Chatting with Challen Cates

Challen CatesBig Time Rush, the hit series about four young hockey players who are also members of a hot boy band, is returning for another season. We were able to chat with Challen Cates who plays “Mrs. Knight,” mother to the hockey-playing, reluctant boy band member, “Kendall,” and his younger sister Katie.
DolceDolce readers will recognize Challen from her from daytime drama Passions as well as appearances on popular shows such as Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, CSI, and In The Heat of the Night. In the Heat of the Night was Challen’s first big part in a TV series.
Challen lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her two children. She actively supports the ‘Darkness to Light’ foundation as well as the ‘Say It 2 My Face’ Anti-Bullying campaign.
Here is what Challen had to tell us about her life, fashion, and beauty routines:
DD: How did you like living in Atlanta and working on in The Heat of the Night?
CC: Atlanta is an amazing Southern city with so much to offer! I had never lived in a city before — let alone one that big — so it was a great transition for me before embarking on Los Angeles. I was fortunate to work on some wonderful projects in Atlanta. My first booking was a guest star role for In The Heat of The Night and it was a huge part! I had no idea what I was doing on a TV set, but I navigated my way through and learned a lot. It went so well they brought me back as a different character!
DD: What was your favorite thing to do in Atlanta in your down time?
CC: I really enjoyed exploring different neighborhoods like Virginia Highlands and Little Five Points. Piedmont Park is Atlanta's Central Park and it is amazing! On a beautiful spring day, it is the most wonderful place to be
(DD Note: Challen is on to something here. Frederick Law Olmsted (April 26, 1822 – August 28, 1903) designed Piedmont Park Central Park in New York, Mount Royal Park in Montreal, and many other famous urban parks and landmarks in the U.S. and Canada!)
DD: How did you become active in the anti-bullying movement?
We live in a world that has become highly technological and dependent on social media. Though social media can be great in moderation, it has also become a breeding ground for Cyber bullying—and to devastating effects. A friend of mine introduced me to Taylor Audette who created Say It 2 My Face ( ). The philosophy is simple: think before you type. Would you say it in person? The decision is in your hands! I am doing my part to ensure my own children never have to deal with Cyber bullying.
DD: How would you describe your own style?
CC: Bohemian and eclectic with a little tart. I like to mix it up. I love getting dressed up to go anywhere. I really love dresses as well because they are feminine and sexy. They also involve fewer decisions — one dress plus some great shoes beats putting together a whole ensemble any day in my world!
DD: What are your three fashion must-haves?
 CC: Jeans that are perfectly fitted to my body. For me, that means J Brand. A go-to sexy black dress that can be worn with strappy sandals or boots (depending on the weather) is a must. Speaking of footwear, nothing elongates the leg and polishes an outfit like the perfect shoe. Platforms are definitely at the top of my list.
DD: What is the secret to your fitness routine?
CC: I am devoted to Pilates. I work out with my friend Elizabeth Ordway at her studio, Movement Studio LA ( ). I work out on the reformer and the Cadillac. I also take Elizabeth's bar and mat classes, which target those little muscles that make a big difference. I did Pilates during both pregnancies and started back four weeks post-baby to get back in shape. For me, Pilates is the thing that just works.
DD: What are your best fashion or beauty tips?
CC: Wear sexy shoes, but always have a pair of flip-flops stashed in your car in case you encounter a playground or go on an impromptu walk. Have a great denim jacket to dress up your workout clothes and/or dress down a dressy dress. Splurge on classic items that will be in your closet forever like the perfect leather jacket or cashmere sweater. And bargain hunt for trendy items that you know will be collecting dust next year.
This is going to make you laugh, but the best lip conditioner is nipple cream! I couldn't bring myself to throw away perfectly good nipple cream after I weaned my babies. I looked at the ingredients and thought “Hmmm, this is good stuff! I think I will try it elsewhere…” And voila my lips have never been chapped since. Because I am very fair I avoid the sun, but I do love a sun kissed look. I use St. Tropez tanning cream to get a 1, 2, 3… faux tan. I love Max Factor Mascara, but it isn't sold in the U.S. any longer, so it's tough to find.
DD: What is always in your hand-bag?
 CC: Well, the nipple cream for my lips. ;-). My iPhone, which works as my mini-computer as well as entertainment for my kids when I run out of jokes. Max Factor mascara to cover my blonde lashes, which look invisible without a good coating. Lastly, my prescription sunglasses because I can't see you without them.

