Friday, August 30, 2013

Tiffin at the Langham

From fashion photographer, contributing Glossed & Found fashion editor, blogger and stylist to a wife and loving mother of two, Helen Berkun is fueling Chicago’s fashion industry with her eye-catching editorial campaigns and her own eclectic sense of style. Because of her expert eye for design, MDPR wanted to take Helen out from behind the scenes for a chance to shine the spotlight on her many talents. And, what better way to embody Helen’s enthusiastic spirit than to draw inspiration from Audrey Hepburn (à la Breakfast at Tiffany's), an icon for style and elegance. Chicago’s chic new Langham Hotel served as the perfect setting to reflect Helen’s personality and elegance.

MDPR: You have so many talents and are involved in so many things, but it seems like you follow the philosophy, "choose a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." What does a typical day look like for you?

Helen: You're right; I absolutely live by that philosophy. I am so blessed to actually do what I do. My day to day life is different, but I think that's another reason why I love my job so much. It's always so exciting! Every day really is a brand new one. If I'm not traveling, which happens often, I typically wake up with my kids around 6:45am. We do the common morning routines, and then I drive my son to school. If I'm working from home, I go to the gym first thing and then I'm back to my home office answering emails. I get about 300-400 per day. Because I wear so many hats - photographer, stylist, creative director, blogger - a regular day may mean that I'm retouching, meeting with clients, pulling for shoots, contacting show rooms for sample pieces, on-set shooting or styling, or writing trend reports for different magazines.

MDPR: What is one of your favorite campaigns you have done? What are your favorite types of jobs to work on?

Helen: Everything I do for Glossed & Found becomes my favorite editorial. I've been fortunate to work with many celebrities, photographers and several incredible magazines. However, working with G&F is like working with my best friends, my family. I can't explain it. I have so much love for this online magazine blog, it’s like my baby. Each editorial becomes such a labor of love, and it's so rewarding to see it all come to life. It's incredible to be recognized for being part of this unbelievable family. I also have to admit, we have a blast at our shoots!

MDPR: Who is currently your favorite designer?

Helen: I'm always in love with Alexander McQueen. I think Sarah Burton has done a fantastic job of designing the collections and staying true to Lee's vision of the brand. For more affordable pieces, because let's face it, I'm a big high/low mixer and I hate spending a lot on clothes with the exception to shoes and bags, I love Zara and ASOS. This season I also love the Tory Burch collection. It's very wearable and I just adore all the prints and ladylike layering she did for the Fall '13 looks.

MDPR: Where do you draw inspiration for your personal style and how do you style yourself differently than you style your clients?

I'm definitely inspired by street, motorcycles, Gwen Stefani, music and my life. I'm always on the go, and in the summer it's not uncommon for me to go to a fashion event and then come home and go for a ride with my husband on our Harley. I also need to be versatile enough to meet with clients during the day and spend time with my kids at the park in the evening. My wardrobe typically goes from day to night and from stilettos to biker boots. I style each client based on their needs because let's face it, we all have very different lives. I like to hear about their personal style and dress them according to that. It's important to me that the clothes don't wear the client; you can see when a person loves what they have on and when they simply can't pull it off. Trends are fun, but they don’t work on everyone.

MDPR: This shoot is inspired by “Breakfast at Tiffany's.” What characteristics do you feel you share with Audrey Hepburn?

Helen: Oh boy! In all honestly I could never be as graceful and classic as Miss Hepburn. I'm a total tomboy and a bit clumsy. I say what's on my mind without sometimes thinking about it and I don't think I'm nearly as refined. However, many say that Miss Hepburn was a nurturer and a protector and I can definitely relate to that. Especially being a mother and a wife, there isn’t anything I wouldn't do for my family!

Look 1 
Dress: Alexander McQueen
Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti
Ring: Alexis Bittar
Earrings: Alexis Bittar

Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

Look 2
Dress: Rare Opulence
Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Earrings: Golden Dream Jewelers
Jacket: Yigal Azrouel
Rings: Engagement ring by Golden Dream Jewelers

Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

Look 3 
Dress: Tracy Reese
Bag: Alexander McQueen
Necklace: Lanvin
Shoes: Miu Miu

Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

While Helen's look might be more eclectic and playful than Audrey's, we can undoubtedly say that the two share one thing in common. Just as Miss Hepburn left a legacy of success and respect in her field, Helen is quickly forging a similar path of excellence for herself.

