The first thing the people of Millinocket would like you to know about the so-called “Millinocket wedding”—a coronavirus superspreader event in rural Maine last August—was that it didn’t even happen in Millinocket. Part of it happened in East Millinocket, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of around 1,700 that calls itself “The Town That Paper Made,” and part of it happened at the now equally infamous Big Moose Inn Cabins & Campground, more than 20 minutes away, on the shores of Lake Millinocket and Ambajejus Lake, at the edge of the Katahdin wilderness. Millinocket itself is just about smack in between the two, but a good 10 minutes or so away from each.
“Most people in Millinocket had absolutely nothing to do with that wedding,” a longtime local business owner told me with a heavy sigh. “The bride got married in her father’s church in East Millinocket, and it was just beyond stupid and foolish for them to have a wedding. Most everybody here thinks that. They endangered a bunch of people.”
According to a later report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the August 7 wedding in the Millinocket region was ultimately linked to the infection of 177 people. Seven of them died, none of whom actually attended the event itself. Up until that point, Maine had weathered the pandemic remarkably well, with among the lowest COVID-19 transmission rates in the country. That had held true even through July’s tourist season, to the state’s great relief. Maine is the oldest state demographically in the country, with a population that’s highly vulnerable to the coronavirus, but its economy depends on money from tourism. All summer, there had been a collective unease among locals—not knowing whether to be more afraid that people would come, or that they wouldn’t. By late August, seemingly everybody here knew about the Millinocket wedding, and everything had changed.
The ceremony was held at the Tri Town Baptist Church, which the bride’s parents had helped found over two decades earlier. It’s a simple, sweet white structure at the north end of Main Street near a Family Dollar, which appears to be downtown’s biggest active commercial enterprise. The church was originally started by a pastor named Todd Bell, who’d arrived in the mill town in 1996, having been called to spread the gospel to the northern reaches. The bride’s parents joined his church at the beginning, back when meetings were held in the NAPA Auto Parts store.
Not very much is known about the wedding itself, because nobody who went to it has talked to the media. All members of the bride’s family, including the bride herself, declined interview requests, and most have set their social media to private.
But one of the three bridesmaids maintains Twitter and Instagram feeds that have alternated between public and private: Cherith Bell, Pastor Bell’s daughter. In June, she posted pictures from the bridal shower in East Millinocket, noting that she and the bride, #BestFriends22YearsAndCounting, were celebrating in the same little town where their mothers had had a joint baby shower for them some 22 years earlier. Cherith also posted pictures of the bridal party prior to the wedding ceremony—they’re in matching T-shirts, and they’re all smiles. In one picture, they’ve lifted the bride up and onto Cherith’s back—her mouth is open, mid-laugh. Cherith captioned the series “the one where we got her married” with sparkle emojis.
The bride and groom and five members of the groom’s family had flown in from California the day before the wedding, on Thursday, August 6. Per the executive order issued by Maine’s governor, all seven of them received negative test results for coronavirus shortly after they arrived and did not need to quarantine, according to the CDC report. Todd Bell was the officiant, and he arrived on August 6 as well, flying up from Sanford, in southern Maine, in one of the private planes he had acquired in partnership with the church for his “Wings With the Word” aviation ministry. Two days earlier, on August 4, Bell had spoken at a meeting hosted by the New England Baptist Fellowship in Rhode Island, a state that, at the time, had a COVID-19 case rate far higher than Maine’s. Given the length of time between events, he could not have quarantined when he returned, and it’s not known whether he took a test (Bell has stopped speaking to the media), but his later behavior suggests it’s unlikely.
After the wedding ceremony, a party of 55 headed to dinner at the Big Moose Inn. To get there from East Millinocket, you drive northwest out of town on Route 157, past the Katahdin Regional Industrial Park, a Maine Forest Service ranger station, and S&S Weapons, an indoor gun range that replaced a local topless bar in 2018. For much of the drive, there’s nothing but trees. By the time you get to Big Moose, you feel like you’re on the edge of the wilderness, because you are. The North Woods Trading Post next door to Big Moose has the last gas and Wi-Fi service for hundreds of miles.
Big Moose has been in owner Laurie Cormier’s family since 1976. Its on-site restaurant, Fredericka’s, is named for her mother. Cormier declined an interview request, as she has done with all media since the wedding, but she did release a lengthy statement in late August: “Our hearts go out to the family, those affected by the virus who were at the wedding, and those who have been impacted since then. There is no doubt that this virus is dangerous with wide-ranging impacts,” Cormier wrote. She detailed the safety measures the inn had taken and why the staff was confused by some of the state guidelines, adding, “We have given the Maine CDC our word, and we are giving our community and guests that same word that we will do—and are doing—better.” The inn’s lawyer, Paul Brown, said that prior to the wedding, the inn worked closely with the mother of the bride, designing a seating arrangement that would both please the wedding party and comply with state mandates. Guests were seated at tables six feet apart. There were signs up reminding people to wear masks and practice social distancing, and Big Moose staff members conducted temperature checks on everyone at the entrance. None were abnormal.
But within a week, it was clear that there had been an uninvited guest at the wedding. The first person to test positive for COVID-19 was a Maine resident and wedding guest who had a fever and cough the day after the event and tested positive on the 13th, six days after the ceremony, according to the CDC report. By the 20th, 30 people who had attended, worked, or otherwise been present at the wedding venue were positive for the virus—roughly half the attendees.
