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Beauty knows no bounds, and credit cards make the rounds, especially when we are tempted with attractive, ready-made fashion. Wrap it in a bow, and allude it's on sale, and that off-the-rack deal becomes a full-blown adrenaline rush, ending in an orgasmic state of rapture! But, if you're anything like me, she and they, you take that perfect ensemble home and say, "Wait ... what happened? I felt so glamorously red carpet at the store:' Well, the writing was literally on the wall, or in this case the rack. The term "off-the-rack'; according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as "bought, mass-produced, off-the-shelf, ready-made, store-bought:'
For most, we are repeat offenders adopting the same fashion shopping habits to navigate how we purchase items for our home, or as the French beautifully refer to it, "Maison:' It is my belief that if you understand what you are in search of, you can transform your home into a "Maison Couture:' As a literary nerd, I had to look up the word couture and, in its simplest definition, means: "Something constructed, or made by hand, tailored exactly to your measurements."
Being a builder and creator of homes, practicing obsessively for 32 years, I've been exactingly hand-tailoring items for my client's maisons. One Sunday morning, the phone rang, and a producer asked me to appear on one of those ubiquitous Home and Garden type TV challenge shows. They said I would be given an unusually small budget and a matter of days to design and build my version of a Maison Couture. I said YES, and questioned ... just after my second panic attack, if, in fact, I could do it!
I was accustomed to working with significant budgets, which had been my crutch to finding and creating beauty. But, what if I pulled together every lesson I've learned throughout my career and went on a search for true red carpet beauty without it breaking the bank? What if beauty was not based on what something cost, but rather what it "felt" like when it's wrapped with a completed bow? I pondered this for a few peaceful moments, took a deep, doubt-cleansing breath and realized I could do this, based on a few simple steps. Step one, I needed to take my own advice and jot down my two most important mantras in search of beauty.
Internal Shopping Advisor (ISA)
We are all born with a gift. I call it our "Internal Shopping Advisor (ISA):' It's a designer's best-kept secret in the industry. While we all have it, we often forget to access it. What is this gift we are born with? The gift is intuition. My best explanation for what intuition is - it's the newest, hottest, high-speed evolved version of the Internet. While the internet is more of a one-way search engine, your intuition is a way to connect with every sentient being on this planet simultaneously, and as you think or ask, you're fed back a collectively accurate answer, superior to all others! And the best part is, there are NO advertisements or agendas to filter out when the information comes through.
Set with a few dollars in my pocket, and a lump in my throat, I reminded myself to turn on my ISA. As I was driving home, I suddenly felt the urge to make a right turn, than a left and a right again, not knowing why, I ended up feeling magnetically pulled into a store I would never otherwise travel to. But hey, ISA is on, so follow it, right? I second-guessed myself until I finally hit the back of the store and it all became clear. I saw an inspiring set of black and white, paisley printed chairs that were only $25 each! This find shaped the entire project's design, which evolved into a classic, 1920s French cafe theme. First, the kitchen suddenly became clear: high gloss, black lacquered cabinets with silver leafed trimmings (I used paints), crystal chandeliers, glass cabinets lined with whimsical paisley paper inside, crystal knobs to marry the chandeliers, and pure white marble with stainless steel accents.
Turn on your ISA and take my word that you will never look back again. If you're a beginner trying out this new Ferrari I license, ease into the driver's seat, turn on the engine, listen carefully as it revs with power, and accelerate with your newly tapped confidence of insider information. Just remember to keep the receipts in case your ISA wasn't fully tuned in yet!
It's in our DNA to find beauty. It's so deep within us that it consumes most of our life's thoughts and energy. But not just any beauty, we are looking for the perfect human beauty, the perfect balance and symmetry. While some mathematicians were off in search of defining the power of splitting the atom, others were in search of beauty's intangible formula. They discovered there is one perfect formula that universally emulates nature's beauty known by many as the Golden Ratio.