We want to know (and our star does too), which look do you love the most? Comment below or tweet your choice to us (@monikadixonpr) and Helen (@helen_berkun)! 

By Rebecca Taylor, MDPR Team Member 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hashtag Lingo & Social Media Updates

If you're left in a haze of confusion every time you see #ootd, #ff, #tbt and so on, chances are, you're probably not alone. Unless your friends with a hashtag savant, navigating your way through this daunting lingo is not easy. To get you up to speed, I've compiled a short list of hashtags you need to know in order to understand the language of social networking. #goodluck

#FF - Follow Friday {used on Fridays as a way for users to suggest new accounts to follow}

#tbt - Throwback Thursday {used on Thursdays when posting a picture from the past}

#fbf - Flashback Friday {used on Fridays when posting a picture from the past}

#yolo - You Only Live Once {used to indicate an activity that demonstrates living on the edge or taking a risk}

#oh - Overheard {used to share information that was overheard by the user}

#ootd - Outfit of the Day {used when showing an image of what your daily outfit}

Other headlines news you need to know!

-A Twitter update that was released Wednesday makes it much easier to keep up with Twitter conversations. Rather than having to click 'expand', Twitter users will now see up to three Tweets from a conversation in their newsfeed, all in chronological order and connected by a straight line.

-While it was announced that GIF files would be supported by Facebook, it was clarified today that this is not the case. Facebook does not support .gif files. Read all the drama behind the issue here.

-The rollout of a new Facebook 'shared albums' feature has begun. This update allows users to create albums and invite up to 50 people to contribute, and those 50 users can then each add up to 200 photos. Let the sharing begin!

-Facebook has loosened the rules regarding contests and giveaways on businesses pages. While previously having to conduct a giveaway through a third party application, businesses can hold giveaways straight from their pages and can encourage liking, commenting, sharing and messaging directly to their page as a contest requirement. Find all the details here.  

Speaking of giveaways...Wax On Wax Off Salon & Spa is holding a contest next week on Facebook and Twitter that you definitely don't want to miss!

Have any social media questions or need a hashtag translated? We're here to help! Comment below or tweet us at @MonikaDixonPR!

By Emily Cleary, MDPR Social Media Director

Goodbye August!

As August comes to an end, the reality of summer's departure is becoming all too real. But, it's not over yet, and we fully intend to squeeze every last drop of humidity out of this season. With that said, Labor Day weekend is stacked full of events that allow you to enjoy these final, precious moments of our infamous #summertimechi. 


Aquatic Show
10 am - Shedd Aquarium

Made in Chicago - World Class Jazz

6:30 pm - Millenium Park
Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns

7 pm - Soldier Field 

Salsa at the Zoo
7:30 pm - Lincoln Park Zoo

Unveiling of the New Eco-Bar & the 2 Year Anniversary of Prasino

5 pm - Prasino


11 pm - Untitled 

ROOF Runway
8 pm - ROOF at the Wit

Trivia night
8 pm - Rockit Burger Bar 

Style Series Kick-Off: Macy's Incubator
10 pm - Underground 


Wrigley Field Tour
9 am - Wrigley Field

Blue Man Group
8 pm - Briar Street Theatre

Taste of Melrose Park
6 pm - 25th Avenue and Walton Street

Chicago SummerDance
6 pm - Grant Park

North Coast Music Festival
Friday to Sunday - Union Park

Chicago Critical Mass Monthly Bike Ride
5:30 pm - Daley Plaza

Kid Rock, ZZ Top & Uncle Kracker
6:45 pm - First Midwest Bank Ampitheatre


#Exposure2013 with A Mind and Body Total Fitness
9:30 am - Ohio Street Beach


Movies in the park 
"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" | Kelvyn Park at dusk
"Jack the Giant Slayer" | Lowe Playground Park at dusk
"The Little Rascals" | Taylor-Lauridsen Playground Park at dusk

