Friday, October 09, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™ / Better Bets: Fall Getaway

The Bird is the Word

Iris Apfel

Fall is the time of year that fashion really is for the birds and from the birds -- it's all about the feathers! Of course birds and their plumage are always in style, it just seems to become more visible, ironically, as many real birds start to fly south. In the world of fashion you've got your "birds of a feather flocking together" quite apparent during fashion month particularly in the FROW at any high profile fashion show.

Feathers at Iris Apfel exhibit

 Another avian reference belongs to maximalist style maven/ self proclaimed "geriatric starlet" Iris Apfel, known as the Rara Avis or Rare Bird. The Brits like to refer to someone wandering aimlessly as "swanning around" and were guilty of referring to females in the swinging sixties as "birds" which may have devolved into the universal term of "chicks."

Alexis Bittar Raven clip earrings

When I started seeing "bird words" pop up this week in my Wordsmith "A Word A Day" emails I knew we'd hit critical mass. I'd actually started "giving everyone the bird" in late August when my eagle-eye spotted a raven theme in jeweler Alexis Bittar's Madison Avenue window. I flew right in and tried on the Raven Portrait Cameo Feather clip earrings; your "basic" feathered shoulder-duster.

Alexis Bittar store in Greenwich

All Edgar Allen Poe references aside, I felt haunted by their Victorian/Goth avian awesomeness. Turning tail while mumbling "Quoth the raven nevermore" I resisted their call until a few weeks later when browsing on the main shopping avenue in Greenwich, Ct. with my husband, I happened to land on the Alexis Bittar store.

Alexis Bittar Raven Cameo Bracelet

The raven earrings beckoned and actually became irresistible due to a gift card promotion rendering them "evermore" in my jewelry collection. Should you prefer a plumage draped chest then check out the two bib style necklaces. If it's raven imagery you're after but don't want to be tickled by feathers, there are two different cuff bracelets with the raven cameo as well as a raven cameo pair of earrings tous sans plume. The jewelry is all hand-made so inspect your feathers carefully--I had to exchange my first set as they were not quite right.

Coach biker Shearling and boots

Feeling more Tale of a Magpie? Look no further than Coach. Intrigued by their new ads featuring terrific looking outerwear, I recently swanned into the Coach store on 57th and Madison and didn't leave until I'd tried on every piece of limited edition clothing that they could locate (it was mostly still packed away in the back and not yet on the sales floor). Upon further inspection and by putting one on my back, I realized that the shearling coats which look so heavenly are in fact way hellish to wear due to their sheer weight and heft. You could probably skip the gym if you carried this groaner around on your shoulders for long however you might end up at the chiropractor's office.

Coach embellished racer jacket

Also weighty but still manageable is the embellished racer jacket: a black leather biker style with all manner of shiny objects affixed to it. According to my "bird of the day" email, a magpie is a chatterer or a person who collects things of little value. The Coach description of the outerwear includes "30 hand-assembled emoji-like pins that can be rearranged or removed to personalize" the jacket. Its inspiration is derived from "a vision of the Coach Girl as a wandering magpie collecting shiny objects on a journey across America, which is why it includes a custom-made Magpie pin." Oh-kay! I'd like to meet the person who writes their copy. I did not buy the $1,995 jacket but settled for a pair of the shearling boots instead.

Rachel Zoe Sagely vest

If you really want to feel "flighty" you might try a feathered nest...uh, make that a feathered vest. Rachel Zoe has one of black chicken feathers which I briefly crossed paths with at Bloomies (also available at Nordstrom) but did not try on. The "Sagely" vest ($695) is made for preening while you're "jean-ing" so no need to save it for a particularly "soaring" occasion. The one thing to watch out for with feathers, particularly ones that aren't currently attached to a bird, is exactly how much molting you find acceptable. If you notice that you are leaving a trail of flying feathers in your wake you may want to squawk "Pluck it!" I recently did just that to a balding and only twice-worn headband from Bergdorf's returning the swallow to Capistrano or in this case, taking the offending oiseau back to its basement cage aux folles where BG " hawks" their makeup and hair accessories.

Fendi inspired Owl Bag on the subway

Should you feel inspired to learn a few "bird words," here is the week in review on Monday was the gannett, a gull-like sea bird also a synonym for a greedy person. Tuesday was the snipe, a long billed marsh dwelling bird, or someone who takes a shot from a concealed position. (BTW anonymous nasty comments made in response to a blog article could be termed a snipe). Wednesday was the Dodo, an extinct flightless bird, also known as an old-fashioned, outdated, ineffective or stupid person. Thursday was the magpie, a black and white plumed bird which I've already detailed vis-a-vis Coach. Today's bird is the dotterel, a mountain dwelling plover, or someone who is easily duped or weak-minded from old age thereby producing the word dote or dotage, a term I recently heard someone use referencing one's declining years.

In the end, while the old saw about a "bird in the hand" suggests a greater immediate value, I'd still recommend holding out for the two bird (feathers) on the ears!