Maine’s CDC director, Nirav Shah, MD, later said at a press conference that the effect of the wedding was like opening a “giant tube of glitter” over the state. The virus ended up all over the place. Three days after the wedding, a guest who worked at an area school system went to an in-person school meeting even though that guest had started to cough; two school staff members subsequently tested positive within days, forcing all the area’s schools to delay their reopening by two weeks. Another spent the weekend after the wedding at home, infecting a parent, who infected another child, who was an employee at Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center, a long-term care facility 100 miles southwest, in Madison. Ultimately, 40 people were infected there: 15 staff members and 25 residents. And another wedding guest experienced symptoms roughly a week later, but still reported to work from August 15 to 19 for daily eight-hour shifts at two separate correctional-facility housing units at the York County Jail, approximately 200 miles south, where 82 people became infected, including 48 inmates. “You open up glitter in Millinocket, and next thing you know you are finding traces of it at a jail complex in York County,” Shah said in late August. “It’s just emblematic of how quickly, silently, and efficiently [the virus] can spread.”
Big Moose Inn was issued an “imminent health hazard” citation, and briefly lost its license after a follow-up inspection discovered that the inn wasn’t following COVID-19 regulations—tables weren’t spaced six feet apart at the time of the inspection. They also hadn’t kept a list of everyone in attendance at the wedding; the inn’s lawyer told me that they hadn’t realized they needed to as long as they had contact information for the organizer. “The Inn and the mother of the bride had a good working relationship right up until the outbreak, so it was assumed that the family would be forthcoming with this information if needed,” Brown said in an email. “Unfortunately, as the outbreak grew and press attention began to focus on the wedding and its related events, the family refused to provide a copy of the guest list to either the Inn or apparently to the Maine CDC.”
As for the overall numbers, Brown says, Big Moose had believed it was compliant since the group was split into two separate rooms. And, he adds, “simply keeping the number of people at an event under 50 does not mean COVID-19 will not be present or spread; this can only be done by people actively taking personal precautions such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.” Further, Brown wanted to remind people that “the post-wedding dinner was just one of three events that day,” and that “the attendees of the wedding and the dinner made the personal decision to not keep their masks on or to practice social distancing. The Big Moose Inn had no control over these decisions.”
The CDC worked backward on its investigations—contacting people who’d gotten positive results to figure out if they’d been to the wedding or had had contact with someone who’d been there. The report noted that a list of reception attendees was not available, and some infected people may have been missed. Therefore, the infection rate was a conservative estimate. “It’s a cautionary tale,” Parag Mahale, the primary author of the CDC report, told me. “It’s an opportunistic virus, and when people come together, actions in one community can have a ripple effect throughout the state.”
The first death occurred on August 21, exactly two weeks after the wedding. Theresa Dentremont was 88 years old and had spent most of the pandemic holed up over 20 miles away in a cabin with her 97-year-old husband, Frank. Her death was followed by six others, all at the Maplecrest facility. Not all of their names have been released publicly, but we know a couple of them: Mary Hughgill was 82 and loved snowmobiling. Helen Lynch was 86 and living with Alzheimer’s. None of the seven who died had actually attended any part of the wedding.
On September 1, with numbers rising in multiple counties as a result of the wedding held at the Tri Town church, Cherith Bell tweeted, “I’ve gotta say that even after a crazy week like this, the worst thing to happen to me is that I almost stepped on a snake yesterday while golfing.” As for the bride and groom, they had returned to California. On September 5, they walked onstage, along with around 120 unmasked graduates of West Coast Baptist College, in an indoor ceremony, where the speaker intoned that “we’re living in perilous times.” (The officiants made it clear the graduates were only allowed to remove their masks to receive their diplomas; they were repeatedly reminded to maintain social distance and wear masks otherwise.) “These young people are well aware that they’re going out to a battle,” the speaker said. “They’re going out to a warfare against the devil himself”—a nod to the school’s status as a pipeline to the Baptist ministry.
Todd Bell, meanwhile, appeared to continue to hold in-person services at Calvary Baptist, his home church in Sanford, despite the fact that cases were continuing to climb. He did not require attendees to wear masks, and he continued to let his choir sing without them, too. Unbelievably, on October 17, Bell participated in a second wedding—for his son in New Hampshire. Photos of the event show them lined up with five groomsmen and four bridesmaids. Everyone is maskless and grinning, except for a man off to one side: He appears to be the only person of color in the photo, and he’s dressed in a black button-down and pants, with a light blue surgical mask over his face. It looks as if he’s working a tripod.
By winter, “the Millinocket wedding” had basically become shorthand for a “coronavirus superspreader event.” Stories about COVID-19 that ran in local papers were sometimes accompanied by a photo of Big Moose, for no other reason than that everyone associated the one with the other. “The media has said that the wedding was in Millinocket, but it wasn’t,” says Dianne Perrio, who owns Steel Magnolia’s Nail & Hair, a salon in town. “I wouldn’t have had a wedding at this time, but they crucified the lady who owns the Big Moose Inn, and I just feel so bad, because it’s so hard for businesses right now. I can’t even imagine what the owner has gone through with all of this.”
