Newborn and infant photographers to the stars, Keri Meyers and Jennifer Blakeley share their tricks on effortlessly handling newborn babies (and their celebrity parents) while capturing them in stunning portraits

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Being able to capture photographs of your child’s milestones is like a parental duty, yet it’s often next to impossible. There’s the infamous photo of children hysterically crying on the Easter Bunny’s lap. There’s the attempt to get little one’s eyes open for the annual holiday card, and we can’t forget the oft-missed documentation of the first day of school because the bus came early. Luckily, there are two women who are professionals at child portraiture – literally. Keri Meyers and Jennifer Blakeley are co-owners of the esteemed newborn and child photography company, Keri & Jen.


web featureBy Ellen Gilbert

When Calvin Klein introduced “Obsession” in 1985, it was swooningly described as a “compelling, potent, powerful and intensely provocative scent.” Christian Dior’s “Poison,” which also came out that year, was no less effusively hailed as a “true magical irresistibly seductive fragrance, characterized by spectacular appeal.” Clearly, Yves St. Laurent’s “Opium,” an earlier (1977) entrant in the fragrance competition, hadn’t cornered the market on rave reviews: “rarely in the history of fragrance has a creation embodied such enchantment, mystery, magic, and exoticism,” said one reviewer.

Although they may have had the lead on overheated names and descriptions of their products, the truly “obsessed” in the world of fragrance and cosmetics was, many believe, one Josephine Esther Mentzer (1908- 2004), a.k.a. Estée Lauder, the American businesswoman who, along with her husband, Joseph Lauter (later Lauder), founded her eponymous cosmetics company in 1946.

Without a beauty business as an alibi, Estée (pronounced ‘Esty’) Lauder might well have gone to jail for aggravated assault with deadly face powder or lipstick,” writes author Joshua Kendall in America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy that Built a Nation, his examination of driven personalities who made it big (Steve Jobs, Charles Lindbergh, and Henry J. Heinz are among his subjects.) His chapter on Lauder contends that “for this cosmetics tycoon, putting makeup on women’s faces was not a chore; it was all that she ever cared about.”

For doing the only thing she cared about, Lauder racked up some impressive achievements: inducted into to the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1988, she was the only woman on Time magazine's 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century. In 2004 George W. Bush posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She hobnobbed with world leaders and counted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor among her good friends. more


By Taylor Smith

“When I look back at my life, it almost seems like 
I was destined to become an opera singer.”

Soprano Ailyn Pérez made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Micaela in Carmen. She won both the 15th Annual Plácido Domingo Award and the 2012 Richard Tucker Award, making her the only Hispanic recipient in the award’s 35-year history.

Ailyn Pérez will return to The Met stage in Spring 2016 as Musetta in Zeffirelli’s La Boheme. This summer, she will perform as Juliette in The Santa Fe Opera Festival’s production of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette. Other recent performances include Jake Heggie’s Great Scott at The Dallas Opera and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at The Houston Grand Opera. more


By Mort Zachter

Sixty years ago this month, the Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees to win their first and only World Series. Less than two years later, the Dodgers played their final game in Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles.

For Brooklyn, the loss was immeasurable. The Dodgers were a source of civic pride—a final link to a time, before 1898, when Brooklyn was an independent city. Especially when it came to baseball, Brooklyn had always been cutting-edge, as well as quirky.

In 1862, the first enclosed baseball field ever built, the Union Grounds, opened in Williamsburg. A Brooklyn writer, Henry Chadwick, invented the box score. A Brooklyn pitcher, Candy Cummings, threw the first curve. A Brooklyn player, Dickey Pierce, laid down the first bunt. A Brooklyn manager, Wilbert Robinson, was the first, and probably the only person to try catching a grapefruit dropped from an airplane. And a courageous Brooklyn player, Jackie Robinson, became the first black man to play in the major leagues in the 20th century. more


By Linda Arntzenius

He was America’s most eligible bachelor. She was an ambassador’s daughter born to privilege. Tall, slim and boyishly handsome, he swept her off her feet and into the clouds. Literally. Before long they were flying together, exploring together. They were golden and the tabloids couldn’t get enough of them. But when tragedy struck and the paparazzi became an intrusive burden on their personal lives, they fled to Europe in search of peace. It was bad timing to say the least. Europe in the 1930s was readying for war. Almost inevitably, the expert aviator was drawn into a mire from which he would never fully emerge.

