When popular Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger held a blink-and-you-missed-it news conference Thursday to proclaim his innocence of rape charges, his appearance should have been manipulated to agree with what came out of his mouth.
By way of background, the public learned this week that a 31-year-old woman has filed a civil lawsuit that names more than a half-dozen people, including Roethlisberger. She alleges that he raped her in a Lake Tahoe hotel penthouse in July 2008, when he was staying there for a celebrity golf tournament. Roethlisberger,27, was served with court papers when he returned to the Nevada resort this month - a year later - for the same tournament.
For the Thursday news conference, his first public comment on the allegations, Roethlisberger wore a chocolate four-button pinstripe suit. Forget, for a moment, the odd choice of dark brown in the middle of the day in the middle of July. The entire look was a disservice to his cause, from the suit and the open-collar striped shirt to the garishly displayed pocket square with contrasting trim and the stubble on his face.
Ben should have sought to project the image of an altar boy on a job interview. Instead, he served up wealthy playboy heading to a weekend in Vegas. Ironically, he looked as if he were dressed for a hot date - not the ideal image to conjure when you stand accused of a sex crime.
Give him credit for attempting to look serious and upstanding. Casual attire would have all but said, “I’m guilty,” even if the truth were otherwise. But there was something slighty disconcerting about Ben’s appearance, a ham-handed conspicuousness to a contrived look. Rather than causing one to consciously hear his words and think, “He’s telling the truth,” it caused one to observe his appearance and subconsciously think, “Something isn’t clicking here.”
Roethlisberger issued a strong denial in his 60-second statement, but he failed to use his attire as a tool to enhance credibility. When accused of a crime, a fellow who maintains his innocence should come across as respectable, responsible, and traditional. Nothing projects that like a two-button navy suit. A collared white shirt reinforces the message, and a conservative necktie conveys professionalism and the sort of polish at odds with a guy who would be inclined to commit a sexual assault. Cleanly shaven jowls and neatly trimmed facial hair beat just-rolled-out-of-bed scruffiness every time.
To say that Ben has a sympathetic audience in Pittsburgh, aka Steeler nation, would be a huge understatement. Public sentiment initially expressed in media interviews in his home city suggest a community as adoring as ever. But those in Nevada who may have to weigh testimony and evidence in a civil proceeding are less likely to have the same bias that could tip the scales of justice toward acquittal.
When you’re making an important statement, it’s always a good idea to make sure your appearance bolsters your message - especially when you’re a public figure who has been accused of a crime and you’re publicly stating your innocence.
While judges and juries are the final arbiters of innocence and guilt in most societies, the court of public opinion is often the determining - if not the last - word on whether one who stands accused is exonerated and exalted or toppled from a pedestal with irreparable damage. Consider that although a jury decided a few years ago that Michael Jackson was not guilty of charges of sexual molestation, it became clear that he had won the court battle but lost the war for his reputation.
So, perception often trumps fact, and perceptions often are formed in the subconscious by visual cues and social norms. What else can explain the American mythology surrounding the presidential electability of candidates who are modest in height and have facial hair?
Roethlisberger has an Atlanta-based sports lawyer, David Cornwell, working to ensure a favorable outcome for him. But if the case goes to trial, hiring a smart stylist would be one of the best moves the two-time Super Bowl champion has ever made.
Van Cleef & Arpels opened its first boutique at Place Vendome in 1906.and eventually became known the world over for exquisite baubles. Now, the legendary French jewelry design house is becoming just as well known for luxurious personal fragrances housed in breathtaking, jewelry-inspired flacons.
The prestige brand’s newest olfactory offering is Feerie Ondine, a sequel to last year’s glamorous and mysterious Feerie. While Feerie was inspired by Tatiana, a mischievous fairy, the new eau de toilette is a sparkling, graceful ode to the more delicate fairy for which it is named. (They know fairies don’t exist — just play along.)
Feerie Ondine is classified as a luminous green floral because of its fresh, light formulation. It opens with hints of violet leaves, Italian lemon and raspberry before mellowing slightly with parma violets, rose absolute and jasmine and then drying down with the soft and sensual interplay of musk, benzoin and sandalwood. It’s rich and refined without being stuffy and overwrought. Get it starting at $85 at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Van Cleef & Arpels boutiques.
