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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for the ‘Shopping with celebs’ Category

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Clinton Kelly Talks Tailoring

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Disaster after fashion disaster on What Not to Wear, co-host Clinton Kelly preaches the importance of tailoring. “It’s unreasonable for people to assume clothes will fit perfectly off the rack,” he says. “That’s not how life is. Clothes are built on a size 4 dress form. That’s like 2 percent of the population.”

After nine TV seasons and thousands of makeovers, Kelly is putting his money where his mouth is. On Saturday, he opened Perfect Fit by Clinton Kelly at Mall of America. There’s a second test location at Orland Square Mall outside of Chicago. More than a tailoring shop, Perfect Fit employs stylists who help customers figure out how to get their clothes to flatter their figure. Tailors and stylists must pass a Kelly-approved skills test, but the true test, which could make or break the concept, will be their ability to mimic Kelly’s quick wit and decisive advice.

“I have bionic eyes,” Kelly boasts, only half joking. “I can scan a body and tell that person exactly how should she should be dressing. It’s like an algebraic equation.”

The most common mistake: Women wearing tops that are too long. “You want to make your torso look smaller than your legs. The longer your legs, the taller you look. I’m constantly hemming tops and it looks like you lost 10 pounds.”

He may have super powers when it comes to styling, but there is one garment beyond tailoring: pajama jeans. “Revolting. For some reason, laziness is something to be celebrated in this country,” Kelly says. “I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t want to look beautiful. They just get overwhelmed.”

Hear my entire conversation with Kelly on Shop Girls (Nov. 5 interview starts halfway through hour 1). Perfect Fit (formerly Stitch It) is on the first level, east side at Mall of America, 952-854-5723.

Shops Is About To Drop

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I’m extremely excited to reveal the 2012 cover of Shops, featuring six Twin Cities men as charming as they are stylish. (It’s a rough job I’ve got, I know.) We go beyond the necktie to show you a side of Frank Vascellaro you just don’t get on the evening news – premium denim and all. He’s joined by salon owner Denny Kemp, businessman Tom Wicka, celeb bodyguard provider Elijah Shaw, my favorite young Timberwolves player Wes Johnson, and musician Jeremy Messersmith – how can you not love a rocker who rocks a bow tie? Inside the issue, you’ll also find fall fashion, cool products, beauty tips, celebrity shopping haunts, and updated listings of more than 800 local stores. Shops is included with the September issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Don’t go shopping without it!

At our cover shoot at Room & Board…

How to take the tension out of an interview: conduct it on a bed…

While Kim Kardashian was busy tending to wedding details, I got to hang out with her then-fiance, NBA player Kris Humphries, at his home on Lake Minnetonka, where we shot the cover of the September issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. You can see pics of the house where Kim has been chilling on frequent visits to the Twin Cities, and read about Humphries’ design vision (hint: Hitch) and hometown pastimes in the September issue – on newsstands next week. But here are some of the topics we discussed during our five hour photo shoot (the guy insisted on changing his shirt for every shot…).

Marrying Kim. “You get that feeling you’ve never felt about anyone before – that you’re so excited to be with someone.”

His parents’ reaction to the proposal. “My parents got married within a year of meeting each other. I’m at an age where I have to live my life. They raised me well.”

Kids. “Isn’t that what everyone wants?”

Life with a reality star. “I’m still who I was before. I enjoy life.” As for the cameras? “That’s just the nature of being with Kim.”

Where they’ll live. “We haven’t focused on that.”

Reality TV. “In my experience, it’s very authentic.”

Hidden talent. A ping pong table is the centerpiece of Humphries’ dining room – and he’s not messing around. “I’m the best ping pong player that hasn’t played in any league,” he said modestly.

In the fridge. Lots of fresh fruit, carrots, and Kim’s Ritual Cleanse organic juice. (Humphries did let our one of our crew members take a bottle, but jokingly warned she better not waste it – or “Kim will be mad.”)

Master bath. The counter is so high, Kim might need a stool. Custom made for the 6-foot-9 baller? “No, it just came that way,” Humphries marveled. The home, which he bought new about five years ago, was built on spec.

In the garage. A white Mercedes S550. (His Twin Cities Mercedes dealer attended Humphries’ Fourth of July bash on the rooftop of Seven.)

Viewing habits. Before meeting Kim, Humphries says he’d only seen snippets of her show. His favorites include The Office and Seinfeld.

Average off-season day - pre-wedding. When the NBA season ends, Humphries waits out the end of winter at his condo in South Beach. “I like Miami – the ocean, I’ve got a lot of friends there.” When it gets warm, he heads to Minnesota where he usually starts the day with an early morning workout at Lifetime Fitness in Chanhassen (he enjoys working out with former NBA players Chris Carr and Trent Tucker when possible, and also likes to mix in martial arts). Summer afternoons are usually spent at home or out on his boat, fishing with his dad or napping. Evenings are for poker. “I surround myself with pretty legitimate people.”

