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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Her name has practically been synonymous with drama and romance novels, and no wonder. Danielle Steel has sold over a billion copies of her books worldwide, topping the list of best-selling authors still alive today. Overall, she comes in fourth next only to William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie and Barbara Cartland. Her fame has been such that her novels have consistently headed the New York Times Bestseller List for more than 400 consecutive weeks, and 22 of her books have been adapted for television.

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Danielle Steel was an only child who began writing stories in her childhood, continuing to write well until her teens. While attending New York University, Steel finished the manuscript for her first book at nineteen years old, and in 1972, published her first novel entitled, “Going Home”. Her second and third novels, “Passion’s Promise” and “Now and Forever”, novels based on the breakdown of her first marriage, were what launched Steel’s career as a permanent fixture on the bestseller list. By the time 1989 came, Steel had made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for the book with the longest consecutive weeks at number one on the New York Times Bestseller List. Steel also began writing non-fiction, poetry and started a series of children’s books.

Aside from her writing, Danielle Steel has also been active in philanthropic work, specifically for mental health in memory of her son who committed suicide due to bipolar disorder. She also once opened The Steel Gallery in San Francisco, and after it closed down, continued curating for the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco. With numerous awards to her name for her work in mental health, Steel is surprisingly a shy person, rarely granting interviews or appearing in public. She is, however, known as shoe designer Christian Louboutin’s biggest customer, buying as many as 80 pairs on one shopping trip to his flagship store, and has made a deal with fragrance company Elizabeth Arden to carry a perfume called Danielle by Danielle Steel. Steel’s net worth is pegged at some 350 million US dollars to date.

Made famous by the likes of Princess Beatrice of York’s fascinators and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s widely-photographed hats, Philip Treacy’s highly unique creations have earned him the reputation of being the most sought-after milliner on the planet.

Born in West Ireland, Philip Treacy graduated from the Royal College of Art with first-class honors, and took up his MA in fashion design at the same. Initially designing for big fashion names like Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel and Donna Karan, Treacy’s designs were so attention-grabbing that the world couldn’t help but sit up and take notice. A five-time winner of the British Accessory Designer of the Year award, Treacy finally put up his own shop in London in 1990. His work as a milliner is easily identified by their sculpture-like qualities, with innovative designs and materials incorporated into each individually-crafted hat. Treacy has made hats for Hollywood, British and European celebrities, and many of his creations graced the famous Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. To date, Philip Treacy continues to wow the world with a powerful combination of his business and creative genius.

Of all the fields of medicine she could have chosen, Dr. Sagun Tuli decided to focus on neurology and spine surgery, a decidedly male field. Like pioneers and entrepreneurs before her, the native of India charted a course and followed it, regardless of the challenges that surely lay ahead. Her persistence and dedication paid off. Dr. Sagun Tuli became the first and only board certified female in her field in the Harvard Medical School system, which includes 17 affiliate teaching and research facilities. An associate surgeon in neurosurgery and spine in Boston at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Faulkner Hospital for nine years, she currently shares her skills as a physician and surgeon at the Center for Advanced Brain and Spine Surgery at MetroWest Medical Center in Natick, Massachusetts.

Dr. Tuli could have carefully guarded her position; after all, she worked hard to get there. Instead, she has acted as a physician mentor, earning recognition for her efforts from the Women Physicians Congress of the American Medical Association. She also has addressed the Women and Leadership course at the Boston College Carroll School of Management and the American Medical Women’s Association at the Boston College and Tufts University Schools of Medicine. The noted surgeon has delivered numerous gender-neutral presentations as well, in such locations as Canada, India, Nepal, Algeria, and Kenya.

Not an occupation for sissies, spine and neurosurgery takes a depth of knowledge and rock-steady hands. Managing complex spine cases caused by degenerative, traumatic, infectious, or neoplastic conditions, Dr. Sagun Tuli was the only neurosurgeon to perform complex spine surgeries for four years at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition to her full-time clinical work, she conducts extensive clinical research. Dr. Tuli earned her MD and became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, where she also fulfilled a residency in neurosurgery. She completed an MS in Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and a fellowship in spine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

He founded Gianni Versace S.p.A., an international fashion empire known and loved everywhere for its quality men and women’s clothing, fragrances, accessories, make-up, home furnishings and costumes. Perhaps one of the most flamboyant yet highly creative figures in modern fashion, Gianni Versace was well-known by the most famous people as an iconic, respected designer. He was friends with the likes of the late Princess Diana, pop sensation Madonna, singers Elton John and Cher, and was beloved by a wider audience who appreciated his classic yet wearable designs.

