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17 janvier 2018

Florence, where food is always in fashion

Brooks Brothers FW18.
(Photo:prom dress shops)

The fashion world is currently focused on all things men, with the London menswear shows down, Milan just finished and Paris starting today. And while your peripatetic Buzz will be getting among the action in the City of Light, there are still some things to reflect on from her last week in Florence.

Against the backdrop of the Pitti Uomo trade fair, US heritage brand Brooks Brothers celebrated its 200th anniversary, making it, we’re told, America’s oldest retailer.

In an industry where making it to 10 years is cause for celebration, it’s no wonder that they pulled out all the stops for this festa.

The catwalk show was held in the Palazzo Vecchio’s ornate Salone dei Cinquecento; if Buzz has learned anything in her time covering international fashion events, it’s that gaining access to venues such as this is a huge part of the appeal.

To a live soundtrack of Alicia Keys’s Empire State of Mind performed by 53 members of the Italian Philharmonic, models emerged onstage before doing their circuit of the room with its backdrop of Renaissance frescoes.

Among the men’s looks were a handful of women’s styles designed by Zac Posen, a thoroughly charming gentleman if Buzz has ever met one. The men’s looks were a mix of preppy casual through to eveningwear and new takes on the tux.

Following the show, a small group was invited to dinner upstairs. Regular readers will be aware that if Buzz loves anything more than fashion, it’s food. And let it be on the record that the potato and ricotta gnocchi with black truffle and aged parmesan was one of the single finest dishes of squishy deliciousness that Buzz has ever sampled. E’ vero.

Another major event in Florence was the launch of Gucci Garden in the Palazzo della Mercanzia on the Piazza della Signoria, a quite unique concept for a fashion house.

Creative director Alessandro Michele has certainly shaken things up at Gucci since he took over two years ago, and this is one more example of his broad approach to fashion and creativity, aided by curator Maria Luisa Frisa.

The exhibition sits across two floors, and is a mix of commissioned contemporary art by Jayde Fish, Trevor Andrew (aka GucciGhost) and Coco Capitan, and archival fashion, accessories and ephemera from Gucci’s nine-decade history mixed with contemporary pieces from Michele’s first years in situ.

The ground floor is a unique retail experience, boasting items available only at this location, from scented candles, stationery and homeware to fashion and accessories, including one-off pieces. But be warned, the price tags are indigestion-inducing. I plumped for eating like a gourmand for a week (resulting in further plumping) over bringing home one of those candles.

Back at home, and back to menswear, it appears that luxury brands are banking on the gentrification of the Australian gent. From today in Sydney’s Bondi Junction Westfield, Louis Vuitton opens its menswear pop-up featuring the latest spring-summer collection from designer Kim Jones.

As well as ready-to-wear, it will also house accessories including surfboards. How very appropriate to market. This is their second such exercise, after a similar offering in late 2016 in the Sydney CBD, for which the designer himself made the trip. The pop-up is open until February 4.Read more at:formal dresses uk

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16 janvier 2018

‘Stiff business dress’ no longer suits Gilson Gray

Gilson Gray has introduced a modern dress code across both its Edinburgh and Glasgow offices.“Dress For Your Day” offers employees at the firm the option to replace formal business suits with a more relaxed style of workwear, including smart jeans, which “allow staff to inject personal style into their look while maintaining the firm’s professional image”.

While many businesses now adhere to a ‘Dress Down Friday’ practice, Gilson Gray’s ‘Dress for the Day’ policy – crafted by HR director Lesley Naylor and marketing director Vanessa Kennedy – aims to give staff more opportunity to show off their personality, both within the business and with clients.

Ms Naylor said: “Pretty much every corporate firm has a ‘Dress Down Friday’ rule, but as a business that likes to defy convention, we thought that rules stating what you can and cannot wear should go much further than one day. And the fact that we are a legal firm, and not say some new-start tech company, that wants to push these boundaries makes it all the more exciting.

“Dress For Your Day” will allow employees to bring a bit of themselves to work. We want to remove the daily dirge of corporate suits and dark colours that have been associated with solicitors and legal firms from time immemorial.

Ms Kennedy said: “We value our staff’s individuality and their personalities are what make them such a brilliant bunch of professionals for our clients to work with.

