Designer Spotlight: Bela Shehu’s NINOBrand (PLUS: Exclusive $50 Off!)

 

I met Bela Shehu almost ten years ago as a senior in high school when she owned and operated BSHEHU on 13th Street. It was more than just a place to spend my limited allowance on layaway purchases–I practically lived there for a time, when I wasn’t in school or at home. And occasionally, after closing time, I would skip over to the Ritz with Bela for some Veuve Clicquot–memorable moments for a seventeen-year-old city kid.

Bela Shehu

Bela Shehu (image from www.shehu.net)

Though college made it difficult to stay in touch, I would run into Bela every now and then, and she would always be in the middle of some amazing project. At one point, Bela was designing a delicious activewear apparel line called Cocoon that transitioned seamlessly from studio to street (I still wish I had picked up a pair of her mesh insert leggings). At another, she was working as a production consultant behind the scenes for numerous brands, helping to develop spec sheets and patterns–technical aspects of the business with which many are unfamiliar.

NINOBrand is her latest endeavor, and I find it to be a perfect embodiment of Bela herself–edgy, sexy, and insouciant, all at once. We were shamefully overdue for some catching up, and so I stopped by a couple weeks ago to check out the atelier on 20th Street to play dress up. Here are some shots from the visit. Scroll down for the interview–it’s worth reading!

Schedule your appointment by September 12 to get $50 off your purchase of $200 or more when you mention ”meniemoda.”

333 S. 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
info@NINObrand.com
p: 267.761.9388

 

The NINO Brand Atelier on 20th St.

The NINO Brand Atelier on 20th St.

Couch sessions with Bela Shehu

Getting a little silly…

Various looks from NINO Brand, all available at the NINO Brand Atelier

Various looks from NINO Brand, all available at the NINO Brand Atelier

 

Q&A with Bela Shehu

Where has life taken you since our last glass of Veuve at the Ritz? It feels like you’ve done so many things in the past few years!

Oh bubbly at the Ritz:) accompanied with fearless dreams and inflamed egos; yeah I remember that day.

The most amazing thing that has happened in these past few years has been the generous trust and compassionate bond that I’ve been developing with self. Every step of my personal and creative growth has been such a pleasure to experience. Being part of building the foundation of Commonwealth Proper was a rare privilege I thoroughly enjoyed. Designing and developing the Studio to Street line for Lithe Method has been a lot of fun too. Tamar Daniel, League 91, and Duke & Winston are some of the projects that have kept me excited the years.

 

How have you cultivated such a unique personal style? Who or what has influenced your aesthetic?

I try to give myself a fair chance to play with absolutely everything, every shape, texture, feel, and as of late even color. If I’m paying attention, the experiment or parts of it will clearly talk to me. I keep the elements I connect with, part with what is not working and apply my own application to the design that births from the exercise. Edith Head’s low key style has inspired me from time to time.

 

What’s your day-to-day dressing philosophy?

Getting dressed is an extension of communication, so the daily experience varies every day.

 

What’s your favorite NINO Brand piece of all time?

These harem pants I made in the beginning of the year. They continue to satisfy me with the different moods they take on and exhibit.

 

How about from your newest collection?

I like a lot of styles from the new collection. Newness always keeps me giddy with excitement. The new pieces carry functionality, comfort, intelligence and a sense of athleticism; characteristics I’ve been adoring lately.

 

If you could be reincarnated into any living being, what would it be and why?

I would come back as human again – still trying to get it right.

————

Hope you enjoyed!

 

xo,

M

 

 

 

Currently Coveting: Monique Lhuillier’s new shoe collection

Currently Coveting: Monique Lhuillier Spring 2014 shoe collection

Approximately three years ago, in a pre-wedding frenzy, I found myself in a tearful state of uncertainty. I was excited to move forward, but afraid of making the wrong decision. After all, how do you really know when it’s “the one?” Was I making a decision based upon what I wanted, or what my mother/sister/BFF/evil bitch alter-ego wanted?

