Archive for the ‘Robert Lee Morris’ Category

Rubbing Shoulders With Robert Lee Morris, Michael Dawkins And More At QVC’s Sterling Designer Meet-And-Greet

August 24, 2010

Award-winning jewelry designer, and jewelry maker, Robert Lee Morris was clad head-to-toe in SoHo black. Even the wrist guards he wore — one on the hand where he just had a joint replaced and another on the hand where he still needs the surgery — were black.

Ann King was very petite and pretty, and we had explain that although we own two of her rings and a pair of her earrings, we couldn’t find them to wear down to West Chester for her to see.

We’ve been fans of Echo of the Dreamer jewelry for decades, but never knew the designer behind it. Well, it’s Margaret Thurman, and we got to talk to her. She explained that the name Echo of the Dream came from her reading of Carlos Castaneda. One of her pieces, a white agate locket, is inscribed with a quote from Anais Nin, the best writer of female-oriented erotic literature ever. Thurman said she met Nin once.

Young designer Elizabeth Showers, who overcame an eating disorder, showed us her inspirational jewelry line, which aims to raise women’s self-esteem.

QVC’s Sterling Designer Meet-and-Greet Saturday at the home shopping channel’s headquarters in Pennsylvania was great. For jewelry geeks like The Homeshoppingista, it was like being a kid in a candy store.

We were surrounded by fine designers and were able to ask them, in person, about the inspiration for their pieces. It reminded us of the Television Critics Association press tour in LA, where reporters got to ask TV showrunners like Matthew Weiner of “Mad Men” what “informed” their decisions regarding their shows. That was more fascinating to us than seeing “the talent,” the actors and actresses.

At QVC’s studios, we could see and try on the designer silver goodies, and buy them. And we were surrounded by women like us, women who adore and treasure their baubles.

We weren’t sure how the meet-and-greet would work. We thought maybe it would be like a cocktail party with just a few QVC customers mingling with the designers.

Instead, there were dozens of women there. Each designer had a station, a couple of tables, set up along the hall that’s above the actual studios where QVC tapes its segments. You walk down the hall and stop at whatever station you want, chat with a Michael Dawkins or Morris, try on their rings and necklaces, and move on to the next designer.

You’re given a list of all the items the designers that are displaying, and you can circle the pieces you want to purchase.

BFF Ann kindly drove the three hours it took to get to our hotel Saturday afternoon. We headed over to QVC, and Ann acted as our photographer as we went from designer to designer.

In addition to Morris, King, Dawkins, Showers and Thurman, Naomi Pevsner and Elizabeth Rand were in the house. Judith Ripka had a table, which was manned by one of her good-looking and charming sons, Brian Ripka, who is president of her company.

Morris and Ripka are part of a growing group of high-end jewelry designers who are doing less expensive lines for home shopping networks such as QVC and HSN. QVC is particularly appealing, a formidable distribution outlet, at a time when sales of luxury goods have tanked.

The only designer that we didn’t speak with Saturday was Dawkins, who was a chick magnet. His post was so overrun by women, we decided to bypass him and come back later. But when we did, he was already gone.

We and Ann watched Morris on QVC back at our hotel, and he had changed into a deep blue shirt with a lot of the buttons undone. And he wasn’t wearing his black wrist guards.

But during QVC’s 25-hour Sterling Designer Gallery event, designers like Morris and Dawkins constantly made reference to the comments they had heard from women at the meet-and-greet.

We are such tech dummies that we don’t know how to download Ann’s photos from the event, so we’ll post them when our brother-in-law gets back from vacation.

And over the next couple of weeks we plan to write individual blogs on each designer.

We bumped into QVC PR person Kayce Cashman at the studios, and she gave us an excellent recommendation for dinner that night. We had some potent cranberry margaritas at Mas Mexicali Cantina in West Chester.

Watch Out Lisa Robertson, Hello Robert Lee Morris: The Homeshoppingista Is Coming To West Chester

August 3, 2010

God willing, The Homeshoppingista will be making a pilgrimage to West Chester, Pa., to meet Robert Lee Morris and Michael Dawkins, among other QVC jewelry designers, later this month.

