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February 22, 2010

Getting My Mandarina Ducks In Line: How I'd Rock These Handbags Now

mandarina ducks

Although the ridiculously shivery NYC weather still has us all bundled up in heavy wool trenches, snuggly thick scarves, and chunky knit sweaters, it's not surprising how (around this time of year) many are preparing for their annual closet revamp in anticipation for the warmer, cheerier months of Spring to move on up.

Naturally, with this in mind, I've inevitably started drafting a new roster of some of my Spring closet essentials, and one of the tops on my "To Scoop" list is a luxuriously delicious handbag (or maybe two) from the luxe Italian label, Mandarina Duck. Interestingly, although this label is an undoubted hit in Europe, it's popularity is slowly creeping its way to the US. And personally, I just love scoping out incredible high-end designer labels that are relatively under the radar. The calfskin leather on these precious beauties is quite exceptional, which makes the process of narrowing down which ones I want a bit tough. However, with the help of my "style gurus," Sienna Miller, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Alexa Chung, choosing which I'd like the most might makes this process a bit easier:

mandarina black drawstring
(Or perhaps, should I go with Mandarina Duck's versatile black satchel? I can rock an easy, breezy day look (MK style) with my denim shirt, white blazer, and straw hat, or change up the denim and hat for a black tank and simple wavy locks for a night look. This satchel can be rocked with virtually anything!)

mandarina duck red
(Channeling the quirkier chic gal in me, "a la Alexa Chung", I was also thinking of copping this lovely Mandarina Duck red satchel to match up with my vintage leopard sweater, tweed skirt, trouser socks, and wooden platforms. The fun, harmonizing colour schemes of this overall look makes me eye this bag in particular. It has an uncommon, cheery quality. Bless its heart!)

(Surprisingly, after rummaging my closet, I realized that I don't own a ivory-coloured leather bag. The style and colour of this Mandarina Duck drawstring natural shoulder bag has me channeling a laid back, smart Brit look (as Sienna might do) with a slight "nautical" element. I'd rock this handbag with a striped boat neck top, navy blue boyfriend blazer, and acid skinny jeans. Brilliant!)

This is a tough call. I might just cave in and buy them all. haha! Luckily, my go to shop, Creative Contrast, is offering 20% off all Mandarina Ducks right now (promo code MANDARINA20). They also carry more gorgeous "MD" bags of your choosing. Sweetness.

By Lauren Baluyo, Contributing Blogger

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February 13, 2010

Are you going crazy for Alice? Tom Binns is Enchanting!

Tim Burton's premiere of Alice in Wonderland is fast approaching and I'm all about the hype! With a starring cast that includes Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham, this movie is sure to be cinematic magic. Not only is the film on my radar, but also all of the outrageously fun and funky accessories coming along with it. My favorite being "trash to treasure" jewelry designer Tom Binns. His new anticipated line for Disney Couture (as seen in Marie Claire Magazine and People Magazine) is finally hitting stores. has a great selection, but they're selling quick! So, check out these beauties!

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February 9, 2010

Where The Heart Is (at Sir Alistair Rai)


As we blissfully await in anxious anticipation for the big V DAY, I think it's safe to say that my heart and mind have currently been all about "pretty in pink" things and lovey-dovey kinds of gestures. I just can't seem to help my sappy, clichéd mentality these past few days. Sorry people. Interestingly though, this highly romantic state of mind is inevitably trickling down to my innate fashion senses, leading me to scope out some hot, must-have pieces for the month of February, which just might add a little loving smile to my closet.

After doing my ritual visits to the Fashion & Style section of the NY Times, I was pleasantly greeted by an enticing article featuring Sir Alistair Rai's sweet new accessories (which I must get my hands on, pronto!). Clearly, at first glance, I've instantly fallen for her Tri Mantra Love Scarf and Honeymoon Clutch. With the subtle, alluring designs of "love" and a heart etched on the corner of each piece, I might have no other option than to make my Valentine's Day purchases as a little gift to myself. For one, I love the laid back ease and colour of Rai's lovely scarf, and the vintage photo element featured on her chic black and white Honeymoon clutch. Thankfully, my trusty shopping fave, Creative Contrast, now has them readily available for me to instantaneously scoop up. Cannot wait!

By Lauren Baluyo, Contributing Blogger

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On Our Radar: Tom Binns for Disney Couture

While little girls eagerly await the arrival of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland” on the big screen, big girls wait with just as much anticipation for the arrival of Disney's fantastical collection of Alice-inspired jewelry. Designed by Tom Binns for Disney Couture, the collections will feature bracelets, necklaces and earrings inspired by the characters in the film.

Two lines will launch, one six-piece, higher-priced, limited-edition Tom Binns for Walt Disney Signature collection (in the $1,000 to $2,000 range), and another less expensive in the ($100 to $500 range) 35-piece Tom Binns for Disney Couture collection which will include items like Red Queens earrings with silver-plated rose thorns ($75), White Queen choker ($150), and Keyhole Alice studs, ($50). Featured at top is the Tom Binns Wrap Mad Hatter Charm Bracelet, a circle of interwoven chain with mushrooms, song birds and secret messages mixed in!