They proved that what we are instinctually attracted to is, a singular, rectangular proportion that is nearly the same ratio as a 3" x 5" index card. I would bore, even myself, writing about how the equations are used to derive this, but what I do know is, that there is undoubtedly, one magical proportion. When we see this ratio on the body, or on an object, it is often what makes something feel "couture;' and inspires us to react like a teenager in love as we become curiously captivated by it.
As I tuned in again to my ISA, I decided to search for this perfect ratio. They have mapped this exquisite proportion perfectly over the face of Tom Cruise, the Eifel Tower, the Mona Lisa and the list roves on. What if I borrow an index card from my office and see if I can map that over an otherwise simple find? Can mapping the human body over a storebought item make the otherwise passed over item, a novel gem?
With ISA in gear, I let it become my chauffeur. I was again drawn into a discount tile store that I would normally turn my nose up to! Headed to the back of the store again, I found a closeout of what otherwise appeared to be standard subway tiles, ahhh, but not quite. On closer inspection, I saw that their shape was subtly different than the others. I checked and it was nearly a perfect match to the golden ratio!
What if the mathematicians were on to something, but were just too leftbrained to seek the next level of intuitive design?
What if it's not a rectangle that what we are singularly attracted to, but it's actually the shape of the human body we desire? No pressure right? I'm only doing this on national TV, but you only live once ... and after being momentarily empowered listening to a rap star on the radio, I thought I would experiment further!
I started envisioning the parts of the body that catch my eye. The small of a woman's back can be so sensual, so why not use that imagery to create a subtle, yet sexy crown molding? Why not find a single hot-red accent or crystal, laid at eye-level to remind us of intoxicatingly pouty lips stained in a shade of fiery red? I recalled the shape of a woman's rib cage as it seductively flairs out to her hips and found this beautiful shape in the base of an oval table. The armchairs can be masculine and feminine, which was my vision as I found a piece with strong shoulders and tapering shaped legs.
Wait ... I get it. If we use the proportions of the human body and recreate them into buildings and designs, not only are they curiously alluring, sexy and beautiful, but most importantly, they are familiar without the observer knowing why they are feeling a deeply passionate, architectural love affair.
In the end, the show was a big success that led to many more amazing opportunities, but more importantly, I was able to expand my thinking and personally confirmed that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty and Couture is simply flowing in every direction. There is NO such thing as a person or object that is unattractive and "off-the-shelf,' as much as you have to understand what you are looking for by listening to your own ISA and searching your DNA for what attracts you.
More simply put, I'm making a submission to Merriam-Webster: cou•ture noun
• The act of being aware that beauty envelops us.
• Couture is an evolved awareness of human beauty simply broken down by the balance of colors and shapes.
You deserve to live on the red carpet everyday and you don't have to go into debt doing it! Try these free tips and add a little subtle bling into the mix and watch your home evolve into your very own Maison Couture as you elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary!
MODEL / BUSINESS OWNER
The first time I appeared in Gladys, I was just beginning my career in the beauty industry. I now own and operate Fulgenzio Salon located just outside of Boston, MA. This is a growing industry with a lot of competition so you need to try to stay one step ahead of your competitors. I continue to educate myself and my stylists by attending seminars and classes on the newest innovations. One new branch of my salon is "Fulgenzio Follows You." When your wedding day has arrived, you are running in every direction, we try to take some of that pressure off by coming to you. This has been very successful with our brides. In most cases we not only attend to the bride's needs, but to those of the maid/matron of honor, the bridesmaids and flower girls. We also extend our services to the mothers, grandmothers of both the bride and the groom. We have also recently started with the grooming of the groom, his groomsmen and the dad's and grandfathers of both bride and groom. Times have changed and it's not just about the bride anymore. Along with "Following our Brides," we also do other events such as Business Events, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Anniversaries, Engagements, etc.
