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TWE DESIGN: Linda Hamilton’s Nomad Chic Boutique Discovers Artisans Worldwide

Linda Hamilton, founder Nomad Chic/Photo from Linda

Linda Hamilton

By Wendy Verlaine (@Verlainechirps)/May 19, 2016

Fashion and design are at the center of art and culture in today’s world. Just ask Linda Hamilton, owner of Nomad Chic located in both Sonoma, California and in Todos Santos, Baja California. Her search for beautifully imagined and handmade clothing, accessories and home items from around the world keeps her continuously interested in how fashion and design evolve, and how they are a reflection of cultural, social and aesthetic values.

“It all starts with the artist. I believe in helping artisans, especially young designers. I also strive to support women in business.” –Linda Hamilton

When I first happened upon Hamilton’s boutique, I was compelled to enter. This special shop, just in the heart of the vineyard landscape, fit seamlessly into its lush setting. It is not unlike an artisan’s gallery. The clothing, accessories, textiles and items for the home all spoke of intention.

Her selections emphasize why fashion and interior design, even though they occupy a major position in our culture’s economy – and due to this are often looked down upon as an important area of the world of art – cannot be thought of as trivial.

Linda Hamilton's Nomad Chic boutique, Sonoma

Nomad Chic opens to gardens and cafe./Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Hamilton explains, “It all starts with the artist. I believe in helping artisans, especially young designers. I also strive to support women in business. For example, my Tanzania friend, who is one of my accessory sources, offers abused women the skills and training needed to survive and thrive.She collaborates with Maasai women to produce and market high-end beaded jewelry using traditional techniques. By bringing these products to international markets, the beading traditions are preserved. This process also helps to sustain the women and their families economically…”

Interior Linda Hamilton Nomad Chic boutique

Interior of Nomad Chic./Photo: Linda Hamilton

Hamilton also promotes designers from Australia, Bali and Mexico. “I have put on runway shows not just to show fashion, but to also introduce customers to the artist and vice versa. The artist becomes part of the exchange. All of this is complicit in the designer’s success story. These artists extend their success to those in their own communities.”

The majority of her designers are single mothers or artists in need of the first helping hand. Her customers learn about the stories behind the artists, and join in her spirit of women helping women.

Cultural influences from around the world, along with her love of travel, led to Linda’s study of art, design and architecture at the California College of the Arts.

She began her working career as an incentive trip planner for major corporations. She has lived in Bali, Mexico and London. It is easy to see how Linda’s past has influenced her fashion and design choices. Travel challenges us to think about what is beautiful and to abandon prejudices. We widen our scope of acceptability which, in turn, changes us.

Linda does not define travel as escapism, but as inspiration. Time spent in Bali encouraged her love of …“minimalism, free form and the spirit of Zen. I wanted to share my discoveries, and that is why I created Nomad Chic.”

I love bringing interesting designers from various cultures to those of us who may not be able to travel, or may just not know where to find them. I also work with local California artists.

Aside from fashion, her mix of home accessories and furniture pieces – often designed by Hamilton and made by artisans – encourages personal creativity when designing a living space.

Linda Hamilton's home in Todos

Linda’s home in Todos Santos/Photo: Linda Hamilton

Her home in Todos Santos is an example of her love of architecture, the comfort and beauty nature offers and her preference for minimalism. When I asked about balancing trends with style, Hamilton believes that allowing her customers to choose “from all over the world” supports individualism. Trends employ quick change, but the artisan supports a deliberate, slow fashion mindset.

My interest in Hamilton’s support of the artisan reminded me that it is the artist who is often first to spark a trend. They are inspired by what is happening everywhere–in the streets, small neighborhoods and boroughs. Current fashion modifies and exploits the street artist’s ideas.

Linda Hamilton designed chair at Nomad Chic

Handmade chair discovered by Linda Hamilton

As a result, dressing is responsible for reflections of social change, and an awareness of cultures outside of our own. Trends make these ideas available.

They are a commentary on our time, just as other forms of art are. They can be revolutionary, controversial, liberating or entertainment.

Hamilton’s choices allow us to play with the first edition of an artisan’s idea, often before it becomes a trend. She happily admits her fifteen-year-old daughter keeps her up on what is current, and she combines the best of trends with the unexpected.