Suzy and Sergio Batiz share a sense of humor and an entrepreneurial spirit. With necessity as the mother of invention, the in-laws gave birth in January 2007 to Poo~Pourri, a product that makes the bathroom a more pleasant place. While virtually every air freshener on the market masks odor, Poo~Pourri was designed to prevent it. Just spritz the blend of aromatic essential oils and natural odor eliminators on the surface of the toilet bowl water before using, and it goes a long way toward heading off excremental stench. Suzy — an Arkansas-born lover of essential oils and self-described “serial entrepreneur”–– bought out her brother-in-law and assumed total control of the company (Texas-based S2Synergy) in September 2007. She soon launched variations such as fruit-scented No. 2, man-friendly Royal Flush, Heaven Scent, Pooch~Pourri for dogs, Karoma and Nature’s Call. Creative family and friends have helped make the line successful. Her husband Hector, a photographer and web developer, wrote “The Little Black Book Washroom Etiquette” that comes with each bottle of Royal Flush. You can order at Poopourri.net.
Heredity, stress and general health affect hair growth and quality, and so do the elements. Sun, treated water, heat and humidity all can wreak havoc on hair, which tends to become dry and brittle in summer months. Chemical treatments and repeated washings can do further damage. So, it’s nice when a reputable company comes up with a product that can benefit all hair types on issues ranging from dryness to chemical damage. Alterna’s Caviar Anti-Aging Polishing Serum protects, nourishes and conditions, helping to prevent split ends and fly-aways and leaving an attractive shine. Among the active ingredients are caviar for nourishment and strength, algae extract for hydration and vitamin C for neutralizing free radicals that can damage hair. Click on the image to order.
The big green movement sweeping much of the world is about more than seven-year light bulbs, eco-friendly cleaning products and sustainable farming methods. Increasingly, companies are sending clothing to market that is biodegradable and that was constructed from materials “responsibly”grown.
Some progressives are going one step further with sustainable employment. Edun is one of them. The ethical clothing company was established in 2005 by superstar entertainer Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson. The Irish couple’s goal is to promote sustainable employment in underdeveloped countries while aiding the production of socially conscious clothing.
Edun apparel is currentlymade in India, Peru and African communities in Uganda, Kenya, Tunisia, Lesotho, Mauritius and Madagascar. One of Edun’s goals is to help erase extreme poverty in Africa by encouraging the fashion community to do business on the continent. Africa has 12% of the world population but only 2% of world trade. If the continent could get just an additional 1% of world trade, that would equal about $70 billion more in export earnings in each year - several times more than the amount Africa receives annually in international aid.
All of Edun’s t-shirts are made of 100% organic cotton. Edun’s fashion offerings for men, women and children include jackets, dresses, denim, knits, sweaters and other tops and bottoms priced from $36 to $400.
The company’s future looks promising. LVMH, parent company of Louis Vuitton and many other fashion, beauty and retail brands, recently bought a minority share in Edun - an indication that the infant label has a lot of growth potential and could be around for a very long time.
Click on the clothing images to shop Edun.
A casually yet stylishly dressed gentleman approached me in a restaurant the other day, introduced himself as a cousin of a friend of mine, and asked if he must dress completely in white for an all-white party he was planning to attend.
My answer was, and is, no. But my rationale requires a bit of unpacking. Yes, it would be appropriate for him to wear monochromatic, head-to-toe white for the occasion. But he would not be wrong to sport black or colored stitching in a white shirt or pants, a hint of subtle color in the ensemble, or even sand or light tan footwear.
The same applies to women. Uninterrupted white is boring, clinical, even unnatural. It requires no imagination, creativity or thought. That’s not what getting dressed for a party is supposed to be all about.
It’s easy to honor an all-white dress code in principle without looking literal. While your primary pieces - pants, shirt, skirt, dress, suit- can be white, details such as stitching, buttons and trim can introduce a little color to give your look some depth and structure.
Summer is the best time to bring out the white. Just one piece can jazz up and freshen up a look. White is so strong that it pulls the eye, so it has maximum effect when worn one piece at a time. Check out the pieces shown here.
Click on the Kipling, Ecko and Tyrwhitt photos to shop
The public may never know what Michael Jackson wore at his funeral, how he was dressed in the closed, rose-covered golden casket in which he was memorialized and buried Tuesday.
Was the King of Pop wearing a leather motorcycle jacket? A bespoke suit and skinny necktie? One of his sparkling military-style jackets? Black loafers and white socks? A single sequined glove?
We may never know. But we do know that in life, he was a force of nature whose style, sense of fashion and visual transformation were as captivating as his singing and dancing.
During Jackson’s decades in show business, he set fashion trends with a number of signature accessories: aviator sunglasses, black fedoras, dark loafers with white socks, that famous glove. His wardrobe was influenced by and reflected a fascination with fantasy, sci-fi, cinema, theater, cartoons, royalty and the military.