“We became the poster child for bad behavior,” says Jim Plourde, a Millinocket native who owns a rubbish removal business and works as a part-time realtor. “I feel like [the Big Moose] has been thrown under the bus. And Millinocket was thrown under the bus.” Plourde says that in the weeks following the wedding, business in the town slowed down considerably. The tourist season in Maine is short to begin with, and in Millinocket, far from the coast and Acadia National Park, it’s even shorter. “Our time frame is tiny,” Plourde says. “Our windows are small. It kept the tourist dollars away, and when that happens, we all feel it. I don’t think it’ll necessarily be a lasting effect on the town, but I think the Big Moose will probably pay a price for a long time.”
In mid-November, just a few days after the CDC published its official report, a trial attorney announced he was representing the family of Mary Hughgill (the snowmobiler) and several other families who lost loved ones. He is also launching an investigation into a possible negligence suit against the Big Moose Inn.
I visited Big Moose one morning in mid-November. It was already shut down for the season, but there was a groundskeeper cleaning up leaves with a leaf blower. While we were talking, a car pulled in carrying a young woman, who was wearing a white face mask and a hooded sweatshirt that said, “Oh deer, I’m pregnant!” with little deer antlers attached to the hood. She didn’t want to give her name, but she said that she’d worked for Big Moose for seven years and had found out she was pregnant with her first child on August 1, six days before the now-infamous wedding. She said she’d spent months fielding phone calls and messages to the inn, many of them death threats, sometimes up to 20 a day. She looked exhausted; she said she was mad. “We were just bombarded, on all of our social media,” she told me. “Calls, calling me a murderer. But it wasn’t us, it was the wedding party. The only time that day that they wore masks was when they came here, because we required it. But they came here to eat! Now our name is tied to it forever, because we were straightforward and open and cooperated from the beginning.”
At the beginning of the season, the woman says, “everybody was worried. But what are you going to do? There wasn’t any [economic] help, so we had to open. And all of us workers, we had to work, because if we didn’t, we didn’t get unemployment anymore.”
Timothy Kenlan, the attorney representing the family of Mary Hughgill, says his firm is looking into possibly filing suits against other entities as well, including Maplecrest. Success, he says, “would look like saving any life that we can. Even if we don’t recover damages, if we can save one life by getting businesses to enforce precautions…. We’re really just trying to send a message to folks.”
A few weeks later, on the first Sunday in December, Todd Bell opened his morning services at Calvary Baptist by announcing that people from all over the country would begin arriving that night for the church’s annual Pastor Refresher Conference. He encouraged parishioners, and those watching at home via livestream, to come, too. “You come if you feel like God wants you to be here,” he said. “And I believe the Lord will be pleased by that.
“I’ve prayed about this, and I’m not about to retract anything that I’ve said,” Bell continued. “And you know why? Because there’s more mask wearing than there ever has been in our country, and there’s more spread than there ever has been in our country. We’re trying to control something that only God can control.” He then appealed for offerings to help fund the conference. Hosting it would cost $10,000, he said. They were planning to serve fresh Maine lobster and 80 pounds of prime rib.
Lorraine Schwartz is Giving Back in Diamonds
March marks the beginning of spring, so new spring fashion is just around the corner (even if it’s not quite time to put away your winter coat yet). We’re rounding up the hottest drops of the month, and this week brings an initiative to help BIPOC jewelry designers, spearheaded by jewelry legend Lorraine Schwartz.
Come back for more as we continue to update our gallery with the latest fashion news and launches that you do not want to miss.
Lorraine Schwartz Announces BIPOC Jewelry Designer Initiative
Who: Lorraine Schwartz
What: Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative with the Natural Diamond Council
Why: Lorraine Schwartz is initiating a one-of-a-kind program with the Natural Diamond Council with $1 million dollars of diamond credit dedicated to supporting emerging Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) jewelry designers. Young designers have an especially hard time accessing diamonds with limited resources, and Schwartz wants to provide these designers with the contacts and finances needed to get their brands off the ground. The program, announced in January, will offer mentorship and $20,000 credit to each designer and stand as a guarantor with the diamond supplier. A well-appointed selection committee including Lorraine Schwartz, NDC CEO David Kellie, Nicole Chapoteau of Vanity Fair, and celebrity stylist and designer Jason Rembert will review and approve designer applications until the $1 million diamond credit runs out. Honorary advisors Pharrell, Kelly Rowland, and Tina Knowles will also lend their expert opinions at various stages of the program. The committee has just announced the first six designers participating in the program: Constance Polamalu of Birthright Foundry, Dorian Webb of Dorian Webb, Lisette Scott of Jam + Rico, Malyia McNaughton of Made by Malyia, Marvin Linares of Marvin Douglas Jewelry, and Jameel Mohammed of KHIRY (all pictured here). The goal is to start endorsing, financially and creatively, more diverse viewpoints and allowing voices previously unable to break through in the industry the space to flourish.
Loro Piana Debuts The Sesia Bag
Who: Loro Piana
What: The Sesia Bag
Where: Available online and in Loro Piana boutiques
Why: Italian luxury brand Loro Piana, known for their unmatched cashmere and wool, is introducing their newest handbag shape for 2021, the Sesia bag. Named for the river that flows through the heart of the northern Italian valley where Loro Piana is based, the Sesia bag is made in harmony with nature. Its minimalist lines are complemented by leather in colors native to the region.