Anne Morrow met Charles Lindbergh just seven months after the young aviator had landed at Le Bourget airfield near Paris at the end of his astonishing 1927 non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic. He was the most famous person on the planet, the first modern superstar, an overnight celebrity welcomed into the most exalted of circles. She was a top Smith College student visiting her parents in Mexico, where her father, Dwight Whitney Morrow, a former partner at J.P. Morgan & Co., was U.S. Ambassador. Lindbergh was on a goodwill tour. more

From Mexican food to “me time,” this flower phenom knows what he can’t live without

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Jeff Leatham’s projects are always in full bloom. When he’s not at his art-directing job at the Four Seasons Hotel in Paris or designing flower arrangements for the likes of Tina Turner or the late Alexander McQueen, he might be at a book signing, working on his fall fragrance collection, or designing the 2015 holiday windows for Bloomingdales. Yet, amidst it all, the celebrity florist took the time to share his ten favorite things with Urban Agenda NYC. more

Villoid Web 2By Taylor Smith

The day before the start of New York Fashion Week, Alexa Chung announced via Instagram that she was launching a new shopping app called Villoid.

While Chung acts as the face of the app, the CEO and creator is former lawyer Jeanette Dyhre Kvisvik. She launched the app (which was originally called SoBazzar) in her native Oslo, Norway. Within a few months, the app reached a 25 percent marketshare and was backed by Norwegian telecom company, Telenor and online company, Schibsted Media Group.

Before taking the app internationally, Kvisvik searched for a well-known face and fashion figure to add to the brand. After doggedly pursuing Chung, she landed a brief interview in New York City. Chung was convinced and the two worked out the planning on Skype.

Chung’s contribution is more than a name – she helped to shape Villoid’s tone, imagery, and user experience. Users will notice that Villoid is actually a combination of several existing shopping apps. For example, on Villoid, users can create outfits using Pinterest-like “boards.” Each item on the board can be clicked on and purchased. Users can also follow each other and major brand labels like Acne and Adidas. more

By Taylor Smith

Photos Courtesy of Holly Fowler

It was at Saint Martins that Holly began modeling and succumbed to the influence of fashion. “Everyday there would be toiles and fittings outside the painting studios,” Fowler remembers. “The school was so small! It was like an old house on Charing Cross Lane that I couldn’t help but be influenced by all of the student clothes and art around me.” more

Pet Psychic 2

By Anne Levin

It’s hard to believe Sonya Fitzpatrick ever had a problem speaking. But the woman known to Sirius XM radio listeners all over the world as The Pet Psychic, an official “animal communicator,” was born with hearing loss, and she didn’t utter a word until she was five years old.

Several decades later, the words come rushing out as Fitzpatrick tells a caller why her cat dropped dead at the tender age of three. She’s full of heart-tugging anecdotes on a youtube video that shows her communicating with a shaggy little rescue dog about how happy the dog is in her new home. more

feature webFrom a career in law enforcement to a near death experience, Tia Belle explains the path that led her to become a celebrity psychic medium

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

At age three, when other kids were playing “make believe,” Tia Belle was playing tarot cards – and it was something that was very real. Prior to becoming a respected psychic medium, television star, and owner of her New Jersey mystical shop, The Craft by Tia, Belle was a little girl with a gift that often left her searching for answers. In the middle of the night, the departed would visit her, and she was able to foresee the future. With such overwhelming insights, Belle often felt like things were out of control in her youth, but her natural tenacity allowed her to persevere. She’d spend hours reading library books trying to find others with these abilities, but of the few she found, Belle was even more exceptional because she was both a medium and a psychic.

