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  • Bag Snob blogger Tina Craig influences designers and shoppers alike.
  • The DL1961 Premium Denim capsule designed by Tina Craig features seven styleincluding transitional ombre.
  • Tina Craig likes cocktail jeans instead of a LBD.
  • Tina Craig collaborated with Donna Karan's DKNY line on a special series of fivehandbags.

Don’t judge a bag by its cover.

That’s the takeaway from my chat with Tina Craig, creator of Bag Snob, one of the most influential style blogs on the web. Craig showed her denim collaboration with DL1961 Premium Denim at Tootsies and still seems a little awestruck by the attention paid to the “online journal” she and her best friend started back in 2003.

The fact Craig was in Houston for her own personal appearance in conjunction with her denim collaboration was truly thrilling and it showed.

But come on, with a name like Bag Snob (or Shoe Snob, Tot Snob, Couture Snob) you have to expect some kind of elitism, right?

“All the 'snob' means, is that you have a certain taste in life. I have a T-shirt I bought at H&M for $4.99. It’s my favorite shirt. I wear it pressed because it’s my taste, but the 'snob' is all tongue-in-cheek,” Craig says.

“All the 'snob' means, is that you have a certain taste in life. I have a T-shirt I bought at H&M for $4.99. It’s my favorite shirt. I wear it pressed because it’s my taste, but the 'snob' is all tongue-in-cheek,” Craig says.

It is her taste level and upfront honesty that have cultivated her ardent followers. Between Twitter and Facebook she has 50,000 followers and many more on The Bag Snob blog. It has also caught the attention of the fashion industry’s most influential designers, who not only read what she writes, but take it into consideration.

“Michael Kors told me we called him and other designers out,” Craig says. “Christian Louboutin reads everything written about him because it is so close to his heart.”

One bag at a time

Blogs like the Bag Snob have democratized fashion, she says, making designers really consider the women they are designing for. She’s knowledgeable and opinionated, and although the Bag Snob and its continued evolution is a full-time career now, the blog's beginnings were much simpler. The site started with just $30 and was designed by her BFF’s software engineer husband.

“It’s all been so organic. I always say we are taking over the world one bag at a time,” Craig says.

She and partner in all things Bag Snobbery, Kelly Cook, have expanded the concept to include beauty, couture, shoes, jewelry and fashion for tots. Craig’s collaboration with DL1961 Premium is another extension of the Bag Snob brand.

She previously worked with DKNY on a limited edition collection of five bags: The Tote, The Treasure, The Travel, The Trendy and The Clutch.

Blogs like the Bag Snob have democratized fashion, she says, making designers really consider the women they are designing for.

This time, it was a week’s worth of denim to suit any mood and every event. There’s a weekend pair and a cocktail pair and every pair was designed by Craig to include all elements of a woman’s life.

“I’m a busy mom. I carpool, I help my son do homework, I work, I go out. You have to balance life. Women want essentials and that’s what this collection gives them.” Craig says.

The designing gig is still relatively new for Craig, but she has always loved writing and when her parents suggested she also pursue a business degree, she relented, graduating with a degree in international finance from the University of Southern California. A stint as a VJ on MTV Asia and a long-held love for fashion meant she was destined to pursue something outside the lines.

Craig is a big personality in a tiny package and her designer stories belong in a book or, please, Bravo, if you’re reading, a reality show. Just the way the site was discovered is a tale.

Be good to everybody

“I had been corresponding with a woman who I thought was a 20-year-old college student saving up for her first designer bag. She thought I was a cranky 60-year-old woman from the Upper East Side,” Craig says. “Turns out she was Linda Grant, an award-winning author whose best friend was the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman. Be good to everybody because you just never know.”

And when there is a bad review? What happens to her friendships with the designers then?

Cameras would lap up her trip to Milan where she was invited to preview Bottega Veneta’s Initial Program and her dinners with Diane Von Furstenberg, where she is greeted with kisses on the cheeks and discounts at her DVF stores.