Mr. Fashionista. Kim’s got him trained: Humphries immediately zeroed in on the Louboutins on the cover of the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine July issue, which he flipped through at our cover shoot. We also discussed his new-found preference for wearing a suit without a belt. “It’s much sexier.” For that perfectly exquisite slim fit, Humphries orders custom suits by Scott Hill Bespoke Designs in Los Angeles. “I’ve definitely had more reasons to wear suits lately,” he said. “That’s what happens when you’re engaged to a fashion icon.”

Free agent = Timberwolves? “There’s more to the sport than, ‘I’m from Minnesota; I want to play there.’ The best fit isn’t always where you’re from. You really have to look at the team – situation and fit. It’s a business.”

St. Cloud. Really? Visiting one of his Five Guys franchises isn’t the only reason Humphries brought Kim to St. Cloud, about an hour outside of the Twin Cities. His grandparents live there. He often stops by, with burgers.

Hometown pride. No matter where he lives or who he plays for, Humphries said he’ll always root for the Vikings and Twins.

Before heading to California for her little brother’s wedding (News flash: there was a WEDDING over the weekend!), Kaela Humphries went shopping at her favorite Twin Cities boutique: Covered in Uptown.

It’s good to have friends in retail when you’re keeping up with the Kardashians. Humphries’ bestie Bridget works at Covered, and has helped her plan outfits for the many events (and plane rides) she’s attended since her brother, NBA player Kris Humphries, started courting Kim Kardashian. Kaela Humphries’ other essential shopping resource: Nordstrom, where she used to work. Sondra at Nordstrom Mall of America is the go-to personal shopper for Humphries and her mom.

“I don’t need to stand out; I just want to be appropriate,” says Humphries, a successful medical sales rep who also models (yep, that’s her pic hanging in Kohl’s stores and on

Humphries has mastered the art of switching up her accessories. “Covered has a lot of vintage jewelry and belts – I’ve worn the same dress 100 times and changed the belt, the purse.”

And the lip. “I used to just do a nude lip or lipgloss. But when you’re recycling outfits and trying to get different looks – for five or six events in one day . . . I threw on a red lip.” Her new fave: Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain.

As for her bridesmaid dress, well, she’s sworn to secrecy until the E! wedding special airs in October. She did tell me that among the many celebrity guests at the wedding, two that she most enjoyed meeting were from the fashion world: clothing designer Rachel Roy and the designer of Kardashian’s engagement ring, Lorraine Schwartz. But mostly, Humphries says she was “surrounded by friends and family and caught up in the moment.”

She flew the red-eye back to Minneapolis, arriving just in time to go to work Monday, so Humphries has yet to see this week’s Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s episode, in which her brother goes on vaca to Bora Bora with Kim’s family. “My parents have them TiVo’ed, so I’ll probably sit down and watch a bunch at some point.”

After all, this is the brother she “did everything with” growing up, including swimming and playing basketball. “He used to be introverted,” Humphries says of Kris. “He’s kind of funny these days.”

Welcome to MN, Ellen. Let’s Shop.

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Hi, Ellen! Welcome to the Twin Cities – hope you’re enjoying this rare low-humidity day. I see you’ve been getting around: Target Field, Nicollet Mall, (good job doing the weather this morning, by the way – you’re a natural). Now, if you really want to get the pulse of the cities, you’ve got to hit the stores. I’ve gone ahead and prepared a list of must-hit shops. Just let me know what time to pick ‘ya up!

Ingebretsen’s – You’re in Scandinavian country, dontcha know. From needlepoint to sardines, this local institution will give you a quick overview of all the essentials…and a lot of good material. 1601 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-729-9333

Phenom – I know you like your kicks. While guys are the focus, you will find some cool, limited edition sneakers at this Uptown shop. 2829 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls., 612-355-2250

Electric Fetus – G-g-get your grove on. This old-school music store is legendary, with more than 65,000 titles in stock. 2000 4th Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-9300

Lulu & Luigi – Animals are near and dear to you; how do you feel about rhinestone dog collars and tulle tutus? This pet boutique has it all – including chic, airplane-approved pet carriers and organic treats. 3699 Joppa Ave., St. Louis Park, 952-929-1200

Smitten Kitten Nope, not another pet store. This one is all for you and Portia. To call it a sex shop doesn’t do justice to the sleek setting and high-end selection of eco-friendly, non-toxic adult toys. The staff is extremely knowledgeable, tasteful and unlike most stores selling similar items, the focus here is on women. Plus, you could totally rock a purple feather boa. 3010 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-721-6088

Keeping up with Kardashian

Monday, July 4th, 2011

No, Kim Kardashian’s booty is not just exaggerated on TV. And yes, Kris Humphries is really that tall (and handsome) – that’s him with me and my Shop Girls co-host Alexis Walsko. My favorite moment of the big Kardashian/Humphries party at Seven Sushi Skybar on Saturday night came at the very – very –  end: 2 a.m., in the valet line, Ray Edwards of the Vikings taking his time getting situated in his Hummer when my ‘03 Santa Fe pulls up…and I have to take out a car seat and brush off the goldfish crackers to make room for the friends I was driving home. It’s a glamorous life!

