Sunday, January 22, 2017

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

The Good, the Bad, & the Very Ugly

Michelle and Barack Obama leaving Washington

Just minutes before Donald Trump was sworn in as our nation’s 45th President, the cameras were focused on his son Eric. Seated beside wife Lara, he was surveying the throngs assembled at the National Mall and taking in the pomp and circumstance surrounding the event. At one point, as if in complete disbelief, he could be seen mouthing the words, “unbelievable unbelievable!” Funny, those were my thoughts exactly (though I think it’s safe to say it took a far different tone in my case). It would be one of many rather unbelievable if not completely surreal moments to unfold in a period of 48 hours, or should I say, in these past two months following on the heels of November 8th. Where to begin?

Among the moments that stood out, on Thursday evening when president elect and Melania made their grand entrance to the inaugural concert hand in hand, their arrival was accompanied by the blaring soundtrack of the Rolling Stone’s 1965 tune, “Heart of Stone”. The lyrics: "There's been so many girls that I've known. I've made so many cry, and still I wonder why. Here comes a little girl, I see her walking down the street. She's all by herself, I try to knock her off her feet." Wow, what was he thinking?. Considering Donald’s questionable past, his outrageous banter with Billy Bush which went public, and the fact that he has apparently made many women cry, this could not have been more inappropriate.

And then there was young Jackie Evancho singing our National Anthem at the swearing in ceremony. I’m not saying she can’t sing, but really, is that the best they could do? While major star power was noticeably absent and nary an A-Lister or B-Lister was in sight on Thursday and Friday, they sure came out of hiding and managed to make their voices heard on Saturday for the all-important Women’s March (among those who came to Washington were Madonna, Scarlet Johansson, Michael Moore, Patricia Arquette, Ashley Judd).Then again, I suppose one can say that it was pretty apropos given the fact that the 16 year old was a contestant on a reality TV show, “America’s Got Talent” (though she wasn’t even the winner: she came in second place).

And what about the President and First Lady dancing their first dance at the Inaugural Ball to the strains of “My Way”? (He sure does everything his way). Of course, that specific live rendition bore no resemblance to Frank Sinatra’s and I suppose it’s a good thing they didn’t use the original. Knowing how far left Old Blue Eyes was, he would probably would be rolling over in his grave. FYI, the sight of the President and his wife, the Vice President and his wife, and the Trump children and their spouses (or in the case of Tiffany- her boyfriend) on the dance floor all at the same time, was one of the more surreal, awkward moments of the weekend.

Kellyanne Conway and the Paddington Bear

All in all, this was pretty scary stuff. Though nothing could be scarier than the sight of Kellyanne Conway on Friday morning wearing that ridiculous Gucci get up which she further accessorized with a silly red hat and oversized red bag. Hmmm, I somehow think that’s not what Alessandro Michele had in mind when he sent this down his resort 2017 runway. It immediately and unsurprisingly resulted in a storm of amusing and negative comments on social media not to mention obvious comparisons to the Paddington Bear and wooden soldiers prompting some to ask, “who wore it better?” Not to mention that it was by an Italian designer which is pretty funny considering that she was obviously striving to look as American/patriotic as possible. Kellyanne actually said it was an homage to the “Trump Revolution”. I daresay the only thing the Trump Senior Counsel to the President and I have in common is that we both graduated from The George Washington University.

Melania Trump attends the Inaugural  Ball

Speaking of inaugural fashion (and putting politics aside), it’s kind of hard to find fault with Melania Trump’s choices. She pretty much nailed it. As a model, she knows how to wear clothes and she is undeniably beautiful and statuesque with gorgeous long legs which are made even more so thanks to her ever present Manolo Blahnik stilettos. She steered clear of Europeans and wisely stuck with American designers (Ralph Lauren, Reem Acra), even including two relative unknowns, Norisol Ferrari and Herve Pierre (it’s safe to say these foreign born American citizens won’t be unknown for long). Her outfits were smart, chic, understated, appropriate, and flattering. Let others embrace boxy, loose, shapeless, oversized clothing. For her, it’s all about cut, fit, silhouette, and defining the waist. (This always reminds me of an observation made by the late L’Wren Scott regarding fashion: “Men understand it if it has a waist!”)

Melania Trump in Reem Acra and vintage Norman Norell

Certainly, nothing could have been more waist defining or form fitting than the sparkly and otherwise covered up Reem Acra gown she wore on Thursday evening (which happened to remind me of vintage and iconic Norman Norell).

Melania Trump's gift to Michelle Obama

The face framing Ralph Lauren cashmere ensemble (worn with matching kid suede gloves) may have been an ode to the late Jacqueline Kennedy, (a woman Melania has often said she greatly admires), but the First Lady assuredly has her own look. For one thing, Mrs. Kennedy only wore low heeled shoes and Melania accessorized with pale blue Manolo Blahnik stilettos: her footwear of choice. The color (cornflower blue) complimented her dark hair and blue eyes and it happened to pop against the beribboned blue Tiffany gift box she presented Michele Obama.

