Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sexy stilettos for the Cinderella in me

Just call me Cinderella, because I totally have a shoe fetish. But not just any old shoes. It's stilettos and high boots that make my heart go all a flutter and my toes curl in delight (this blue one is my favorite).

And this weekend, I think I met my Prince Charming -- when it comes to fairy tale shoes that is.

Houston wood sculpter Omar Angel Perez has created a collection of stilettos that have left me and other women wishing they weren't just for artistic display.

"All the heels are a perfect size 8 to 9, but you would never be able to really wear any of them. Although, I've had a lot of women tell that they wish they could," said Perez.

That's because the instead of the traditional 3 or 4 inch heels, Perez' stilettos average 15 to 24 inches tall.

The shoes are constructed out of wood and are accented with various items including band saw blades, snakeskin, leather, feathers and Swarovski crystals. His sexy stiletto creations are currently on display at the Houston Center of Contemporary Craft.

Perez's shoes have been on display in Massachusetts, Washington and Georgia. While they are causing quite a stir in the art world, he says the project started off as a joke.

"I made the first pair just over a year ago as a joke and my wife didn't even know about it. I was in the workshop working on them and I said, 'Honey, I got a little something that I need you to take a picture of,'" said Perez. "The first thing that came out her mouth was, 'You are so crazy.'

Then she said, ' I love them.'"

Unlike me, Perez says he doesn't have a shoe fetish. Instead, he believes that stilettos take a woman to a different mindset and transforms her personality.

"I think heels give women a different persona, so I tried to explore that with my stiletto series. Some of them have a little attitude like my biker heels which have spikes on them," said Perez.

Other shoes in Perez's collection are more about bringing women to new exotic locations. In fact, one of the pairs contains Indian currency as part of the design and henna dye.

"I was using the idea of taking a woman to a different place," said Perez.
Another pair of stilettos is dedicated to wine drinking. The shoes contains cork and corkscrew elements, while another unique pair has a 50mm bullet added to the design.

Nicole Kidman's character in Moulin Rouge also inspired a pair of Perez' shoes. The pair is titled "Satine" and in order to portray Kidman's performance of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," the shoes have 100 crystals attached to them.

"I'm really having a lot of fun with the juxtaposition of different elements and how they go together," said Perez. "Stillettos take a woman to a different location, mindset and mood when she wears them --at least that's what I think based on my male perspective."

Omar has sculpted 25 pairs so far and the most expensive pair has sold for $2,400.

Omar's Stillett"O" exhibit will be on display from Saturday August 29 through Sunday October 25 at the Houston Center of Contemporary Craft.

The artist's reception will be held on September 3 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and is open to the public.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No makeup? No problem for WWE Diva and reality star Torrie Wilson

I'm always wondering how celebrities can look so great all the time. I mean, when I work out, I look like poop. If I happen to be wearing makeup, my mascara has run so much I have raccoon eyes and my hair is one sweaty mess.

So when Houston resident and former WWE Diva Torrie Wilson was willing to share her beauty secrets with me, I jumped at the chance to find out how she managed to look so good all the time.

It turns out even super sexy divas worry about looking good, because with Torrie landed her role on the hit reality show "I'm a Celebrity...Get me out of Here!," she said she had a big dilemma on her hands. How in the world was she going to look good in the sweltering heat of the jungle for weeks with no makeup?

Going without makeup while being on national TV is something most women would dread, but Master Stylist and Lash Queen Noor Daoudi from Xtreme Lashes had the answer for Torrie.

"Torrie wanted something where she would have a little emphasis around her eyes, so I went with lash extensions that were just long and thick enough to look good on TV without looking gaudy," said Noor.

Noor, who has done lash extensions for many celebrities including Kelly Roland from Destiny's child and Rachael Leigh Cook, says the secret to lash extensions has to do with the consultation.