We got the invite Monday from QVC to its Aug. 21 designer meet-and-greet, which the home shopping channel holds periodically for viewers at its headquarters. That night, and throughout Aug. 22, QVC is doing a 25-hour Sterling Designer Gallery event.

At the meet-and greet, another one of our favorites, Ann King, will be present, as well as Naomi Pevsner, Elizabeth Rand, Elizabeth Showers and Margaret Thurman.

Mom, sister Karen and BFF Ann are supposed to be coming, too.

But then we learned the drive is 2 1/2 hours from Montclair, so we are going to have to stay ovenight rather than make that long drive home at night.

The Homeshoppingista reserved two rooms at a local hotel, but mom and Karen don’t know about that. We hope they still decide to come. Ann is in!

We better leave our AMEX card in Jersey.

Jewelry Master Robert Lee Morris Shows Off His TSV, And X-Ray Of His New Thumb Bone, On QVC

July 8, 2010

The X-ray of Robert Lee Morris's new thumb bone

We’re feeling rather frazzled and overwhelmed this week, so it’s the right time to tune in to award-winning jewelry artist Robert Lee Morris — he of the Zen-like manner — on QVC.

If you haven’t heard of Robert, then you are not a jewelry geek. His sleek, rounded high-end jewelry is used on the runway by fashion designers like Donna Karan, but several years ago he created an affordable line, RLM Studio, for QVC.

He crafts organic and nature-inspired jewelry usually in sterling silver, but he is doing gold-plated, brass and copper pieces for his QVC line now as well.

Robert is a New Age guy: His pieces are all symbolic and spiritual. He describes it as “jewelry that has soul.”

What other jewelry vendor talks about Carl Jung and chi when he’s hawking his wares on a home shopping network?

Robert, the calmest person we have ever seen, has QVC’s Today’s Special Value Thursday. It’s a symbol-link silver and brass bracelet for $115.

Robert, who celebrated his birthday Wednesday, blogged about the symbolism of his TSV.

He also blogged about his surgery. Robert even posted an X-ray of thumb bone, which was replaced.

He is wearing a bandage on his left arm on-air, and said he has “bionic wrist joints” now. All those 40 years of hammering jewelry at a bench has taken it toll on Robert’s arms.

Robert said he will also need surgery on his right arm.

For The Record, QVC, HSN And ShopNBC Aren’t Funding Us: We’re Proud To Say We’re Not Getting A Dime To Write This (Mmmm, Time For A Business Manager)

February 22, 2010

We've commented on HSN CEO Mindy Grossman's cleavage, and you think she's paying us?

We’ve had a number of people, those who’ve had the integrity to ask us right to our face, if we are getting paid to write this blog. We guess the assumption on the part of some, obviously those that don’t know us very well, is that one of the home shopping networks is paying us to write this blog.

Let’s clear the air. Remember that old chestnut to the effect of when you make an assumption you make an ass of yourself. That applies here, folks. Anyone who thinks we’re getting a single dime from QVC, HSN or ShopNBC esta loco, and estupido.

We guess we shouldn’t be bragging about this — since it’s not helping our bank account — but we are not selling ads, offering product placement or in any way, shape or form or getting compensation from anyone to write this blog.

Then why do it, some people ask us, in disbelief. Well, we are looking for a full-time job, and we consider this our living resume and writing sample. It you’re an employer and you don’t like our style, or think the billion-dollar home shopping industry is frivolous, or don’t like snarky commentary, we guess that we are not the right fit for you.

But if you are looking for a reporter/writer who can cover a beat (home shopping); come up with stories and post items on a daily basis; and uniquely combine writing about pop culture, celebrities, news, finance and the inside-gossip of QVC and HSN, then we’re on.

But home shopping, people ask? We’ve said this several times, but we’ll repeat it for newbies to this blog: We love jewelry and gemology, have since we were a kid, and QVC and HSN are the biggest jewelry retailers in the country. We don’t give a crap if Gawker or The Wall Street Journal make fun of the networks.

Yes, we own lucious jewelry from luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co. and Roberto Coin, but we’ve gotten gorgeous things at the three electronic retailers, as well.