Iconic designer’s “scrapbook”

Fashion icon Celia Birtwell is one of the UK’s most popular textile designers, a style-setting fashion designer and muse and confidant to the painter David Hockney. Recently, Birtwell designed several best-selling collections for the ever hip Top Shop. Her various fashion and home products are available online at her shop in Notting Hill.
Her new book Celia Birtwell (text by Dominique Lutyens)explores her creative process and documents her meteoric career.
The full-colour coffee table book feature photos of Celia’s friends. Her work brought her into the orbit of Manolo Blanik, Paloma Picasso, and other creative luminaries. The book has the feeling of a personal scrap book.
With her (then-) husband, fashion designer Ossie Clark, she helped design romantic, feminine bohemian dresses that defined the era.
The book contains gorgeous photos of her colourful prints and whimsical fashion sketches, as well as many of the portraits David Hockney made of her over the years.
Celia Birtwell the book is a feast for the eye as well as an intimate look at a truly creative force. It will captivate anyone who loves fashion and design. This book would also be a wonderful gift for any budding designer or dedicated fashionista.

Let those glossy images inspire you!

Find inspiration in the pages of  your favourite glossy !Gone are the days when fashion dictates sent made women despair, if they couldn’t afford the latest designer looks. These days, less expensive alternatives go on sale as soon as designer dresses hit the runways or are seen on the red carpet. Often the designer who made the original also created the knockoffs. All that keeps women from being fashionable these days is a lack of personal style or confidence. 

Reading a fashion magazine can be a daunting experience for anyone who takes it too seriously. As a former glossy magazine editor I swing between exasperated and amused. I am annoyed at superior little articles by editors raving on about how dark roots are just the thing to show how busy and savvy one is these days. Neglected roots make hair look dirty, unkempt, and sometimes make woman look a touch haggard. A recent survey of more than a thousand women in the United Kingdom confirmed that women judge other women harshly for having uncoloured roots. It’s just not a good look.  
Darlings, I love a little attitude and effect, but not at the expense of individuality and true style. While you may see a few streaks of gold in Anna Wintour’s signature bob, I am fairly certain you will never see her sporting platinum or red locks, no matter no strong the trend. She has a style and sticks to it. Well-dressed women adjust to fashion, but seldom stray from their own styles. Fashion slaves are amusing to watch, but are they well-dressed?
Fashion should be fun. Too many women today don’t enjoy fashion. They stress too much about wearing uncomfortable shoes or constricting clothes. They wear things that hurt or forego beautiful clothes for silly reasons. They worry they are not as tall or thin as the models in their favourite magazines. Well, neither are most of the editors who create those glossy pages. Have you seen Nina Garcia from Project Runway? She does not let her Latina curves stop her from being a world class fashionista.
The images in glossy magazines intimidate most women. Even those with big budgets can be overwhelmed by those pages. The pictures are idealized, but are meant to inspire. Study the photos of celebrities and socialites; many are not “model” tall or thin, but they look fabulous. While the outfits may be pricey, the images are not unattainable. Learn to take apart the pages and pull out the elements you like and think will work for you. Things similar to those shown in the magazines are in the shops at all prices, and they will work for you.
Next time you read a glossy magazine, let those glossy images inspire you!

Express yourself!

Darling, too few women have real style because they are either too timid or lazy. It’s a shame. Fashion and style are fun and wonderful ways to express yourself ! Taking pleasure in clothes and your appearance doesn’t make you vain or shallow, it can be creative and fun. So darlings, this summer find your style – be it boho, Beverly Hills, or Jersey – and express yourself!
Until next week, please sign-up if you haven’t already by emailing your info to . DolceDolce is free. And please forward us to all your friends. And please give us your comments by emailing us at the same address. We want to know what you think. Let’s start the conversation!
Gracey Hitchcock
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How high are your heels? What’s you style?

Gwen Stefani at  benefit for Japan dressed with stunning style in an outfit made of 3 Kimono.You don’t hear enough about Signature Style anymore. Today, the talk is all about trends and celebrities. It’s a shame. Celebrities have always influenced style. Think about Marilyn and her trademarked blonde bob and high-heeled wiggle, or Katherine Hepburn and her panache in menswear. Style icon Audrey Hepburn wore deceptively-simple black classics, shades, and Hermes scarves. All these women had a signature style. Lauren Bacall and VeronicaLake draped long flaxen hair over their faces. Bette Davis had her “eyes,” and Joan Crawford had those damned shoulder pads, right through the 1970s. I could go on, but I am sure you get the picture.