“You experience Diane. The first time I met her she asked everyone, “Where is the bag girl?” grabbed my cheeks and kissed them. We have been friends ever since,” Craig says.

And when there is a bad review? What happens to her friendships with the designers then?

“I have been taken out to lunch or dinner by designers' PR people who ask me to change what I wrote and I tell them I won’t do that. It’s my opinion. But, I do think carefully about what I write. There are real people and real feelings behind that bag,” Craig says.

  • Presmer python and suede fringe clutch, $365
  • Presmer python cuff, $89
  • Presmer python clutch, $355
  • Presmer python bangles, $44-$64

The fall color that makes you look slimmer: Houston designer's berryliciousaccessories are red hot

Fab Find

Berry hues are always a fall favorite, but this season burgundy with a splash of python is what’s in the mix. All of the fashion magazines have dubbed the dark red hue the color of the season.

OK! features wine-colored scarves, hats, dresses, handbags, jewelry and even lipstick. Celeb stylist Philip Bloch told the magazine it's a sophisticated shade that complements every skin tone and hair color. "And because it's a deep shade, it's slimming," he said.

All of the fashion magazines have dubbed the dark red hue the color of the season.

Life & Style calls the color "oxblood" because "it's a richer, edgier red that makes an outfit both sexy and sophisticate." The magazine shows Blake Lively in a sequined burgundy minidress by Gucci, and features handbags, high heels and bracelets in the distinctive shade.

Both magazines feature cuffs from Houston designer Annsley Popov of Presmer accessories. Part of Presmer’s berrylicious appeal is the pop of color at affordable pricing. A raspberry python cuff is $89 and bracelets range from $44 to $64. Clutches like The Piper are pricier at $365 and combine python with fringe. All are available at Muse.

Texas Monthly, O Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and Redbook have all featured Presmer’s accessories.

  • Cesar Galindo poses with some of his models
    Photo by © Thomas Concordia 2012
  • Galindo featured casual wear in bright red and fuchsia shades.
    Photo by © Thomas Concordia 2012
  • One part of his presentation featured art deco-inspired evening wear in shadesof grey, black and white.
    Photo by © Thomas Concordia 2012
  • Galindo decided to create a collection to showcase his new line of handbags andclutches.
    Photo by © Thomas Concordia 2012
  • A series of silver and white pieces range from a '50s-style dress to a dramatictoga evening gown.
    Photo by © Thomas Concordia 2012
  • A crocodile clutch designed by Galindo accentuates a floral pants and top.
    Photo by Tom Concordia
  • A fringe look from the Cesar Galindo Collection.
    Photo by © Thomas Concordia 2012
  • Galindo also played with unusual fabrics in creating the collection.
    Photo by © Thomas Concordia 2012

The Czar of fashion week: Collections are twice as nice for Houston's own CesarGalindo

New accessories line, too

NEW YORK — Rachel Zoe wasn't the only designer with a really busy schedule during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Houston native Cesar Galindo showcased his Czar line of moderately-priced womenswear in the tents at Lincoln Center on one of the first days of the fashion extravaganza. And on the last day, he unveiled the Cesar Galindo Collection at the highrise offices of the Mohawk Group.

"I'm barely standing right now," he joked, while receiving hugs and air kisses from the excited crowd.

"It's an escape from reality, where you can be the princess from Abu Dhabi or you can be the Queen of England," Galindo said.

In one of his strongest collection in years, Galindo turned to a Japanese art deco theme for his high-end Cesar Galindo Collection, featuring evening wear in shades ranging from beige to metallic to fuchsia intermixed with a beautiful tattoo print.

"It's an escape from reality, where you can be the princess from Abu Dhabi or you can be the Queen of England," he said. "I really had fun doing it. It's more luxurious. It's like a fantasy."

Galindo is known for his draping talents, which were evident in this collection. "If you look at it, there's a 3-D effect to my clothing. When you look through the garment you see different body types," he explained. "Even the beaded one that's draped, you turn around and realize that there's another layer, but it's all one dress. That's the idea."