“When I was a little girl, I’d go around knocking on doors. Italians are known to have what they call card readers, and I would want to talk to them. They’d say to me, ‘your gift is much more intense than my gift; I can’t help you.’ It often made me feel like I was alone on an island.”

Luckily, Belle starting working with an older woman that was a witch who helped her channel her powers by playing tarot. Starting when she was eleven, Belle used tarot cards as a tool during her readings. She even remembers her sixth grade teacher calling her mother to ask if Belle could go to her home after school and read her cards. In addition to tarot, Belle had another “tool” to guide her – a loving family. more

It’s day #2 of the second annual World Ballet Day, and that means live streaming of rehearsals, classes, and interviews with dancers and artistic staff of England’s Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the San Francisco Ballet, and Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet (the Australian Ballet streamed on September 30). Don’t worry if you miss the live events — they are available for viewing later. In addition to the live streaming, there are pre-recorded sequences from several other ballet troupes including American Ballet Theatre, the Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, and many more. In honor of World Ballet Day, we found the best of ballet on Instagram. more

From Pulitzer Prize winners to former Secretaries of State, some of the world’s most influential minds have also established themselves as college professors.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

There’s a key question involved in the college course selections for the upcoming semester – “Who’s the professor?” While most faculty require a quick search on the oft-used website, other names speak for themselves. Here, Princeton Magazine highlights an elite sampling of celebrity professors teaching courses this fall. more

St John Web 1Part of Urban Agenda New York City's Social Media Mixer Series: Great Authors to Follow on Twitter

By Taylor Smith

Emily St. John Mandel is the author of four novels, most recently Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award. A previous novel, The Singer’s Gun, was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystere de la Critique in France. Station Eleven has most recently been licensed as a feature film. Mandel shares her thoughts on her best-selling novel and the seed of her inspiration.

Mandel was watching an episode of Star Trek: Voyager when she was struck by the line, “Survival is insufficient,” an elegant expression of something that she believed to be true. Her award-winning novel Station Eleven is based on the premise that “no matter what the circumstances, we always long for something beyond the basics of mere survival.”

Unlike most dystopian fiction, Station Eleven begins more than a decade after an illness has ravaged society. The worst of the pandemic has passed and so with it has gone electricity, the Internet, modern medicine, and the majority of artistic expression. In spite of all this, a group of musicians form a travelling theatrical troupe, performing Shakespeare at small towns that have formed around abandoned gas stations. more

“In God we trust; everyone else, bring data.”

By Ilene Dube

These words, from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, continue to be a guiding maxim for Rachel Haot, who was New York City’s Chief Digital Officer from 2011 to 2013.

These days, as Chief Digital Officer and Deputy Secretary of Technology for New York State, Haot’s role is to develop digital products, programs and policy. Her team has re-launched the official state website,, its first overhaul in 15 years, and she is committed to making government more accessible to better serve all citizens, regardless of income, age, ability or language.  more

The Morgan Presents the first major museum exhibition of the life and writings of Ernest Hemingway

From September 25 through January 31, The Morgan Library and Museum will present Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars. This is the first major museum exhibition devoted to the work of Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), one of the most celebrated American authors of the 20th century. Organized in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, it includes multiple drafts of Hemingway’s earliest short stories, notebooks, heavily revised manuscripts and typescripts of his major novels—The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tollsmore

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Ted Allen poses with Absolut Vodka at CHOPPED! Best Bloody Mary Brunch Perfected By ABSOLUT during the New York City Wine & Food Festival at New York Hilton Grand Ballroom on October 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

Get ready to eat, drink, and end hunger at the NYC Food and Wine Festival starting October 15

The Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival has announced its 2015 events to eat, drink, and end hunger. From October 15 – 18, 100% of the net proceeds from more than 100 events taking place throughout NYC will benefit the Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry®. To date, the Festival has raised more than $8.5 million to help fight hunger with the nation’s leading hunger-relief organizations.