“The only basic rule is that we are asking for staff to look neat and well-groomed and be appropriately dressed for their daily business interactions.

“Of course, as part of our regular business practice, there will be times when a more formal business dress will be required and staff are expected to dress accordingly for these occasions.

“Giving employees more freedom with their workwear should not only provide a great boost for morale, innovation and company culture, it allows us to better reflect our brand and to showcase what makes Gilson Gray different.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more legal firms look to copy our lead in the future.”Read more at:red carpet dresses | prom dresses london

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04 janvier 2018

Fashion trends to keep warm this winter

With an arctic air mass crossing over southeast Georgia, residents can expect cold weather with bitter winds. With the upcoming cold weather, it is important to know how to dress to stay warm. Many still want to look fashionable while bundling up — so here are a couple of the best fashion trends this season to keep you warm and stylish.

Thigh High Boots

One winter trend this season is boots that reach just above the knee. These boots add an extra layer of warmth when worn over pants or even make it possible to wear a skirt or dress in the winter without having frozen legs. These boots are most often seen in a suede fabric and come in multiple colors including black, grey and mauve. To purchase this style, Stuart Weitzman thigh high boots are for sale on nordstrom.com in multiple colors. For a more affordable style, target.com has pairs for $59.99 in light brown, black and grey.

Puffer Jackets

Not only are these jackets warm — they are also stylish. This current fashion trend has been seen on many runways, including the Vivenne Westwood show. There are both long and short styles in a variety of colors. Some of the most popular colors for the season include black, dusty pink and metallics. For a warm style check out this shiny insulated jacket by Michael Kors that can be purchased on nordstrom.com. Patagonia also offers a new Micro Puff Hoody in designs for both men and women. This new jacket is lightweight and water resistant but can also keep the wearer warm.

Sweaters With Flared Sleeves

Knit sweaters have always been a popular choice for colder weather, and this season designers have added a new flair to the traditional approach. The trend this season is longer sleeves that flare out at the end and give a lengthening effect to the wearer’s arms. An affordable and warm option for this trend is available on the Romwe.com. They offer a knitted, flared-sleeve sweater in multiple colors such as maroon, grey, blue and black for $9.99. Another popular sweater that is a top seller this season is Anthropolgie's knit turtleneck pullover.Read more at:formal dresses uk | uk prom dresses

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23 décembre 2017

How Teen Style Stars Took Over in 2017

Call it the Millie Bobby Brown effect. This time last year, the 13-year-old Stranger Things star was yet another of Hollywood’s well-dressed child stars. Apt to arrive at premieres in pretty, age-appropriate pieces, Brown left the sartorial risk-taking to the grown-ups. Fast forward 12 months and now she ranks among the year’s most influential fashion muses. Stepping out in custom Raf Simons pieces from Calvin Klein, pulling off fresh from the runway Vuitton, and serving as a regular presence in editorials or on best-dressed lists, Brown leads a new pack of style influencers. If the last set of it-girls had to wait until 20 to attain the kind of fashion cred that lead to campaigns and magazine covers, this new generation is proving that the concept of awkward teenage years no longer exists.

Fashion has always been obsessed with youth—the modeling industry thrives on a revolving door of high schoolers—but never before have so many under the age of 20 wielded such clout. Moving beyond teen-centric media and wearing fashions that resonate with all ages, the young women that made an impact this year did so by tackling the kind of esoteric design appreciated by true aficionados. Case in point: when 17-year-old pop diva Sabrina Carpenter arrived at Billboard’s Women in Music Awards back in November, she stood out from her contemporaries in a pink draped Céline dress. Embracing Phoebe Philo’s austerity in an upbeat color scheme, Carpenter made the look her own.

Adapting the trends to suit their personalities made all the difference. With their target audience in search of authenticity rather than brand loyalty, fashion moments occurred when the combination of wearer and item felt organic. When Yara Shahidi pairs a Prada skirt with a HSTRY t-shirt that reads “respect existence or expect resistance,” it meshes with her politically engaged personality. Likewise, sister’s Chloe and Halle Bailey colorful wardrobe filled with prints and pattern corresponds with the eclecticism found in their music. Granted, every teenager with a slate of red carpet events on their schedule has a stylist guiding them along the way, but the girls who stood out managed to seem effortless—a feat many adults have yet to master. Here, a look back at the celebrities under 20 who made an impact in 2017.Read more at:yellow prom dresses | pink prom dresses

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29 décembre 2016

Boohoo set to bid for US fashion label Nasty Gal

Online fashion retailer Boohoo is lining up to buy the rights to the Nasty Gal fashion label after the US internet business fell into bankruptcy last month.