Miller Lite Saturday Summer Bash
1 pm - Arlington Park Racecourse

Cirque Shanghai: Dragon’s Thunder
2 pm - Navy Pier Skyline Stage

Oddball feet staring Dave Chappelle and flight
5 pm - First Midwest Bank Amphitheater

10 pm - The MID


Canine Cruise
10 am - Mercury, Chicago's Skyline Cruiseline

The Empty Bottle Block Party 2.0
12 pm - Empty Bottle

Chicago's Original Brewery Tour
1 pm - Goose Island Brewpub

Open mic night
4:30 pm - Kitchen Sink

Live band karaoke
9 pm - McGee's Tavern & Grille

North Coast Music Festival Aftershow: Lotus & Future Rock
10 pm - Concord Music Hall

10 pm - Studio Paris

Want us to share your upcoming events? Comment below or tweet us the info at @monikadixonpr! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


When we got the scoop on Alex Vasileski's Tai Chi class with The Langham Chicago and its Chuan Spa, while we were excited, we were also a bit apprehensive. Why? It's a workout none of us had done before, and let's be honest, we all fear the unknown. But we took a risk and went for it. Though intimidating at first, we soon learned the class would be one of the most relaxing workout experiences we'd ever experienced. On top of it's ease, #TaiChiTuesday also left us feeling like we'd actually burned calories. Talk about best of both worlds!

As Tai Chi first timers, we have three (okay, four) words to pass on to fellow newbies - be positive, breathe and relax. Alex gave us a helpful pre-workout tip -  the worst thing you can do in Tai Chi is try too hard. The key, he said, was to relax and focus on breathing. 

As the moves progressed, we loosened up, giving ourselves the perfect opportunity to experience the beauty of Tai Chi - letting the positive energy in and releasing the negative. Breathing is the key to gaining positive energy. Your breathing affects the fluidity of the movements and helps you find your center.

Following all of Alex's guidance, we succeeded in experiencing a sense of calm as the cool breeze flowed through the plaza. We began as uneasy beginners and finished as Tai Chi advocates. Having learned it ourselves, we can vouch for the fact that the class is ideal for anyone who's seeking an effective, calming workout without necessarily breaking a sweat. We will definitely be back next Tuesday at 8am!

What We're Loving - Tom Ford

When Tom Ford comes to your city, you know you've got some major fashion cred! We were so giddy about the infamously chic designer making our city its newest home that we had to be one of the first to visit. Wasting no time, we headed over to 66 East Oak Street early Friday to witness the opening day of this fashion mecca. And let us tell, it did not disappoint. Every decor detail - from the lighting to the marble floors - was flawless. And the merchandise...where do we even begin? The icing on the (very stylish) cake was a second-floor surprise that only an elite few shoppers will ever get to experience. We'd love to say more, but Tom Ford himself (we wish!) swore us to secrecy!

By Emily Cleary, MDPR Social Media Director 

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Guide to Conducting Difficult Conversations

Whether it’s telling an employee that their performance is lacking, talking to a co-worker about acceptable behavior in the work place or expressing to a friend that the comment they made the other night was hurtful, discussing sensitive issues is the key to maintaining both positive personal and professional relationships.  But for those of us who tremble with anxiety and experience symptoms associated with the stomach flu at the slightest mention of a confrontation, simply not acknowledging the issue is an attractive alternative. Unfortunately, this method will resolve nothing and can afford serious consequences down the line. Addressing the issue might be difficult, but it will be much easier right off the bat than if you wait for the problem to develop even further. 

It's no secret that the most important conversations are the hardest, but in order to successfully resolve an issue, pre-planning and strategizing are necessary. Because outlining an effective conversation agenda is no simple task, MDPR put together a few tips to help you tackle this uncomfortable task.

Identify the problem or whatever is creating tension.
Focus the conversation on what is really pushing your buttons. You are less likely to succeed if you drag in unnecessary tangents that would detract from the main purpose of the conversation.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve from the conversation.
Set realistic goals for what you want out of the conversation and go into it knowing that you will have to make compromises. Remember that you and your partner are most likely coming from opposite sides of the spectrum, so finding a happy medium is a good place to start.

Do not place blame.
Even if the other person is at fault, placing blame will make your partner feel like she has to defend herself. This will make any resolution nearly impossible. Instead, focus on what you want the future to look like and less on right and wrong.