The fact that high-end names like Robert Lee Morris, Bobbi Brown, Judith Ripka, Gucci, Godiva, Tag Heuer, Ann King, Barbara Bixby, Stephen Dweck, Badgley Mischka, Dennis Basso and Naeem Khan are selling on QVC, HSN and ShopNBC now makes the case for the networks far more eloquently than we can.

We’ve dinged all three home shopping channels, as well, numerous times. We’ve written about HSN CEO Mindy Grossman’s cleavage, how QVC hired an alleged embezzler who now stands charged with robbing it, and taken ShopNBC to task letting veteran host Charla Rines go. We’ve made fun of QVC and HSN’s PR departments.

Immature? Perhaps. Have some our blogs been silly? Yes. Are we having fun writing them? You betcha.

We like to think we’re doing for home shopping what Joe Flint at the LA Times does for media in “Company Town.”

And so these home shopping channels that we’ve poked fun at — while also covering them as a business reporter would follow any beat — are the same guys you suspect are paying us to write Homeshoppingista? Wrong.

Sunday Scoop: Is Luxury Jewelry Designer John Hardy Coming To QVC?

February 21, 2010

Actress Sienna Miller modeling John Hardy jewelry in Vogue

John Hardy is one of those jewelry designers whose pieces we gaze at lovingly at stores such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, never daring to ask the price of anything.

His sterling silver pieces, handmade by artisans at his studio in Bali, are gorgeous but pricey. But we may be getting a shot of owning his work, apparently.

According to FLA GM, who posted on QVC’s online jewelry forum, Hardy is coming to QVC. How does she know? The poster said her daughter attended a QVC sterling designer meet-and-greet for customers Saturday, and that she overhead “LR” say Hardy was coming onboard.

Our guess is that “LR” is QVC host Lisa Robertston. She had been seen on-air sporting a Hardy cuff, with diamonds and red sapphires, that Neiman Marcus was selling for $4,000.

We e-mailed both QVC and Hardy’s public relations departments, so let’s see if we hear back. Maybe the eaversdropper misunderstood what Lisa was saying.

Today QVC is holding its sterling silver designer day, and bringing Hardy on board would be a coup, and an addition to the other high-end jewelry makers that are doing lower-priced lines for the home shopping channel. Those includes names such as Judith Ripka, Robert Lee Morris and Stephen Dweck.

News Flash: Philadelphia Inquirer Discovers That QVC Sells More Than Cubic Zirconia

February 14, 2010

The Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday broke the big scoop that high-end designers have made their way to QVC because of its “sales clout.” Yes, the consumer press finally got a clue.

We did a huge blog on that topic for Thanksgiving, and have written many other blogs about why big-name designers like Badgley Mischka, Vivienne Tam, Robert Lee Morris, Judith Ripka and Stephen Dweck — whose wares can be found at shops like Neiman Marcus — now have lines for QVC and HSN.

The story, by Inquirer fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington, is headlined “Fashion Fete’s Eyes on QVC: Sales Clout Turns Heads in New York.”

The story talks about QVC telecasting live from Fashion Week in Manhattan again this year, and how “the seller people used to go to for Grandma’s holiday sweater” is now “a major industry player” in the fashion world.

That’s because designers have discovered a rather simple fact, one that snobs who look down their nose at home shopping channels, have yet to grasp: You can make a hell of a lot more money selling thousands of items an hour on QVC than selling just a few costly items in a brick-and-mortar store.

The story quotes Doug Howe, QVC’s chief merchandising officer, as well as the QVC vendors celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal and fashion designer Bradley Bayou.

Roncal told the Inquirer she once sold 20,000 eyeliners in eight minutes on QVC (we use her mascara).

Bayou is quoted as saying he was skeptical when QVC first approached him. He hopped on board.

“When you show couture, you sell maybe 10 to 20 pieces (a season), but when you show on QVC, you can sell 1,000 pieces in an hour,” Bayou told the Inquirer.

The newspaper also reported that QVC rival HSN, those sly pusses, will have a breakfast in New York to show off its new spring fashions in a couple of weeks.

QVC Gives Jewelry Lovers A Gift With Day Dedicated To Jewelry Gifts, With Judith Ripka TSV Button Earrings

December 8, 2009

Loyal QVC viewers — us included — who have been griping about the lack of jewelry shows on the home shopping network should be happy Tuesday.

