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Eric Smith, NBC5Chicago Street Team

 On location at Binny’s Beverage Depot with Bianca Berger of TY KU-a premium Asian Wine and Spirits Company.

How did you become State Manager for TY KU?

Bianca Berger(c) TY KU-State Manager

Well, I have worked in the Adult Beverage Industry for over 7 years here in the Chicago area.  About a year ago I was approached by representatives of the brand and then came on board to use my expertise to help launch the beverage in Illinois.  It has been a lot of fun working for this new company and breaking it in this market.  TY KU has given us the freedom and flexibility to try new things in order to build the brand.

What are the most popular types of TY KU in this market?

TY KU LIQUEUR is the most popular type selling in the Chicago area.  It comes in a very uniquely shaped bottle with a bright green citrus tasting liquor inside-that people like.  TY KU LIQUEUR is made up of super fruits found only in Asia-including a combination of mangosteen and gogi berri-natural ingredients packed high in antioxidants and vitamins.

How does the brand differentiate itself?

The New Skin of TY KU

Currently, there is no clear leader in Asian Spirits in this market and this is where we’ve found our niche.  In addition, we are bringing to market a healthier alternative to most adult beverages due to the natural super fruit ingredients.   The TY KU LIQUEUR is packaged in a unique bottle that lights up at the bottom and this is another great selling point.  And our TY KU SAKE is poised for huge growth with it’s unique flavor-offering the same health benefits as wine.

Does TY KU have a target demographic?

No not really.  But we find that we are developing a customer base that is 21-30 looking to experience new flavors-willing to try something different.  And it is very popular among women.  (And this couldn’t be more true-new TY KU Fan-Alicia Tiffany stated, “Personally I liked the fruity sweet taste of the green one…the colors of the drink and the shape of the bottle really stood out.”)

What’s next for TY KU?

At the top of the year we introduced the new TY KU SOJU and have a major push behind this campaign.  And we have just launched the TY KU NINJAGETAWAY Sweepstakes because even Ninjas need a vacation! We are offering TY KU fans a chance to win a kick a$$ vacation to Paradise Island, Bahamas or Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The prize includes 4 days & 3 nights at the luxurious Riu Hotel & Resort, round trip airfare, spa treatments, water sports, beachwear, skincare products & much more! Enter daily to increase your chances of winning. Sweepstakes ends on April 30th, 2010

TY KU NinjaGetaway

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Eric Smith, NBC5Chicago Street Team

In the fourth year of installment, Fashion Focus Chicago once again lit up the runway with the latest couture fashions this past weekend at Millennium Park. A gathering of the City’s upscale fashionistas and industry insiders, this was a collection of creative intellectuals on the scene-to push the envelope of Chicago’s fashion industry. A call to all in the know that although we are in the Midwest-far away from the East and West coasts, the Windy City is here-determined to make an imprint in the marketplace, and we will do so with our own sense of style and flair.

Chicagos Hot Couture

Fashion in Focus

Within minutes of arriving I was graced with the presence of Melissa Gamble- Chairwoman of the Mayor’s Fashion Council, Jason Felger-Executive Vice President of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Alice Berry-Chicago Native-designer and Fashion Council member and the one and only Mayor Daley who launched the Council and subsequently Fashion Focus Chicago to establish the city as a fashion destination.

Most impressive was the fact that these collections debuted the next rising stars of top students from Chicago’s fashion design schools: Columbia College Chicago, The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago, Academy Chicago and the School of the Art Institute Chicago.

ChicagoRisingStar

Dress Code 2009

From the looks presented on the runway this evening, the goal of establishing a fashion mecca here is well in sight! To learn more and score event tickets visit
Fashion Focus Chicago.

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Aristotle famously declared that “man without a city is either beast or god,”  by which he meant that communal participation is the defining characteristic of being human.  So when Anthony Luciano, the New York based accessories designer whose newest collection of lux handbags is flying off the shelves at Neiman Marcus, responds aphoristically in an email that “I’m not participating in the recession,” you have to  wonder if he is some glib beast whose head is stuck in the economic sand or, quite possibly, the incarnate deity that  every retailer could use  at the moment.