Use your manners.
Even if you are furious with the other person, good, old-fashioned manners will create a mindset between you and your partner conducive to problem-solving. The other person is more likely to respect you and your requests if you are polite and level-headed.

Prepare for their reaction.
Many times, the other person will graciously accept your complaints, and you both can move on. However, tears, yelling and finger-pointing are also possibilities, so prepare yourself for a variety of emotions. Let the other person vent, but stay focused on the purpose of the conversation.

Listen and repeat.
The other person is bound to voice some of their complaints as well. Listen to what is bothering her and paraphrase it so you all have the same understanding. Do the same after reaching a solution so there isn’t any room for confusion.

Follow up.
It’s a good idea to follow up with the other person after a couple days to ensure there are no hard feelings and that the solution you both reached is still understood. Show that you are dedicated to making it work and are excited about the potential positive outcomes of your new agreement.

These are just a few tips to help you formulate a plan for your difficult conversation. A lot depends on the situation, but keeping an open mind and a clear head will go a long way. For a more comprehensive guide to addressing complicated issues, read Crucial Conversations

Let us know if you have any helpful tips by tweeting us at

By Rebecca Taylor, MDPR Team Member 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Birthday Wish Lists

September is going to be an exciting month for the MDPR team as both Emily and Allison have birthdays to celebrate! Naturally, much of the office chit chat as of late has been centered around what items the gals have their eyes on as prospective b-day gifts. For today's #FridayFashion post, we asked the girls to narrow down their list to just five items (a difficult task for any fashionista), and here's what they chose.


"I've been looking for a dress with longer sleeves for fall and this J.Crew one fits the bill. I'll wear it with tights and booties when the weather cools down."

"Pointed toe heels are in again and I have my eye on this classic black pair by Vince."

"Coach's Legacy bags are based on purses from the 70s with a few modern updates. I love the double turn locks on their Guesset bag and the rich cognac brown leather."

"If I could splurge on one item it would be a Burberry trench. I dream of having one in my closet someday!"

"My leather boots are pretty worn so it's about time I invest in a new pair. I would love to unwrap these riding boots from Madewell."


"I've been searching high and low for a wearable but still edgy pair of (vegan) leather pants, and I finally found them in these 7 For All Mankind skinnies. The paneling and zippers add the perfect amount of interesting detail that I look for in all of my items."

"The Steve Madden booties are not only practical, but totally on trend due to the cutout. I see myself wearing these everyday, with everything from jeans to dresses to shorts (as long as the weather allows)."

Every girl needs a new birthday party dress, no? You can't see it here, but the back has a low cutout. That and the studs around the neck make this BCBGeneration dress perfect for a fun celebration."

I love bold colors (not that you would know that from the other items on my list), so this hot pink Deux Lux purse is just calling my name. It's also spacious and has studs, so what's not to love?"

"Not your traditional coat. The two-tone and fringe-detailing of this BB Dakota coat make it a standout piece, and I look for that in something I'll be wearing almost everyday during fall and winter." 

Here's to hoping all their wishes (or at least one) come true! 

Got any items on your wish list we need to see? Tweet us at @MonikaDixonPR! 

By Emily Cleary, MDPR Social Media Director

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Three Tech Destinations for the Fashionista

You're getting ready at night and can't decide on the perfect outfit. So what do you do? Ask your closest friend, of course. Not anymore! With a whole world of fashion app users out there, you can now get a truly unbiased opinion from someone halfway across the world. That's just one of the many reasons that you need to explore these three fashion apps and social media networks!

1. Pose

This iPhone and iPad app is the answer to the what to wear dilemma. Snap a pic of your look(s) and ask for opinions. Or, if you see an outfit you like for fall, add it to your 'Fall into Fashion' collection. The best part? There's a tagging tool that allows users to identify the brand or individual items in their outfit. What does this mean for you? No need to fiercely surf the web looking for the latest item of your dreams. Simply click the item and find out where and how to get it. Essentially, Pose lets you see and shop looks put together by the trendsetters of the world! Or at least the millions that have caught on to this savvy network.