Before applying the extensions, she sits down with each of her clients to find out whether they want a natural look, a day or a night look, lots of drama or something in between. She then comes up with the length of the lash based on the client's eyes to keep them in proportion to her face.

With Torrie, she decided to go with extensions that would keep her looking great while on television, but at the same time, keep her looking natural while in the jungle.

"She wanted a little bit of drama, but not anything extreme," said Noor. "So we went with thick black lashes that were applied to every single eyelash. But we didn't go too long."

Sadly, no matter how great the lashes look going on, lash extensions don't last forever.

Because the lashes are applied one at a time, they shed one at time - as your eyelashes naturally fall out. Noor says that after two weeks, the average client will come back for a refill session to fill in the ones that have fallen out. But it takes six to eight weeks for all of the lash extensions to fall off.

Of course, being in the jungle for four weeks, Torrie did not have the luxury of getting refills every two weeks to replace her extensions. This is why Noor applied them to every single lash at the beginning.

"Because I applied the extensions to all of her lashes, they would continue to look full and thick even as a few were shedding every week," said Noor. "This was an important part of the service for her. She didn't just want to look good the first couple of weeks, but for the whole time she was on the show."

Thankfully, most of us aren't about to go hang out in the jungle. So if Xtreme Lash extensions were able to handle all the bizarre situations Torrie got herself in, then they certainly can handle our day-to-day activities. They are sweat-proof, water-proof and maintenance free. You don't even have to wear mascara unless you want more drama for a special night. For those cases, Xtreme Lash has developed a special mascara made especially for the extensions.

Noor says emphasizing the eyes is one of the secrets that celebrities have embraced as it provides a natural lift to their face.

"If you look at Angelina Jolie or Madonna, they don't pack on the makeup anymore. They have natural looking skin with a natural lip, then heavy mascara on the eyes," said Noor. "For a lot of women, there is no amount of mascara that can give them that length or that lift, so extensions are an option."

The cost of getting extensions depends on the expertise of the stylist, but on average it costs $300 to $350 for the initial set and then $75 to $150 for the refills.

"When broken down by day, it's not more than their daily cup of coffee so for many women, it's becoming a viable solution," said Noor.

But if you haven't had lash extensions, don't feel like you've been left out of the inner beauty circle. Even Torrie was a novice when she came to Xtreme Lashes for help. If you watched the show, then you already know that she made the right decision as she looked gorgeous the whole time. But it wasn't just her luscious lashes that got her through the jungle.

"Torrie has this inner and this physical strength and I just knew she was going to do well on the show," said Noor. "She's one of those people who came from humble beginnings. She a great example of someone who didn't' give up to get her dream. I was really impressed with her when I met her."

On her reality show, "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me out of Here!," which premiered in June, Torrie nearly made it to the end. She was named the runner-up to winner Lou Diamond Phillips.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Meet Houston's hottest bachelors on 'Holidate'

How far would you go to find Mr. Right? Houston's own adventurous Cynthia Hunt and hopeless romantic Jacky were willing to swap cities and dating pools to find out if their match was out there - and they were willing to do while being filmed on SOAPnet's newest dating reality show.

That's right. On Wednesday night Cynthia Hunt, a skin care products company vice president and freelance journalist from Houston, will swap places with Jacky Reres, a regional account manager from Los Angeles.


"I never thought I would do something like this, but my friends talked me into it," said Cynthia.

Each of the women decided to do the show for different reasons. For Jacky, it was all about finding true love.

"I'm a hopeless romantic and I believe it is possible to find someone in another city," said Jacky, who is also in the process of writing a romance novel. "LA is a difficult place to date. A lot of people are in the entertainment business and not focused on having a relationship. For me, at this point in my life, a long term relationship is what I want."

But Cynthia had a different reason.

"I find it a challenge to find guys who are strong enough for me," said Cynthia. "The show was about real women dating real men."

Cynthia says the show addresses the epidemic of smart, single, successful women in their 30s like her.