The $20m proposed deal will be considered by a US court, which is set to approve Nasty Gal’s application for chapter 11 – the US form of bankruptcy – on 5 January.

Carol Lane, joint chief executive of Boohoo.com.

pics:red cocktail dress

The potential acquisition comes less than a month after Manchester-based Boohoo spent £3.3m on securing control of PrettyLittleThing, a fast-growing fashion website set up by the children of Boohoo’s co-founder Mahmud Kamani.

In a statement to the UK stock market, Boohoo said the sale of Nasty Gal’s assets will be governed by a court-approved bidding process lasting at least 30 days and that Boohoo’s bid may not be successful.

Kamani and Carol Lane, joint chief executives of Boohoo, said: “Should we be successful in acquiring Nasty Gal it would represent a fantastic opportunity to add such a well-established, global brand to the Boohoo family. Following our recent acquisition of PrettyLittleThing.com we believe this would represent an ideal next step in inspiring an ever-growing range of young customers internationally.”

Nasty Gal was founded as a vintage eBay shop by Sophia Amoruso in 2006 and went on to raise more than $60m from investors including former Asos backer Index Ventures to transform itself into an international site selling a range of brands and its own-label young fashion as well as vintage finds.

Boohoo said that Nasty Gal was a “bold and distinctive brand for fashion-forward, free-thinking young women” and that acquiring it could accelerate the group’s international expansion, particularly in the US.

Nasty Gal made a net loss of $21m on revenues of $77.1m in the year ending 1 February 2016, including sales of vintage clothing and third-party brands, which are excluded from the proposed transaction.

When it filed for bankruptcy protection the company said it wanted to “attract a new equity partner or sponsor,” to help it move forward.

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28 décembre 2016

Kardashian & Jenner Christmas Party Hair & Makeup

The Kardashian/Jenner gang headed to their Mom, Kris Jenner’s, annual Christmas party and all of the girls looked absolutely flawless, as always! We loved all of their gorgeous looks so much and we can’t decide who had the best beauty! What do you guys think?

Kris Jenner, 61, hosted her annual Christmas party on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24th, and the entire Kardashian/Jenner gang was in attendance! All five sisters headed to the party looking fabulous, of course, and they all rocked different beauty looks. Let’s start with the hostess with mostess, Kris. She got her hair done in a wispy, effortless bob by hair stylist, Jorge Serrano, while makeup artist, Etienne Ortega, gave her a deep, dark smokey eye and nude glossy lip.

Kardashian Beauty Looks Christmas Party

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Kim Kardashian, 36, was in attendance, if you could believe that, and she looked so cool and edgy! Kim opted for her signature look as of late — the “no makeup” makeup look. Aside from wearing minimal makeup, she tried the lip ring trend and rocked a little hoop lip ring in the center of her bottom lip. Her hair was done by Chris Appleton, and was let down long and straight, with a sleek middle part.

Khloe Kardashian, 32, also went with the long, sleek straight hairstyle when she let her hair down and parted in the middle. Celeb hairstylist, Justine Marjan, gave Khloe an extra long, mermaid style look and her hair fell all the way down to her hips. Mary Phillips, did Khloe’s makeup and gave her a sultry smokey eye and nude matte lip. While Kim and Khloe opted for sleek and straight hairstyles, Kourtney, 37, opted for a sleek high ponytail that was slicked back and super tight, while her ponytail was extra long and straight.

Last but never least, the Jenner sisters looked fab when they opted for curly looks. Kylie Jenner, 19, opted to wear her hair down in loose, curly waves, and her hair looked extra voluminous and sexy. She went with her usual light smokey eye and long lashes, but opted out of a bright lip color. Older sis Kendall, 21, on the other hand, opted for a short curly bob by Jen Atkin, that gave off major Marilyn Monroe vibes. She topped her look off with a bright and sexy bold red lip by Mary Phillips — it was perfect!