2. Keep

If you've ever experienced frustration on Pinterest because you see something you have to have, but can't find where to buy it, then is for you. is an image-driven feed of products that will make your friends say, 'Where'd you find that?" This website not only gives you inspiration, but the power to make that inspiration real through purchases. With the latest trends in fashion, decor, accessories and design curated by a community of top tastemakers, you're bound to find your newest obsession when browsing through's never ending stream of beautiful items. Really love something? 'Like' it. Need to have it? 'Keep' it. And don't forget to 'follow' your favorite Keepers. 

3. StyleBook

Although this iPhone and iPad app is new on our radar, we can definitely see ourselves getting hooked quickly. Remember the jealously you felt in the 90s when you first saw Cher's high tech closet in Clueless? Well, be envious no more. StyleBook allows you to virtually organize your closet piece by piece, map out your next outfit, test out store items with your outfit for compatibility and even allows you to get stats on your clothes to determine which items you (gasp) repeat most often. With Stylebook, mixing and matching the items you own becomes incredibly easy, and the organizational aspect will make sure you never forget about an item in the back of your closet. 

Being tech-savvy never looked so chic!

By Emily Cleary, MDPR Social Media Director

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Squeeze in that Final Summer Fun!

Summer is winding down, but there’s still time to cram in a few more events. Here is the lineup for the upcoming weekend. Have fun and make the most of the last few precious days of summer!


Chicago Dancing Festival at multiple locations (August 22-24)

Made In Chicago: World Class Jazz - Tale of the Tiger: Pat Mallinger Quartet feat. Bill Carrothers & Cameron Pfiffner's Marco Polo at Millennium Park

Movies in the ParkThe Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai at Wicker Park

Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

Taylor Street Festa Italiana at Taylor St. and Ashland Ave. (August 22-August 25)

The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival: #SHOPFEST Outdoor Fashion Show


Brazil Fest at Logan Square (August 23-25)

Sammy Hagar at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island

The Boulevard at Logan Square (August 23-August 25)


#EXPOSURE2013 with A Mind and Body Total Fitness 

Bash on Wabash (August 24-August 25)

Bucktown Arts Fest at Senior Citizens Memorial Park (August 24-August 25)

Taste of Greektown at Halsted St. (August 24-August 25)

Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival: Pamper Your Pooch Weekend (August 24-August 25)


Maroon 5 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

Movies in the Parks: Megamind at Ellen Gates Starr Park

Movies in the ParksThe Wiz at Oz Park

Don't forget to set aside some time for a little R and R as well. 

Tweet us a picture of your weekend fun for a chance to be featured on MDPR Insider next week!

By Rebecca Taylor, MDPR Team Member

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We all know the feeling. It’s Sunday night and you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling. You glance at the clock, which reads 12:00 AM, but that’s ok because there’s still time to get a (semi) full night’s rest before the alarm rings at 6:00 AM. But your mind is running with all the tasks that have to be completed in the upcoming week. You toss and turn to alleviate the anxiety, but there is still a pit at the bottom of your stomach preventing you from finding any peace of mind. The clock now reads 12:45 AM. You are getting frustrated. Not only are you fretting about work, but now the pressure to fall asleep before 1:00 AM is mounting. You decide to cut your losses and read the book that has been sitting on your nightstand for well over two months. You drift off while reading only to wake again at 2:30 AM. You are dreading the day ahead, knowing that any hope of having a productive start to the week is now a pipe dream. You stare at the ceiling some more, studying the hypnotic rotations of the ceiling fan…

You are startled awake. It’s 6:00 AM and the alarm is blaring. It’s time to start the day even though you have only had three hours of sleep.

Getting a full night’s sleep is something many busy professionals struggle with, but there are ways to alter your routine. Before you commit to habit-forming sleep aids, take this quiz to determine how your quality of sleep compares to others. Follow the results with these helpful tips for a good night’s sleep, which can lead to more productivity during the day.
  • Maintain a stable sleep schedule. While there is no magic number for the appropriate amount of sleep, the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting as close to eight hours of sleep each night. Try going to bed and waking up around the same time every day, even on the weekends.

  • Establish a bedtime routine. Many people find it helpful to read with soft lighting or take a bath before falling asleep. You can also develop a schedule that includes picking out your clothes for the next day, writing in a journal or drinking a glass of milk.

