November 22, 2011

A Fashion Blog That I Know You Will Love

It is always refreshing to find a new blog that catches your interest, that is informative, and that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Recently, I have been reading the fashion blog CardigansandCouture.  

Written by a dynamic duo- identical twin sisters- one on the east coast and one on the west, we get a peek, well really more than a peek, into how to put outfits together for work, how to  accessorize them, and we learn how to create one’s own style even in a conservative work environment.

Many of their blog posts are not work related; some feature and discuss the merits of great party dresses, or hand bags, or how to stay fashionably warm and cozy.

I really like that Katie and Regan showcase new and interesting finds, sometimes comparing a designer bag with a similar knockoff. And there are themes to some days-stripes, or workout gear for example- I’ve found some great pieces. And there are always links and clear info.

Oh, and make sure to check out their Facebook  page, where you can join all of their other Facebook fans!  You’ll find blog posts there and other useful info.

photos courtesy of CardigansandCouture

October 12, 2011

Florence, Home away from Home

After a very misty early AM, the streets are waking up. It's 8AM, I've had my usual room service of yogurt, brioche and tea, and am watching the local news. This hotel room has become my home away from home over the years. It is consistent, comfy and nurturing.

I'm also looking through my favorite fashion magazine, Grazia. The local magazine stand, known as an edicola in Italian,  is one of my usual stops on my first day, where I load up on Italian fashion and news magazines. I've been reading Grazia for over 30 years. It's full of glossy fashion photos of this season's trends, and has interesting articles.  This edition is heavy- I think in a pinch I  could use it to do some bicep curls!

Off this AM to Angela Caputi's shop and showroom. A presto!

September 19, 2011

Counting Down The Days

In three short weeks we’re headed once again to the luscious city of Florence, Italy. Even though here at home we are just starting to think about our winter holidays and gift ideas, we’ll be thinking ahead and buying goodies for all of you for spring/summer 2012.

I am so excited to be returning to Italy, as Florence really is my home away from home. A week there sounds like a lot, but we are already pretty booked, and I am hoping to have enough time to fit in all of my cultural visits (and some personal shopping, too!)

On the business side, there will of course be a visit to Angela Caputi’s showroom to see once again her fabulous fashion jewelry. There, we’ll have a chance to view her spring/summer 2012 collection and place an order. And if we see any special 2011 holiday pieces, we’ll order some- which make great gifts for women.

Other visits are to a jewelry company in Arezzo, not far from Florence, and also to a showroom in Milan. We’re establishing a relationship with a company there, and look forward to bringing you new Italian designs, some of which are casual, others more dressy-and easy to wear with anything.

Florence is full of exhibits and events this time of year, and there are also weekend fairs “in campagna”, in the countryside. The fresh fall crisp air, especially outside the city, is a delight. I hope to spend time with my Florentine friends away from the city, at least one day, and have a chance to reconnect with them.

We will be in touch from there, with photos and great stories to tell.

In the meantime, if you’d like to help us make space for new merchandise, help yourselves to a 15% discount by entering code FLORENCE upon checkout. Valid through October 1.

August 23, 2011

Online Shops- Do They Diminish The Fascination?

One of my usual stops when I am in Florence is at the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella. Visiting and shopping there is a ritual of mine, as I always feel such a sense of calm upon entering; the scents are heavenly, and this ritual marks the beginning of a fabulous week time and again.

My favorite products are the Calendula Face Cream (one of the best face creams ever), Crema Viso Protettiva (for sensitive skin), and their potpourri. Other products I buy there are bars of soap (great for gifts), bath salts, and talcum powder, usually in their trademark melograno (pomegranate) scent.

But wait a minute, I can just order these online from their US distributor and have them shipped to my home! I have known this for a while now, but kept telling myself that I still needed to carry all these heavy (because I stock up for at least 6 months...) items back home directly from Florence, usually causing my bulging suitcase to be over the allotted weight limit.

So why the hesitation to just go ahead and order these products online? Does their easy availability from anywhere in the world make them less special? Does taking away the exclusivity make the products any less effective?

Of course the face creams are just as effective- on the other hand, yes, maybe these Italian products become less magic because anyone can buy them, and the allure is taken away a bit. Nevertheless I still adore them. I’ve given in, and am now anxiously waiting for the UPS man to knock on my door. Most probably I’ll still stop at the Farmacia on our next buying trip, just to get that unique feeling, and maybe even pick up a few new items to try.

Above you'll find a few photos of what the Farmacia looks like; and here is a link to some information. This shop is definitely worth a visit when you are in Florence, and will allow you to take a step back in time and imagine yourself back in 15th century Florence.