 

Born in Reggio Calabria in Italy, Versace began what would be a brilliant career by helping his mother, a dressmaker, with the beading and braiding she did for her work. Versace studied architecture before finally pursuing his passion for fashion, and by the mid-1970s, had gained attention for his knits. His first garment line for women was presented at around the same time and in a few months, he followed this success with his first menswear line. In 1978, Versace opened his very first boutique in Milan, thus launching his name into global fame.

 

Throughout his glittering career, Versace was awarded multiple times for his work, including the American Fashion Oscar in 1993 and the decoration of the Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana, given by the President of Italy himself. After his brutal murder in 1997 by spree killer Andrew Cunanan, several tributes were performed for him, including Elton John’s album named “The Big Picture” and a ballet to mark the anniversary of his death, titled Thanks, Gianni.

 

Gianni Versace’s’ creations have been worn by numerous personalities at big events such as the Academy Awards, and he has exhibited in countless prestigious shows and museums around the world. Versace also designed many costumes for various performing groups, as well as for concert performances. His ingenuity and fearlessness in creating dresses such as Elizabeth Hurley’s famous safety-pin dress in 1994 and the invention of the “oroton,” metal chain-mail used in his clothing, was what marked him as a genius.

 

Apart from the multi-million business of his fashion house, Versace also owned a rare art collection and several properties that his family claimed upon his death. His sister, Donatella, now runs Gianni Versace S.p.A., but the name of Gianni Versace will never be forgotten as the symbol of all that is great about the fashion industry.

Champagne – it’s the celebratory drink, the bubbly that is popped in a toast to good times, happy occasions or grand events. And the House of Champagne Louis Roederer is the luxurious name behind the world’s most fabulous champagne brand Cristal and other high-quality wines.

Founded in 1776 as Dubois Pere & Fils, Louis Roederer inherited the company in 1833 and made it what it is today. Such was Roederer’s skill in cultivating the grapes necessary for the beverages and his efforts in production that Tsar Nicholas II of Russia appointed him as the official wine supplier of the empire. Some 70% of the company’s production comes from their own carefully cultivated vineyards, and the wine-making process employed by Louis Roederer is an art that requires careful control and complex flavors. The Roederer company has acquired several estate vineyards and wine companies in its over one hundred and seventy years of existence, and continues to produce an estimated 3.2 million bottles annually of premier wines.

There is only one Tommy in American fashion, and it’s no other than the legendary Tommy Hilfiger, designer and founder of the brand that carries his name. Known for the red, blue and white rectangle that serves as the fashion brand’s logo, Tommy Hilfiger currently sells ready-to-wear denim apparel, designer clothing, fabrics, cosmetics, perfumes, toiletries, bedding and sportswear under the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation.

Tommy Hilfiger, Thomas Jacob Hilfiger in real life, began the business by customizing jeans that he bought, then reselling them at a store in New York City. He tried opening his own shop named People’s Place in the 1970’s, but budget constraints and economic downturns led to the store’s and its chains’ eventual closing. After several more attempts to break into the industry, Hilfiger finally got his chance when The Murjani Group backed his plans in 1984, hence the establishment of the corporation. Hilfiger brought out his first line of menswear, which was such a hit that the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded him the title of “Menswear Designer of the Year” for 1995.

Hilfiger’s fashion sensibilities soon began gaining popularity, as his penchant for the classic preppy American look and his preference for clothing designs inspired by rap and rock, brought the company massive sales. Singer Aaliyah was one of the brand’s notable faces, and rapper Snoop Dogg boosted Tommy Hilfiger’s reputation by wearing one of the brand’s denim jumpers during a live talk show. Hilfiger was known for controversial advertisements, which helped their sales shoot upwards.

Tommy Hilfiger is now headed by CEO Fred Gehring, with the corporation’s headquarters in Hong Kong, New Jersey and Amsterdam, but the man’s name and his brand will always be up with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis as some of America’s most iconic men in fashion.

All eyes were on a glowing American First Lady Michelle Obama during President Barack’s inauguration ball, a unanimous question was being murmured. Who was the creative mind behind the First Lady’s stunning, elegant evening gown? The answer was a pleasant surprise: Jason Wu, a young, up-and-coming Taiwanese-Canadian fashion designer based in Manhattan.