Anthony Luciano
Anthony Luciano
“I can only expand,”  he wrote in another email exchange, ” by saying I believe that even in tough economic times people are still drawn to beautiful and unique things which is what I do best. I have, of course, put more price conscious items into the line to attract a more discerning client but I will always do special custom made lux accessories.”
Eureka. Who needs any more bedazler logo crazed “status” bags? Who ever needed those in the first place?  In his current collection, Mr Luciano’s uses soft waxed and hand painted python to remarkable effect, producing, for instance, weightless hobo carryalls with over exaggerated leather tassels and irresistibly soft clutches with feminine floral touches. The waxing and painting produces solid colored  surfaces that remind one of licorice or liquid, even. Colored python skins have a subtlety akin to watercolors.
Even in July of last year someone had the good sense to point  out to Women’s Wear Daily that “if you want people to part with their money, they have to feel like they are getting something for it.” One wishes more retailers and designers shared WWD’s and Mr. Luciano’s insight. People don’t want basics in a down economy. They already have plenty of those. And they’ve already had it with  items whose prices bear no relation to craftsmanship.
purple python clutch
purple python clutch
Even  if you’ve only recently started pinching your pennies, giving you something for you money is not a new concept for Mr. Luciano. Inside each of his handbags you’ll find he has sewn in a penny, his trademark since he started his company in 2000. “It’s an Italian tradition. When you give a handbag or wallet as a gift you should put money in it first for good luck.”
WHERE: Neiman Marcus Michigan Ave on Thursday October 8th and Friday October 9th
WHAT:  Meet Anthony Luciano and  watch him construct pieces by hand on the selling floor. Take the opportunity to collaborate with the designer and choose from a variety of hand picked frames from his vast collection to create a custom bag.  Anthony will help you choose the perfect leather and sketch a design and make your unique piece.

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At last night’s televised portion of the Emmys, Ricky Gervais made the hilariously irreverent confession: “This is the greatest awards ceremony in the world, there’s no doubt about that. Definitely, definitely no doubt about that. The thing about the Oscars and the Golden Globes is they’ve got film stars there, with their jawlines and chiseled looks, making me feel bad. But in this room – I’m not being funny – I’m probably above average. Here, Steve Carell is considered handsome.”

Much the same logic could be used to describe what is usually wrong with the women’s fashion at the Emmys. Since the  Emmys lack the star power, prestige  and, most importantly, the audience of the Golden Globes and The Oscars, it’s rare that actresses bring their A fashion game because it is even rarer that  the top design houses  loan out their A rate dresses. This means that if an actress is not careful, in that room–I’m not being funny–the Housewives of Atlanta would rate above average.

And so it was last nite.  Jennifer Carpenter, Kara DioGuardi, Sandra Oh, Holly Hunter, Sigourney Weaver, Drew Barrymore and Christina Applegate brought it. That’s because they would look spot on even at a more prestigious event.

On the other hand, stars like Vanessa Williams, Debra Messing, Marcia Gay Harden,  Julia Louis Dreyfus, Jessica Lange and Glenn Close didn’t. That’s because they looked like “make under” versions of the OC housewives. Their dresses, and most of the dresses period, were so safe and boring that you could easily find them hanging on the rack of a high end department store.

Tina Fey and Toni Colette have always been two outsize talents who have been in desperate need of a good stylist. Ms Fey, it seems, finally found one. Ms Colette, it seems, found the Rachel Zoe School for the Newly Emaciated and Fakebaked.  January Jones, Kristin Chenoweth (a very deserving winner for “Pushing Daisies”)  and Leighton Meester used overzealous stylists. Kim Kardashian used an overzealous pimp.

And then there was the worst offender of the evening, Heidi Klum, with her TMI maternity frock. Good god, the only way for her to have been  more inappropriately dressed was to have  arrived in a hospital gown with Seal telegraphing the number of centimeters she was dilated.

The best dressed men were  Tracy Morgan (surprisingly so), Steve Carell (reliably so), Ricky Gervais (eclectically so), Justin Timberlake (youthfully so), and Simon Baker (hot damn so). Jon Cryer was by far the worst dressed, perhaps because he dressed as his character on “Two and a Half Men.”

For a photo gallery and a slightly different perspective than the one expressed here, click here.

