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Alton Brown Teams with hook+Albert for Brash Bow Ties

Alton Brown for hook+Albert, The Salmon Hunger bow tie

Food meets fashion in the hook+Albert’s latest collaboration. Alton Brown, Food Network host and bow-tie aficionado, has helped design (and name) a small capsule collection of reversible bow-ties for the growing menswear brand. Available today, the five styles span traditional and more dandyish shapes in an array of patterns and colors for just $65 each.

€œI was walking down the street one day thinking about how I really wanted to make some bow ties,€ said Brown. €œI looked at my bright orange shoe laces I€™d just bought the week before and wondered€¦who made these things?  Luckily the hook+Albert wrapper was still in the trash so I dug it up and called them up.€

I’ll Take Manhattan bow tie

Five styles are available in the Alton Brown collection, including diamond point, butterfly and batwing styles (a few  are reversible, too). 100 of each style were made available today exclusively on hook+Albert’s Web site. The styles range from subdued plaids (I’ll Take Manhattan, pictured above) to more fashion-forward styles, such as the Salmon Hunter, which combines menswear’s print du jour, camouflage, and combines it with a preppy pink and orange plaid.

All of the bow ties are self-tie, meaning guys will have to refer to hook+Albert’s instructional guides to school themselves on just how to tie these bad boys. Brown’s often seen wearing bow ties during his hosting duties on Iron Chef America and Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network, so fans of him — and of Food Network — shouldn’t be surprised to learn that he had a major hand in the design and fabrication (as well as the cheeky culinary names, such as Cherry Wine Pie and Midnight Jam) of his collection.

Alton Brown for hook+Albert

hook+Albert, which started as a company that only offered socks and other accessories, has expanded to include brightly colored shoe laces, cufflinks, lapel flowers and even elbow patches for guys to add to their favorite sweaters or blazers. They’ve even managed to make loafer liners more fun by offering them in bright, bold colors.

The Alton Brown collection is available at hook+Albert’s Web site.

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The Best Whimsical, Cheeky Statement Clutches

Statement bags have their place and so do practical work totes and shoulder satchels. But sometimes, you just need to toss practicality out the window and go for a clutch that’s loud, brash and completely bold.

These bright, colorful and cheerful, cheeky clutches will add a splash of color and a cheeky wink to all of your staples. Just big enough to stash your essentials, using a clutch is an exercise in editing, so remember not to tote around the entire kitchen sink when you’re headed out and ready to make a splash with one of these special pieces.


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Ellen Degeneres Teams with GapKids

GapKids x ED collection

Talk show host Ellen Degeneres might have just launched her lifestyle line €” offering clothing, home and accessories €” a few weeks ago, but the savvy personality is already getting in on the fashion collab game. Just in time for back-to-school shopping, the host and design devotee is teaming with GapKids for the GapKids x ED collection, a girls-only collab that’s setting out to empower girls to pursue their passions.

“I am thrilled that my lifestyle brand, ED, is partnering with Gap to encourage young girls to pursue their passion, whether it€™s math, science, sports, the arts,€ said DeGeneres. €œFollowing my passion allowed me to be exactly who I am today €” a talk show host with a vibrant side business as a party mime.”

What really has us smiling is that Degeneres has kept price-conscious fashion mavens and their little ones top of mind. Her own ED collection of modern, tailored essentials caps off at $395. And the Gap collection, which will be available in select GapKids stores and online starting August 17, takes that even further with ultra-accessible prices that parents will love, too. And the part we really love? The capsule collection is modeled by real girls with real achievements: a young professional drummer, a handful of pro-skateboarders and a nine-year-old engineer of prosthetic hands. GapKids x ED is an apparel collection, but it’s so much more.

Gap and Degeneres are hoping to spark a real social movement through the collection, which is designed to help all girls realize they have the power to do extraordinary things. Taking a few cues from Degeneres’ own style, there are denim jackets, bright colors and plenty of pieces that’ll have kids all over wanting to break their schools’ dress codes. Boys have been included in past collabs, which include Kate and Jack Spade as well as Stella McCartney, but this time around, it’s girls-only.

€œWe know our customers love Ellen as much as we do,€ said Jeff Kirwan, Gap Global President.  €œAnd we couldn€™t be more pleased to be partnering with her on our GapKids x ED collection. We look forward to launching the collection in time for back to school as it enables us to champion girls in a way that continues to be true to our brand€™s heritage, which has long stood for supporting youth in a way that unleashes their potential.€

Get a behind-the-scenes peek at the collection in video below:

For more information, visit

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Gel Nails: Chip-Free Cure or Trendy Gimmick?