I’m going to go on a little tangent here…

Consumer psychologist Barry Shwartz touches on this exact issue in his insightful work The Paradox of Choice. In it, he reiterates mid-century psychologist Herbert Simon‘s ideas of “maximizing” and “satisficing” in the context of decision-making today. Essentially, a “maximizer” is a person who needs to be sure that the decision he or she is making is the “best” possible decision–even if making that decision is more time-consuming and/or arduous. A “satisficer,” meanwhile, is one who, for lack of a better word, compromises in the decision-making process. However negative this may sound, Schwartz argues that satisficers tend to be happier individuals, not allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by numerous options or opportunities.

Like most people, I’m a bit of both in my day-to-day life. But on this particular issue, with a life-changing event around the corner, I was a woeful, everything-must-be-perfect maximizer.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I should mention that I am not talking about my charming, debonair stud of a husband. I’m talking about wedding gown shopping, silly! But perhaps you already figured that out from the title of this post–especially if you’ve shopped for a wedding gown in the past few years. You see, I thought shopping for a bridal gown was going to be the most wonderful part of planning my wedding, but after trying on gown after gown in Philadelphia and New York–and falling in love with several too many–I just started going bat-shit crazy. I almost ended up with a Carolina Herrera floral a-line gown that, while stunning and unique, couldn’t have been more different than the Monique Lhuillier “Sunday Rose” that came to my rescue by, well, blowing everything else out of the water.

Below: Photo by Kateryn Silva Photography

Monique Lhuillier "Sunday Rose" Wedding Gown

While this entry is partially an excuse to show off a couple photos of yours truly in what is undoubtedly the finest garment I will ever own, I’ve also fallen deeply in love with the whole gamut of Ms. Lhuillier’s work since I walked down the aisle and was so excited when she launched her new shoe collection this year.  The Spring 2014 collection was unveiled in New York earlier today, but sadly I couldn’t be there in person.  Thank goodness for Instagram! The pics they’ve been posting show that the Spring 2014 collection will undoubtedly be the best yet!

xo,

M

A Fabulous Birthday Frock

Yesterday, I celebrated my 25th birthday with friends and family at Erin Elmore (check out her site–I designed it!) and Craig Spitzer’s beautiful Rittenhouse abode. It was a lovely affair with wonderful people and an ample supply of champagne and cake.

I decided that in honor of my quarter-century milestone, I would embrace my true colors–or should I say color–by setting the decor and the dress code to pink.   And so, in a cloud of pink balloons and rosé cava, my dream party came to life, complete with a festive Manoush frock from my latest retail obsession Philadelphia Vintage

I could call it a “dress,” but that really wouldn’t be doing justice to this saccharin confection of a garment.  It seems many women are hesitant to embrace this form of blatant femininity, but I think Manoush is one of those brands that does it so well–in playful details and bold use of color–that it becomes fresh and even boundary-pushing again.  So if you think that lurex, a ruffled bust, sequins, and neon pompoms can’t all go together, I say “think again.”   This dress is like a surprise visit from Mister Softee…with pink sprinkles on top. Paired with subtle-but-sexy nude Pigalles, of course. (Buy those here).

meniemodabirthdaypost

And by the way, check out this spread! Courtesy of my stepfather and Culinary Grand Wizard (yeah, you heard me) Patrick Coué.

Birthday nosheries

A beautiful cucumber-coated salmon

Menie in Manoush

xo,

M

P.S. I’m doing a feature on Philadelphia Vintage very, very soon…so stay tuned!

A Little Downtown, A Little Downton Abbey

Glass fringe beading on a 1920s column gownI picked up this lovely silk column gown while on a serious Downton Abbey kick at my favorite vintage shop in town, Philadelphia Vintage (check out the Etsy store here!), and I couldn’t wait to wear it.  Apparently it came from a Beverly Hills estate and dates back to the 1920s.  I love the slim–but not tight–silhouette and the intricate hand-sewn glass beading and fringe along the shoulders and back. Absolute couture work.  