  • Create a sleep-conducive environment. Design your sleep environment so that it is cool, dark, quiet and free from any distractions. This may include covering your windows with thick curtains, installing a ceiling fan or wearing earplugs to block out unwanted noise. Keep in mind that some people need white noise to fall asleep, which can be found through humidifiers and other sleep devices.

  • Find the right mattress and pillows. Take time to find the appropriate mattress and pillows for your sleep patterns. You may even want to consider consulting with a sleep specialist to determine the firmness that is best for you.

  • Avoid eating before going to sleep. Finish eating and drinking two to three hours before going to bed, especially a larger meal. This will prevent discomfort, such as heartburn, and frequent bathroom trips while you are trying to fall asleep.

  • Exercise regularly. Even a small amount of physical activity is better than none, but don’t try to fit it in at the expense of a full night’s rest. Develop the best routine for you. While some find that exercising at night makes them more tired, which prepares them for bedtime, others find that exercising at night is too stimulating and keeps them awake.

  • Avoid nicotine products. Nicotine is a stimulant, which will keep you up at night. This is another reason to quit smoking!

  • Avoid caffeine before you go to sleep. Caffeine is also a stimulant and is found in many products, including chocolate, coffee, tea and soda. It can remain in your system for up to five hours, but some people can feel the effects for 12 hours.

  • Avoid consuming alcohol before going to sleep. Alcohol disrupts sleep, causing frequent wakings during the night.

  • Avoid screen time before going to sleep. Watching TV or spending time on the computer or cell phone before going to bed disrupts your circadian rhythms, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Turn off these devices at least two hours before going to bed.
With these tips, you should be sleeping like a baby on a regular basis! Sweet dreams. 

Let us know if these suggestions help you catch up on that beauty sleep...tweet us at @monikadixonpr. Just not during the two hours leading up to your shut eye (see last tip)!
By Rebecca Taylor, MDPR Team Member 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Keys to Opening Your Network with Sagar Sheth


On paper, networking is as simple as can be. Just show up, be nice and exchange business cards, right? But where does that actually leave you? Meeting that CEO for coffee or attending the latest networking event is great, but the key to making strong connections is follow-up, which is easier said than done. High profile professionals are busy people and one conversation doesn’t mean that you’re friends, so it’s up to you to initiate the next steps. Sagar Sheth, director in the Global Markets Group for Deustche Bank at Chicago, is all about making connections and has a few tips for those trying to break in and leave their mark in the corporate sphere. 

MDPR: Can you explain how networking might lead to success?
Sagar Sheth: Keeping in mind that people’s definition of success can be different, I think the thing to focus on is how to monetize your network. More specifically, how can you use your network to create opportunity, whether it’s jobs, social activities or philanthropy. Networking has been especially important over the past few years simply because social media and technology have made it so easy to do so.  LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are all effective ways to network. I think to ignore networking as a routine is doing you an injustice. The “who you know” factor can actually end up being one of the most important criteria. Recommendations, referrals and references can be extremely valuable. For what it’s worth, every single position I’ve had since 2006 was due to someone in my network. Not once did I formally apply for the job.

MDPR: While we all know that networking is effective, it can be a daunting task. What are some tips young professionals can use to make quality connections without stepping too far out of their comfort zone?

Sagar Sheth:
  1. Be personable. This is probably the most important aspect of networking. Put the networking term aside. At the end of the day, you are just having a conversation with someone. Place yourself in their shoes. 
  2. Listen. The conversation is not all about you. Let the person tell you their story, ask questions, and give them a chance to really talk. 
  3. In many cases, set an agenda. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve met with a student or a young professional for coffee, and they have no idea what they want to discuss. People are busy. If you are meeting someone for 30 minutes, create a quick and simple agenda of what you want to accomplish during that time period. This can be an incredibly effective tool. 
  4. Do not dismiss anyone. You never know where a synergy might exist.
  5. Offer introductions to other people. This is something a lot of people forget about. The best networkers are always thinking of ways to get people plugged in and connected. This is how opportunity is created.