There are a few stars today who seem to understand into the signature style. Sharon Stone found her look with old-time, Hollywood glamour, platinum hair — and serious sex appeal. You can always pick out Gwen Stefani with her blonde bob. Marcia Cross of Desperate Housewives has a surefire signature with her flaming hair and porcelain skin
Catherine Zeta-Jones and Nicole Kidman are drop-dead gorgeous, but I can’t think of a style signature that would define them.
Tyra Banks of Top Model fame recently summed herself up: “With me you know what you’ll get. I’ll have my weave on and a whole lot of makeup.” She briefly tried to go “natural.” It lasted five minutes. Miss Banks knows her signature style depends on glamour. She is, after all, the self-appointed arbiter of the world “top-model.”
Style signatures are what used to help make a “super-model” super. Twiggy was a twig-thin waif with enormous eyes. Cindy Crawford has her mole. Lauren Hutton had a gap in her smile. In the ‘50s, popular model Candy Jones rode a peppermint-striped bicycle to her appointments in Manhattan.
There is no doubt that having a signature style garners attention. Why else would Madonna, the queen of self-marketing, appropriate the signatures of other blonde icons, from Marilyn to Marlene? And, Lady Gaga can sing, but would she be the mega-star she is today without her over-the-top style?
Fashion is fabulous and ephemeral. It changes in a season, but sometimes a fad won’t stay hot even that long. Trends are important; they update your look and keep you current. Forget investment dressing with the idea of keeping “good work suits” for 10 years. You wear this stuff every day. You clean it, it gets tired looking. Certain fabulous pieces such as a great jacket, blouse, bead corset, or evening accessories can last for years. Certain gloves and bags can — and have –endured for generations.
Collectables lead to a signature style. They become deeply personal statements that express the essence of you. Style doesn’t depend on whether you are wearing the latest style, but on how well what you wear reflects your style and flatters your figure.
I have noticed many women admire other women who have a definite style signature.  They admire a fabulous bracelet collection or even a single stunning bangle. They notice the woman who always wears a scarf with élan – that elusive skill. Oh, don’t forget the girl with the shoes! Does she always wear skyscraper heels or fab flats? In jeans or a gown, you always remember her shoes.
Everyone knows Vogue’s iconic editor Anna Wintour by her dark glasses and streaked bob. She is the same classic “Anna Wintour” rain or shine! Diana Vreeland, the last great Vogue editor before Anna, looked like a Kabuki performer with her black lacquered bob and rouged cheeks. Her style is still inspiring designers.
A style signature helps define you. It gives you confidence, it’s armor you put on to face the world. A great bracelet or pair or shoes always makes you feel fabulous even if you are wearing an old suit or weighing in a bit over your ideal.
Like it or not, how we look sends a message. So why not have it reflect who you really are, as well as today’s passing fad or trend?
Fashion is fabulous but style is iconic and can last a lifetime. So darlings, how high are your heels? How fabulous are your flats? What’s your style signature?

To dye for

Woman's chapan robe, ca. 1860–1870 Uzbekistan, Bukhara Silk; warp-faced plain weave, warp-resist dyeing (ikat)Fashionistas won’t want to miss The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s (FAMSF) exhibit To Dye For: A World Saturated in Color. It investigates one of fashion’s hottest trends by exploring its history of fabric dying, which has been honed for centuries by cultures spanning the globe. From pre-historic to modern times, the unique art of tie-dye is resurging.

The exhibition opens July 31 in the Lonna and Marshall Wais Gallery and Diana Dollar Knowles and Gorham B. Knowles Gallery for Textile Arts. To Dye For runs through January 9, 2011. It will feature more than 50 textiles and costumes that include a diverse array of “resist-dye” examples. They come from the comprehensive collection of textiles from Africa, Asia, and the Americas at FAMSF, as well as several Bay Area private collections.

The “resist-dye method” is an inclusive term describing the process of dyeing textiles to form patterns by preventing dye from reaching specific areas of the cloth. Tie-dye is just one example of it. Methods of resist-dyeing also include stitch-resist, batik or wax-resist dyeing, stencil-resist, mordant-resist, and ikat (warp- or weft-resist dyeing). FAMSF textile curator Jill D’Alessandro explains, “To Dye For not only highlights the museum’s impressive permanent collection of textiles, but also shows how cultures across the world have used similar techniques for centuries – with results that are sometimes similar, and at other times startlingly different. The end result will be a stunning array of textures, patterns and color.”

The museum describes the exhibit as “a truly cross-cultural presentation”. This exhibition showcases objects from a variety of cultures and historical periods, including a tie-dyed tunic from the Wari-Nasca culture of pre-Hispanic Peru (A.D. 500–900), a paste-resist Mongolian felt rug from the 15th to 17th centuries, and a group of stitch-resist dyed 20th-century kerchiefs from the Dida people of the Ivory Coast. These historical pieces are contrasted with artworks from such contemporary Bay Area artists as Judith Content, Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Angelina DeAntonis, and Yoshiko Wada.

Included in the exhibition is an elegant tie-dye evening gown from Rodarte’s 2009 collection, and an ikat trench coat from Oscar de La Renta’s 2005 collection. Both looks foreshadowed the current spring/summer trend of tribal-infused fashions such as Dries Van Noten’s and Gucci’s ikats and Proenza Schouler’s and Calvin Klein’s tie-dyes.”