The designer, who was raised in Houston but has been a fashion fixture in New York for more than two decades, didn't plan on showcasing a high-end collection at fashion week until his financial backers encouraged him to create an accessories line.

"I said I'd love to, but it doesn't go with my Czar collection (which is more contemporary), so why don't I do a Cesar Galindo Collection?," he recalled. "Three days later I was on a plane to Medellín, Columbia, where they do high-end crocodile work. I spent four days there and designed the whole collection in two months."

The accessories collection includes triangular handbangs and crocodile clutches in shades of gray "The collection was built around luxe," Galindo said. "These are my girls."

Galindo also made a third fashion week appearance when his Czar line was featured at a fashion show featuring Case-Mate cell phone accessories, at Best Buy Theater in Times Square. Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas was on hand as rap singer Common performed.

Here's hoping Galindo is finally getting some rest now.

Red carpet hottie: HBO star wears a Houston designer to a slick Emmy party

Peck Style

Behind every red carpet darling, lies a talented stylist who is plugged into designers on the rise. Houston's David Peck is one of those designers and with each award show, movie premiere and charity event, his work is cropping up more and more.

Now, it's been seen on Anna Chlumsky, who stars as the vice president's chief of staff on the HBO comedy Veep.

Chlumsky wore Peck’s Clary dress from his FW12 collection to the BAFTA TV Tea Party, a pre-Emmy event saluting nominees, in Los Angeles last week. Peck says her stylist remembered seeing the collection through Peck’s New York public relations firm.

“Her stylist is friends with our PR firm and has loved the collection for awhile. She came in to pull some looks for Anna's fittings and thought the dress was perfect for the event.” Peck told CultureMap in an email.

Other red carpet notables donning Crop — Peck’s line — include, Mayim Bialik, Giuliana Rancic and Maggie Grace.

  • Matthew Singer, the new men's fashion director for Neiman Marcus and BergdorfGoodman, balances good taste with simple pleasures — like Houston Texansfootball.
    Photo by Wilson Parish
  • Singer suggests embracing color for fall. If bright orange is too much, go withjewel tones.
    Photo by Wilson Parish
  • Singer played with outerwear during the fall runway show.

Big style meets down-to-earth charm: Fall fashion tips from Neiman Marcus men'sfashion director

Singing His Praises

Men, you have to remember just two fashion trends for fall — color and corduroy.

This is the missive from Matthew Singer, the new and down-to-earth men's fashion director for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Singer touched down in Houston earlier this month to host the Fall 2013 Men's Trend Event at Neiman Marcus.

The very dapper crowd lapped up the berry-hued suiting and colorful accessories for men that were presented on the runway. Singer, dressed in a slim-fitting navy suit, crisp white shirt, black skinny tie and loafers sans socks, was engaging, personable and knew each model's name from memory as they hit the carpet.

It's easy to see why Singer is the fashion voice of the luxury stores, but ask him about the new position and he's quick to remind you that he's like everybody else.

It's easy to see why Singer is the fashion voice of the luxury stores, but ask him about the new position and he's quick to remind you that he’s like everybody else.

"I'm just a regular guy. I'm very laid-back, almost too laid-back sometimes, but I’m very grateful for the career path I've had," Singer says. "Retail can be a grind, but if you put in the time and work hard, you can get amazing things out of it."

The 32-year-old Singer jumped to the big leagues after serving as the associate men's fashion director for the upscale division of Macy's Inc. at Bloomingdale's, but it was his early days of "slinging prom dresses" that got his feet wet in the industry. He credits his time at Scoop with really preparing him for all aspects of fashion retail.

"It was a small operation, very hands-on, so I was working with the customer, buying, visual merchandising and calling the repairman when the A/C broke down," Singer says. "But I loved being on the floor and working with a customer and having things come alive for them."

Singer brought that same panache to the runway show, naming the designer and then detailing the how and why of each look.