Up Six Outfits 30Rock

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Up Six Vintage in St. Paul outfitted Elizabeth Banks’ Avery character for a scene on last night’s 30Rock – and she looked perfectly ridiculous. “The dress was so outrageous,” Up Six owner Megan McGuire says. “I had it in the store for a while and it didn’t sell.” Even at $20. McGuire posted the shoulder padded salmon/green/black color blocked ’80s dress on with a “Working Girl inspired” description, and there, it caught the eye of a 30Rock stylist. McGuire didn’t know if it would actually be on until she spotted it last night: The current plot line has Avery kidnapped by North Korea. She delivered a newscast in the frumpy dress. “It was either a commentary on how people are oppressed in North Korea and have no sense of high fashion, or an ode to anchor women at the super peak of the ’80s.” Either way, McGuire has a dress or two she’d like to put on Tina Fey for the next Liz Lemon flashback.

In the mean time, she’ll settle for an Alexis Bittar ad. The jewelry designer’s team recently purchased a gold and pink brocade ’60s dress from Up Six on for a photo shoot. It was $70. “They offered to trade jewelry, but it happened so fast,” McGuire says. Bittar’s semi-precious necklaces typically sell for $200 and up at better department stores and boutiques. “In hindsight, I should have taken the jewelry.”

Darling Niki

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Just met up with supermodel and “Celebrity Apprentice” cast member Niki Taylor on the plaza outside Minneapolis City Hall. She arrived via RV to deliver a $1,000 check from Reader’s Digest – the 73 stop on her 100 city “We Hear You America” tour to help out various civic projects- in this case, free city-wide WiFi. We managed to cover quite a lot of ground in just a few minutes (video coming soon). Until then, four fun facts about Niki:

1.  She is totally inked. I kid you not – tatoos all over her body – ankles, hands, and even a full sleeve on her right forearm that she’s currently in the process of having removed (“Sooo painful,” she says of the laser removal treatment). “What were you thinking when you got that?” I asked. “Exactly,” she said.

2.  She relies on a professional hair/makeup team in each city she visits, but dresses herself. And that’s why the sheer black nylons she was wearing had a big snag on her foot. Unable to cover it up, she pointed it out when she took off her Proenza Schouler pump to show me what brand she was wearing (cream blouse by Equipment; black pencil skirt by J.Crew).

3. She loves Star Jones. “I texted her just two days ago,” she say, and had nothing but nice things to say about her, even when pushed. Most she’ll offer when asked about her on “Celebrity Apprentice” is “that’s just for TV.”

4. She really respects Donald Trump, and said was too awed by his business acumen to even notice his hair. If he runs for president, Niki says, “He has my vote.”

Christopher Straub for Maurices

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Minnesota’s favorite Project Runway alum Christopher Straub is working on product design for maurices, the Duluth-based, self-described “small town” chain that outfits young women, sizes 1 to 24. Straub is kicking off his collaboration by judging maurices’ Main Street Model Search. The retailer is looking for a dozen girls nationwide to be photographed for an ad campaign in their hometowns. “Maurices contacted me because we share the same home town philosophy,” says Straub, a Shakopee resident.

Can’t wait? Get a fix April 23 at the Sol Inspirations Eco Fashion Gala. Christopher and fellow “Project Runway” contestant Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman are among the local designers creating looks out of non-traditional, recycled and sustainable fabrics. “Project Runway” Season 7 winner Seth Aaron Henderson will headline the event at The Depot. More information here.

Catching Up with Evan Lysacek

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Bumped into my shopping buddy, Olympic gold medalist and Dancing with the Stars finalist Evan Lysacek at Kare11 Today. It was Evan, me and an armadillo on the show (click here for my designer discount shopping segment). Evan was in town to promote the 2011 Smuckers Stars on Ice tour, which will bring him to the Xcel Energy Center March 13. A couple of years ago when he was in town for the same tour, we hit Len Druskin Man, where I didn’t exactly have to twist Evan’s arm to get him to model skinny jeans. So of course I took note of his outfit in the green room: polar fleece (that he swapped after the TV shoot for a puffy black jacket with gold stripes down the sleeves), shirt, tie, slim black pants and old-school Woolrich lace-up boots. “I tried wearing dress shoes,” he told me, “But I kept slipping.” If the champion figure skater can’t walk our streets, where does that leave the rest of us?

Between the DWTS tour and skating tours, it’s been non-stop travel for Lysacek. Within a year, he says, he’ll have to make a decision about whether or not to compete in the 2014 Olympics. All I know is, when he returns to the Twin Cities in March, he promised I could come backstage to see his skating costumes!

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