Jason Wu’s career in the industry began in a more unique manner than most – by making dolls and doll clothes. It was this interest in clothing that prodded Wu to enter The New School for Design, then later to intern with Narciso Rodriguez. Wu’s talent allowed his star to rise quickly as he began garnering attention through the nominations and awards that were being given for his designs. Among Wu’s early customers were Ivana Trump and January Jones, among other actresses who admired the classic lines, muted patterns and bright colors of his ready-to-wear clothing collections. However, it was Michelle Obama’s patronage that brought the spotlight on Jason Wu, and he has proven her right as his work now continues to garner customers from all around the world.

A presence in the Chicago business world since the 1980s, Perry Mandera owns the transportation firm The Custom Companies, Inc.  Mr. Mandera established the company in his late 20s, with several years of entrepreneurial experience already under his belt. He grew the the company from two trucks into an industry leader by pioneering the full-service “one stop” business model. To this day, The Custom Companies continues to offer a comprehensive selection of on-time delivery options that integrate domestic and international air freight, truckload shipping, and dedicated contract cartage services. The firm also offers companies quality warehousing and distribution solutions.

Perry Mandera’s business venture is informed by organizational skills gained through public service. From 1984 to 1988, he served as the Republican Ward Committeeman for Chicago’s 26th Ward, at the time the youngest official ever to hold such responsibilities. The corporate success Perry Mandera has achieved has also earned him a number of industry plaudits. Elected to the Illinois Transportation Association’s Board of Directors in 1996, he was named one of the organization’s “Top 100 American Transportation Executives of the Millennium” four years later.

Mr. Mandera has contributed to a number of nonprofit organizations over the years, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Special Olympics, Catholic Charities, and The Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation. He holds a seat on the board of the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation, which assists neglected, abused, and underprivileged children throughout Illinois. Perry Mandera was instrumental in forming Custom Cares Charities, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that directs children’s focused charitable giving.

Style and sophistication are just two of the words that describe Italian fashion icon Salvatore Ferragamo. A symbol of the glamour that was Old Hollywood, Ferragamo was, first and foremost, a shoe designer whose handmade creations were worn by the biggest stars in the 1920’s film industry. His innovations in shoes, such as the wedge heel and the cage heel, along with his use of clean, polished lines and opulent textures and fabrics, created a fashion house that would long outlive even him.

Salvatore Ferragamo was one of fourteen children, born in the town of Bonito, Italy. His first creations were completed at the impressive age of nine, shoes that his sisters wore for their confirmation. It was then that Ferragamo found his calling, and after studying the art of shoemaking in Naples, he opened his first shop at home, before migrating to Boston, Massachusetts, then eventually, to Hollywood in 1914. Ferragamo soon found the Hollywood crowd at his doorstep, and became one of the leading shoe designers for movies of the period. Some of his most celebrated patrons included Eva Peron, Argentina’s most famous First Lady, the Maharani of Cooch Behar, and blonde American icon, Marilyn Monroe.

Ferragamo moved back to Italy, opening a shop in Florence and continuing his success in footwear. Soon, his shop grew to produce handbags, eyewear, accessories, watches, eyewear, fragrances and clothing. The company and Salvatore’s legacy was kept alive, with Salvatore’s daughter Fiamma inventing the Vara pumps, popular in the late 1970’s. As of now, the fashion house that has become a byword in luxury goods is still within the control of the Ferragamo family, with Michele Norsa as the manager and general director.

The genius of Salvatore Ferragamo was such, that in 1995, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum opened in Florence, Italy in 1995, as a tribute to the man’s creativity and influence in the fashion industry. With over ten thousand models of Ferragamo shoes, clothing, handbags and documents, and the company’s 80th birthday celebrated, Ferragamo’s mark has proven itself indelible and above all, inspiring.

 

Perhaps no one would think that a figure skater could become one of the most-recognized names in women’s fashion, but this is precisely what Vera Wang has accomplished. A Chinese-American, Vera started figure skating at a young age, and competed in various national events. Her interests took her elsewhere, however, and Vera set her sights on the fashion industry.

Vera Wang was a senior fashion editor for popular magazine Vogue, which she left to open her own house of design in New York. Her creations were primarily centered on bridal couture, evening gowns and skating costumes. She has been a favorite of high-profile figure skaters like Michelle Kwan and Nancy Kerrigan, and has made wedding dresses for the likes of Ivanka Trump, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, Sharon Stone, Uma Thurman, Kate Hudson and Kim Kardashian. Her evening wear has likewise been patronized by America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Her name has become synonymous with high-end and quality bridal wear, having been referenced several times in movies and television shows. The Vera Wang line now includes perfumes, jewelry, eyewear, shoes and houseware, and Vera herself has been awarded multiple times for her contributions to fashion.