QVC has dedicated most of the day to “Jewely Gifts of Distinction,” kicking off the event with a Today’s Special Value from Judith Ripka.

The TSV is gem button earrings, for both pierced ears but also in clips, that come in five different gemstones, including our favorite, crystal quartz. The earrings are $100, on three Easy Pays.

Today QVC is also offering jewelry from high-end designers Stephen Dweck, with his new Dweck Diamonds line, Michael Dawkins, Robert Lee Morris, Barbara Bixby, Echo of the Dreamer, Barry Cord and Ann King, who is married to noted jewelry designer Steven Lagos.

So far, we have not seen Judith Ripka on herself. Her son seems to be subbing for her. At midnight, host Jane Teacy introduced the TSV and mistakenly said it was from Joan Rivers, leaving Ripka’s son looking a little uneasy. But Treacy then went on to get the name right — Ripka, not Rivers.

We guess Jane wasn’t used to be up past her bedtime, on the air at midnight.

QVC, HSN and ShopNBC Should Give Thanks For Home Shopping’s Sea Change: They’ve Attracted Luxury Brands Like Gucci, Badgley Mischka And Stephen Dweck

November 26, 2009

QVC CEO Mike George

We thought we were seeing things a few days ago when we checked ShopNBC’s Web site and saw that it was selling dozens of Gucci watches. What happened, did they fall off a truck? Why was Gucci, a premier luxury brand, being sold on a home shopping network?

Then back in October, we couldn’t believe it when a sharp-eyed poster on QVC’s jewelry forum said that upscale jewelry designer Stephen Dweck, whose chunky gemstone masterpieces are featured in Neiman Marcus, was on the No. 1 home shopping network’s schedule. THE Stephen Dweck?

We checked QVC’s program guide ourselves, and there it was: Dweck was doing a lower-priced jewelry line for QVC called Dweck’s Diamonds. His Neiman Marcus pieces didn’t even have diamonds. The high-end stuff is made with semi-precious stones.

Also in October, we were checking the press releases on HSN’s Web site when we saw the network had struck a deal with one of the most famous and elite fashion houses: Badgley Mischka, designers of bejeweled gowns for the red carpet and celebrities.

We’ve written bits and pieces of this during the past two months, but we thought we’d tie it all up in a tidy package for Thanksgiving: There has been a sea change in the home shopping world, prompted by the disastrous economy and the crash of the luxury market.

Yes, home shopping networks have seen their sales hurt by the economy, like everyone else. But they claim they are still managing to steal market share from brick-and-mortar retailers. In fact, QVC is making a full-frontal assault on them this Black Friday, with 28 hours of special products and programming stunts starting Thanksgiving night.

The consumer press will continue to mention “cubic zirconia” in every story it writes about QVC or HSN, oblivious to the fact that some of the most esteemed names in fashion, jewelry and cosmetics — brands you find in Saks, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus — are plying their wares on the aforementioned home shopping channels.

ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart

Male journalists are blind to this. You still have the nerds at Gawker, a snide Web Site for the navel-gazing media, chiding HSN for selling “useless crap.”

If you have ever seen how male journalists dress or their fashion and style sensibilities, you will realize that you can’t expect them to know names like Badgley Mischka, Judith Ripka, Robert Lee Morris, our fellow Montclair, N.J., resident Bobbi Brown, Yves Saint Laurent, Smashbox, Lancome and Dweck. And these brands and artists don’t represent “useless crap.”

Luxury-good makers are hurting, and they need to make up their loss in sales. So they are turning to outlets like QVC, as CEO Mike George explained at a recent Liberty Media conference, as outlets to distribute new lower-priced lines to the masses. George cited fashion designer Vivienne Tam’s QVC alliance at the meeting held in Manhattan by his parent company, Liberty.

“This complete implosion of luxury retailing in America has caused all these folks to rethink their business model,” George said.

And that means partnering with QVC, HSN or ShopNBC.

As we said, it will take the consumer press years to figure out that home shopping channels are distribution powerhouses that have undergone a transformation, in part because of the infllux of talent like a Morris, who does couture jewelry for designers like Donna Karan and RLM Studio sterling silver jewelry for QVC.