Although there were some pretty bold pieces sent out such as an Etro paisley evening jacket, most of the looks were put together in a way that most men can and should wear. Among this season’s winners:

  • Corduroy. Don't want to don bright orange pants? Singer says jewel tones are great options too. Navy, emerald green and any berry-based color make a great foundation for a fall ensemble.
  • Color. From shoelaces to jackets, color is everywhere. Ease into it, but embrace it because it isn't going anywhere.
  • Accessories. Yes, real men do accessorize. Start simple with a pocket square, but look for pattern and texture. Go beyond basic black and brown belts and slip on gray, navy, green and, if you are really adventurous, orange. Again, think texture for interest. Add creative socks or simply drape a scarf around your neck.
  • When the weather finally turns to fall, a top coat is a must. Singer also sent vests as outwear down the runway. Some were on the puffy side, some were made from lightweight materials and one was even a gorgeous chocolate brown leather vest, but all were worn over jackets, sportcoats and sweaters

Singer is keen on a couple of looks that are a little questionable (cummerbunds and double-breasted suits, for instance), but overall his eye is sharp and refined. He understands that, while men want to dress well, many are unsure how to do it.

Singer understands that, while men want to dress well, many are unsure how to do it.

"You want to look and feel good in what you are wearing, so if you have to, take baby steps toward something new," Singer says. "I'm the guy who wears navy and sometimes as I'm walking out the door, my wife will look at me and say, "You are really wearing that?" Everyone needs a good second opinion."

Singer is sincere about his regular guy status. He's as comfortable rocking loafers and no socks as he is talking football. Even though he declined fantasy football this year, he grabs some NFL on Sundays and jokes that he'd watch college football, too, except for the threat of divorce papers. And, Texans fanatics: He swears the Houston team is his favorite.

"I think they have what it takes to go all the way," Singer told CultureMap.

That's music to the ears of local football fans and, more importantly, to men who may find jumping into fall fashion more accessible when coming from a guy who checks football scores in between fashion shows.

Real guy? Absolutely.

  • "Live Colorfully" umbrella from Kate Spade
  • Pantone's "Fashion Color Report Spring 2013"
  • The colors of spring 2013 on the runway, with creations by Diane VonFurstenburg, from left, Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Rucci

Shades of the season: Kate Spade introduces umbrella with cool fashion weekcolors

Fab find

Although fall has just begin, spring is in the air with showers of reports from fashion weeks in New York, London and Milan (with Paris to come). One especially trending topic: The colors of the upcoming season, which span across the rainbow spectrum, from Pantone’s 2012 color of the year, “Tangerine Tango” and variations on that theme, to lime greens to cooling blues.

Put them all together, and you have Kate Spade’s new “Live Colorfully” umbrella, available now for $78 through the company's website. (The Galleria boutique expects a shipment of these fun must-have accessories in about two weeks.) The umbrella comes with a matching sleeve for easy toting.

The refreshing palette perfectly reflects Pantone’s “Fashion Color Report Spring 2013,” which was released just prior to the annual New York fashion event. The umbrella employs dusk blue, lemon zest, emerald and yes, nectarine in playful stripes, adding a dose of delight to even the wettest of weather.

Just pop your new umbrella open, and you’re sure to be on the color target. You can’t miss!

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Luxe plastic surgery center injects River Oaks with cutting-edge techniques, posh recovery suites, secret access, and more

A-list treatment

With the holiday season in full swing and many prepping for a new look for the new year, image-conscious Houstonians have a new option for cutting-edge cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery in one of Houston’s most elite neighborhoods.

Nuveau Plastic Surgery + Medical Aesthetics, a local leader in cosmetic medical procedures, has quietly opened a sleek new facility in River Oaks (3720 Westheimer Rd.). Owned and operated by renowned (and board-certified) plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Lee, the facility offers myriad reconstructive surgeries for men, women, and children, as well as beauty treatments, touch-ups, and more.