July 26, 2011

What to do in Paris- Serena's Top Ten

Here’s my list of 10 really fun things I did on our recent Paris jaunt.

Next time you are in Paris, try to experience them! I know, I haven’t mentioned any museums, and there are so many fabulous ones to visit over and over again.
1.      Take an evening Bateau Mouche ride along the Seine. This takes a little over an hour and is delightful. Try to time it so that they sun is setting while you are on the boat.
2.      Go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. We did this very late, around 10:45 pm and I think we got the last elevator ride up. And fortunately we did not have to wait in line at all. It happened to be July 13th, the evening before Bastille Day. At 11PM there were fireworks all around the city, which we were able to enjoy from atop the tower. An extra treat.
3.      Take a walk around Ile St. Louis, the smaller of the two islands in the Seine. It’s a quiet area, with interesting shops and restaurants. Make sure to stop for ice cream at Berthillon.
4.      Have dinner at one of the restaurants in Place du Marche’ Ste. Catherine. This plaza is in a residential area, with a park in the middle and restaurants surrounding it. It’s a bustling place for local Parisiens to meet and spend an evening, and you’ll see young and old enjoying each other’s company.
5.      Walk through Place des Vosges, the oldest park in the city, or go and sit on the grass and relax a bit.
6.      Visit Montmartre for a few hours. It’s an easy metro ride from the city, and be ready to climb lots of steps. The church of Sacre Coeur is beautiful and there are some pretty streets all around the area. Shops are a little touristy but you may find some treasures to bring home.
7.      Eat some macarons from Dalloyau. There are a few branches of this patisserie around the city. You can buy a box of them to take home, too, which is what I did. They are pricey but worth each bite.
8.      Try a variety of French cheeses. The window displays in the cheese shops are works of art, and each cheese has a different taste. A taste test is always fun; and get some great bread to go along with the cheeses.
9.      Walk through the Jardin du Luxembourg. The flowers and gardens are breathtaking. We were there on Bastille Day and families and lovers were out and about taking it all in.
10.  Sit at outdoor cafés and brasseries and get a little lunch, or stop for tea. You will get a taste of what the real Paris and Parisiens are all about.

July 24, 2011

Easy Summer with Delicate Swarovski Crystal Jewelry

Easy Summer with Delicate Swarovski Crystal Jewelry

Easy Summer with Delicate Swarovski Crystal Jewelry by Serena Italian Imports featuring button jewelry
I love dressing this way- light, no fuss, without major decisions to make. The summer season is so short, so make sure your clothes are fun and light and make you feel good, inside and out.

Splendid cotton shirt
$65 -

Kookai zipper shirt
€19 -

H M shirt top
£9.99 -

Cropped jeans
$168 -

Tara Matthews bikini swimwear
$155 -

Tara Matthews bikini swimwear
$155 -

Calvin Klein Underwear thong bikini
$12 -

2 Lips Too wedge sandals
$80 -

Jelly shoes
£6 -

Travel tote bag
$295 -

Tote handbag
$295 -

Anchor necklace
$43 -

Stretch bracelet
$29 -

Sterling silver stud earrings
$21 -

Laurafallulah button jewelry
£4 -

Stretch bracelet

Zoe Karssen Top Have Fun White
€60 -

Beach Towel
£6.99 -

July 20, 2011

A Trip To Paris

I adore Italy, of course. But when the opportunity arose to celebrate my aunt’s special 80th birthday in Paris with her and with her 3 daughters, I jumped at the chance. My husband and I had spent a week in Paris a few years ago, and it is such an interesting city to experience.

It was easy for me to quickly get my bearings, and there’s no better way than having a trusty map- I had a Michelin Paris Poche and a more local area map that the hotel gave me. Just walking and following along with a map is the best-and it’s great exercise for the brain. In this age of heavily relying on our GPS devices, we all sometimes forget to follow our own senses of direction.

When I travel, I must experience the city, not just be there. My eyes are everywhere- what do people look like, how are they dressed, what are they doing, how do they interact? Life abounds in the cafés, at every hour, weekday and weekend. Friends are meeting, chatting, eating, embracing, strolling.
A few latest fashion trends, some of which we also see in the States, but some uniquely European, are: painted toenails everywhere, so fun, in all shades of red and orange, strappy gladiator sandals, some with zippers in the back, cross body bags, scarves with every kind of summer outfit, scarves on men, thick-rimmed eyeglasses, especially in black.

Fortunately, my favorite Italian jewelry designer, Angela Caputi, has a small boutique in Paris, so I visited her shop and chose a rich and warm fall collection of her jewelry due to arrive in September. Look for deep, rich reds, warm greens, greys, beiges and more.

Next time I’ll tell you my ten favorite places and sights in Paris.