The Big Three — QVC, HSN and ShopNBC — are aggressively trying to broaden their audience and potential customer base, those who don’t normally watch any of these three networks. That means the three are actually “programming” the channels, doing “shows” that have entertainment value, not just product shilling, so they will attract non-QVC or non-HSN watchers.

We remember once interviewing a QVC exec years ago and asking what the network’s ratings were. He said ratings were irrelevant: QVC was only concerned about how many products were sold in an hour.

HSN CEO Mindy Grossman

That’s a totally different tune from what we heard recently from QVC’s George, and from the strategies that HSN CEO Mindy Grossman and ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart have initiated.

Like traditional TV networks, the home shopping players want viewers to “sample” a QVC or an HSN. These new audience members, hopefully, will then see products that they want to buy.

For example, singer Natalie Cole recently did a live concert on HSN to promote a new Holiday CD set she is selling on the channel. If you’re a fan, you might tune in to HSN to see her, and then actually decide to purchase her CD. Artists such
as Jose Feliciano have also performed live on QVC.

QVC alum Stewart on a recent third-quarter conference call pointed out that actress-entrepreneur Suzanne Somers, who came to ShopNBC from HSN, had succeeded in attracting new viewers to Minneapolis-based ShopNBC because she was “entertaining.” And these networks want new eyeballs.

And home shopping networks’ capacity to reach millions of consumers and do fulfillment of orders has not been lost on magazine publishers, celebrities or cable’s reality TV stars. With circulation falling, women’s magazines such as Lucky, Allure, Glamour and Self are partnering with HSN to sell subscriptions.

And stars have seen the light. In a recent interview in Oprah Winfey’s O magazine, Joan Rivers, who’s had a jewelry line on QVC for almost 20 years, told O she was on home shopping when “nobody except dead celebrities was doing merchandise on TV.”

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a celebrity or TV star who doesn’t have a home shopping line. Even Madonna was interviewed on HSN when she was selling her children’s book.

Here’s a partial list:

Paula Abdul, HSN, formerly “American Idol,” Fox

Rachel Zoe, QVC, “The Rachel Zoe Project,” Bravo

Isaac Mizrahi, QVC, “The Fashion Show,” Bravo

Padma Lakshmi, HSN, “Top Chef,” Bravo

Ramona Singer, HSN, “The Real Housewives of New York City,” Bravo

Susan Lucci, HSN, “All My Children,” ABC

Carson Kressley, QVC, “How to Look Good Naked,” Lifetime Television

Dr. Robert Rey, ShopNBC, “Dr. 90210,” E! Entertainment Television

Tori Spelling, HSN, “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood,” Oxygen

Paula Deen, QVC, Food Network

Rachael Ray, QVC, “The Rachael Ray Show,” syndication

Ingrid Hoffmann, HSN, Food Network and Univision

Home shopping is a big business. ShopNBC is the also-ran in the group, but in the third quarter Stewart made some nice progress cutting its losses. Sales for the Big Three were all down, but down less than previous quarters.

And we are not talking chump change for these networks. The three home shopping channels generated $8.3 billion in net revenue in 2008. QVC domestic posted $4.9 billion, HSN netted $2.8 billion and ShopNBC had $568 million.

Even with revenue still slipping this year, for the first nine months QVC had revenue of $3.308 billion; HSN had net sales of $1.4 billion; and ShopNBC had $372.6 million in net sales.

Happy Thanksgiving!

HSN’s Italian Cameo Guy Amedeo And QVC’s Robert Lee Morris Have Something In Common: Rounded ‘Organic’ Silver Jewelry

November 20, 2009

It was a first for us, but we caught the L’una By R.F.M.A.S. sterling silver jewely line on HSN this week.

We liked the pieces, but they are strikingly similar in their organic, rounded look to the work of couture jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris, who has a lower-priced line on QVC.

Anyone familiar with RLM Studio on QVC will immediately know what we mean when we say the R.F.M.A.S. jewelry resembles Morris’s. In fact, even the initials in the two jewelry lines are similar. But HSN’s pieces are handcrafted in Tuscany, Italy.