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27 décembre 2016

The kaftans that give independence to Moroccan women

"I would watch the tailor," she says. "I would tell myself that one day I would love to design and make kaftans like him - but even better."

As a woman it was not easy starting up her own business in Morocco. The only daughter of a conservative family, she was not allowed to study abroad, but she was permitted to study fashion in the capital, Rabat.

Kaftans in Ilham Benami's shop

After Ilham graduated, she started to make kaftans for her family in a spare room in their home in the Sale working class suburb outside the capital.

But soon she was catering for more than just her family and as the business expanded she moved downstairs to the basement. "It grew through word of mouth, more and more people wanted kaftans from me," she says.

Now aged 33, she has at least 10 women working for her and the kaftans sell for an average of €300 (£250) each, although, depending on the quality of the material and the time spent on making it, prices can run to thousands of euros.

In a country where a good middle-class family income is about €500, Ilham makes an above-average salary.

'Evolving' tradition

The kaftan industry is rooted in tradition. It is a black evening dresses uk for women that dates back to at least the 16th Century. But it is evolving - "just like Moroccan women", says Ilham.

With modern cuts, which some families may still frown upon, Ilham designs kaftans that mix European and Western influences.

They are part of the booming Moroccan textile sector, which accounts for 30% of the country's industrial employment and 15% of its exports.

Now that kaftans are moving from the domestic into the international market, their success is pulling women into the workforce. It is a good way to earn a respectable income, given the fact that a third of women in the country are unemployed.

"For women's independence these days, it's a lot easier compared with when I was growing up," says Ilham. "I wanted to work and fashion has always been a passion of mine, so I was going to still follow my passion no matter what my circumstances were."

Haute couture

In Marrakech, Morocco's tourist capital, 32-year-old Wafaa Redwani and her younger sister Sana have been running their own kaftan business for seven years with their Vallasco Gallery brand.

It is an haute couture boutique. Sana is the fashion designer and Wafaa manages the business. The kaftans here range in price from €200 to about €2,000. The business has been so successful they have opened up in Taroudant in the south of the country.

The kaftans have been modelled in Africa Fashion Week in New York and are exported to Portugal. Wafaa says the designs have a more Western cut with a "Moroccan touch", which explains why they are becoming more successful internationally.

The success of women like Ilham, Wafaa and Sana, demonstrates that Moroccan women are becoming more financially independent.

Female entrepreneurship

The president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights, Fouzia Assouli, is optimistic about women's opportunities in business, but says there is still a lot to be done.

"I think that there is a big emphasis on women entrepreneurship these days in the country," says Fouzia. "I believe it's thanks to Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun, who is president of the CGEM [business lobby group] and is one of the most influential businesswomen in Morocco and in Africa."

Fouzia believes that since Chaqroun was appointed it has opened doors for Moroccan women in the business sector. But she says there is more of an awareness of women's rights among the elite than among the poor, who are are still lagging behind.

However, she says the illiteracy rate of women in the countryside has fallen from 90% a few years ago, thanks to associations which help poor women to read and write and help them work.

Many of these vulnerable women are now collaborating with businesswomen like Ilham, Wafaa and Sana to help make kaftans - work which can sometimes take months to complete.

For Wafaa, the kaftan industry is a symbol of the Moroccan woman of today. "Our kaftans are like us. We are caught between the East and the West just like the designs, but we still have our Moroccan identity and we will still fight to move forward."

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26 décembre 2016

The 10 Best Shoe Moments From ‘The Devil Wears Prada’

“The Devil Wears Prada” is the gift that keeps giving. Ten years since its release, the fashion-focused film continues to feel relevant. It has grossed $326 million worldwide, “a staggering amount for a project that only cost $41 million,” according to Variety. And $1 million of the costs were solely for the costumes.

Devil Wears Prada Fashion Shoes Style

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When we first see Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the cutthroat editor-in-chief of Runway fashion magazine, she is wearing a pair of Alaia red suede pumps. And that’s only the beginning of what’s to come in terms of fashion.

“Sex and the City” costume designer Patricia Field was responsible for the wardrobe, and her work led to an Oscar nod.

Enter Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), the disheveled and hopeful journalist applying to be Miranda’s assistant. Soon into the movie, the character gets a Cinderella-esque makeover thanks to her fairy godfather, Nigel (Stanley Tucci).