The Festival will be held at Piers 92 and 94, with the latter being the epicenter for the event’s tasting compound, where guests can sample food and wine from some of NYC’s best restaurants. Pier 92 will host several signature events that anchor the Festival each evening. Some of the premiere happenings include Giada De Laurentils’ Italian Feast featuring NYC’s best trattorias, a competition for the best mac and cheese dish hosted by Rachael Ray, and a cocktail showdown hosted by Emeril Lagasse. Other Festival staple events include Chicken Coupe hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and the Best Bloody Mary Brunched hosted by the cast of Chopped.

By Linda Arntzenius

After a four-year ban that prevented him from all international travel and kept him from visiting Princeton in 2012, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has had his passport returned to him.

Last week, Mr. Ai posted a photo of himself on Instagram holding the document, which had been confiscated by Chinese authorities following the artist’s outspoken remarks on number of national scandals, including collapse of badly-constructed schools during a 2008 earthquake.  more

By Taylor Smith

The wonderful thing about following your favorite writers on Twitter is that they suddenly become relatable. They are people with opinions, a sense of humor, and a life outside of their writing duties. more

Escape to paradise with the fashion guru’s newest book on island living. 

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Caribbean flair collides with British sensibility in India Hicks' third and newest tome, India Hicks: Island StyleA miscellany of breathtaking personal and professional photographs, design tips, and personal advice, Island Style acts as a bona fide scrapbook of Hicks’ home life. Readers are thrown into the colorful and free-spirited world of her Hibiscus Hill home in the Bahamas where she lives with her designer husband, four children, and fostered Bahamian son. more

Fly high with the 1950’s jet setters in Assouline’s elegant tome

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

The Jet Set of the 1950s conjures up a bygone era of wealth, adventure, and endless amounts of glamour. In Assouline’s book, SWANS: Legends of the Jet Society, we’re taken away from our crammed commercial airplane seats and thrown into the world of private jets and exotic travels.  more

By Anne Levin

Sixteen years ago, Bill and Hillary Clinton bought a house on a quiet cul de sac in Chappaqua, New York. The political power couple was putting down post-White-House roots so that Hillary could run, and win, the election to become United States senator from New York. The ink on the real estate deal was barely dry before the media was staking out this leafy town in the middle of Westchester County. more

From a Canon 5D camera to Chapstick, the Tony nominated actor tells Urban Agenda his go-to products and places.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

With 12 Tony Award nominations - including best musical - An American in Paris is taking Broadway by storm. An adaptation of the 1951 Vincente Minnelli movie, the Gershwin musical effortlessly captures the spirited attitude of Post-WWII Paris. Among a triad of ex-pats vying for a single woman is the quick-witted and sardonic character, Adam Hochberg. Played by the exceptionally talented (and remarkably handsome) Brandon Uranowitz, there’s no question that Urban Agenda would pick Hochberg as our guy. While we wait and see if Uranowitz snags a Tony, Urban Agenda decided to get to know this effervescent thespian a little better. Below, Uranowitz reveals the 10 products and places behind his sweet success. more

The venerable mannequin designer tells Urban Agenda about his retrospective exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

“A repair company in the basement of [my parent’s] home in Mount Vernon to a museum in NYC.”

This is how Ralph Pucci describes the extraordinary evolution of his family business, Pucci Mannequins. Since taking over the company in 1976, Pucci has transformed his family name into a globally renowned brand with a stronghold on the fashion industry. Armed with a visionary eye and a deep understanding of the complex history that surrounds the mannequin, Pucci has changed the way we see these bona fide clothes hangers both literally and figuratively. more

Urban Agenda gets a lesson on plans, promises, and dreams from one of the nation’s premiere life coaches.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

“What are your goals for this article?”