The name R.F.M.A.S. is the combined initials of the two Italian designers of the jewelry, Roberto Faraone Mennella and Amedeo Scognamiglio. HSN regulars know Scognamiglio, because he does beautiful cameos for the home shopping network. Sterling silver is quite a new medium for him to bring to HSN.

Both men were on the show this week. Mennella is really handsome, and Scognamiglio is cute, charming and very funny.

We especially liked the R.F.M.A.S. necklaces with small silver donuts strung on black or colored cords; a large rounded ring; a half-moon pendant; a donut pendant and a 15-inch tube collar necklace, which we can’t afford at $200.

If you are petite, you know that 15-inch necklaces are hard to find.

Unlike Morris, R.F.M.A.S. also does enameled pieces, some with an animal-print look.

From Neiman Marcus To QVC: Jewelry Designer Stephen Dweck’s Arrival On Home Shopping With Dweck Diamonds, Not Dweck Cubic Zirconia

October 28, 2009

For jewelry lovers, designer Stephen Dweck’s debut on QVC Tuesday night caused quite a buzz. And his premiere didn’t disappoint.

“I was able to finally be a jeweler, but for America,”  said Dweck, who looked more like a bespectacled professor than a red-carpet jewelry designer. “I’m really proud of what I’ve done here tonight.” 

His nature-inspired Dweck Diamonds, crafted out of silver and 14 carat gold, ranged in price from $55 for a ring to $604 for a gorgeous swirl necklace

Dweck, who was quite modest and charming, has worked on his QVC line for more than a year. In New York, we would call him a mensch. His company is a family business, with his mom and brothers part of the operation. He said he fans are called “Dweckettes.”

During his premiere show Dweck said, “Jewelry is such  an important part of our lives, whether we admit it or not,”  calling his QVC pieces “future heirlooms.”

A few years ago Dweck had a trunk show at the Neiman Marcus in Short Hills, N.J., and we purchased our first and only piece of his jewelry: a big necklace with large pieces of bright red bamboo coral. It was very much a signature Dweck piece.

We have blanked out how much we paid for it, but we remember it was a lot for us. But we wanted one of Dweck’s pieces. Host Lisa Robertson also said she had some of his jewelry. 

Dweck’s upscale “bench” jewelry is exactly the kind we love: huge, chunky necklaces, rings and bracelets with enormous semi-precious stones. It’s very distinctive. You know one of Dweck’s high-end pieces when you see it.

But his line for QVC is totally different in style from his upscale jewelry. First of all, his QVC jewely incorporates “a kiss of diamonds,” as Robertson put it.

And second, the pieces are on a small, delicate scale, not featuring big rock-like stones. The Dweck Diamonds jewelry is inspired by nature, featuring flowers (the “Caroline” collection) and branch-like and bud-like features (the “Fortuna” collection).

The Caroline and Fortuna collections are named after his two daughters, Dweck said. And the flower-design comes from the flowers that Dweck, an avid gardener,  grows in  Brooklyn, he told Robertson. The third Dweck collection, the Fortuna Black collection, has a black rhodium finish.

Dweck did a very traditional design, a heart in the Fortuna Black collection, that looked like it was made out of a miniature twigs, with a bark-like texture. The QVC pieces are modeled after real branches Dweck has in his studio.

Dweck is so passionate about jewelry, it was a pleasure to watch him. He says he gets ideas for his work when he dreams at night, and scribbles them down in the dark.

“It makes me very proud to be a jeweler,” he said, talking about his Fortuna Black Criss Cross Bangle.

Dweck started out studying sculpture, and several of his pieces are in museums, including the Metroplitan Museum of Art.

Dweck is also a great cook, dishing up lunch for Robertson when she visited his studio, she told viewers.

So for those who still use the words “cubic zirconia” to describe home shoppings networks: HELLO!

Luxury jewelry designers such as Judith Ripka and Robert Lee Morris all have lower-priced lines for QVC. Morris designs runway jewelry for fashion designer Donna Karan. We’re very happy he is doing sterling silver for QVC. Dweck is in very good company.

Of  his QVC line, Dweck said, “Jeweler meets artist, and vice versa.” We agree.