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Apr 2014

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International

Esquivel: Putting the Kick-Ass in Artisanal Shoes

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Since all of Paris closes shop in August, I’ll be posting “by appointment” discoveries made during my summertime travels back home in the USA this month.  Hope you enjoy this special summer edition with content from New York and Los Angeles.

Custom. Handmade. Shoes. Say those three words aloud and your mind hops a plane to the fashion capitals of Europe where couture cobbling has been celebrated for centuries. But don’t buy your brain’s tickets just so fast… The special new stomping ground for original, handcrafted shoes is neither in Paris, London or Milan, but in a back alley, by appointment shop in none other than Los Angeles!

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Over the last fifteen years Southern California native Georges Esquivel—whose men’s and women’s shoe brand Esquivel Shoes was recently announced as one of the 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists—has built a mini shoe empire to rival Europe’s leading luxury labels. The best part of all, it happened entirely by chance (ahh, you gotta love America!).

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Years before “artisanal” became a marketing buzzword, Esquivel was reworking vintage clothes for his SoCal musician friends. An unexpected jaunt to a cobbler in Mexico spawned his first pair of custom shoes. His friends went wild and started clamoring for their own pairs. Before long Esquivel found a seasoned shoemaker in L.A. to build his designs. To cut costs, Esquivel offered to help out around the shop. “He said, ‘sure, take out the trash,’” recalls Esquivel with a chuckle. “So I went from taking out the trash to organizing the shop and cutting leather. Two-and-a-half years later I knew how to make a pair of shoes.”

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Sexy Brazilian, Secrets Included at J Sisters Salon

j-sister-portrait

Since all of Paris closes shop in August, I’ll be posting “by appointment” discoveries made during my summertime travels back home in the USA this month.  Hope you enjoy this special summer edition with content from New York and Los Angeles.

Would you believe me if I told you that people travel across the world to have their private parts waxed in New York City? You ought to, because like pizza, bagels and overproduced musicals, NYC does the Brazilian bikini wax best. More specifically, Janea Padilha (above, center) of the J Sisters salon in midtown Manhattan does it best. As well she should—she invented it!

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In 1987, a decade after the full-bloom bush was de rigueur, Janea (pronounced Jōhné but also referred to as “Jane”) introduced America to her minimalist design. “It was very hard to convince my clients in New York to do it,” remembers Janea, who practiced for years on herself before taking her technique public. “Finally, one of my clients said okay. She came back a few hours later and I thought ‘uh oh,’ but she had her friends with her and they wanted the same thing. One of the girls used to work for Elle magazine. One month later we came out in Elle. It was our first magazine. After that boom, boom, boom.”

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Lotusland: Ganna Walska’s Garden of Dreams

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Since all of Paris closes shop in August, I’ll be posting “by appointment” discoveries made during my summertime travels back home in the USA this month.  Hope you enjoy this special summer edition with content from New York, Los Angeles and Maine.

………….

Appointment: To follow a 2-hour guided tour of Lotusland, the  37-acre estate and private garden created by Madame Ganna Walska.
Where
: Ninety miles north of Los Angeles in Montecito, an affluent suburb of Santa Barbara
When
: July 2nd, 2009
Time
1:30pm

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An international celebutante and irresistible beauty, Madame Ganna Walska loved plants. And opera. And seducing wealthy older men. (Don’t you love her already?) All accounts from her era speak of a captivating creature with a preternatural proclivity for exuberance and glamorous excess. No one batted an eyelash at the outrageous title of her memoire, Always Room At The Top, published in 1946 because, what the hell else would she call it?

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Private Tour of NYC’s Fourth Ward

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Since all of Paris closes shop in August, I’ll be posting “by appointment” discoveries made during my summertime travels back home in the USA this month.  Hope you enjoy this special summer edition with content from New York, Los Angeles and Maine.

………..

My dad is a newly retired New York City public school teacher.  Since he stopped working a few years back he’s been going a bit stir crazy, and understandably so. Imagine loosing your public after 40 years speaking to a crowd?

So, while emailing with him a couple of months ago about my forthcoming summer visit to NYC I had a revelation. “Hey dad,” I wrote, “have your ever thought of giving private walking tours of Lower Manhattan? You love a rapt audience and know the subject better than anyone. Imagine bringing your maps to life!”

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Ten years ago, around the same time that I moved to France, my father started developing new media tools for the classroom. A research fanatic like me, he’d incorporate esoteric audio files, interactive maps, videos and whatever else interesting he dug up to create original multi-media presentations. He became the school’s resident new media man, and earned a reputation as a self-made savant (a Google representative even wrote to him to praise him for the innovative use of their mapping software).

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