BVLGARI Introduces Serpenti Through The Eyes Of Mary Katrantzou
What: Collaboration with Mary Katrantzou
Where: Available for pre-order in selected Bvlgari boutiques worldwide and on Bulgari.com from April 15. Online pre-orders will start from March 21st.
Why: Bvlgari has allowed another designer to reimagine the iconic Bvlgari Serpenti and infuse their personal style and taste into the original design. British-born Greek designer Mary Katrantzou, known for her intricate and colorful designs, reworked on the Serpenti Metamorphosis bag, the Serpenti Metamorphosis Handle bag and the Serpenti Metamorphosis minaudière. Katrantzou emphasizes the relationship between the butterfly and snake with her playful patterns. Pictured here on fashion icon Natalia Vodianova, the Serpenti Metamorphosis Handle bag is reimagined in sublime Nappa leather in a variety of new colors.
Altuzarra Introduces Re-Crafted
What: Re-Crafted upcycled collection
Where: Available at altuzarra.com
Why: The push towards sustainable and circular fashion production is something more and more designers are taking seriously. Hopefully for most, it’s not a trend but rather a commitment to eco-friendly fashion. Altuzarra is beginning that journey with a line called Re-Crafted, a capsule of limited skirts, tops, and bags made with archival fabrics. Using leftover textiles from previous collections, Altuzarra created chunky and colorful knits, available now and starting at $395 on Altuzarra.com.
Loewe Launches Elephant Bag in Shuka Fabric
What: Elephant handbag capsule, in partnership with Knot On My Planet
Where: Available exclusively online at Loewe.com and Mytheresa.com
Why: Loewe continues their commitment to local craft and environmental justice as their collaboration with wildlife campaign Knot On My Planet enters its third year. This year, the Elephant bag is crafted in traditional Shuka shawl colors, a fabric used by the Samburu people of Kenya to symbolize the red of the cattle’s blood, the blue of the sky, and the white of the cow’s milk. The tassle strap is hand-woven by a skilled team of artisan women on the Samburu Trust. 100% of the proceeds from the limited run of handbags goes directly to the Elephant Crisis Fund, an initiative that directly works with conservationists in order to preserve the fragile future of the African elephant.
Uniqlo Launches +J SS21 Collection
What: Spring Summer 2021 Collaboration with Jil Sander
Where: Available in Uniqlo stores and on Uniqlo.com
Why: Since 2009, fashion legend Jil Sander has been collaborating with Uniqlo, creating timeless and sophisticated pieces at a price amenable for every customer. This spring, Jil focused on easy, breathable fabrics in muted tones, ready for a “regeneration and a fresh start” after a biting winter. The collection comes in a size range XXS-XL and is available now exclusively in Uniqlo stores and on Uniqlo.com.
MAMAG/group and PHLEMUNS Collaborate on Bucket Hats
Who: MAMAG/group and PHLEMUNS
What: Bucket hat collaboration
Where: Available online at Phlemuns.com
Why: Genderless label PHLEMUNS based out of Los Angeles has teamed up with their parent company MAMAG/group, a holding company focused on representation and equitable opportunity across multiple sectors and industries.Their first product collaboration resulted in these timeless bucket hats made in cow print, coming in three unique colors and seamlessly meshing with the elevated, accessible and cool designer James Flemons has become known for at PHLEMUNS. Each hat is handmade and 20% of the proceeds from profits go back to Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, an organization focused on supporting the homeless population and specifically the residents of Skid Row.
UGG Releases Collaboration with Molly Goddard
What: Collaboration with Molly Goddard
Where: Available at UGG.com, select global UGG® stores, and retail partners including Dover Street Market, Nordstrom, SSENSE and Blake
Why: The wait is finally over! As soon as fashion industry favorite Molly Goddard debuted her collaboration with UGG on the runway of London Fashion Week last September, we’ve been drooling over the shoes she created with the Southern Californian shoe brand. Molly is known for her elegant yet playful designs, and her eye for color is unmatched. This collaboration highlights the whimsy of her vision with the platform slide in exuberant colors, a mini boot with floral pattern, and a furry slide that mimics some of Molly’s designs. Grab a pair, and fast– they definitely won’t stay on the shelves for long!
A.P.C. Debuts Interaction #9 With Sacai
What: Collaboration with Sacai
Where: In A.P.C. stores and on apc-us.com
Why: A.P.C. has initiated their 9th collaboration, or Interaction, with the Japanese brand Sacai. Designer Chitose Abe infused her signature hybridity and deconstruction of wardrobe basics with the French label known for easy, wearable pieces. Jean Touitou said of the collaboration that they “push the limits of what we might call ‘wearability’.” Denim jackets have nylon bomber jacket vents seamlessly integrated on its sides and hoodies and t-shirts are printed with the hybrid logo, SA.P.C.AI. The end result are pieces that speak to both brand’s core style and chicness.