Aside from top-of-the-line technology, instrumentation, and treatments, the boutique center has personalized service and features to the tony RO crowd. A secret entrance ensures privacy for discreet clients, much like similar operations in Los Angeles and New York.

Another top-drawer feature: Tastefully appointed pre-op and post-op suites keep patients in-house, rather than having to leave posh treatment centers and head to crowded hospital rooms for recovery.

In keeping with Lee’s insistence on a medicine-first approach, anesthesia for patients is provided by Medical Anesthesia Associates, an MD-only group.

A cut above

Notably, the center places a primary focus on plastic surgery, which, for the uninitiated, has a clear distinction from cosmetic surgery. Randy Rakes, managing partner, tells CultureMap that it’s important for clients to understand the difference.

“You have to understand, you have to go through hundreds of hours of training and cases — face and the entire body — to get that board certification, and go through rigorous testing in order to meet that specification,” he says.

Why is that important? The industry, Rakes notes, is rife with practitioners such as “OBGYNs or dermatologists or people who have not really been trained in the art of plastic surgery, who take a class somewhere and learn how to do liposuction or a fat transfer — and then they're ‘experts’ in aesthetic surgery.”

That’s especially key when selecting a provider for highly invasive — and potentially serious — procedures such as facelifts, eyelid surgeries, tummy tucks, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast lifts and augmentations, breast reconstruction, and more, Rakes adds.

In an era of Instagram beauty demands, more choosy clients are opting for streamlining facial features. To that end, Lee is one of a select few surgeons in the U.S. who regularly performs “V-Line '' surgery. The set of procedures, popularized in South Korea where Lee honed many of his skills, aim to narrow the width of the jawline and the face.

Aesthetics with an expert eye

Lee’s elegant, 5,500-square-foot center is adorned with CASA Houston designs, Italian-influenced finishes, and soothing elements evocative of a modern art museum or luxury spa. The facility houses a Visia Skin Analysis Studio and seven treatment suites aesthetic work such as Botox, microneedling, VI peels, Halo Laser Resurfacing, Moxi Non-Ablative Laser, Broad Band Light Photofacials, Coolsculpting, Emsculpt, and more.

Rakes says that his registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and estheticians are elite, by design, as he and Lee insist on credentials. “All of our injectors are licensed in the State of Texas,” he says. “Most places don't have that, the reason being is that they are much more highly skilled than a traditional, regular nurse injector. So they have a much higher skill set. The people who do our lasers and things of that nature have 10 to 15 years of experience, so clients know that they're getting the best possible treatment with the best possible devices — we own every medical device that's considered cutting edge in the industry.”

Facing forward

Rakes, a longtime medical industry processional with a keen eye for trends and technology, says that his clients aren’t just looking for traditional services, but new technologies and treatment, such as PRP and other regenerative therapies. “I think patients are kind of moving a little bit away from the traditional Hyaluronic fillers like Restylane and really looking for something with a more natural approach.”

His treatment teams stimulate collagen with fillers such as Radiesse, “and then we combine that with energy-based devices to even further lift the tissue and work as a synergy between using the injectable and the device, because the combination of both of those things give the patient the best possible results,” Rakes notes. Lee and Rakes also focus facial care on medical-grade skincare brands Alastin, Revision, and Elta MD.

A global scope

Aside from his board certification in plastic surgery, Lee has also trained in craniofacial and pediatric surgery. His medical mission work has taken him to Thailand, Haiti, and Cambodia, where he has performed surgeries for nonprofits such as Operation Smile and Smile Train for those in need.

Those in need of non-traditional treatments can also trust Lee, says Rakes, who points to Lee’s work in the cosmetic and plastic surgery-obsessed Korea. “Some of the Korean techniques are much more advanced than the techniques that are available here in the United States,” says Rakes. “Dr. Lee does a lot of things that other physicians here just don't do.”

Those interested should book early, Rakes advises, as the holiday and new year rush is in full swing. The center offers “pre-buying” slots where clients can reserve space and time. “We’ve been very busy,” says Rakes, noting the local celebs who’ve shared the work they’ve received there on social media. “I think people come here because they know they’re getting the very best treatment and results available.”