Anna and living artfully

Quel scandal! Anna Wintour wore the same dress twice! What is it about the pursuit of personal excellence that irks so many people? The need to pick on accomplished, polished people perplexes me.
Many people vilify Anna Wintour because she seems perfect, or almost perfect. Her flawless exterior, discipline, and iron will seem to rub people the wrong way. Yet, to my knowledge she has committed no crimes, made no sex tapes, been involved in no scandals, or defrauded anyone. That makes her a celebrity-saint these days.
People seem okay with lovely-looking models, because — in spite of the Tyra Banks and Heidi Klums who have proven to be crack business women — many models often appear messy and troubled.  They have well-reported problems with eating issues, drugs, and men.
Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, has been called an ice queen, alien, dominatrix, and worse.  I do not know Anna Wintour. I have never met her, but I admire her. I have worked in the magazine business and it is rife with colossal egos, and it demands very hard work.  Anna Wintour made that point recently in an interview with David Letterman.  She was promoting RJ Cutler’s documentary The September Issue, which is about her magazine and her role in it.
Reading the reviews of the film, one could wonder why so many critics review Anna Wintour instead of the film, especially when it is doubtful they have ever met her. As Letterman pointed out in the first moments his interview, he knows little about Vogue magazine, but he knows a lot about Wintour.  He said she had “transcended what she did”.
I think there is much to be learned from women like Anna Wintour who provoke so much ire and controversy and wield so much power. By her own admission, she did not excel academically. Her father was a successful English newspaper editor. According to Anna Wintour, he determined she would be the editor of Vogue, “and so it was decided.”  She told Sixty Minutes correspondent Morley Safer this a few years ago; the implication that she had to met her father’s expectation was clear.
Wintour has worn her hair in the same signature style since she was 15.  She is in impeccable shape, yet it is widely reported that she eats.  She keeps her slim figure by exercising and playing tennis — with her son when she can. She is divorced and has raised two children.
Granted, she has lot of help to maintain her look this stage of her life.  Vogue pays for her hair and make-up to be done daily.  She also has an extravagant clothing allowance.  But, if you look back over her life, she has always appeared the same, even before the lavish perks.
Fame editor of Vogue, Anna WintourWhen asked about her reputation as slave driver and “_itch”, she points out that many of her staff members have worked for her for more than 20 years.  It is hard to believe that key long-time employees Grace Coddington and Andre Leon Talley –or the score of talented people who have worked all these years at Vogue — would have had to look very hard to find well-paying glamorous jobs elsewhere.
No darlings, I think women like Anna Wintour are great examples of people who make the most of their personal assets. I think it is as useful to study Anna’s look as her Vogue editorials. How foolish was the journalist who recently accused her of a fashion faux pas for wearing the same perfect Carolina Herrera print dress on Letterman because she had also worn it to the The Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards.  Did this journalist ask herself what message Ms. Wintour was trying to send; that she is a hardworking editor with impeccable taste or a red-carpet hopping celebrity?  Vogue describes good pieces from significant designers as an investment.  So, can a classic print dress not be worn for a season without garnering ridicule?
I’m definitely not in Ms. Wintour’s league wardrobe-wise (sigh!), but I have collected some fabulous dresses over years.  I would not hesitate to wear any of them on any number of occasions.  They suit me, are timeless, and look fabulous.  The respected designer Oscar de la Renta said in recent Vanity Fair interview, “fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable.  Style is more about being yourself.” Anna Wintour is nothing if not herself — and bravo to that.
Fashion is the key to avoiding the kiss of dowdiness.  Fashion is fun.  Fashion is the mainstay of Ms. Wintour’s livelihood and the raison d’etre of Vogue.  But women without style are never chic, well-dressed, or distinctive. 
A younger women friend once accused me of “controlling my image” when I preferred to give her a photograph than just let her snap one.  She was right.  I was amused it piqued her, especially as she was so insecure about her look and always fussed with her appearance.  I explained I didn’t particularly care to be photographed, but had learned to take a decent photo, and therefore preferred to give out good ones.  Most of them are just snaps, but good ones.  After all photos are forever.
Darlings, you have one life and you can live it artfully.  You can dress well, eat well, entertain well — and conduct you yourself with grace — or you can slosh through life. The choice is yours. Style is very personal and it is not about money, dresses, or even glamour; it is about discipline, choices, and vision.

Fashionista must-have!

The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo is an off-beat and amusing look at the life of Coco Chanel.  Karbo adores fashion, but is more of a fashion historian than fashionista.  She tells Coco’s story with wit and verve, deftly separating legend and fact.

It is full of sharp observations as well as advice and tips on how to become a star a la Chanel.  I loved this book and Karbo’s take on the one and only Gabrielle Chanel. I only wished it had pictures, but the illustrations are adorable.
Buy it for yourself and devour it immediately. I did! Buy another for your favourite fashionista. A perfect for holiday gift giving.