OPPO Launches Find X3 Pro
What: New Find X3 Pro Smartphone
Where: Online at oppo.com
Why: OPPO has launched one of the most movie-ready smartphones on the market. The 4 different cameras capture 1 billion colors (yes, you read that right), making every picture and video a cinematic experience. The phone features state of the art glass wear, beautiful display, and even ringtones composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer. It’s time to reconsider the iPhone and switch to this sleek, chic option!
Dr. Marten’s Teams Up With Rick Owens
Who: Dr. Martens
What: Collaboration with Rick Owens
Where: Online at Drmartens.com or Rickowens.com
Why: It’s almost impossible to believe that Dr. Marten’s and Rick Owens have never collaborated until now, since both brands represent the irreverent grunge movement born from the early ’90s. Owens says of that time that “Dr. Martens became a symbol of a raw and sweaty vitality.” Now, almost 40 years later, Owens is dropping two releases with the shoe brand, the first of which is a redux of Dr Marten’s 1460 Bex platform boot. Owens has outfitted the boots with intricate lacing, which immediately brings to mind the visceral and complex designs that he has become notorious for. The first drop from the match made in heaven releases on Saturday, March 20.
Birkenstock Collaborates with Central Saint Martins Graduates
What: Collaboration with Central Saint Martins
Where: In select Birkenstock stores worldwide and on 1776.com
Why: Birkenstock reached out to London fashion school Central Saint Martins in 2018, inviting Fashion Theory students to discover Birkenstock’s extensive archive, and the project went so well Birkenstock has partnered with them again. In 2020, they asked MA Fashion students to reimagine classic Birkenstock styles, including the Arizona and the Milano. The students were given carte blanche and were mentored by a dozen of the industry’s premier talents in design, publishing, and business. A final four was selected to have their shoes produced; the four winners are Alex Wolfe, Dingyun Zhang (whose design is pictured here), Saskia Lenaerts, and Alecsander Rothschild. This organic collaboration between two renowned names in fashion has allowed young talent to flourish and create exciting new designs, available for purchase now.
Hermanos Koumori Launch Pre-Spring Summer Collection
Who: Hermanos Koumori
What: Pre-Spring Summer 2021 collection
Where: Online at https://hermanoskoumori.com/
Why: Mexican streetwear brand Heramons Koumori is always interested in storytelling through their clothing, and their latest collection is no exception. Inspired by a text written by Mexican novelist and short story writer, Antoni Ortuño, about a fictitious airline Aerolíneas Populares, or AeroPop. “AeroPop” inspired a line of pilot uniforms, vintage airline logos on t-shirts and hats, all produced in Mexico with fabrics sourced internationally.
Alexander McQueen Releases Skull Mask Eyewear
Who: Alexander McQueen
What: Skull Mask sunglasses
Where: Available on Alexandermcqueen.com
Why: We’re all used to covering our faces at this point, and these McQueen sunglasses allow for even more facial coverage. The XL frames are industrial chic and will keep you covered from the sun all summer long. The metal frames have a miniature skull on the temple, a signature motif of McQueen that brings the gothic edge to these sleek sunnies.
Adidas and Peleton Announce Partnership
Who: adidas and Peleton
What: Ongoing partnership and activewear collaboration
Where: Available starting March 25 on adidas.com, in select adidas retailers, apparel.onepeloton.com and in select Peloton showrooms
Why: Peleton is continuing to broaden their sense of community by collaborating with premier activewear and lifestyle brand, adidas. The partnership will kick off with a clothing line made in collaboration with Peloton instructors Robin Arzón, Ally Love and Cody Rigsby. These instructors had the opportunity to create pieces tailored to Peleton’s at home workouts, both on and off the bike, as well as relaxed loungewear for rest days. The collection is vibrant, wearable, and size inclusive, running from XS-2X. Prices range from $30-85 and the line will be available on March 25.
Hinge Collaborates for Virtual Date Night Kit
What: Virtual Date Night Kit collaboration with Uncommon Goods
Where: Online at uncommongoods.com
Why: If you’re struggling to come up with a cute way to virtually meet your online crush, this is the solution for you. Hinge has partnered with Uncommon Goods to enhance your first date with your Hinge match, albeit a virtual one. Purchase a Date Night Kit for $30, and Uncommon Goods will give you a code to send to your date for them to purchase one at no cost. The kit includes one of three mixing kits for cocktails and a selection of prompts from Hinge to break the ice.
Merlette Debuts Handbags
What: Line of handbags
Where: Online at https://merlettenyc.com/
Why: New York based brand Merlette, known for their easy day dresses, ventures into the world of accessories with their first line of handbags. The 3 styles are made with sustainable, traceable fabrics and complement the relaxed comfort of the brand’s ready to wear offerings. The Asha Tote pictured utilizes Indian hand-stitching practices and requires over 90 hours of handwork. Prices range from $460-560.
Isabel Marant Debuts Spring Eyewear
Who: Isabel Marant
What: Spring Summer 2021 Eyewear
Where: Online at Isabelmarant.com
Why: Isabel Marant is synonymous with effortless Parisian chic, and the brand’s Spring-Summer 2021 eyewear offering delivers on that premise. The launch includes geometric and oversized shapes, which mix seamlessly with the ease of the Isabel Marant wardrobe. The Spring campaign was shot by Juergen Teller and features Isabel regular Rebecca Leigh Longendyke.