TheBestDressedList.com

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tom_kolovos_wordpressnewTom Kolovos, NBC Chicago Street Team

OK ladies, if you normally have the requisite fashionista aversion to a dress which retails for $38, you may want to reconsider said aversion. Perhaps the economy has transformed you into a recessionista, or you needed something to wear in the 98 degree heat to Lollapalooza.

But the best reason to justify a $38 dress is because it’s actually a great summer buy and transforms into several dresses in one.

The dress is called Le Sac, and you’ll find this versatile piece at American Apparel. It comes in solid colors and a black strap that runs through essentially a halter top shape, but with enough imagination (and the pictured instruction postcard that comes with it), you can create at least five different dresses you would not be embarrassed to wear — the Braided halter, the Architectural mini, the Grecian, the Gathered mini or any of several variations that might look completely at home on a Narciso Rodriguez runway. Really.

Click here to read the rest of this post on NBCChicago.com.

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tom_kolovos_wordpressnewTom Kolovos, NBC Chicago Street Team

What separates the men from the boys this time of year? The men know it’s not how much you spend but how much you save.

If it is true that along with age comes wisdom, then some of us have been around long enough to know that one of the great joys of shopping the summer sales is getting a deal on  designer clothes that you normally can’t afford and that are going to perfect  your Fall wardrobe. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and, yes, real men get great deals on their Fall clothes in August!

One of the perennials you should be seeking out are coats. Spring coats that failed to impress your fellow shoppers can be had for 75% off if you remind yourself that for a city like Chicago, the difference between the weight of a Fall or Spring coat is indistinguishable.

Best buys this time of year would include a new trench or a leather jacket. For the latter, try the  sleek olive green military inspired one from Rag and Bone or the grey Ellie Tahari, both at Saks Fifth Avenue right now.

Those with an eagle eye for fashion this Fall will tell you that donning a henley instead of a t shirt or button front shirt is one of the surest ways to update your casual wardrobe. So if you’re a desperado for the perfect henley, pick up the  perfect  cotton and cashmere version from Rag and Bone that is still available,  again at Saks. Roberto Agnes can help you locate all of the items mentioned here.

Finally, lightweight knits that can be easily layered like the v neck sweater — and especially the cardigan — will be ubiquitous right through next Spring. Pick up the grey Etro cardigan with tie dye detail, for instance, again at Saks (most likely still available through the Beverly Hills store. Ask for Christopher).

Let the best Spring 2010 men’s collection at Bottega Veneta inspire you. And remember, the early bird gets the worm and the kickass fall wardrobe.

TheBestDressedList.com

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tom_kolovos_wordpressnewTom Kolovos, NBC Chicago Street Team

Ok, guys I’ll let you in on one of my best pieces of advice for free, so listen up.

Ralph Lauren makes his classic polo shirt in a cut called “Custom Fit.” It is cut much closer to the body than the sloppy polo shirts of yore, which way too many of you are still wearing, and  which make you look oh so “2000 and late” while all the other guys look oh “so 3008.”

The “custom fit” has a higher armhole, natural shoulder and runs trimmer and shorter throught the body. This means it makes you look leaner, trimmer and completely in the know about how a shirt–any shirt, including a polo–should fit right now.

I don’t care if you’re 5 or 95, everyone looks completely appropriately dressed in a Ralph Lauren polo shirt, whether you  pair it with a nice pair of jeans and loafers or shorts and flipflops. Pick a flattering color and you’re an instant  style icon.

Just make sure you never tuck it your pants and wear a belt with it, grandpa.

If you run into any Ralph Lauren Polo store right now, every color of the custom fit polo is on sale for $37.49, marked down from $75.  It comes in 12-15 colors so you are bound to find several you love. If you happen to go into the Michigan Avenue store, ask for Jennifer on the first floor.

Finally, Saks will be having a consolidation sale in the Chicago Michigan Avenue  store this Thursday August 6th, which means an additional 25% off the last markdown price in both the men’s and women’s departments for a total of 75% off. Most of the merchandise is pretty well picked over but you never know……..(There’s still a great selection of men’s shoes, though!!!!!)

If you happen to live in Los Angeles or are visiting there on Thursday, run, don’t walk to the Beverly Hills store’s Warehouse Sale which will have the best selection of all the Saks stores.

TheBestDressedList.com

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