When selecting clothing and accessories, we become artists with the act of choosing from our own closets. Selecting a handmade necklace, bracelet or ring and mixing it with a t-shirt and jeans is an artistic decision. The art of what we wear is as revealing a portrait of who we are as what we say or do.

I asked Hamilton what is next for her. “There are so many possibilities. I would love to expand my business in pop-up locations around the world. It might be in a hotel in Mexico City, or a resort town that reaches many international travelers.”

I can see putting together travel excursions for vacationers who want to explore places they never could find on their own.There may be buying trips with groups, too.

Her Nomad Chic location in Sonoma is a world-renowned destination for fine food and wine. Promoting a new chef with a ‘chef’s night’ dinner at Nomad Chic is another exciting Linda idea.

She adds, “Perhaps my boutique can be used as a space for an artist salon, a place to discover a writer or painter.” When I asked Linda Hamilton what her greatest challenge is, she laughed. “Time. I need more time!”

Nomad Chic logo





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TWE DESIGN: A Grand Salute to Fashion Icon Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta de Young exhibit/Photo: Wendy Verlailne

By Wendy Verlaine/March 23, 2016

Oscar de la Renta! Just saying the name elevates my vision of the art of dressing well. He is fashion royalty, and I was not going to miss a “runway show” of fashion history that celebrates creativity, craftsmanship, individuality and the working life of a celebrated artist.

Is a fashion designer an artist? This question is a constant debate among curators, art dealers, collectors and artists, some of whom scoff at a “fashion show in a museum.”

San Francisco’s de Young Museum’s Oscar de la Renta retrospective supports a convincing “YES”! De la Renta is a genius at observing, absorbing and interpreting, and these tools define an artist. This show celebrates his craftsmanship, invention and love of beauty.

Yellow wool dress by Oscar de la Renta with plastic and crystal covered coat/Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Yellow wool dress enhanced with plastic and crystal covered coat.

Murals, lighting, running wall videos, mirrors and clever themes brought ohs and ahs from visitors. The exhibition design is by Kevin Daly Architects in collaboration with the House of de la Renta and the designer’s family.

Room after room increased my appetite for the exotic. It is not unlike a walk through a beautiful dream as one drifts from one theme to another of spectacular surprise. The visual stories follow his early career—Spanish, Eastern, Russian and his garden interpretations. It ends with ball gowns and red carpet celebrity wear.

Dresses by Oscar de la Renta/Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Beaded silks, sculptured taffeta and silk velvet are de la Renta’s trademark.

Oscar de la Renta culled from diverse cultures, art and a wide knowledge of world history. This resulted in designs heavily embellished with Chinese embroideries, ikat patterns, Russian fur, Spanish brocades and jewels.

Oscar de la Renta dress at de Young Museum/Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Jagged black mirrors are a stark backdrop to these finely crafted gowns.

El Greco, Diego Velazquez, court costumes and royal armor influences show up early in his career in the 1960s at the couture house of Balenciaga in Madrid.

Travel to Russia and the film Dr. Zhivago erupted into de la Renta’s heavily beaded brocades and exotic fur trims. A bullfight in Andalusia would give birth to contrasting reds, chartreuse, heavily beaded brocades, inventive accessories and bolero jackets worn over the unexpected.

Oscar de la Renta polero jacket worn over costume/Photo; Wendy Verlaine

Brocade and dangling elements embellish a fitted evening jacket.

This extravagance earned him the Coty Award in 1967, which, in turn, led to his influential folkloric designs which trickled down to flower children, revolutionaries and the Beatles.

De la Renta was a lifelong gardener, and his gardens at his homes in the Dominican Republic and Kent, Connecticut are known worldwide. A looping video of his garden in Connecticut is a glorious backdrop in the garden room to his floral-printed silk taffetas and appliquéd flowers.

Oscar de la Renta dresses from retrospective at de Young/Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Dresses in the garden room are a mix of Marie Antoinette and fresh blooms.

The colors, textures and scents from his garden bloomed into a collection of 18th Century Marie Antoinette-like elegance. His fabrics are flowing, brilliantly colored canvasses. He defined romanticism.

He uprooted traditional ideas of beauty in his 2011 collection. His playful nod to the irreverent juxtaposed formal evening dress with punk hairstyles.

Oscar de la Renta designs at de Young retrospective/Photo;: Wendy Verlaine

Punk hair styles are a nod to mixing trends with glamour.