Jacquie Aiche Participates in Make March Matter
Who: Jacquie Aiche
What: Make March Matter fundraising
Where: Online at jacquieaiche.com
Why: LA-based jewelry brand Jacquie Aiche is using the month of March to fundraise for the annual campaign Make March Matter. This campaign is focused on raising funds for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and both businesses and the community of LA rally around this fundraiser every year. Jacquie Aiche will be donating 20% of all proceeds from this line to Make March Matter, which includes best-selling items worn by Rihanna and Gigi Hadid, for the entire month of March.
Reformation Releases Jean’s Genes
What: Sustainable jeans collection
Where: Online at thereformation.com
Why: Reformation is seeking to increase the transparency in their clothing production from start to finish, and the latest offering of denim includes FibreTrace technology which engrains scannable, luminescent pigments into the fabric. When scanned, customers are able to view where the textiles came from that compose the jeans they’re wearing. Find out where the cotton was responsibly farmed and culled, to where the jeans were produced, and finally how they ended up on your legs. The range includes 6 styles, including some Reformation favorites, and range from $78-148.
Forevermark Launches Avaanti Collection
What: Avaanti Collection
Where: Online at Forevermark.com
Why: The De Beers Group brand Forevermark has released their newest collection, Avaanti. Avaanti translates to “forward” from Italian, and the new collection symbolizes a kinetic energy brought to life by brilliant 18K gold and conflict-free diamonds. The collection includes bracelets, pendants, necklaces, and rings, all characterized by a swooping circular pendant, signaling perpetuity in motion.
Loewe Launches Surplus Accessories
What: Surplus Woven tote and Crab Charms
Where: Online at LOEWE.com
Why: It’s no secret that Loewe handbags are some of the most luxurious and well-crafted leather goods in the business. Jonathan Anderson’s craftsman touch can be seen in the Surplus Woven tote bags, made from scraps of grained and smooth leather from previous seasons, tightening the production circle and maximizing the use of raw materials. The result is a timelessly gorgeous piece of art that’s practical and durable.
Dolce & Gabbana Announce Collaboration with DJ Khaled
Who: Dolce & Gabbana
What: Collaboration with DJ Khaled
Where: Online and in select D&G boutiques worldwide on March 15
Why: The duo behind Dolce and Gabbana are no strangers to the music scene, having collaborated with some of the biggest names in music. The latest talent on their roster? DJ Khaled, world famous producer and DJ. He brings his signature flair and casual style to the collaboration, which is bright, flowy, and size inclusive. The capsule drops on March 15th, online and in select boutiques.
Kassl Editions Presents Dog Bags
Who: Kassl Editions
What: Dog Tote Bags
Where: Online at kassleditions.com
Why: From the brand making the perfect oversized tote comes an even bigger tote than before—this time, for your pet. Kassl Editions was founded in 2018 to make the perfect fisherman’s trench coat, and their style has become synonymous with quality and European ease. The newest rendition of their hit Oil Tote bag comes in two sizes to accommodate any pooch, in 4 stunning shades.
Miu Miu Famous Cats
Who: Miu Miu
What: Famous Cats T-shirt Collection
Where: In select Miu Miu boutiques and on Miumiu.com
Why: Miu Miu released an exclusive line of five new t-shirts featuring some of film’s favorite felines. Didn’t think that The Godfather or Alien could be cute? Think again. Each tee features a printed still from the film, alongside a text blurb explaining just why these kitties are so iconic. Retailing for $655, sizes XS-L. Meow!
Marc Jacobs Hosts Open Book Conversations
Who: Marc Jacobs
What: Open Book Conversations
Where: On Marc Jacobs Instagram Live @marcjacobs
Why: To honor Women’s History Month, Marc Jacobs has invited some of his closest friends in the fashion industry along with new faces and talents to talk about the industry as a whole through the lenses of race, innovation, and giving back. The talks will kick off on Tuesday, March 9, with a discussion with Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell, two dear friends of Jacobs’. Their discussion will also be a live fundraiser for Every Mother Counts.
Dior Launches Her Dior Book
What: Her Dior book
Where: Available on Dior.com
Why: In celebration of creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s tenure, Dior is releasing a special book in conjunction with International Women’s Day. The cover features the shirt Chiuri designed for her first collection, which became an instant hit and manifesto for her career at the French fashion house. Inside are works from 33 female photographers who have collaborated with Dior, honoring their work and uniquely female perspective.
Bloomingdale’s Launches Stella McCartney Pop-up “Stellabration”
Who: Bloomingdale’s & Stella McCartney
What: “Stellabration”, The Carousel Pop-Up
Where: Online at bloomingdales.com, select stores (NY & CA)
Why: In its latest Carousel Pop-Up, Bloomingdale’s invites a taste of spring with “Stellabration”. Shoppers will browse a curated assortment of brands & products chosen by Stella herself – from her own SS21 collection and beauty must-haves to home goods and snacks. Better yet, all of “Stellabration” supports and uplifts Stella’s eco-conscious ethos & leadership in sustainability efforts. Just in time for Earth Month! Stocked among giant video walls displaying exclusive Stella McCartney animation & illustrations by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, in-person shoppers will be fully immersed in a Stella-approved world. Stop into the store or shop the site, now through May 17th.