This was Laurie Gerber’s first question to me during our phone interview. If that wasn’t a hint towards her knack for helping others structure their lives, then perhaps it was her prestigious title as Co-President and Senior Coach at Handel Group® Life Coaching that did. more

By Anne Levin

Ruth Reichl is sometimes asked the question: If you had a superpower, what would it be? For the author, food writer and editor — formerly the restaurant critic at The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times and the editor-in-chief of the late and lamented Gourmet magazine, the answer is a no-brainer: To have a heightened palate.

“I wish I had it, but I so do not,” she said during a telephone interview last week. “Especially in my business, it would be a great asset.” Ms. Reichl will speak this Friday at a sold-out Book Lover’s Luncheon hosted by the Princeton Public Library and the Friends of the Library, at Springdale Golf Club. “The closest I’ve ever seen is Paula Wolfert, whom I traveled with once,” she continued. “She really does have an uncanny ability to pull flavors apart.” more

From rosehip oil to baby bonnets, the creator of Ballet Beautiful and loving mother to Lumina Belle shares the ten items she loves most.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Photos provided by Ballerina Mary Helen Bowers, copyright Ballet Beautiful

Even though Mother’s Day has passed, Urban Agenda decided to extend our appreciation for all the resilient women in our lives beyond a single day.  So, we sought out the woman who has built an entire brand on her understanding of mothers-to-be, Mary Helen Bowers.  Professional ballerina turned fitness mogul and proud mom of 16-month-old Lumina Belle, Bowers has become a global icon for mothers. more

Esteemed independent stylist, Carlos Mota gives Urban Agenda an insider's look at his new book of interior designs.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

There’s nothing more eye-catching than a well-designed room—except, of course, when it’s featured in a world-renowned magazine. With a punch of Carlos Mota’s aesthetic, spaces are transformed into editorial masterpieces that demand attention in the pages of Elle Décor and the like. As the International Style Editor of Architectural Digest – and the designer of choice to celebrities like Jonathan Adler, Simon Doonan, and Geoffrey Ross – Mota is able to use his skills to curate some of the most beautiful rooms for the most discerning clients.


NAMI and the Hope & Grace Initiative launch the StigmaFree campaign to combat mental health stigma

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Consider this: 1 in 4 adults experience mental health issues in a year; 13.6 million Americans live with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, 1 
and only 41.3% of U.S. adults ever seek treatment for it due to the stigma.

Affecting more than 450 million people worldwide, it is clear that mental health issues are a pertinent problem in our society. Hopefully, today marks the beginning of the end of the stigma. more

Charlotte Moss’s lavish new book enlivens your green thumb with stunning photographs of gardens from around the globe.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

With a reverence for the traditional and a passion for the unexpected, Charlotte Moss brings her unique aesthetic to nature in her new book, Garden Inspirations.  A miscellany of sumptuous photographs, interesting stories, and useful advice, her book is rooted in the garden.

For over 27 years, Moss has been perfecting her East Hampton garden using influences from her international travels.  From France and Italy to England and Spain, Moss sought to document and replicate some of the world’s most divine natural sanctuaries.  As a result, the venerable designer’s artistic eye has been shaded by her wealth of botanical knowledge that she shares in the pages of her book. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Jack Kerouac’s earliest published writing on New York City appeared under the name John Kerouac, a formal touch reflected in the glossy, soft-focus, dust jacket photo and the relatively buttoned-up narrative style of his first novel, The Town and the City (Harcourt Brace 1950). When he celebrates the city as “the one place in all the roundway world where everything is different from anywhere else, simply because it happens in New York,” the only hint of vintage Kerouac is in a term like “roundway.” A long passage meant to suggest the mounting excitement felt by someone coming into Manhattan for the first time depends on generic expository prose about “the vital and dramatic heart” of the place and “the magnitude, the beauty, and the wonder of the great city,” phrases as detached from the spirit of his style as “John” is from the “Kerouac” who wrote On the Roadmore