MDPR: What types of questions should you ask at a networking event? Do you have any examples?
Sagar: I wouldn't recommend for someone to literally keep a list of questions in the palm of their hand, but I think what’s most important here is try to get to know people. One should ask questions that open up discussion, anything from jobs, family, hobbies, etc. 

MDPR: How can you measure success from a networking event? Is it the number of people you talk to or the quality of the conversations that you have?
Sagar: There shouldn't be a quantitative metric on networking, especially right after an event. That is because you don’t know what an introduction might lead too, and it might take months or years before something comes to light. But to me, a successful networking event is measured by one question: Did I meet someone interesting?  If you are willing to follow up with any individual post an introduction, I think it’s a success.

MDPR: How can you follow up after meeting someone to form a relationship and make other connections?
Sagar: It’s hard to give an exact answer to this because a lot of the follow up is going to be linked to your specific interaction.  Two things tend to be effective: 
  1. Schedule a follow-up lunch or drinks.  Both are casual, yet personal. 
  2. If the opportunity exists, make an effective introduction to one more person where there might be a synergy. This shows that you are strategically thinking about the person, and you are willing to offer a resource that could be valuable to them. 
Networking certainly takes us out of our comfort zone, but there's no time like the present to begin!
By Rebecca Taylor, MDPR Team Member

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Godmother of Chicago Vintage

Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and renowned costume jewelry designers Larry Vrba and Iradj Moini are just a few names you can find at LuLu’s Vintage. Laurie Davis, the godmother of vintage in Chicago, travels around the country in search of the best selection of high-end vintage items for her Michigan Avenue boutique, filling her store with one-of-a-kind items dating from the 1920s to the 1980s. We caught up with Laurie to discuss some of her favorite pieces and the secrets to finding the perfect vintage addition to your wardrobe.
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

MDPR: Where did your love of vintage come from?

Laurie: My love of vintage actually started with jewelry. In the 60s, my family lived in Mexico City for three months. My mother used to take us on road trips throughout Mexico on the weekends. On a visit to Taxco, I discovered a world of fabulous sterling jewelry made by Mexican artisans. I was 16 years old and purchased an old (probably from the 40s), very large sterling bracelet. This started me on the path of collecting vintage jewelry. I still wear the bracelet to this day.

MDPR: What are your favorite decades, designers and styles?

Laurie: My mother wore beautiful clothing, and I always remember her getting dressed for an evening out. Beautiful brocade suits (à la Jackie O) from the 60s, needlepoint shoes and handbags. I cannot say that one designer is more fabulous than another. Each period of fashion has spectacular standouts. I am much more concerned about the fabrics and workmanship than the designer. People today are too label-driven. You do not need a label to be able to distinguish extraordinary pieces.

MDPR: What is the best way to find vintage pieces in LuLu's? How can clients keep themselves from being overwhelmed when searching for items?
Laurie: Many regulars that come into LuLu’s are looking for something unique and different to wear to an event. We specialize in being able to know exactly what will flatter a figure. Many times, the pieces we select are the pieces they end up with rather than the item they choose. We teach women what to look for in fit, where a dart should lay, what hem length is best for them, etc. They  will also leave with a better appreciation for the history of the item they have chosen.

MDPR: Often times the best treasures are buried and hard to find. What is your method to finding pieces for your clients? How do you know when you have found something really special?
Laurie: We are asked all the time where we find the items. At the level we are purchasing (couture, etc.), the items are coming out of private homes. I travel all over the country and need to purchase and entire closet, rather than hunt for a treasure I might find. My eye can discern something unique by the fabric and workmanship. I do not need a label.
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

MDPR: Which pieces and designers are the best investments?

Laurie: I think as a collector, one should just buy what they love. Buying for investment is for the serious collector who probably has very deep pockets. Collecting couture is like collecting artwork and the investment pieces are extremely costly, running into the thousands on many occasions. As far as jewelry, right now the designers to collect are Iradj Moini, Larry Vrba and Robert Sorell (all of whom we carry at LuLu’s). These gentlemen are true artists and all of their jewelry is made by hand in limited quantities.

MDPR: Like I said earlier, many women like the idea of vintage pieces but aren't sure how to incorporate them into their outfits. What advice do you have for people who are just starting to explore and experiment with vintage? How can people match pieces to their personality and individual style?