Abreast of changing trends, he was not afraid to embrace movements by paring shocking, exaggerated trends with an unexpected twist of elegance.  A looping video of his runway-themed shows illustrates his attention to street fashion and how he transforms current statements into his de la Renta signature style.

I entered this show with one raised, slightly skeptical eyebrow. Was I reviewing an exhibit that highlighted the division between me and the world of celebrities, presidential wives and the upper one percent? I exited the show with wide-eye pleasure. I can’t believe what I just saw!

The Oscar de la Renta retrospective will run from March 12th – May 30th at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.


Photos: Wendy Verlaine

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TWE FUN STUFF: Festive Footwear for 2015

Festive Footwwear 2015/UGG

By Pamela Burke/December 30, 2014

We couldn’t resist our annual visit to a fashion square again just before the New Year Rings Out the Old Shoes and Rings in the New. Were there new shapes and colors to be had? And, are the towering stilettos still holding their own? A trip to Nordstrom gave us some clues.

We soon would find out that anything goes now, particularly if it’s in silver or has a cozy lining.

And, it’s an added plus if it has a touch of sparkly like this UGG Australia “Azalea Charm” boot above. In this year’s edition, we’re seeing bits of flashy glimmer on the side initials. And, don’t they look warm and inviting!

Michael Kors jewelled shoes at Nordstrom

But if it’s glimmer and fancy you are after, feast your eyes on these Michael Kors “Jayden Espadrille Wedgies” with crystal  embellishments. They come in silver and gold as you can see.

The bejewelled look gives them an air of elegance that could make any outfit shine.

If you are intending to spend a night on the town, these below might do. This Sam Edelman”Hampton” sandal has that same silvery look but in a snakeskin print with emerald-cut crystals AND a back zip.  If you are up for a 4 1/2 inch stiletto, these could fit the bill.

Sam Edelman "Hampton" Snakesskin Print Caged Sandal/Nordstrom

If this silver-grey stylish look is not for you, and you’d like something that would pop and be a reminder that spring is coming, feast your eye on these laced-up, open-toe Daylitte pumps by Steve Madden.  They kept motioning us back to take another glance. With their bright palette of pinks and blues AND the zip entry in the back, they had no equal.

Daylitte zipper lace up pink fabric shoe in Nordstrom

If you’re not looking for a fancy night out but just something comfy but with a little pizazz, view these Steve Madden “Resolvve Sneaker Boots” that cost under $100.  They’re jazzy and look as if they could be worn to a ballgame, for a long walk, or give a frock a splash of fancy.

Steve Madden resolvve silver boot with zipper

We leave you with this “Classic Short Sparkles” UGG that always catches our eye. In fact, we featured it in last year’s survey.  We just spied it again, and the good news is that it’s now on sale.

Red Glittery UGG at Nordstrom

The color is still sensational and the price recommends it. It’s down from $189 to $127. Now that’s the way to start the New Year! Everything old can truly be new again.

Happy 2015! Find a favorite pair of shoes, fancy or comfy, and celebrate!


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TWE FUN STUFF: Spring Style with Orange Polka Dots and Zebras

Peach top with polka dots and zebra/Anthropologie 3/14

By Pamela Burke/March 26, 2014

“The color orange radiates warmth and happiness, combining the physical energy and stimulation of red with the cheerfulness of yellow.”

We call it a shopping blitz. All of a sudden we want a fix of fashion and to find out if there are new creations that will wow us; what colors are the newest rage; and whether there is a unique piece of clothing that will cause the wallet to open.

Peach Top/AnthropologieToday’s blitz was at one of our favorite stores, Anthropologie, where we know we will usually find something that speaks to us.

Screaming from a distance was the sweet white shirt with orange polka dots and zebra that you see above.

There was just something about the design and the way the zebra appeared nonchalantly among the dots. We knew we had to have it.

As we looked around the store, we noticed the shades of peach and orange popping out everywhere. Are these the new colors of spring?  From jackets to shorts to books to pottery, you couldn’t miss the bright citrus colors.

Take a look at the nifty orange jacket with front zip pockets above. There was something cozy, soft and casual about it that was very alluring.

Could it be worn over that zebra with dots top?  Hmmm. 