In the movie, Hathaway emerges as her new self in a montage of looks, accompanied with Madonna’s “Vogue” track.

Another standout shoe moment came from a quotable scene with Hathaway and Emily Blunt’s character, Emily. Yes, I’m talking about the Chanel boots. The thigh-high leather boots quite jumped off the screen, making it one of the most memorable fashion ensembles in the flick.

At its 10-year mark in June, the actors in “The Devil Wears Prada” spoke to Variety about how the movie became an instant classic. Blunt explained, “The day the movie came out, all the people in the bakery suddenly knew who I was. It was surreal.” Tucci called it a “brilliant movie. The brilliant movies become influential, no matter what they are about.”

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15 octobre 2016

The Fabric of our Lives

With several years of modeling experience and an education in marketing, Irina Ovrutsky was no stranger to the fashion world. So when she had her first daughter Lola, it was only natural for her to start designing clothes for her. “I didn’t want to spend a ton of money of clothes anymore because they grow out of them so fast, but it was still important to me that she was comfortable and looked great in what she was wearing,” says Ovrutsky.

Here’s how fashion brought one local family together. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBIN SUBAR

When she had two more children—sons Shia and Julian—it became even more evident to Ovrutsky that she wanted a one-stop shop she could turn to for outfitting all of her children. That dream turned into a reality this March when she launched Lola & The Boys, an online retail shop dedicated to fashion-forward and affordable apparel for kids, aged anywhere from toddlers (12 months) to juniors (13 years). Though much of the site focuses on girls’ pieces, Ovrutsky is sure to pay plenty of attention to the boys, with items that are as cool and on trend as they are downright adorable (think star-decorated harem pants, a floral Bermuda shirt, and t-shirts boasting kid-tested lines like “More! More! More!”—“a direct quote from my own children,” notes a laughing Ovrutsky). Several of the pieces are designed by Ovrutsky herself, including the Unicorn Dream Satin Bomber and a variety of t-shirts, leather jackets, and scuba vintage formal dresses. Whatever items she doesn’t design have to answer one important question before they become a part of the line.

“I always ask myself, ‘would I wear it?’” she says, referencing the opportunity for us to move away from the pink tutu for girls and more towards the embroidered denim dress or leather jacket. “Adult fashion translates really easily into kids’ fashion—there doesn’t need to be a big difference between the two.” Ovrutsky isn’t the only one noticing the fine line between the fashion worlds. The increased interest in adult sizes of several of the website’s pieces has prompted the designer to create a Mommy and Me section, featuring matching outfits for mothers and daughters.Just a couple of examples from this line are the Mommy Lemon Sundress, a garden party-ready garment adorned in an eye-catching lemon print, or the Mommy and Me Denim Art Jacket, a classic find reinvented with bold pop art printed on the back. They are just a few ways that Ovrutsky channels her own creativity—along with the novel and fresh ideas of her children.

“Sometimes my youngest one will come upstairs to my studio and start putting together different patches he likes, and many times his ideas are really great,” says Ovrutsky, who turns to her daughter frequently for expert, 9-year-old insight. “If I’m deciding between two prints, I’ll ask Lola which one she likes better, and I’ll truly take what she says into consideration,” she says. “I like hearing what they have to say because their opinion makes a difference, and because they think so outside of the box—they often come up with things that are cooler than I could come up with myself.”The website’s fall collection marks the family’s most recent design debut, an assembly of articles boasting bright hues, rich textures, and standout patterns, evidenced especially in a velvet butterfly princess prom dress, pinstriped blazers, and a houndstooth scuba dress.

“Right now the big trends are all about bomber jackets and varsity jackets,” notes Ovrutsky, who’s a fan of sporting a soft leather jacket year-round. Patches are big, too. “They’re such a great way to express feelings and personality,” she says.If you look too quickly, you’d think Ovrutsky’s designs were a collection for 20- and 30-somethings—until, that is, you spot all three of Ovrutsky’s children modeling the looks. “I feel like kids’ fashion can be as fun as kids themselves,” she says. “It’s important to let them express themselves and have different styles and their own individuality through their clothes, rather than trying to look like everybody else.”