Brown University Announces Brown Fashion Week
Who: Brown University
What: Brown Fashion Week
Where: Online at www.fashionatbrown.com
Why: Brown University has announced an exciting two week long “Fashion Week.” The student organization [email protected] has expanded greatly upon last season’s fashion week and is offering over a dozen exciting talks and panels over the course of the two weeks, with speakers such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Emma Chamberlain. The two week long program culminates in The Brown University 11th Annual Runway Show on Friday, March 26 at 7:00 pm ET, presented virtually for the first time. The show will include the collections of twenty-six student designers from both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. The show must go on, and Brown has used the new virtual normal as a means to engage students in discussions and allow more eyes to come to these emerging student designers.
Nordstrom Introduces Second Goodfair Drop
What: Collaboration with Goodfair
Where: Shop at Nordstrom.com
Why: Expanding upon their Sustainable Style offerings, Nordstrom is partnering with Goodfair to bring the thrill of thrifting to your online cart. Goodfair is a one-of-a-kind digital thrift store, lightening the burden of shopping vintage by curating the best of their finds and creating an in-house sizing system to ensure everything fits perfectly the first time. Monthly drops feature exclusive vintage finds ranging from $40-$80.
Cuyana Releases Double Loop Bag
What: Double Loop Bag and Mini Double Loop Bag
Where: Online at cuyana.com
Why: San Francisco based brand Cuyana has been devoted to high quality and sustainable leather goods since its inception ten years ago, and the latest offering is an expansion on their best-selling Oversized Double Loop Bag. The Crossbody allows hands-free, travel-friendly carrying of just the essentials. Don’t miss the opportunity to sign up for the Mini Double Loop, a smaller version, which is available for pre-order now before its launch in May.
Neous Unveils New Handbag Shapes
What: The Venus and Mercury Handbags
Where: on Neous.co.uk, Net-a-Porter, and Matchesfashion
Why: The increasingly popular British handbag brand Neous is releasing two handbags today inspired by British artist Barbara Hepworth. The Venus and the Mercury (pictured on this adorable llama) draw on the geometric and spatial works of Hepworth, bringing the infinity of the circle to life in both symmetrical, art-like handbags.
Canada Goose Announces Partnership with NBA and Collaboration with RHUDE
Who: Canada Goose
What: Partnership with NBA and Product Collaboration with RHUDE
Where: In select Canada Goose retail stores and online
Why: Hypebeasts and hypebaes, unite. Canada Goose is initiating a partnership with the NBA, releasing a collaboration with a new designer each year. The first of lot is with Los Angeles-based brand RHUDE, dropping on March 7th. Four unisex outerwear pieces will be available right before Sunday night’s NBA game, including this bright traffic cone orange puffer vest. Be sure to grab one before they’re all gone.
Gucci Announces Collaboration With Tommey Walker’s Label DETROIT VS. EVERYBODY
What: Collaboration with Tommey Walker and his label DETROIT VS. EVERYBODY
Where: 11 US cities picked as Changemakers cities by Gucci, and on Gucci.com
Why: Gucci is furthering its commitment to its social impact initiative, Gucci Changemakers, by collaborating with Detroit native Tommey Walker and his brand DETROIT VS. EVERYBODY on a series of eleven t-shirts highlighting Gucci’s eleven Changemaker cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C). Gucci tapped Walker and his brand because the ingenuity and sincerity of his brand caught their eye and matched perfectly with the brand’s reinvigorated commitment to community-based change.
This is the first fashion-based program that the Changemakers program is releasing, and a portion of the profits from the shirts will be donated to the 2020 and recently announced 2021 Gucci Changemakers North America Impact Fund winners. The winners are organizations striving towards social and racial equity, focusing on building connections and opportunities within communities of color.
The shirts retail for $390 USD, available in all eleven cities and Gucci.com. A special edition shirt which says “GUCCI VS. EVERYBODY” will be available exclusively at Troy Somerset Collection Gucci in Detroit.
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Meghan Markle’s Veja Sneakers Are 30 Percent Off Right Now
It’s been a few years since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s October 2018 Australia royal tour, but one accessory to emerge from the trip has remained steadfast: the effortlessly chic Veja sneakers the Duchess of Sussex sported on a boat in Sydney.
As anyone else who’s ever waited for a restock of Veja’s core styles will know, the celebrity-loved brand still sells out of sizes three years later. This brings very good newsfor those of you who’ve long awaited an online shopping miracle. Bandier currently has a handful of Veja styles on sale for 30 percent off as part of a friends and family sale that kicks off today, March 16. The sale covers most of the luxe e-tailer’s site and savings are reflected in cart at checkout.
Aside from the French brand’s star-studded list of wearers (Katie Holmes and Reese Witherspoon also own a pair of Vejas), Veja stands out for being one of the early prioritizers of sustainability. Veja sources all of its raw materials directly, and the brand is fully transparent about every step of its production process.
Considering how Veja sneakers rarely, if ever, go on sale, now would be a very wise time to treat yourself to a pair before they inevitably sell out and are back to being full price on March 21. Meghan Markle would approve!