- Laurel Marcus

Better Bets: Fall Getaway

Ledges Hotel

In the picturesque Pocono Mountains, in the quaint, former mining town of Hawley, Pennsylvania, you will find the Ledges Hotel, perched between rock ledges and Paupack High Falls. One of the nation’s leading historic, luxury hotels, Ledges opened its doors in 1890 and its Federal-style building was originally the John S. O’Conner Glass Factory, linking it to the area’s rich heritage as an early center for American manufacturing.

Upon arrival, you can bask in the natural beauty of the river gorge falls. Multi-tiered decks with sitting areas offer spectacular views of the regions scenic vistas. Choose one of the hotel’s deluxe, duplex suites and enjoy incomparable comfort in a “rustic-modern design style” that brings “the outside in”.

The deluxe suites feature a rain shower and a Jacuzzi tub, which are both large enough for two (this is the romantic Poconos, after all). In addition, there is a full kitchen with a microwave and refrigerator. Concierge service is available from the Mill Market at the Hawley Silk Mill Complex of shops nearby and room service is available, so anything you need is just a phone call away.

Dining at “Glass,” the Ledges restaurant, wine bar and kitchen, is not to be missed. The restaurant features “small plate dining,” which allows you to try small portions of several selections from the menu. The “Glass” cuisine is absolutely delicious and seating is available either inside, where you can enjoy panoramic views, or out on a ledge overlooking the gorge.  The restaurant staff is extremely friendly and if you like, they will assist you with your menu selections.  On Thursday and Friday nights, “Glass” also features live entertainment.

While you are at Ledges, you may also want to pay a visit to its sister hotel, The Settler’s Inn. It’s just a short drive away, and has an old fashioned, 1920’s style charm. Stop in for breakfast at the Inn’s Pocono restaurant to complete your Hawley experience.

Upcoming Events:

70s Halloween Disco Party
Fri. October 30, 8-midnight No cover
DJ & emcee Mr. David of Florida's Copacabana. Costume prizes. Glass—wine. bar. kitchen. at Ledges Hotel.

Free Rooms for Veterans
Wed. Nov. 11
Reservations required; call 570-226-1337
Ledges Hotel honors our nation's veterans with a night of free lodging.

Thanksgiving Eve 80s Party
Wed. Nov. 25, 8pm-midnight No cover

Flashback to the 80s at Glass—wine. bar. kitchen. at Ledges Hotel. Music by Gone Crazy. Costumes encouraged.

- Rhonda Erb
For more Better Bets visit:

Thursday, October 08, 2015

In the Market Report

The Spring/Summer Ready-To-Wear 2016 Collections: To the Max!

Gucci Spring/Summer 2016 Collection
All photos
(Click images for full size views)

The Spring/Summer 2016 collections have finally come to an end in Paris, and I’ve made some observations about the 4 city month long marathon of runway shows and presentations. I always point out that fashion is contradictory, fickle, and cyclical, and while there are exceptions to every rule, right now, we seem to be ensconced in a “more is more” period. Of course, what this means is that the flip side of the coin- pared down minimalism- will look all the more appealing. (Although, who says one has to negate the other? There’s room for both!)

Coincidentally, several weeks ago, I finally got to watch the Iris Apfel documentary (sadly, her husband Carl, who co-starred, passed away not too long ago, at the age of 100). I had the privilege of interviewing the woman who is literally a poster child for an ebullient more-is-more aesthetic, back in 2006 for our Masters of Fashion Series, and I was once again reminded of just how appealing and fabulous her irreverent, highly personal, and expressive put togethers are. And how ‘right on’ they seem.

In any event, it’s been hard not to notice a renewed focus on surface decoration, and ornamentation in the recent collections. This playful, joyful, wholehearted embrace of a quirky, eclectic maximalism was exemplified by, among others, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Loewe, Dries Van Noten (he is a master at sumptuous fabrication and colorization), Rodarte (their best collection in a while), and Gucci (Alessandro Michele has truly come into his own). Forget mix and match. It’s all about mix and clash (clashing colors, clashing patterns, clashing textures, clashing references). Some of the best (or most interesting) looks were those comprised of rather disparate elements put together in unexpected ways (one might not necessarily think they would work, but they somehow do). It’s all about the play of hard against soft, sheer against opaque, streetwise against couture, fantastical against reality based, vintage against modern, and masculine against feminine.

Speaking of feminine, if your idea of heaven is lounging around in your pj’s or nightgown 24/7, you’re in luck. Quite frankly, the lingerie department might be the best place to look next season. (That and your local notions store, like MJ Trim, which enable you to DIY with decorative tassels, sequins, pom poms and ribbons, so that you can make your own bows).

Straight –from-the-boudoir-lingerie dressing was seen at Celine, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, and Balenciaga where the otherwise delicate pieces were counterbalanced and offset with streetwise, utilitarian, or menswear touches (cargo pants, trench coats, tuxedos, mannish trousers). Perhaps nobody did this better or more convincingly than Phoebe Philo, who actually made lace trimmed satin camisoles and slips look daytime (if not worktime) ready, graphic, and far from traditionally provocative or erotic.