Laurie: Wow that is a hard question to answer. Of course shopping with someone who is truly an expert in the field always helps. You may or may not know I was a stylist with Marshall Fields for many years (when it was fabulous). Here is one key, if you put something on and you are not sure or you need to think about it, then it probably isn’t right for you. The reality is when something is fabulous, your body language will speak volumes. For example, many women start posing. There is really nothing to think about.
Laurie pulled some of her favorite pieces from the store to showcase the best elements each decade has to offer.
Fashion responded to the end of World War I with a trend toward simplicity. Clothing reflected a new found freedom by dropping waists to high hip levels and raising hemlines above the ankles and then the knee in 1926 during the flapper period. While the actual construction of apparel during this era was simple and loose-fitting, elaborate embellishments like embroidery, soft braiding, beading and fabric pinning gave this decade’s style a look of opulence and prosperity.  

1920s art deco dress, diamond skeleton pendant with black spinel
Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

Despite the Great Depression, fashion continued to evolve during the 30s. Keeping with the relaxed fit of the 20s, longer hemlines and higher waists created more conservative fashions. Synthetic fabrics were used for every day wear while silk was worn in the evening. Zippers replaced the hook and eye, even serving as design elements in some cases. Costume jewelry was also made popular by Chanel’s endless faux pearl strands while the “Hollywood” look began taking off as women used film as inspiration for their personal style.

1930s gown with handset encrusted rhinestones, 1960s rhinestone necklace 
Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

With Europe and Asia at war, European design houses set up shop in the states, indulging Americans in fashion. American designers also took advantage of this time to establish themselves in the fashion industry and create a following. Even though Americans were prospering, wartime restrictions on materials limited creativity, leaving the elaborate styles of the roaring twenties behind. A wide-shouldered, slim-waisted, narrow-hipped silhouette developed until Dior hit the runway in 1947. The design house created havoc over the “New Look,” which entailed rounded shoulders, exaggerated bust lines, corseted waits and padded hips.

1940s beaded ivory peplum dress, 1940s necklace
Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

In this age of consumerism and conformity, style was fully embraced. The hour glass silhouette, created with crinoline and supportive garments - such as bullet bras, corsets and girdles - became the signature for 50s fashion. America paved the way for ready-to-wear fashion, leading with pencil skirts and the essential cocktail dress. 

1950s dress with lace skirt and black sequin bodice, 1950s clamper, 1960s broach
Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

Women left behind their traditional hats and gloves during this transitional period when fashion took a sharp turn away from the fussy styles of the 1950s as women began experimenting with new styles.  As the baby boomers became independent and focused on expression, a more youthful silhouette developed, which included bright colors, busy patterns and showing more skin than ever before. The French “babydoll” look also became popular, which featured short skirts and big hair.

1960s gold lame dress, Lulu’s vintage necklace
Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

As pop culture expanded, so did pant legs and platform shoes. In an effort to be expressive and demonstrate independence, decorated denim, metallic material and velvet defined the fashions of the 70s. Disco, wrap dresses, jumpsuits and ethnic inspired styles became icons, and tiny shorts and t-shirts became everyday garb.
The 70s is now one of the most revisited and inspirational decades for new fashion.

1970s lame gown, contemporary Safia necklace
Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

With the 70s over and women charging the workplace, oversized shoulder pads with fitted tops and loose bottoms took over as power dressing became the everyday norm in most households. Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein surged in popularity, bringing with them bright and colorful accessories including bangles and large earrings. Several other iconic looks made their debut, including valley girl, prep and punk fashions. 

1980s Bob Mackie dress, 1960s bib collar
Photo by Marcin Cymmer
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

If you like what you see here, take advantage of Laurie’s three upcoming trunk shows celebrating fashion week where you can receive a 10% discount. The events will be held at LuLu’s Vintage, 900 N. Michigan Avenue.

Monday, August 26, 5-8 PM: The Napier Jewelry Book Champagne Reception

Tuesday, August 27, 5-8 PM: Safia Trunk Show Champagne Reception

Wednesday, August 28, 5-8 PM: Vintage Couture Collection Champagne Reception.

Please RSVP at
By Rebecca Taylor, MDPR Team Member