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Style Self: The Anti-Stylist

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Photograph by Luigi Ciuffetelli www.luigic.com

Mickey Donatello lives by one fashion rule: “I look at what everyone else is wearing, and then I wear something different,” he says.

It’s that simple for Donatello, owner and food designer at Corner Bistro in Wilmington. “I don’t like to call myself a chef,” he says. “That’s like being a vet and calling yourself a doctor.”

Donatello, 42, used to make his rounds on the pro golf circuits before he hung up his spikes

to try on an apron.

But don’t think he ties on black-and-white saddle shoes like every other Joe on the green. “I’ve got an awesome pair of Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print loafers in Vegas,” he says. “I saw them, and it was a have-to-have situation.”

There have been a few of those situations, thanks to zappos.com, the online shoe store where Donatello frequently shops. “I ordered a pair of Pumas at 9 on a Wednesday night, got them Thursday by 2. They didn’t fit, so I sent them back and got a new pair by Friday,” he says.

Donatello says everyone “kind of busts on me” because of his shoe fetish. He sometimes even wears pointy shoes.

Today he wears paint-splattered Levis, a “crappy” T-shirt and Converse Chuck Taylor high-top sneakers, but for a night out, he dons a pair of stylish skinny jeans, loafers and a nice dress shirt.

“My deal is, if I see it and I like it, I buy it,” he says. “I don’t have any kind of specific look.”

That’s why he doesn’t get when people say, “I could never pull that off.”

“I’m like, ‘You’ve got two legs and a torso. What’s the problem?’”

Donatello digs H&M, Urban Outfitters, Kenneth Cole, Guess? and J.Lindberg, a designer of golf threads.

“It’s a slick, tight fitting, very European look,” he says. “Really cool, funky shirts.”

Shoes aside, Donatello’s prep time is minimal. “I just throw some gel in my hair, grab my glasses, and that’s that,” he says.

He sports a pair of polished specs from D&G.

“For people who don’t wear glasses, it’s a cool, novel thing,” he says. “For those of us who do, I figure if they have to be on my face, they might as well look good.”

Not too many ex-golfers—or men in general—wear designer leopard loafers with skinny jeans, but don’t think he’s impractical.

“Belts? I don’t do belts,” Donatello says. “When I golfed they were huge, but now I rarely tuck in my shirts. What’s the point?”

—Amy Kates



Lauren Bailey’s got a brand new bag. The James Satchel is one of four styles that come in six color schemes.

Irresistible Attraction

A secret ingredient is the key to Bailey’s Bags.

Lauren Bailey found peace at the intersection of fashion and new-age shamanism. And she has magnets to thank.

The Hockessin native is the braintrust behind Bailey Bags, a line of Italian lambskin handbags that harness the healing properties of rare earth magnets. Each handbag strap contains two neodymium discs, which many believe promote wellbeing.

At the very least, it may help women get over sore shoulders from lugging around heavy bags all day.

“Between running around to work, gym and the grocery store, you can create strain on your muscles,” says Bailey “What these magnets do is promote healing.”

People for centuries have reaped the curative benefits of magnets. Some say they help balance ions in the blood stream and circulate oxygen to certain areas. They can also help reduce the negative effects of electromagnetic radiation from electronic devices such as cell phones and lap tops. Bailey, a regular practitioner of yoga and natural dieting, was drawn to magnets about the same time she began designing handbags as a sophomore in college nine years ago.

For all its curative properties, the bag is also eye-catching. New York-based designer Matt Murphy helped Bailey create a bold and minimalist look that spans four styles—a satchel, a tote, a hobo and a clutch—and six color schemes in soft Italian lambskin.

“People truly love the design,” Bailey says. “It’s nice for customers to know it won’t go out of style next week.”

Bailey, 27, is planning to launch a healthy-living blog from her website (www.baileybag.com) as well as a new fashion line that uses eco-friendly materials. For now, grab Bailey Bags online or at Flirt in Wilmington. —Matt Amis


Shannon Burns’ daughter, Irelyn, models a tattoo pattern called “Rock and Roll Love.”

Pretty and Punk

A new line of clothing and accessories pulls off both.

Shannon Burns has discovered a way to keep on rockin’ in the wee world.

The Wilmington fashion designer and mother of four recently expanded her oeuvre to include punk rock-inspired children’s and baby clothing and accessories for children and babies. Now her company, LuLuLux, has mohawked moms everywhere clamoring for more.

Burns started designing handbags for family and friends about three years ago. When her business launched in January, she found she could barely keep up with the demand for her children’s designs, including sundresses, tank tops, skirts and hair clips.

“With children, you can go a little bit flashier and out there,” Burns says. “Adults don’t always necessarily want something pink with giant polka dots and skulls. On a four-year-old, it looks cute no matter what.”

Burns’ fabrics are a kitschy mesh of graceful and gruesome, swerving between hearts and butterflies to carnival tattoos and skulls. Her customers love customizing items with 300 different fabric choices, which Burns culls from local fabric shops, eBay, even thrift stores. It’s hard to summarize the entire catalogue, as it truly runs the gamut from apple print to zebra print. Popular patterns include a tattoo design and others inspired by the film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

“People have told me I have a weird taste in fabrics because I like the pretty floral stuff and the skulls, too,” Burns says. “I guess it’s the contrast of pretty and ugly I’m drawn to. I like the light and the dark and not much in between.

“In the end, I want to make something that you can’t find in the mall.”

Burns, a former goth queen raised on mopey ’80s bands like The Smiths and The Cure, lets her musical tastes influence her fashion.

Her storefront for now is limited to her website, though she is working toward a table at next year’s Wilmington Flower Market after a positive reception at this year’s event. “I went this year with the kids, and people came up to me all day asking where they could buy the clothes. I was kicking myself.”

Visit www.lululux.com for ordering information, even if your idea of a hip young upstart is Michael Bublé. —Matt Amis

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