1920s GlamourImage

It works perfectly with this ombre, acid-washy leather jacket I bought at Intermix from leather label Doma. I happen to love this combo in general–a long evening gown roughed up and made appropriate for day with the perfect little moto jacket.  Not to mention, it means you can wear your most elegant formalwear more than once in a blue moon.

Vintage Dress

I just love it. I only wish I had a Becca Laws pendant to wear with it ;)

xo,

M

Designer Spotlight: Becca Laws Jewelry (Plus: $40 Discount and Giveaway!)

Becca Laws jewelryWelcome to my first Designer Spotlight Post! With this series, I’ll be showcasing various emerging designers (and retailers!) with interviews, photography, and exclusive discounts and giveaways.

I’m so excited to be writing this now, not only because it’s the first installment in this series, but because the subject happens to be a wonderful friend who has created something beautiful worth sharing.

I met Becca Laws five years ago when we were both interns at an apparel production office in New York’s Garment District, and I always looked forward to seeing her smiling face at work every day. Since then, Becca has launched her eponymous jewelry line, which features architecturally-inspired, geometric designs that manage to be both elegant and edgy while maintaining a distinct, semi-Art Deco aesthetic.

Thus far, the brand includes three collections: Monogram, Kaleidoscope, and 143. Take a looksie. MenieModa readers can purchase any of her items at a 40% discount on her Etsy store–scroll down for the promo code! And don’t forget to follow MenieModa and comment on this post to be entered to win a lovely sterling silver or gold vermeil pendant of your choice!

Becca Laws jewelry

From left to right: Custom monogram pendant, 143 pendant, custom monogram pendant

1) How did you get started with Becca Laws Jewelry?

I got started with Becca Laws Jewelry right after I graduated from college. I have always been artistic and creative but did not know how that would translate into a personal brand. Initially I thought fashion was my calling – I was a fashion merchandising major and did numerous fashion internships in NYC. One day, I was in a local jewelry store, and found this beautiful, simple gold pendant in the estate section. I loved the look and was intrigued by the meaning. I found out it was a puzzle of overlapping letters spelling out ‘Te Quiero’. My mom got it for me as my 17th Birthday present and I never took it off. The necklace was always a conversation piece and it finally dawned on me that I could take the concept and run with it.

2) Who has helped/mentored you along the way?

Becca Laws wearing one of her own designs

Becca Laws wearing one of her own designs

Bringing the idea to fruition wouldn’t have been possible without a mentor in North Carolina. I visited with many different jewelers in Baltimore and Asheville and finally found one I loved. Paula is the owner of Jewels that Dance in Asheville, North Carolina. She helped me from initial concept to execution. She knew a lot about the industry and was happy to help me. She would take my illustrations and develop a CAD, then cast and finish the pendants. She answered all of my silly questions and to this day helps me when I have a new idea or issue. Now I have taken the next step and manage the process on my own in NYC.

2) Your designs are full of elegant geometry. What inspires you, in terms of art, architecture, and design?

My inspiration is everywhere. However, I am mostly inspired by architecture. I love iron gates and concrete designs on buildings etc. It’s funny, I came up with my Kaleidoscope Collection and now wherever I go I see some of the letters in architecture. I have also inspired many friends. I get various picture messages from people who know me and see patterns or designs that remind them of me.

3) What were you doing before starting your line?Becca Laws' Inspiration

Before starting, I was babysitting. I had just come home from college and was babysitting to earn some money before I figured out what I was going to do. It was all for the right reason because one of the mom’s planted the seed in my brain. Every time I saw the mom, Ally, she would stare at my necklace. She loved the design and vintage feel of the necklace. I also noticed that she loved her monogram so I got the idea of reinventing the monogram – something no one else has thought to do. I wanted to create a puzzle like the vintage necklace. I started designing and drawing countless monograms and ran so many ideas by her.

4) When you’re not adorning yourself in your own designs, whose jewelry do you wear?

