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Remembering Oscar De La Renta

The world woke up to the news of Oscar De La Renta’s passing this morning. For many, Oscar De La Renta was a dream-maker and a design master mind.

De La Renta was discovered by the U.S. Ambassador to Spain’s wife, who saw a few of his sketches and asked him to dress her daughter. This dress landed on the cover of Life magazine and soon enough, the Dominican born designer’s career took off. Following tenures at Balenciaga, Lanvin, and Elizabeth Arden, De La Renta started his own label in 1965.


Hillary Clinton at the Inaugural Ball in Oscar De La Renta
Hillary Clinton at the Inaugural Ball in Oscar De La Renta


The designer’s name is synonymous with evening wear and day time suits (that are largely favored by the “ladies who lunch” in New York’s swanky five star hotels). He is famous for voluminous skirts, embroideries, and rich colors that reflect his hispanic heritage.


Jessica Biel

Jessica Alba


Oscar De La Renta was adored by the US’s first ladies, dressing everyone from Jackie Kennedy to Hillary Clinton to Laura Bush, and finally, Michele Obama. His famous celebrity friends included Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the new Mrs. Amal Clooney – who was featured with the designer (in what would probably be his last photo shoot) in the latest issue of Vogue following her lavish Venice wedding to George Clooney last September.


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Sara Jessica Parker in Oscar De La Renta at the 2014 Met Gala


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Amal Alamuddin Poses with Oscar De La Renta in Vogue



5 Iconic Handbags in Honor of National Handbag Day

In honor of National Handbag Day (which was marked yesterday), Carmel + Vanilla presents 5 of the most iconic handbags in history.

The Hermes “Kelly”:

Possibly one of the most iconic handbags of all time, this sublime piece was first introduced in the 1930s. The bag’s original name was changed to the “Kelly” in 1956, soon after Princess Grace of Monaco was spotted holding it to shield her pregnancy away from the prying eyes of paparazzi. This Hermes icon is one of the first truly modern bags and is considered by many as the “ideal day bag”. Want to own one? Then you better start saving! The Kelly’s starting price is USD 4,000 and goes all the way up to USD 16,000!


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Princess Grace of Monaco photographed with the Hermes “Kelly” bag.



The “Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag”:

Generally labeled as way ahead of her time, Coco Chanel didn’t want to carry a bag by hand anymore and created the strap instead. This accessory accompanied the introduction of the Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag in 1955. This iconic bag provides instant sophistication and poise and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. These days, this high-end piece is available in a variety of colors and retails at a starting price of USD 2,700.

Fun Fact! Rumor has it that the bag’s zip compartment was used by Coco Chanel to hide her love letters.



The Hermes “Birkin”:

Hermes makes the list again with the signature “Birkin” bag that was first introduced in 1981. Inspired and named after singer Jane Birkin, this iconic bag is similar to the “Kelly”, but larger in size. Want to include it to your wardrobe? Well brace yourself; the waiting list to own a Birkin is up to SIX years! A new Birkin will set you USD 13,000 back, while a pre-owned one retails for about USD 10,000.




Jane Birkin poses with the Hermes "Birkin" bag
Jane Birkin poses with the Hermes “Birkin” bag


The Dior “Lady Dior Cannage Tote”:

While on a trip to Paris in the 90s, the late Princess Diana fell in love with this handbag. Since then, this iconic bag became known as “Lady D” or “Lady Dior”. “Cannage” refers to the type of stitching that makes the bag look the way it does. Today, Dior introduced a smaller sized version of Lady Dior and added a shoulder strap for better support. The massive French house’s iconic bag retails for about USD 2,500. French actress Marion Cotillard is the face of Lady Dior.


Princess Diana took her Lady Dior everywhere!
Princess Diana took her Lady Dior everywhere!

lady dior bag




The Louis Vuitton “Speedy”:

Though introduced in the 1930s, the Louis Vuitton “Speedy 30″ had a surprisingly youthful look and is still widely popular nowadays. The bag is also known to be reliable for travel and is widely accepted as an “affordable” luxury item. Starting price is around USD 1,000 although special editions can cost up to USD 2,500.


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Audrey Hepburn poses with her customized Louis Vuitton Speedy
Audrey Hepburn poses with her customized Louis Vuitton Speedy
Breakfast at the Latest Version Diner

5 Fun Things to do this Holiday Weekend!

Brace yourselves: a three day holiday weekend is coming up! If you didn’t have time to plan a getaway, do not despair; there are plenty of fun-filled activities to do locally.

Visit a Winery

Whether you plan on going east or north, Lebanon is packed with breath-taking wineries! I visited Massaya earlier this summer and enjoyed an amazing sunny day with family. Their Sunday brunch is rich in traditional Lebanese delicacies and fresh produce. Dine on their wooden tables and enjoy their sumptuous open wine throughout your meal. After lunch, lounge on their lazy chairs overlooking the vineyards and mountains. The serenity and peaceful setting is literally an ultimate de-stressor.


Captivating Views at Massaya
Captivating Views at Massaya



Enjoy a Sunny Breakfast

Everyone who works knows that it’s almost impossible to squeeze a proper breakfast into a busy day. With sunny skies forecast for the weekend, why not head to your favorite spot and enjoy breakfast with friends or family? One my favorite places to have breakfast is the Latest Version Diner; while their menu is a simple combination of eggs, pancakes, and waffles, their portions are generous, budget friendly, and simply delicious!

If you’re a fan of Couqley (who isn’t?!), schedule a stop at their Big Breakfast formula on Saturday anytime between 10.30 am until 4.00 pm. Their special breakfast menu will set you back 38,000 LBP, but includes eggs, hash browns, waffles, pancakes, and bottomless coffee!


Breakfast at the Latest Version Diner
Breakfast at the Latest Version Diner


Head to the Beach

Our beach days are pretty much numbered now that it’s October. Take advantage of what might be your last beach weekend for the season and hit up your favorite resort. Now that schools are back in session and the weather’s cooler, you can comfortably lounge by the pool or at a sandy beach front until the sun sets.


Edde Sands
October waters at Eddé Sands


Eat Ice Cream!

One of my best discoveries this summer was Helado- a small ice cream shop located in Jounieh. Their flavor options are endless and include Biscolatta, vanilla framboise, wine and vodka (seriously), and lotus (my favorite!). You really do not want to miss their ice cream before the season ends!



Flavors galore at Helado
Flavors galore at Helado
Helado’s Signature Lotus Ice Cream


Fly with the Childrens’ Cancer Center of Lebanon

One my favorite organizations is planning flight tours over Lebanon this Saturday and Sunday. At 3,000 ft altitude, you will not only be looking over Lebanon’s breath-taking landmarks, but you will also be helping a child in need. For more information, click here.