Photo courtesy of Nuveau PlasticSurgery + Medical Aesthetics

Nuveau's sleek River Oaks center boasts designs from CASA.

Beloved Houston urban farm toasts local culinary legend with new cooking courses and classroom

peg-approved

For longtime Houston food insiders, Peg Lee needs no introduction. A lifelong local culinary instructor, she has been a fixture in the food scene since the 1970s, where she (often humorously) led cooking classes at Houston Community College.

She was a no-brainer to found and direct Rice Epicurean's cooking school. And the newly launched Central Market made waves in 2001 by enticing her to launch its now wildly successful cooking school, which, thanks to Lee, has lured top national and international chefs and food names.

Along the way, Lee mentored now well-known chefs such as Robert Del Grande, Greg Martin, and Mark Cox.

Quite apropos, the Houston legend is now the namesake for a new cooking school in one of the city's most beloved urban green sanctuaries, Hope Farms. The Peg Lee Culinary Classroom in Hope Farms' Gathering Barn now hosts field trips, classes, tastings, and free cooking demonstrations for children and adults.

Locals can also book the charming space, spearheaded by Recipe for Success/Hope Farms founder Gracie Cavnar, for cooking parties and cooking classes for anywhere from four to 24 students. Those interested can find more information on classes, which center on Cavnar's passion for healthy eating, and more here.

As for the classroom, visitors can expect a white, farmhouse-style kitchen with custom cabinets and high-end appliances, all reflective of a home kitchen. Butcherblock countertops, matte black accents, and farm-made tables and more adorn the space, while a Wolf Induction cooktop, A GE Café Smart Five-in-One Wall Oven, and other state-of-the-art appliances get folks cooking.

Fittingly, classroom water is tied into the farm's new rainwater capture system for the ultimate in sustainability.

“Peg was one of my earliest mentors in the imagining and crafting of what Recipe for Success Foundation would become,” Cavnar noted in a statement. “Then, when we began programing, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, helping us teach children to cook and bringing her many resources to help us raise money and awareness for our efforts. It is my deepest honor to pay her tribute with the naming of our classroom.”

New craft brewery bringing 'bold American beer,' Texas comfort food, live music, and more to Sugar Land

Sugar land's new craft brewery

Houston’s growing craft brewery scene will add a new outpost in Sugar Land. Talyard Brewing Co. recently began construction on a 15,000-square-foot production and tap room that will open in early 2024.

Located in Imperial, a massive mixed-use development on the site of the former Imperial Sugar refinery, Talyard will occupy a three-and-a-half acre site that will include a beer garden with shaded seating areas, pickle ball courts, a playground, and a stage for live entertainment.

Principals Keith Teague and Chuck Laughter are Sugar Land natives and neighbors who bring experience from the business world to Talyard. In a release, Teague says that intend to serve “bold American beer” paired with a food menu of Texas comfort food made from locally sourced ingredients.

“We want to push the boundaries of style and tradition by combining old practices and new,” Teague added.

Ultimately, the brewery’s 20-barrel brewhouse will be capable of producing 10,000 barrels per year. For now, brew master Sean Maloney is dialing in recipes on a test system. Formerly of 8th Wonder Brewing, Maloney has been working on the West Coast and recently finished the World Brewing Academy’s Master Brewer Program, administered by the Siebel Institute in Chicago and the Doemens Academy in Munich.

“As I’m sure is the case for many ventures like ours, the idea of starting a craft brewery was hatched over beers in the backyard,” Teague said. “Sean attended high school with Chuck’s son, and over the years, we’d see him at family gatherings during the holidays when he was visiting from the West Coast. Those backyard beer sessions turned into area brewery tours together, and eventually the idea of sharing our passion here locally was born.”

Talyard will add to Imperial’s extensive entertainment options. The area also includes Constellation Field, home to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, a weekly farmers market, and the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center.