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14 octobre 2016

'Final wish' wedding a beautiful affair, thanks to you

Josefina Ruiz Montejano's wedding day was full of surprises, thanks in part to several Post-Tribune readers.

Last week, I wrote about the 47-year-old Hammond woman, diagnosed late last year with stage four colon cancer. In June, she was told by doctors that her cancer had spread to her liver and lungs. She had only a few months to live, doctors told her, maybe a little longer if she was lucky or blessed.

photos:best prom dresses

When she heard this dire prognosis, she had only one wish.

"She wanted to finally get married," said her boyfriend of 13 years, Luis Montejano.

"I've always been her husband, and she's always been my wife, but now it's official," he told me Wednesday.

Last Saturday – on Oct. 8, the date they first met – the couple exchanged wedding vows at The Lakewood, a swanky venue in Chicago.

"Please say I do," the fancy invitations stated.

I couldn't attend, but I couldn't miss another opportunity to write about their love affair. And to pass along the couple's gratitude to everyone who helped make it a reality.

"My wife and I want to thank everyone who made this happen for us," Luis Montejano said, asking me to share it with readers. "It was wonderful and it went off perfect."

The couple relied on the generosity of family members, friends and strangers who donated most everything for the special occasion, from the venue to his tuxedo to her flower bouquets.

"She had four bouquets to choose from," said Tamye Diaferio of Hammond, a family friend.

As promised beforehand, Luis shaved his head in honor of his bride, who's bald from chemotherapy treatments. Josefina wore a stylish dark wig underneath her white veil, both donated.

"She looked so beautiful," Luis said. "And she was so happy."

The couple has children from previous relationships. Together, they have six grandkids.

Josefina was not only surprised by her daughter arriving from Virginia with her daughters, but also her son arriving to walk her down the aisle.

"Everything was beautiful," Josefina said. "God bless everyone."

The event was attended by more than 100 guests, which turned out to be another surprise for the new bride and groom. To their favorite song, performed in Spanish, they shared their first dance together as husband and wife.

Josefina, a former dancer for ballet Folklorico Manquetzalli, also was entertained by members of a colorful and traditional dance troupe during the wedding reception.

"It was a day filled with laughter and love," said Tamye Diaferio of Hammond, a family friend. "Donations continued to be delivered to the venue all day and night."

"Family, friends and supporters from the community came from far and wide to celebrate with them," she said. "Luis and Josefina could not have been more happy, and they are so grateful for the generosity of everyone who helped make her wedding wish happen for them."

At the end of the long day, Josefina was very weak. Her chronic pain returned after the elixir of excitement wore off.

"What do you want to do, kill me?" she joked to her new husband.

Together, surrounded by loved ones, they shared their first bittersweet chuckle.

Remember face-to-face chats?

I receive dozens of emails each week from readers about my columns. I read hundreds of comments each week about my social media posts. And I listen to quite a few voice mails from Northwest Indiana residents who agree or disagree with my views.

But it's not the same as chatting face-to-face with readers, social media followers or radio show listeners, as I'm reminded at every public presentation I host. This is why I rarely decline an invitation to speak publicly, including the most recent one from Hobart Public Library officials.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, I will discuss with guests a few issues facing Northwest Indiana, the polarizing presidential campaign, the local newspaper industry, and my wayward career which, in an odd twist, was birthed by the suicide death of grunge-rock legend Kurt Cobain.

And, of course, I'll try to answer every question asked, whether it's about delivery issues, regrettable columns, or social media conspiracies. Hope to see you there. Don't be shy. I make sure that these are always lighthearted events.

Pizza and presidential politics?

Dear concerned voters and loyal supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: I will soon be hosting a roundtable discussion at a local pizza joint, inviting eight to 10 impassioned, articulate and respectful voters from across Northwest Indiana to hash out the most pressing issues on Americans' minds as Election Day looms less than a month away.

My guests will include Trump supporters, Clinton supporters, undecided voters, and a couple of voters who may be leaning Independent or possibly apathetic amid this volatile campaign. The discussion will hopefully turn into an upcoming column, reflecting what I'm reading on social media and hearing from readers about their polarizing opinions.

As long-time readers may recall, I hosted a similar roundtable discussion in 2008, just before President Obama was elected into office, and that meeting worked out well to get a pulse on this region's thoughts before the general election.

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