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Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez on Celebrating Deb Haaland, Passing COVID Relief, and Turning Pain into Policy
Courtesy Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández
When Teresa Leger Fernandez was elected to represent New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district this past November, she became part of history: For the first time, the state had elected solely women of color to its U.S. House delegation, including her mentor Deb Haaland, who’s now been confirmed as the nation’s first Native American cabinet secretary. Leger Fernandez also became the first woman, and the first Latina, to represent her district.
But for members of the 117th Congress, the 2020 election was only the beginning of what would be a critical legislative year. Just days after members were sworn into Congress, the Capitol came under attack. Shortly after, President Biden was inaugurated and Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began. Then in March, a year into the coronavirus pandemic, Leger Fernandez and her Democratic colleagues worked to pass the American Rescue Plan, Biden’s first major COVID-19 relief bill.
This Monday, just hours before Haaland was officially confirmed, Leger Fernandez went live on ELLE’s Facebook to answer 20 questions about her time in office. She was joined by A’shanti Gholar, the founder of The Brown Girls Guide to Politics, as part of a special Women’s History Month collaboration between ELLE and The BGG. Find an abridged version of the Q&A below, or watch the full video here:
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Gholar: For you, what is it like being a part of history?
Rep. Leger Fernandez: It is absolutely marvelous because we recognize that this is our future. But oftentimes I’m the only Latina in the room. I bring my perspective to the questions at hand. Sometimes it’s as simple as we’re sending a letter to Biden’s then-transition team, and I say, we haven’t mentioned tal y tal y tal, I’ll list three issues that are close to my lived experience. Those are the key things, to be able to be that voice in that room at all times.
We can’t talk about the first 100 days without talking about Jan. 6. I was thinking about everyone there, especially the women, the women of color, because it was very obvious who they really wanted to attack. What are some ways we can continue to support you and the other women in Congress after that horrible day?
You’re absolutely right, we know that white supremacy was at the core of the rioters and the insurrectionists. In my Congressional Hispanic Caucus, there have been some members who immediately after, on the flights home, were attacked for who they were [because] they were easily identified. The hard thing we all struggle with from that day is the fact that it was an attack on our democracy, on this thing we love so much. The attacks were clearly because they didn’t like what democracy was doing. Democracy was electing people of color. It was electing our first vice president woman of color. I think that the way you support us is by doing it again: fighting back, registering, voting, organizing, being active, bringing joy and energy to this effort to save our future.
We know COVID-19 has disproportionally impacted our tribal communities. You said on the House floor, “Native Americans are four times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans.” How has our government, particularly the previous administration, failed our Indigenous communities?
The failures that have led to the death and despair in Indian country are really decades and centuries in the making. We have failed to live up to our trust obligations to Native Americans. We promised, as the United States, to provide healthcare, to provide education. We have failed in that. As the chair of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples, I’m going to want us to start fully funding the [Bureau of Indian Affairs], fully funding the Bureau of Indian Education, fully funding the Indian Health Service, and then saying, we know that Native American tribes can do a better job at running these programs than we can. In the meantime, be very aware of the many ways in which our culture puts down Native Americans and be very supportive of things like Deb Haaland becoming the next Secretary of the Interior and celebrating those wins.
One of the things you talked about when you were campaigning is being a breast cancer survivor. How does that impact your approach to your work in Congress?
I had breast cancer. I’ve also had near-death experiences related to maternal health. What I have is the willingness to talk about what’s it like to almost die when you’re trying to give birth, what’s it like to have cancer and be bald and be weak and be terrified and deal with all of those insurance forms. What I have coming out of it is empathy, and it’s empathy born of experience. And it’s not just our own baldness or weakness and reliance on friends, but the fact that we don’t spend enough time addressing unique health concerns of women. I lost both my mother and my sister to lung cancer, which it turns out that non-smoker women are more likely to develop a certain kind of adenocarcinoma of the lung, but we don’t send the alarm bells out about it, so it doesn’t get diagnosed till it’s stage four and you lose those who you love.
So then the question is, what do you do with that pain? I think what’s important is that we use it to build our policies. I want to create the opportunities we each need and deserve from that place of love that comes out of trauma. You can do different things with it, and what I want to do is build empathy and build policies that are rooted in that sense of vulnerability.
Who’s another history-maker you look up to?
Dolores Huerta. “Sí, se puede!” I was listening to her being interviewed on Latino USA, and Dolores said, “Make sure you dance a lot when you’re young, so you have the energy to march a lot when you’re old.” She is 90, and she is still active and going.
If you had to quarantine with one person from the 117th Congress, who would it be?
It actually would be the Speaker [of the House Nancy Pelosi] because one, think of all the stories she has, right? She’s got stories of battles going back decades. She has a joy about her, which is really wonderful. She also clearly likes good food. So there would be good food, good stories.
What’s the most outrageous thing someone has said to you in Congress?
During the markup of the American Rescue Plan, [a colleague said] that it’s alright for immigrants to pick crops in his district, but we don’t need to make sure they’re protected during the pandemic. That to me was outrageous, the idea that we will take your labor, but we won’t give you any of our respect or any of the protections that the entire community needs.
What are you most looking forward to doing once the pandemic is over?
Dancing under the stars. Santa Fe has great music every night of the week in the summer, and I need to dance a lot so I can be marching with Dolores Huerta when I’m 90.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed. Listen to the entire conversation here.
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