Orange Dress/Anthropologie

Not that far away lurked a silky orange shift, again soft and flowing.

The wonder of Anthropologie is that in addition to its nifty clothes, it has an eclectic collection of eye-catching items from all over the world.

A jeweled clutch in peach was particularly stylish, which was right next to a book that fit in to the decor perfectly.
Grace Coddington Book--Anthropologie



I’d been meaning to get Grace Coddington’s Grace, A Memoir for months now (orange cover).

It’s the story of the model-turned-editor of Vogue who became an international icon.

She would be a fascinating interview for TWE and would certainly understand the wonder of color.

 We can’t close our quick survey without mentioning the faux hot air balloons in the window, fitting in perfectly with the spring atmosphere inside. From top to bottom, this store has an aura of creativity that we just love. And, of course, now we can’t live without the new palette we’ve been introduced to. Vive l’orange!

Anthropologie's balloonsHot air balloon display by Shane Majors, Display Coordinator, Anthropologie-Scottsdale

Oh, and that peachy purse

Peach Purse/Anthropologie


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FUN STUFF: Eye-Popping Footwear for the Holidays

Pink Sequin Australian UGGS

UGG Australia ‘Classic Short Sparkle’ Boot

Story and Photos By Pamela Burke/December 20, 2013

It’s been too long since our last holiday shoe survey so we needed to crawl the mall in search of this season’s trends in fancy footwear. Would it be shoes with sparkles? Towering heels? No heels? What about flats? After a few hours perusing the stores, we can confidently say all of the above.

One style did seem to dominate. There were UGGs galore. Just look at this array at Dillards!

Plain, fancy, suede, gold, silver, with and without shimmering sequins…every possible style was on display.


The UGGs above just holler “try me on.” They all looked soooo cozy and warm for those snowy days. We salivated most for the “Bailey Bow” boots in purple reign as its called, shown below at Nordstrom with matching ribbons in the back. Now that’s stylin’!

Christmas Shoe in Nordstrom 2013

UGG Australia ‘Bailey Bow’ Boot

As we wandered, we were hoping we could find something less boot-like and more partyish. Then we digressed and spied some fancy slippers that looked all soft and snugly.  Seems like you don’t have to go to a party to feel like the bell of the ball. Take a look at these “Quinn” Ballet Slippers from Michael Kors.

Ballet Slipper Michael Kors Nordstrom 2013

Michael Kors ‘Quinn’ Ballet Slippers

For those of you in warmer climates who are looking for a little bling in a flip-flop and for possible party wear, we ogled these “Cha Cha” FitFlop low wedge knockouts in passion fruit, bronze and black.

It’s your standard casual flipflop but all gussied up. 

If you really want to be comfortable and aren’t looking for the towering heel, these might just fit the bill for dressy occasions and not.

FitFlop Cha Cha Sandal Nordstrom 2013 Holiday

Pink FitFLop Cha Cha Sandal 2013

Now if you’re wanting something a bit higher, really higher—a fancy shoe on six-inch stilts—we found one that might delight. For sheer glamour and simple elegance, it’s Shiekh’s rhinestone-encrusted tower with gold-tone sole and wrapped heel.

Shiekh 6 inch holiday heel 2013

Shiekh Six-Inch Stepping Out Shoe

And last but not least we did spot one rather sporty shoe that stood out in the crowd. You might not wear a pair to a fancy soiree (or maybe you would) but they also could be just the ticket for a shopping tour or athletic outing.

Behold this sassy sneaker below by Michael Kors!

It’s a pretty fancy “urban” high-top with side zipper and chain-link laces and definitely eye-popping in the fire engine red.

Michael Kors sneaker at Dillards, 2013 Holiday

Michael Kors Urban High Top

We began our survey with a bold boot and end now with a shiny sneaker…these two took the prize for pizazz and just pure fun! Have you seen any shoes that made you smile, salivate or just plain stare? If so, send us a photo at thewomenseye (at) gmail (dot) com. We’re always looking for showstopping design!


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TWE FUN STUFF: The Wacky Basketry of Fiber Artist Emily Dvorin

Emily Dvorin, sculptural fiber artist

UPDATE 9/18/16: We ran into Emily at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival with loads of new baskets. Look at the one she was working on made out of coffee pods! This woman is soooo creative!

