There is a volcano on Faith Porter's ear. It's the color of violets, it's shaped like an Art Deco angel's wing and it's made of crystal. Porter is modeling it at the jewelry counter of Neiman-Marcus in Beverly Hills.
A sculptor of glass turned jewelry designer, she has a knack for unearthing such unusual stones as her "volcano" crystal. It has an iridescent cast that has been fired onto the glass, she explains, and it offers a variation on the classic stone with which she most often works.
"Crystals have magic," Porter believes. Exactly what she means by that is difficult to explain. It has to do with the magnetic and healing powers ancient cultures ascribed to the stone.
Among other powers, she is convinced, it lures her customers back to her on a regular basis.
"When I'm making a personal appearance in a store, customers come in wearing something of mine they own, and they say they were drawn to the store that day even though they didn't know I was there," she explains.
By accident or design, anyone who saw Porter in Neiman-Marcus recently saw her modeling some of the largest necklaces and earrings in her collection. She says costume jewelry trends have helped women accept her more flamboyant styles.
"People are willing to risk wearing bigger real jewelry since costume designers made 'big' the fashion," she says. "Women are starting to understand that they can have fantasies and fun with real jewelry," she says. "It doesn't have to be serious."
When women ask her for advice about how to choose jewelry, Porter explains: "I tell them not to think about silver or crystal or turquoise or big or small or in or out. I tell them to ask themselves whether a piece of jewelry touches their heart and whether it will enhance their lives."
She removes one volcano earring while she is talking and exchanges it for a dragon earring, which is a large, flamboyant shape of crystal.
Now she is wearing a dragon and a volcano and she says: "If people come to me looking for real jewelry and they don't find what they need, at least I know they've had a good time." Fogal Hosiery
"Putting on and taking off clothes is part of life too," Daisy Bodner reminds people when asked why women are paying $98 for a pair of Fogal stockings. Bodner is the Swiss-based company's creative director, and she recently stopped in Los Angeles to visit the newest Fogal store, on Rodeo Drive.
The store, owned by Angelenos Joan and Shelly Wills, features more than 100 styles of hosiery in more than 100 colors and textures. Despite the varieties, Bodner says, "black is the best-selling color." White is the runner-up.
For Los Angeles women, the favorite styles for spring are fishnets in pastel colors, footless tights to wear under skirts, "Tango Argentino" thigh-high stockings that stay in place without garters and a "cutout" style that amounts to pantyhose with a built-in garter belt.
While prices average about $40 for textured styles, including some with rhinestones, and can range to $200 for pure cashmere tights, there is a basic Fogal model priced at $7.50. Unlike the higher-priced varieties with their hand-applied lace waistbands and their lingerie-like panties, the basic model is sheer to the waist.
What makes women willing to pay the price, Bodner says, is the unusual way the store is stocked and serviced. All styles are available year-round, not for just one season. There is a sample pair of every style in the store available to try on in a private dressing room, and special orders can be filled from Zurich in less than a week.
For fall in Beverly Hills, Paris, London, Zurich, Milan and New York, Bodner says, the look on legs should be satin sheer hosiery in colors to match shoes, or "discreetly" textured styles, not all-over patterns.
"In a very expensive restaurant, they do not feed you more calories, they just have a different approach to feeding you," Bodner says.
"In that way, Fogal is like a fine restaurant."
The new Fogal shop is in the Rodeo Collection.