mua mua dolls, miami swim week, miamicurated
Yours truly wearing the Mua Mua doll inspired by Coco Chanel. Note the strand of pearls and Chanel type jacket.


You’ll love a special find from Miami Swim Week, designed in Italy and made in Bali (not swimwear). Then there’s money saving wine news, and sure fire beauty products that are tested and proven by yours truly, a beauty product skeptic, in this month’s Karen’s Kudos.

Who couldn’t use something to wear to digest bad energy, catching the bad luck and taking it away? Enter the wearable MUA MUA dolls designed by Italians and made by village women in the Philippines. They call them genetically modified little monsters who are naughty, but have a heart of gold and a good sense of humor. The crocheted dolls are inspired by celebrity, especially fashion, icons . I discovered them at this year’s Miami Swim Week. MUAMUA DOLLS was born on the beach of Bali in 2006. Ludovica Virga, designer and creative mind, decided to produce crocheted dolls made by the island’s inhabitants who, after the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004, were left without work. The first creation of Ludovica was born by chance as a gift for a dear friend.

MUA MUA dolls, Ludovica Virga, miami swim week, MiamiCurated
Ludovica Virga, designer and creative mind of MUA MUA dolls


But success came only in 2009, when the designer during a Chanel fashion show in Venice, met Karl Lagerfeld and made a gift of a MUAMUA doll with the features of the “ Kaiser of fashion”. The designer began a collaboration with the Italian designer and in 2012, she was commissioned to produce more than 500 dolls to be sold in Lagerfeld shops.. The crochet doll family includes celebrities ranging from Anna Wintour and Coco Chanel to David Bowie, Donatella Versace, and Valentino (some depicted skiing).

mua mua dolls, miami swim week, miamicurated
An Andy Warhol MUA MUA doll


Each doll is made in Bali in rural areas, and provides an important source of income. In addition, a portion of the proceeds of each sale is donated to a school in Sumbawa to help and support women’s education. The price is 70 Euros (approx. $83 US).  The company also makes whimsical beaded handbags with irreverent sayings and others such as one shaped like a box of popcorn and another like a milk carton, sweatshirts and t-shirts, and dresses.

mua mua dolls, miami swim week, miamicurated
Beaded clutch bag from MUA MUA dolls

Some of the best deals on wine in town can be found at Costco. Mr. W who at one point worked as a sommelier, always told me that, and then in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, they confirmed that Costco’s wine markup is only 15%. The article also highlighted top picks in Kirkland wines. We bought the Kirkland 2013 Napa Valley Heritage cabernet savignon. The article quoted a $14 a bottle price, but happily we found it there for $11. It tastes like a $40 wine — rich, and full bodied.

costco wines miamicurated


Beauty finds…..Other than skin care routines, I’m skeptical about beauty products and their claims. Most turn out to be a disappointment. But lately, at Miami Swim Week and at my hair salon, some new product finds get the Karens Kudos stamp of approval. Beauty for Real is a line designed by Miami’s own Leslie Munsell, a former makeup artist and executive in the industry for 25 years. Her bottom line is essential products that have all the basics right and are easy to ease. My favorites are her mascara that is volumizing and lengthening, but doesn’t clump. An especially great feature is the small brush that reaches the hard to get at areas. Water resistant too ($19). High marks also go to their creamy lip liner that goes on smoothly, works for lining and shading in the lip, and doesn’t necessitate a pencil sharpener ($14). For more information and to purchase products, go to

biotop 911 hair mask, beauty salons miami

For the hair, I’m loving 911 Biotop hair mask for dry, damaged,  and lifeless hair. Ten percent quinoa extract, it is plant based, vegetarian and has Zero fragrance allergens. Plus it’s Sodium chloride, paraben, SLS, SLES (sulfates) free. It’s creamy but not oily, delicately fragrant, and does the moisturizing job that needs to be done on colored or otherwise dry hair. It’s the first moisturizer that has really worked for me. Price? $57 (price can vary).


And finally, at Swim Week last year I tried St.Tropez everday tinted body lotion (gradual tan tinted) , reported on it here, and have enjoyed using it all year. The problem was that for special occasions, I like the totally body tan look but can’t seem to do it myself. So this year when I saw Sophie Evans, their tanning guru, I asked her which Miami spray tanning salon she recommended. Her pick? In South Beach and Broward County,  Sobe Tan by Fabiola.









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