It also left me wondering if there was any lace left on the face of the earth. Alexander Wang, who showed nothing but flat white lace slippers on the Balenciaga runway, presented his most fragile collection to date. Played out in palette cleansing shades of white, it was also his swan song. And if you want to know what the fabled label might look like in the near future, the best thing to do is check out the well fabricated, “deceptively simple”, deconstructed wardrobe staples, sweatshirts, floral printed cotton jersey prairie dresses, and sturdy outsized outerwear (with an un- bourgeois gritty, urban streetwise sensibility), that have become the calling cards of cult label Vetements. Its head designer, 34 year old Georgian Demna Gvasalia, was just named as Balenciaga’s new artistic director (which is not a bad fit given his embrace of sculptural, often exaggerated silhouettes). While Nicolas Guesquiere’s fabulous leather moto jackets and coats were well tailored and not oversized, one could call his collection for Louis Vuitton urban and streetwise and the designer’s inventive use of embellishments, graphic color blocking, and patchwork also looked somewhat futuristic, hard edged, and punkish.

What else? Pants were shown in dizzying variety, but so were skirts, (pleats please!) And of course, length is not an issue. Can’t decide which you prefer? Wear both! At Chanel, Karl layered pants under skirts and dresses. It’s the year of the bias cut slip dress (short or long) and skirt suits have been resurrected thanks to Miuccia Prada and Karl Lagerfeld, who apparently decided he has had enough of the only shoe he showed last season- the iconic and bourgeois sling back two toned cap toe pump. This time around, the renowned quick change artist accessorized with Modish silver open toe booties and sporty flatform sandals in silver and black. Braids have also been resurrected and were seen at Proenza Schouler, Thom Browne, and Celine, where they looked great with a red lip and bold hoop earrings. They were also shown on the runway at Valentino where the award winning design duo embraced a cross cultural, African/tribal vibe. FYI, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful and graceful the models looked, sauntering down the runway in their flat and low heeled sandals. Nothing looks more démodé to me, than watching a model fall to the floor while navigating the runway in her precariously sky high heels. And the customer obviously agrees, as witnessed by scores of fashion show attendees who eschewed stilettos for something more grounded. I guess you could say being able to walk is the new black.

 Dries Van Noten collection

That being said, emergency rooms and orthopedic surgeons will be very busy what with all the gals falling off their sometimes unwieldy flatforms and platforms that have been showing up all over spring 2016 runways.

But regardless, it’s now official: one no longer needs to choose between being comfortable and being well turned out. Long gone are the days when a high heel is thought to be the only appropriate choice of footwear for evening, (or the requirement for being well dressed, and fashionable). Designers proposed all manner of unapologetically sensible flats, rubber soled sneakers, oxfords, loafers, sandals, and boots for day and night (at Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane accessorized almost everything- including sequined and filmy metallic slip dresses - with a rubber Wellie).

The great thing about fashion is that it enables us to wear different hats and tap into the different sides of our personalities. Notwithstanding Thom Browne’s argument for affecting a uniform (which assuredly would make life a lot simpler)  I dare say that most of us select our clothes and ensembles after factoring in the weather, the time of day, the occasion, and one’s mood. I view a perfect wardrobe as being well balanced (much like a diet). In the same way that you don’t want to overdose on any one thing (lettuce, meat, or dessert), it’s important to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that in our closets.  The bottom line is that variety is the spice of life, and there’s a time and place for (almost) everything.  To better prove my point, I thought I’d match some of the ensembles that were presented during this past month, with the scenarios and occasions they might just be just perfect for:


You’re an untraditional bride.


You’re taking the L train to Brooklyn.

Marc Jacobs

You’re attending Opening Night at the Metropolitan Opera (or La Scala).


You’re toying around with the idea of joining a convent.

Dolce & Gabbana

You’re vacationing in Italy (and you’re hitting all your favorite towns)

Alexander Wang

You’re married to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray and you are watching him play at Wimbledon, the French Open, or the U.S. Open.

Michael Kors 

You’re Tonne Goodman and want to tweak your daily uniform


You have an appointment with your accountant (and need to convince him that you are on an austerity budget and spend no money on clothing)


You’ve overslept, don’t have time to change, and need to get to work immediately.

Alexander Wang

It’s early in the morning, you just got out of bed, and you have to dash out for a carton of milk.


You’re headed to the airport for a transatlantic flight and you’re not a sweat suit kind of gal.


 You’ve been invited to the opening reception for a major exhibition at a modern art museum. Coincidentally, the VIP Opening Reception for “Frank Stella: A Retrospective” (which runs from October 30 – February 7 at the Whitney), is Wednesday evening, October 28th.


The invitation reads, “Creative Black Tie”.

- Marilyn Kirschner