The Secret Room opened the doors to its Red Carpet Style Lounge a little earlier than usual (a full week before the award show), with an event that was at once family friendly and quite sophisticated.
Although the decor of the event, staged at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza's Pavilion Ballroom, was intended to evoke the Baz Luhrmann version of The Great Gatsby, it instead evoked the 1920s as it exists in the world of Downton Abbey.
Once past the Cheerios sponsor display and the red carpet celebrity photo area, the first thing that caught the eye was a big display of hats (that were elegant nods to the Edwardian era and the first two seasons of Downton Abbey) created by European-trained, Las Vegas-based milliner Louisea Voisine. The Burbank-based 1928 (www.1928.com) jewelry company, meanwhile, showcased their latest enterprise--a whole collection of fashion jewelry for women and men inspired by different characters from the show. Christina Lovejoy, the company's rep was on hand to help guests discover their inner "Edith," "Mary," "Cora" or "Rose." (I am an "Edith," which should not surprise my friends and colleagues)
Silver and semi-precious gem enthusiasts, meanwhile, would be delighted with Charise Noel's collection of lariats (charisenoel.com). Inspired by her mother, a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor, she explained the lariats are each one of a kind, easy to take on and off and reflect the personality of the wearer based on how the rock the stones, so to speak. Like her mother, she also designs her pieces to endure, coating the sterling silver chains with white gold so it will not tarnish as quickly. While she's still seeking local boutiques to carry the products, you can view her entire collection on line.
Akonye Kena's Made in Uganda's accessories, in contrast, are earthy and rustic, but like Charise Noel's collection, have a great story behind them. Proceeds from the purchases of the fair-trade products support the communities of the artisans who create them. (www.madeinug.com).
As the Secret Room's charity was Children's Hospital Los Angeles, (www.chla.org) it was only fitting that there were many products dedicated to wellness for both mothers and children. These included vitamin supplements for adults and children as well as toys' and comfy furniture. However, who knew that a diaper bag company would be a big hit among both busy moms and women married to their jobs. The brand "Petunia Pickle Bottom" may have "mom and baby" written all over it, but the products and their styles are anything but baby fodder. Prints echo the sensibilities of UK designer Orla Kiley and Finland's Marimekko while the subtle quilted fabrics and cheerful colors evoke Italy's Furla. As the bags are constructed of sturdy canvas and durable hardware, they're sure to satisfy those looking for alternatives to leather. Cheryl Dunn, in fact, notes that the line is such a hit with single and professional women at stores like Nordstrom, that it prompted the launch of a new handbag line. (petunia.com)
Another nice thing to observe was that dermatologist-designed beauty products offered, Doctor D. Schwab (www.doctorschwabca.com), Nerium (www.nerium.com) and Sente (www.sentelabs.com), are U.S. made, and based in California. Vance Family Soy Candles, out of Vancouver, WA (Vancefamillysoycandles.com), add beauty to any room with its use of natural herbal aromas and Murano-style glass votives that can be reused when the original candle is used up.
There were a few gee-whiz products for adults that were attention getting, both for their design and their abilities to multi-task. The HoverCam (www.hovercam.com), which folds up into the size of candy bar, attaches by USB to your computer and can do everything from scan documents and photos, to make 3-D images and expand your computer's existing photo functions.
While the Revel Body massagers (www.revelbody.com) are an adults-only item (slightly surprising given the event's them and the presence of children, who were diverted by the expansive spread of candy, toys and organic manicures), the circular design is very discreet and actually a great size that makes for an effective massage of stressed feet, neck and shoulders (as long as the specialty attachments are stashed away safely in a drawer). Thomas George Estates (www.thomasgeorgeestates.com), offered more sophisticated, drinkable pleasure from Napa.
For more information about volunteering for Children's Hospital Los Angeles and its application process, visit (http://www.chla.org)
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