Expect to see the same punk rock style of baubles that has defined Binns work for the past two decades. Bookmark Creative Contrast to be first in line when the collection goes up for sale.

By Anne-Marie Scali, Contributing Blogger

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February 8, 2010

Bangin' Out This Spring With CC Skye Screw Cuffs


Another few specks of heaven to add to my Spring time wishlist -- CC Skye Screw Bracelets in a myriad of eye candy colours. Considering I've always been a faithful admirer of what's seemingly becoming a timeless trend known as "stackin' up the bangles and cuffs", these precious little buckled bracelets serve as the perfect compliments to my chunkier "wrist bling" accessories. Though it wouldn't please me more than to cop this style in every single available hue, (if I had to narrow it down) my wrists will be undoubtedly transfixed on the fluorescent pink, neon yellow and electric blue gold screw leather cuffs. And, with CC Skye's lovely celebrity following of some of fashion's most style-conscious gals like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Leighton Meester, Olivia Palermo (this list can go on and on), it's quite evident just how revered this designer label is fast becoming.

Although the current, chilly winter months are still lingering heavily around us, there's no harm in prepping before the warm, cheerier Spring season rolls on in. And though I always have a soft spot for my winter greys, blacks, and taupes, I'm very much looking forward to bangin' out my wardrobe with daring, vibrant colours in the form of aesthetically fresh accessories, frilly dresses, and slightly jeweled footwear. What better way than to start out with a few little heavenly bracelets to add to my jewelry tray? Luckily, my go-to hip spot, Creative Contrast, now has them available in every hue imaginable, and during the month of February, they're offering $5 off any purchase, as well as free shipping on your shopping buys that are over 100 bucks. Just enter promo code VDAY5 at checkout. Not bad indeed. Take a peep!

By Lauren Baluyo, Contributing Blogger

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February 5, 2010

What's your Valentine's Day Glam?

What's your Valentine's Day Glam? Rocker, or sweet? Or a little of both? This year I'm all about the fun, stylish pieces that are out there. Jessica Kagan Cushman has amazing cuffs and bangles- the romantic "We'll always have Paris..." is my personal favorite, right next to the "Winged Hearts." Want to wear to the love this year? Sir Alistair's Rai scarves have been spotted on the hottest celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jessica Alba. Check out the Gayatri Mantra scarves in Love and Adore. The Kenneth Jay Lane Clover Crystal Heart ring works perfectly with Alexis Bittar's chunky statement necklace and the Kooba Hobo bag in berry tops it all off!

This year, have some fun with your look- check out this season's hottest pieces at, where they're offering $5.00 off any purchase with the coupon code VDAY5-- and free shipping worldwide on purchases over 100.00!

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February 1, 2010

My Faithful Mandarina Duck

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When opting for the ideal, spot on, everyday kind of handbag, I always find that functionality and versatility is quite key in making that little piece of heaven around your shoulder and arm last for ages. As I routinely trek to NYC every morning for work, or go on my many spontaneous shopping trips, I can't seem to leave my house without toting around all my essentials...and usually, it's a pleasant plethora of essentials, which include a trusty pair of flats (when my platform heels start feeling unfriendly), a little cardi when the office gets a bit chilly, a chunky weekly planner and fashion notes, my little sack of beauty must-haves for those last minute "reapplies", and my hefty bottle of water and cereal bars to recharge throughout the day. I guess one can say I'm more of a "hand carry" type of gal, as opposed to rockin little petite purses all day long (not possible for me).

While peeping some designer brands that keep to my personal mantra of "handbag functionality and versatility," I thankfully came across the high end Italian brand, Mandarina Duck, and inevitably, my admiration for them was an instantaneous one. Where handbag chicness meets efficiency and convenience, Mandarina Duck undoubtedly comes into play. Made of the most supple, soft quality leather in sweet, functional shapes, this lovely Italian brand keeps to their personal design ideal of "faithful handbag monogamy".

The initial inspiration drawn during the brand's establishment is quite an interesting one. The Mandarin duck is an animal that has been regarded for ages as being an arduous traveler and faithful partner during its lifetime. Hence, when designing each special piece, the brand keeps to its ultimate value, which includes maintaining a vibrancy of colour, quality and resistance, a innate knack for travel, and dependability -- just as the Mandarin duck's character was known for its myriad of beautiful colours and long dedicated journeys. Personally, I've always believed that when buying a special piece of fashion, especially an everyday handbag, it's important to feel a sort of personal connection, considering it'll be faithfully by your side through your many everyday travels.

The Mandarina Duck pieces in Creative Contrast's shop seem to maintain that much-needed aspect of chicness, functionality, and overall utility (two of which i cannot stop eyeing are the Leather City Tote and Leather Lips Shoulder Bag). ;) Luckily, during the month of February, Creative Contrast is offering 10% off and free worldwide shipping for anyone purchasing Mandarina Duck... at checkout, just enter promo code: MANDARINA10 -- awesome!

By Lauren Baluyo, Contributing Blogger