"I felt it was very pro-woman. I wasn't asked to get in a bikini and hop in a hot tub. I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do," said Cynthia.

In fact, the crew and producers made sure the girls were comfortable about everything they did on the show. Cynthia says they made her feel like Cinderella.

"I told them that I would rather eat maggots than wear a bathing suit on TV and they were okay with that," said Cynthia. "From the moment I started, they treated me like I was special and tried to make it the best experience that they could."


So what did the the girls have to do?

Well, each of the girls had to go on three blind dates with guys the other girl set them up with. And the dates sounded pretty darn good.

Cynthia said her dates included a helicopter ride and dinner, a Harley ride and beach date, and a hike and then dinner at an exclusive restaurant that was open just for the two of them. Don't these sound fabulous? I'm beginning to think that I need a Holidate.

"Men should watch the show just to learn how to plan a creative date. One thing these bachelors all did was plan creative fun dates," said Cynthia.

Cynthia's bachelors were as exciting as her excursions and included an account executive and a fitness model.

But what surprised Cynthia was surprised that the network set her up with one bachelor that was nearly 10 years younger than her. While she normally doesn't date guys that young, by the end of the date, she was glad she gave him a chance.

"One of the guys they set me up with was 29-years-old and I'm 38. I have gotten over it now, and he was very mature and an old soul. He was actually a male model who was living in LA, but was from Houston," said Cynthia.

But just like other reality shows, there were some conditions to the dates. The girls were not allowed to talk to the dates when the camera was off so if you're watching the show, you will know as much about the men as they do.

Also, all their dates were on camera...and if you've been on a blind date recently you already know how nerve wracking they can be. Just imagine it being caught on camera for the world to see. Talk about stress.

"It was stressful to date on camera. It's just not natural. But you can still figure out if you have a connection or not," said Cynthia.

Jacky, too, went on three dates. Her bachelors included a senior consultant, marketing executive and an architect. The guys took her to all the hot spots in the city. In fact, one Houston restaurant, Tony's at 3755 Richmond, is even making the Holidate drink in honor of the show. It's PAMA (a pomegranate liqueur), cranberry and pineapple juice over ice.

"All my dates were around Houston. They were in places that the guys wanted to me to experience while I was in their city and that they thought that I would enjoy," said Jacky.

Being the ultimate romantic, Jacky wouldn't reveal which date was her favorite or where the guys took her. But just like Cynthia, Jacky learned to expand her dating boundaries.

"Everyone has their criteria of what they want in somebody. I found out that many of my preconceived notions of how somebody would be, based on what they did for a living or their interests, was not what I expected," said Jacky.

Jacky says that usually she'll give up on the guy and leave a date in five minutes if she feels it isn't working. With the show, she couldn't do that. She had to stick it out.

"The show forced me to sit through the duration of the date," said Jacky. "I learned that maybe I should stick out my dates in my real life because you can learn a lot about a person if you hang in there. Maybe they would have been a good match for you if you hadn't blown them off in 5 minutes."


The girls weren't allowed to reveal how their dates went. You'll have to tune into the Houston show to find out.

BUT they did let a few things slide....

"Jacky's Houston guys were three sexy gentlemen," said Cynthia. "Ryan, Sam and Rob are all confident and adventurous."

"Guys in Texas are definitely better than LA boys," said Jacky.

Hmmm...sounds like these Houston boys are the ones you single girls should look for -- unless you're not into confident, hot, sexy men.

The girls also had advice for the single people out there:

"Keep an open mind. Maybe the person for you isn't in the city that you live in; maybe they are somewhere else," said Jackie.

"Prince Charming doesn't come knocking on your door. You need to get out, network and let your friends set you up. You have to work at it just like you worked at everything else in your life. It doesn't just magically happen like it does in the movies," said Cynthia.

Now that's good advice from girls who know.

You can catch the Houston episode on Wednesday at 9 p.m. on SOAPnet