I have received many awards. I have been voted Best Salon/Spa by the Newton Businessmen's Association for 3 years in a row 2015, 2016 and 2017. I have also received The National Businessmen's Award for being chosen 3 straight years. I was recognized by Boston's Best A-Listers for 2016 and 2017 for wedding hair and make-up.
Since my first appearance in Gladys, I have been a part of "Boston's Fashion Week" 2015, 2016, 2017. I was honored to be part of "New York's Fashion Week" 2016. I was asked to be a Runway Model for a great cause "Model's Against Bullying." I was touched by Gladys Magazine and Andrea Patrick Forte when they were one of the sponsors of the event to show their support for me. I have been on a talk show discussing my business as well as talk radio doing make-overs. I have been featured in several local magazines, but my most cherished is appearing in Gladys Magazine. It was my Gladys experience along with Andrea and Susan Fontaine that gave me the confidence to go out and not just reach for my dreams, but go out and grab them. I have been blessed to be a part of the Gladys Family and want to thank them for this wonderful experience and I am forever grateful to have appeared on the 2016 Beauty Issue Cover and their 2014 Gladys Girl of the Year!
The first parade night featured 14 graduates from the National Institute of Learning showing creative commercialized clothes. Designer Aurinko, featured swimwear. Red Point by Dada presented pajamas, boxers, and accessories. The designer Eddie Abarca showed a daring proposal of accessories. The young Noelia Solano, a specialist in textiles, presented her collection. Then the Nicaraguan Designer, Harry Garay, closed the night.
The second day included emerging designers: Elsa Dominguez with jackets, Hubert Lamb with swimsuits, and the Kaori collection by designers Cristel Prendas and Melissa Hidalgo. Gerardo Jimenez presented his brand "Abraxas" a line of shirts where spring colors evolve to the platinum colors of night. Designer Kassadra Farrier, with her extensive experience in Europe, presented her collection. "Perseven Perfecto" by designer Alonso Vargas showed his casual line. The evening closed with the exquisite collection of Mexican Designer Abimael Trejo.
During the third day, the Endorphina School of designer Priscilla Collado presented. Students showed varied proposals from casual to cocktail wear. Then Priscilla showed her Wewe Sport brand. We could also see franchise brands, such as Fusion, with footwear and other leather goods. Timberland and Ekono combined well. The Sastreria Scagletti, with almost 100 years of tradition, showed both casual and formal dresses. The graduation of 18 young designers coming from the technical education of Costa Rica closed the afternoon.
Then designers Miguel Araya and Luci Arroyo presented Sifho, based on the jellyfish of Costa Rica's seas. Lucia Echeverria presented a collection of jewelry and accessories for brides. Rebeca Fernandez was applauded for her collection Human, designed for all sexes and races. Then came the Costa Rican based in New York: Giovanni Sanchez with his delicate dresses.
Then the Diversity Parade that calls attention to the equality of rights for the LGTBI community that is about to achieve Equal Marriage. The Panamanian Designer Luis Alexis Miranda presented gala dresses. The Mexican designer Aline Moreno closed the night with his designs combining the rock world with religious themes. Designer Antonio Salazar Nicaraguan, and his brand Luxus, presented a fresh and colorful collection. Marcela Ribera presented a fine collection for brides and two minimalist masculine outfits. Then the Panamanian Designer Rolando Torres presented a beautiful collection in white lace.
Later on, Jewelry Designer Hazel Gonzalez presented a collection based on whale sightings. He has received recognition at Birmingham England Fashion Week, Las Vegas and Miami. Then Bolivian Designer Daniel Rua presented us with a sports-casual look. The National School Creative Shop of the Dean of Fashion closed the evening with Designer Sonia Chang. CRFW 2018 closed with designer Jose Victor Lopez from Guatemala with his high fashion gowns.
Now we look forward to CRFW 2019! Start planning your trip to Costa Rica and see fashion as you've never seen it before.
Article by Juan Jose Jimendez Granados, MSc
Director of Costa Rica Fashion Week and Fashion Editor