Emily Dvorin, basket weaver/Photo: P. Burke

By Pamela Burke/October 2, 2013

When I think of baskets—and I’ve always loved them—I think of the wonderfully woven, deep containers that you can put anywhere and stuff anything into.  Recently TWE ran into objects that were called baskets but that added a new perspective to the definition.


“Big Fat Hairy Deal”

We found these non-traditional containers at the Mill Valley Art Festival in northern California. Using materials from the hardware store, cable ties and other found objects, scuptural fiber artist Emily Dvorin has fashioned the most whimsical and imaginative art pieces.  She claims almost anything can be used to make them.  Think curlers, paintbrushes, wooden spools, plastic forks, tees, and whatever else is in the kitchen sink.

Emily says she’s trying to change the definition of the word basket.  They are “transordinary” vessels she engineers with color and texture.  She also loves the unexpected ingredients she finds to make them.  Take a look below at what she fashioned with brightly colored pencils, adding a few neon cable ties for support, a little bit of sass and voilá!


“Caught Doing Good”

And what about those toy parts lying around the house accomplishing nothing? These can be priceless materials for a new arrangement. Below she’s taken plastic leftovers and structured yet another colorful piece of quirky art.  Recognize any of these items?


“Well Loved”

People don’t seem to know what to make out of her objet as they are so far beyond the concept of what we know as baskets. Some may call this a craft rather than art.  Emily’s response: “I dance on the cusp of fine art and fine craft.”

Emily obviously loves junk and thinks we take for granted what we throw away. Shaping these odds and ends into something new and fabulous is her challenge.  In case you think some of these designs are wacky, she does teach a course called “Wacky Basketry.”


“Frizzle Frazzle”

Whatever genre these creations are, we love their artistry and spunk. So as you peer at your surroundings, take a longer look and see what might work as a reassembled object. Emily makes good use of vegetable bags and toothbrushes—simple items whose life can be short. And don’t forget to eyeball musical instruments.  She once created a basket using felt hammers from a piano.

Feast your eyes on “Spun,” one of Emily’s favorite pieces, made with slinkies and cable ties. If you look closely you’ll see the precompressed springs that formally brought great joy as they maneuvered  down steps.  Bravo to Emily for coming up with such an imaginative use of a classic child’s toy! Take a look at more of her fun creations here.

Emily Dvorin's sculptural basketry, SPUN


Basket photos by Pamela Burke; remaining photos from Emily Dvorin



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Designer Tiffany Glenn Burress On Creating Stylish And ‘Joiful’ Maternity Clothing

Giovanna, Tiffany and Elijah Burress

Giovanna, Tiffany and Elijah Burress/Photo: Courtesy Burress Family

By Patricia Caso/July 10, 2013
Joiful Fashion Photos Melissa O’Hearn

Wow! Have times changed for the pregnant woman! When I was working and pregnant, my fashion choice was a tent that just made me look twice as big. Now, as pregnant women in and out of the workplace look to be more stylish, lawyer and entrepreneur Tiffany Glenn Burress has launched Joiful Maternity, an innovative line of clothing for moms-to-be.

“I decided to jump in and create a line that can work for women before, during and even after their pregnancy!”  Tiffany Glenn Burress

I was definitely curious to know more about this self-described multitasker and found Tiffany’s can-do mindset permeates every facet of her professional and personal life… [Read more…]

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DESIGN: Milk & Honey’s Ilissa And Dorian Howard On Designing The Perfect Shoe

Milk & Honey founders Ilissa and Dorian Howard

Shoe entrepreneurs Ilissa and Dorian Howard

By Patricia Caso/June 15, 2013
Photos Courtesy Milk & Honey

TWITTER: @milkhoneyshoes

Like many women, I am constantly searching for the perfect shoe. Somehow, I always wish I could change this or that. In 2011, entrepreneurial sisters Dorian and Ilissa Howard used all their hard-earned money to launch milkandhoneyshoes.com, a unique store on the internet! They made it possible for anyone to go online and and literally design a shoe of their dreams! Finally!

“We just want to make a beautiful high quality product and make people happy. We want to provide options that people didn’t have before.”  Dorian Howard 

Dorian is based in Los Angeles, the company headquarters, while Ilissa is in Hong Kong supervising production. I caught up with these two innovative siblings in the midst of their always hectic schedules to find out how this all works… [Read more…]

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