It€™s the simplest girly pleasures that give us the most delight €” like a fabulous pedicure in a flashy color with a cheeky name to match. Take our recent pick: €œGoing Incognito,€ the emerald green polish from Essie that we just chose for our toes.Sadly, when it comes to manicures, we usually resort to the safer,Essie’s Going Incognito Nail Polish

chip-friendly classics such as Essie€™s Mademoiselle €” a classic, soft pink that always looks, well, polished. We look longingly at the deep crimsons and other brights that barely make it one day without chipping through all the hand-washing, dishes, box opening, art projects with kids and the biggest nail ruining trap of them all: the pesky clasp on our Chrome Hearts bracelet, which practically mocks us as we get near it with a freshly manicured nail.

Admission: We can€™t even get out of the salon without smudging our nails before they dry and enduring the eye rolls and tongue clacking of the technicians whom we have to sheepishly go back to with the evidence of our impatience.

Shellac Gel Nail Polish

But over the past year, there has been a new whisper at the nail salon that is getting much louder: Gel Nails, a UV light-set polish with the promise of a no-chip, two-week pretty manicure. Uh, sure! The various brands of gel nail polish which you may have seen at the salon include Shellac by CND, Bio Scuplture Gel, OPI€™s Axxium Gel Nail polish and more.

But, always happy to guinea pig ourselves for the sake of fashion and beauty, we took a little €œbusiness€ trip to Hands On Spa (a little haven of calm and superior cleanliness) on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills to try the gel nails for the first time. Hands On uses the Bio Sculpture Gel, which bills itself as the inventors of color-gel nail products.

Most importantly, Nicole Scherzinger won the coveted Mirrorball trophy on €œDancing with The Stars€ last year wearing Bio Sculpture #74, Real Red, so how could we not try it!

The first bonus of the gel nail application is that you get an actual manicure, unlike acrylic nails which subscribe to the €œtear you down before we build you up€ practice of basically sanding down your nail bed first.

The gel, however, is simply applied as a polish and cured a couple fingers at a time under a little UV-light box for a few minutes.

UV Nail Light For Gel Nails

After they are cured, they are utterly and completely dried.

Like, dry, dry. Really. And shiny. And because it€™s essentially a polish applied over your nail, there€™s nothing odd and fake looking about it. This may disappoint the likes of acrylic-loving Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore types, but never fear: They, too, can actually apply the gel polish over acrylic talons.

We settled on Pinotage, a rich burgundy color that is named after one of our favorite wine varietals from the wine country of South Africa (Elmien Scholtz, the founder of Bio Sculpture Gels hails from South Africa). We wanted to bring home a crate of the wine when we were visiting the stunning wine region years ago, but alas it was a touch cost prohibitive. So, naturally, a nail polish is the next best thing.

Our skilled technician, Yayoi, applied the gels with the precision of a Japanese archer and sweetly endured our relentless, highly detailed questions:

€œIs it really dry after you take it out of the UV light?€ Yes
€œLike totally dry?€ Yes
€œNo chip?€ Yes
€œReally?€ Yes
€œYou swear?€ Yes
€œSure?€ Yes. (Smile.)
€œCare Bear swear?€

Yayoi was unfazed.

The result: Holy Mirroball! We are believers! We are cured €” literally! Over the course of two weeks we did dishes, cleaned an office, a garage, opened cans just because we could, scraped tape off of boxes and happily clasped and unclasped €” and clasped again €” the Chrome Hearts bracelet with the impossible closure. And not a single tip was damaged or altered in the process.

Now, before you go thinking that we have been swigging the gel nail KoolAid here at FTD (We may have had just a shot or two€¦) here are the drawbacks:

€¢    The price. Expect to pay double your usual manicure rate. But remember: You get two weeks out of this (Think cost/wear

OPI Axxium Soak Off Gel Nail Polish

€¢    Say goodbye to the quickie manicure and polish changes. This manicure takes twice as long to put on and longer to take off, because the gel polish has to be soaked off for about 15 minutes. (But, it is every two weeks€¦.)

€¢    You won€™t have any chips, but you will be able to notice nail growth from the top of the nail.

€¢    If you have favorite colors in your favorite nail lines, you€™re going to have to find the closest options. OPI€™s version, however, offers some of the brand€™s most popular colors. (Essie: When will you join the party with your fabulous colors and fun names?)

€¢    Your hands are being exposed to UVA light. Although the amounts are small, it’s always good to be informed. And if you’re really worried, bring along a little sunscreen.

Of course, we will absolutely be heading back before fashion week in New York. Flawless nails for the whole time we are there? We can’t resist!