I also thought she looked the best (and most modern) out of all the other Trump women (all of whom seemed to coordinate their ensembles throughout the festivities) at the inaugural balls on Friday evening. (Politics aside, they are assuredly a striking and photogenic group; which can be said about the entire family down to the little ones). Both Tiffany and Ivanka’s gowns were too mother of the bride for my tastes and Ivanka looked like she was attending her own coming out party.

Ivanka Trump wearing Oscar de la  Renta

I generally like Ivanka’s fashion choices, but was disappointed with her inaugural wardrobe. While I did like the chic black and white Oscar de la Renta long column gown she wore on Thursday evening, I thought the green coat and dress ensemble she wore Thursday and the white coat and pants she wore to the swearing in ceremony on Friday (both by Oscar de Renta) were a bit too tricky, too "fashioney", had too much going on (all those points) and they made her look as though she was trying too hard. She would have been wiser to stick with sleeker more simplified and classic lines as she did at the interfaith church services on Saturday morning .where she was all in bordeaux. The First Lady arrived in a beautiful black belted coat with flared skirt.

Meanwhile, it was hard not to notice the President’s fixation on extra-long ties (which are made all the more obvious since he never buttons his jackets or coats). Do you suppose it’s to compensate for his extra short hands? Just asking lol.

Finally, nothing but nothing could be classier than the Obamas. Michelle made a fashion statement symbolically choosing Jason Wu for her Friday farewell ensemble (a long supporter of young upcoming designers, she initially put Jason on the map when she wore his gown to the Inaugural Ball in 2009). As the couple boarded the helicopter which would take them to Palm Springs, it was certainly reassuring to hear the former president say to the crowd: “It’s not a period. It’s a comma. I will rejoin you as a private citizen.” Considering all the current negativity, what an optimistic way to sign off.

And on that optimistic note, I too will sign off.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

UJA Celebrates 100 Years By Taking Over Rose Hall at Time Warner Center

The Rose Hall
All photos Lieba Nesis

On Monday January 9, 2017 UJA celebrated its 100th year at Jazz at Lincoln Center beginning with a red carpet at 7:30 PM. This event was sold out weeks in advance and contained an illustrious group of Wall Street heavy hitters such as: Daniel Och, David Moore, Jeff Schoenfeld, Boaz Weinstein, David Wassong, and Real Estate mogul Lenny Wilf. David Moore was still reminiscing about the success of the UJA Wall Street dinner which he said had an incredible lineup of the most important people on Wall Street with Michael Douglas inspiring many to rediscover their Jewish heritage.

David Moore-CEO of Moore Holdings, Daniel Och-President of Och-Ziff Capital,
Jeff Schoenfeld-President of UJA

Moore was also looking forward to this evening with over 400 people coming to celebrate and appreciate all the organization accomplishes. The night featured a varied list of entertainers at a spectacular venue overlooking Central Park. The last time I was at Rose Hall was to attend the HBO premiere of "Girls" so it was safe to say UJA went all out for this evening.

Entertainer Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Actor Mark Feuerstein

The night started with a film where Eric Goldstein and some of his cohorts took a Suburban to Rose Hall with a puppet as a driver and announced "Live from New York it's the UJA Centennial." Actor Mark Feuerstein of "Royal Pains", emceed the evening, joking that it was his dream to emcee a UJA event giving a special shout out to his parents who were so proud that he at least played a doctor on television.

Dr Ruth Westheimer

After we were treated to a comedy sketch by the Avenue Q puppets and a delightful performance of Chopin by Emanuel Ax, Dr. Ruth took to the stage and exhorted the audience to have sex every night like it was Shabbos and to try a new position as often as possible - assuming you were married. Westheimer informed the audience that she was shot in both legs when she was in the Haganah - but that was not why she was so short. While she never expected to become famous by discussing sex she was happy to announce that at the ripe age of 88 she continues to teach at Columbia University's Teacher College.

Left to right Eric and Rebecca Feuerstein, Samantha Massell-singer from Fiddler on the Roof, actor Mark Feuerstein with parents Harvey and Audrey Feuerstein

There were some more funny observations from the performers including comedian Judy Gold who said she loved dating chasidim because they had the best curling irons, and that Passover was annoying because she had a yeast infection - a joke she said only this audience understood. After she ridiculed the arm fat on the side of her arm she introduced Vanessa Hidary, the Hebrew mamita, a performer and poet who gave a moving rendition of what it means to be Jewish with rousing applause from the enthusiastic audience.

NY1 Anchor Jessica Abo

Some more spellbinding entertainment included Samantha Massell who sang a song from her hit play "Fiddler on the Roof" and David Broza the famous Israeli singer, who sang "Yihye Tov"-All Will Be Good - and said when he first composed this song he never thought he would be singing it daily for the next 40 years.