I am pretty simple, I usually stick to vintage jewelry. I am a sucker for yellow and rose gold! My staple ring is a thick, plain yellow gold band that use to be my grandmother’s wedding band. But I also love a fun big necklace…jewelry has always been something I think makes an outfit (even when it is subtle!)

6) Where can I buy your product?

Right now you can buy on www.beccalaws.com, www.etsy.com, www.collierwest.com, & www.alicejanejewelry.com but we are constantly gaining more interest so please keep checking back on our website to find your most convenient option!

Becca Laws jewelry retails at $120 (for sterling silver and gold vermeil), $795 (for rose, yellow, or white 14kt gold), and $1295 (for a custom monogram pendant in 14k gold). From now through August 15st, you can get $40 off of any purchase on her e-boutique or Etsy store using the promo code MENIEMODA40.

Now on to the exciting part! You can WIN one of Becca’s silver or gold vermeil kaleidoscope pendants (in the letter and metal of your choice!) just by doing the following:

1. Follow MenieModa (either through BlogLovin‘ or via email)

2. Leave a comment including your email address on this post!

One winner will be selected on August 15th and contacted by email. Stay tuned!

xo,

M

Silk Trousers for Sunday Brunch

Yesterday was URBN’s employee summer sample sale. I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped to be this go ’round, but I did snag a few cute pieces. These black silk floral pants, for example. They’re super comfy, and I’m starting to appreciate the cropped length with the slight flare. It was brutally hot today, and the all-black ensemble didn’t help, but at least I felt cute :) .

Worn with black Theory tank, Zara mesh top, Louis Vuitton bag, wedges by Free People, mother of pearl necklace by Soixante Neuf.

Silk TrousersSilk TrousersSilk Trousers

xo,

M

Black and White and Lace All Over

I love all the girly, lacy dresses from Free People, but this one may be my favorite. And it works perfectly with my Elizabeth & James block heels–which I probably wear way too often…

black and white dress

Image

xo,

M

…And the livin’ is easy

Most everyone is out of the office today, it being July 4th weekend. I came in to wrap up some work, but since nobody else was around…

…I took a little ride.

navy blue romper

Navy blue rompernavy blue romper

Wearing my navy romper bought at the last URBN employee sample sale, Loeffler Randall patent leather oxfords, Opening Ceremony sunnies, and Mulberry bag in-tow. Photos by Haley Sheehan.

How’s that for a lunch break?

navy blue romper

Also loving this saucy version from ShopNastyGal and this lacy number (more similar to mine) from ModCloth.

 

xo,

M

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day!  Although E and I have decided to avoid the tourists descending en masse to most of Philly’s historical sites, it happens that Washington Square is basically in our backyard, and so we took a couple shots while strolling through.Me in Washington Square

Dress by Kimchi Blue (similar here and here), red bag by Beracamy, raffia sandals by YSL (bought at Joan Shepp).
Me and BamBam

American Flag

 

xo,

M

Currently Coveting: Ulyana Sergeenko’s full midi skirts

Currently Coveting: Midi Skirts

3.1 Phillip Lim silk shirt / Temperley London full midi skirt, $740 / High heel platform sandals, $255 / SHOUROUK pvc handbag

Ulyana Sergeenko is by far one of my favorite street style stars. Besides simply being really, really, ridiculously goodlooking (please read in the voice of Derek Zoolander), she always looks absolutely regal in every photograph, like a modern day bona fide Czarina.

Besides expensive cheekbone implants, I believe the key piece is the full midi-skirt. When midi lengths came back into fashion a few years ago, I was hesitant to embrace the trend, but Ms. Sergeenko shows how it can be done without looking the least bit matronly.

Ulyana Sergeenko street style

Style notes: The volume of the skirt calls for minimal accessories. A clutch is the perfect choice, although a smaller structured satchel would work equally well.  Hair is best pulled back away from the face.

I love the monochromatic midi look, but there are so many more possibilities.  You can also easily snatch up a special vintage piece, as the ’70s and ’80s produced many a midi silhouette. Anyway, here are a few viable options at various price points:

xo,

M

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