He revealed something of himself, the yin and the yang of sequins and buckles, leather and gauze, high-water tuxedo pants and white V-neck undershirts. He combined the tough with the delicate, hard with soft, macho with feminine, extravagant with ordinary. In the process, he reflected every social class and none, every ethnicity and none, both genders and neither.
When Jackson performed at the Motown 25 anniversary special in 1983 and set the world abuzz with the moonwalk - a dance move actually done as far back as the 1950s - he complemented his sequined white glove with a sparkling black jacket that his sister Latoya later said was actually a gift from her to their mother. A week ago, one celebrity news magazine included a pictorial on several articles of clothing that Jackson had recently worn that were adapted from womenswear runway looks by designers such as Balmain.
If Jackson’s fashion choices began to blur gender lines in recent years, his face became a study in androgyny. It morphed dramatically over the last 30 years with an estimated 50-plus cosmetic procedures on nose, eyes, cheeks, lips, chin.
As hair trends changed over the decades, Jackson went from afro to Jheri curl to perms. Few knew that he wore wigs in recent years due to hair loss and a large mass of scar tissue on his scalp that resulted from his hair catching fire during taping of a Pepsi commercial in 1984. The rate at which Jackson’s hair got straighter over the years was eclipsed only by the speed at which his skin got lighter. He claimed vitiligo, but others pointed to skin-bleaching creams he used for many years.
Glancing at a head shot of a pale, heavily made-up Jackson at the age of 50, it wasn’t clear whether he was male or female, black or white. Perhaps no one in the history of celebrity had engineered a more total visual transformation, one that became more jarring and tragic as time went on. By the sad end, he had achieved a look that no one could quite understand.
Part of the explanation lies in Jackson’s own insecurities and self-hatred, in the pressure on people of color to conform to a European standard of beauty and especially on darker-skinned celebrities to become more widely accepted. Part of the explanation lies, too, in Western cultures’ obsession with the myth of eternal youth. Celebrities are under greater pressure than the rest of us to look immortally young, and their efforts fuel the multibillion-dollar industries of physical augmentation and anti-aging skincare.
In the final analysis, Jackson’s face and fashion reflected a failure to achieve his goal of transcending the limits of gender, race, age and time. He crafted an image that was, in many ways, as universal as his music. But ultimately, the face that he left this world with was not one that even he appeared to love.
Though in many ways larger than life, Michael Jackson was just another human being with his share of weaknesses, frailties and limitations. The difference is that his were exposed on a global stage. With that in mind, one can only hope that his contributions to music, the arts, charities, and humanitarian efforts will be remembered long after what he looked like is forgotten.
Fresh off her Wimbledon victory last week, tennis great Serena Williams announced her entry into another arena- beauty. Her MISSION Skincare Active-Beauty Line: Featuring Serena Williams will debut July 23 and 24 on the Home Shopping Network.
The line’s centerpiece product is Oxygen-Active Daily Facial Cleanser, a self-foaming makeup remover-cleanser-toner that requires no water and works in 90 seconds. Other products are a honey sugar body scrub, honey sugar restorative body butter, and paraben-free and preservative-free SPF 15 lip balms in pomegranate and pink lemonade. All products contain a proprietary blend of 10 vitamins and antioxidants and are priced between $3.99 and $39.99.
Williams co-founded the brand and developed the products along with Dr. Bryan Adams, chairman of the American Academy of Dermatology, and with input from consumer groups of women with active lifestyles. She also launched a fashion line several years ago, Aneres (her name spelled backwards).
You can enter a contest through July 21 to meet the tennis great. Tell her what you can do in 90 seconds and you may win VIP tickets to one of her upcoming tournaments, an autographed tennis racquet and other prizes. You can follow her on Twitter at serenajwilliams for contest updates. More details at www.SerenasMISSION.com.
Every now and then, a fragrance comes along that rides a tidal wave in a sea of mediocrity. It’s an even rarer occurrence among men’s scents, as most tend to smell alike and never really break new ground. In 2006, Hermes launched Terre d’Hermes, one of the most sophisticated and sexiest men’s scents of the last 25 years. Three years later, it remains one of the least-worn and most under-appreciated - until someone catches a whiff. Terre is French for “earth,” and the scent has a raw, elemental earthiness with notes of pepper, flint, Atlas cedar and vetiver. But it takes a light, smooth and sensual twist with hints of grapefruit, orange, geranium and bay rose. If the scent were a man, it would be George Clooney or Blair Underwood - elegant, confident and effortlessly cool. And if, as Coco Chanel once said, fragrance is “the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory,” then Terre d’Hermes proves it. Click on the photo to buy the prestige eau de toilette at a discount.