Betsy Cohn and Julie Ratner

The night even contained African American performer Joshua Nelson singing a Motown version of "Mi Chamocha" which showcased the diversity of UJA. To cap the festivities off, the evening concluded with Brian Stokes Mitchell belting out Man of La Mancha's "To Dream the Impossible Dream" and thanking the amazing audience for letting him breathe the same air.

On that note I grabbed some dessert and headed home to breathe some incredibly frigid air and recount the incredible evening I had just experienced.

- Lieba Nesis

Monday, January 09, 2017

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ® by Laurel Marcus

74th Golden Globes Emphasize the Global

Meryl Streep
Photo: NBC

Recap of the actual hot three-hour mess: Jimmy Fallon (already on a low flame with some liberals for playfully tousling the Republican candidate’s hair on his show) became toast after suffering a “Mariah moment” with a malfunctioning teleprompter during the opening monologue, basically disappearing for the remainder of the show; “newcomer” Meryl Streep, accepting her Cecil B. DeMille award by issuing a polemic against one Donald J. Trump, who like it or not is about to become our 45th president. Nice sparkly dress though! Oh, and Brad Pitt showed up looking none the worse for wear, to thunderous applause.

Pretty pretty princesses Emma Stone, Hailee Steinfeld, Chrissy Teigen

Now for the red carpet fashion: Judging by the proliferation of princess looks seen on last night’s Golden Globe attendees, Hollywood’s fashion pendulum is swinging somewhere between film’s “LaLa Land,” and television’s “The Crown,” both of which scored handsomely during the political statement masquerading as an awards show.

Where is the prom Janelle?

It seems that the supposed vilification of the words “Hollywood,” “Foreign” and “Press” may have given rise to the idea that “fairy tales can come true (it could happen to you”) if you wear an escapist princess dress.

Lily Collins

Fantasy gowns befitting of Kate Middleton were seen on the likes of Lily Collins (Zuhair Murad), Nicole Kidman (Alexander McQueen), Sofia Vergara (Zuhair Murad), Emma Stone (Valentino), E! host Guiliana Rancic (Rani Zakhem), Chrissy Teigen (Marchesa), Priyanka Chopra (Ralph Lauren) and Drew Barrymore in Monique Lhuillier. (I will not count Georgina Chapman in the mix-- as co-designer of Marchesa, that is always her aesthetic and she probably runs out for a quart of milk in lace, tulle and beading). By the way, in case you don’t feel old enough, the great musician Phil Collins is now known as the father of Lily (sheesh!).

Olivia Culpo

Other influences particularly on hairstyles included “Game of Thrones” (although it wasn’t up for any awards this year) as witnessed by Jessica Chastain, Olivia Culpo and perhaps Sarah Jessica Parker who may have been channeling another recently fallen princess known as Leia. A tribute to “Trolls” as well as Shrek’s Princess Fiona may have eked into the ether of the hair salon (maybe through “Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,”) and produced these looks.

Naomi Campbell and Carrie Underwood

Another sartorial theme – Architectural looks as seen on Naomi Campbell (Atelier Versace), Amara Karan, Blake Lively in velvet Atelier Versace, Reese Witherspoon, and most unfortunately on Carrie Underwood whose pink sculptural neckline was compared to a brain, a rose, and even likened to a part of the female anatomy.

Kirsten Bell and Mandy Moore

Plunging black gowns were a thing though as witnessed on Mandy Moore, Jessica Biel (complete with flattened side boob but sans runway necklace in an Elie Saab gown) and Kristen Bell in sequined black Jenny Packham.

Ruth Negga Missed the Met Gala

Other special mentions: Ruth Negga looking like she had dressed for last year’s “Manus x Machina” Met Ball in a metallic sequined Louis Vuitton gown while Janelle Monae is even later to the ‘80s prom.  When did Goldie Hawn morph into Melanie Griffin (the same plastic surgeon perhaps?) and Kristin Wiig turn into Sarah Paulson?

Kathryn Hahn and Evan Rachel Wood

The year of the pantsuit was extended and celebrated by tuxedoed Evan Rachel Wood in Altuzarra (she also called to mind David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich); Octavia Spencer in a dark suit and Felicity Huffman in a white and gold beaded jumpsuit . In contrast but no less effective was last year’s best actress winner Brie Larson presenting in a femme fatale deep red strapless gown by Rodarte.

Brie Larson in Rodarte

History came back to me as Ms. Paulson won for portraying Marcia Clark in the OJ Simpson TV series. An even worse reminder that I’m no spring chicken -- Kerry Washington’s response to Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet about her portrayal and political times of Anita Hill in the HBO film “Confirmation” – “I remember my parents arguing about it.”  Ouch!

- Laurel Marcus