.

“I am so lucky to have Tara as a partner as she puts in just as much hard work as I do, and goes the extra mile to make sure all our clients are happy and have the absolute best service they can get,” Molinatti said.

A point of pride for Molinatti regarding her store is the kind of clothing she offers. “I am always aware of what’s on trend and the next up-and-coming thing, however I make sure that my stores have pieces that are special yet classic so that they won’t go out of style after a season.”

With a degree in economics from Loyola Marymount University and a merchandise marketing degree from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Molinatti is well-equipped to run her clothing business. It’s a point proven by her first location’s loyal clientele, attained over the four years it has been open.

The success of her company is, apart from her passionate interest in fashion, perhaps also due to Molinatti’s emphasis on attention to the customer.

“I have so much fun picking out the best pieces for my stores … I really think about my clientele when I’m ordering for my stores. I know right away which local clients are going to want which pieces and call them as soon as (the pieces) come in. I get a very limited amount of each style in so that not everyone will be wearing the same outfit and also so that we get new merchandise almost every day,” Molinatti said.

Part of Allison [in wine country]’s, along with her Manhattan Beach counterpart’s, customer-centric approach is that they offer a free-of-charge personal shopping and delivery service.

“(One of) the most important things customers can get at my business is exceptional customer service. I’ve built my businesses on having personal relationships with my clients. I text my clients to let them know certain things are in that I know they’ll like before they sell out as well as bring merchandise to their homes for them to try on. This personal shopping aspect of my business is one of the things that sets us apart.”

While those services are free, prices for her other products can range from $18 to $88 for children’s clothing (of which the store carries up to size 10), and $15-$25 for toys and gifts. Women’s tops range from $48-$198 and dresses and jumpsuits from $98 to $330. Jewelry and handbags go from as low as $40 on up to $585.

Some of the designers Allison [in wine country] will be carrying include Splendid, Ella Moss and David Lerner, as well as handmade jewelry by Edina Kiss and bags likewise handmade by L.A.-based designer Hammitt.

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Nafa student jumps at chance to design fairytale gowns

Miss Erica Devi Handika has long been in love with Disney’s princesses.

So when the opportunity came to design a gown for her favourite princess, Cinderella, the petite 23-year-old Indonesian jumped at the chance.

”I have always been a big fan of Disney and its princesses,” the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) student said.

”I have watched the cartoons and movies since I was a kid, so I immediately volunteered for this project when I heard about it.”

Walt Disney Studios Singapore approached Nafa last year to create a mini collection as part of the publicity campaign for the upcoming Cinderella movie.

Nafa student jumps at chance to design fairytale gowns

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What materialised was the Disney’s Cinderella Inspired Dresses Designed by Nafa project, which consisted of gowns for characters such as Cinderella, her Stepmother, the Fairy Godmother and an SG50 dress as part of the celebration of Singapore’s golden jubilee.

Opening here on March 12, Cinderella sees British actress Lily James in the title role in director Kenneth Branagh’s live-action retelling of Disney’s classic fairy tale about a servant girl who wins the heart of a prince (Richard Madden).

Cate Blanchett plays the formidable Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, while Helena Bonham Carter is the kind fairy godmother.

Miss Handika took about a month to come up with various designs for each of the four costumes, turning to all the Cinderella movies she has watched over the years for inspiration.

It helped that the Singapore permanent resident, who is pursuing a fashion degree offered in collaboration with the University Of East London, is really interested in costume design.

She recently volunteered her services as costume designer for The Chest Of Shadows: A Musical, which was held last month at the Victoria Theatre as part of the Indonesian Arts Festival in Singapore.

While creating the gowns came naturally to the die-hard Disney princess fan, she sought assistance from Mr Anthony Tan, the vice- dean of Nafa’s Fashion Studies Programmes, to help fine-tune her designs.

”It was a consultative interaction between Erica and I,” said Mr Tan.

FASHION ELEMENT

”My advice to Erica was that the fashion element needs to be a priority, and to be mindful not to turn these dresses into fancy costumes.”

Mr Tan, who has been teaching fashion design for more than 15 years, added: ”We went fabric shopping together as well. While she was the one leading the selection, my role was to provide advice on which fabric will work better and what will be effective to achieve her vision.”

Miss Handika, who wanted to pursue fashion design since she was 13, attributed her interest in costume design to her mother.

”She used to make me princessy gowns when I was a kid, even though I had no events to go to,” she shared, laughing.

When we met last week, she had only the duchess satin Cinderella gown made and had yet to put the finishing touches – the bling, in the form of Swarovski crystals.

Swarovski has sponsored more than $21,000 worth of crystals in a variety of shapes and sizes (right) to be featured on the costumes.

Besides getting the frocks ready before this Saturday, where it will be modelled at the Disney’s Cinderella Fashion Show at 313@somerset, Miss Handika is also preparing her final-year collection.

But juggling a few projects at a time does not seem to faze the energetic student.

She is confident all will be ready in no time, as she is ”used to tight deadlines”, said the finalist of the 2014 Star Creation Award, an international contest organised by Audi Fashion Week, adding that she spends about ”13 hours a day in school”.

Her masterpieces will also be on display at 313@somerset from Sunday to March 14, and then at Kallang Wave Mall from March 15 to 27.

Three costumes – Stepmother, Fairy Godmother and the SG50 gown – will subsequently be auctioned off for charity, with proceeds going to the Asian Women’s Welfare Association.

Though she cited the Stepmother’s dress as her favourite because of its ”striking emerald-green colour and edginess”, there is no question which gown she would pick if given the chance to keep it.

”The Cinderella dress, of course!” Miss Handika declared, laughing.

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