Thursday, March 23, 2017

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

FIT Annual Gala Raises $4.5 Million

Ryan Seacrest, Tracey Lundgren, & her father CEO of Macy's Terry Lundgren
All photos Lieba Nesis
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FIT held its Annual Awards Gala on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at the Marriott Marquis with cocktails beginning at 6 PM. The event which honored CEO of Macy's, Inc., Terry Lundgren, was with more than 1,700 people gathering for cocktails and dinner to celebrate FIT and outgoing CEO Terry Lundgren. Lundgren has been Macy's CEO for the past 14 years, and is being replaced by Jeff Gennette, who is currently Macy's president.

Ralph Lauren, New Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette, Tina Lundgren & Ricky Lauren

Lundgren was the star of the evening with fashion luminaries such as Anna Wintour, Ralph Lauren, Fern Mallis, Andrew Rosen and Vera Wang attending to pay homage to this fashion giant who founded The Terry Lundgren center for Retailing at the University of Arizona. While tonight Terry was busy, I was fortunate to bump into him this past Monday at a Carnegie Hall function where we were able to talk. Terry told me that today's fashion industry was a very different place, with consumers currently spending on health care, technology, Spotify and housing renovations instead of clothing.

Olympian Evan Lysacek, Vera Wang and President of Sean John Jeff Tweedy

He recounted his background as a buyer for Bullock's, becoming CEO of Neiman Marcus and later moving to Macy's. Macy's now operates more than 700 stores under the nameplates Macy's and Bloomingdale's and approximately 125 specialty stores. Terry proudly boasted that Macy's was the sixth largest retailer in America and that when he became CEO in 2003 the internet business was a minuscule couple of million; whereas now Macy's has a multibillion dollar internet presence and sales of $26 billion per year. He noted he would remain executive chairman of Macy's and was weighing options concerning his future career trajectory.

Jean Shafiroff, President of FIT Joyce Brown, & B Michael

Lundgren has an overwhelming stature with movie star looks and all the right friends with Ryan Seacrest hosting the dinner and Puff Daddy, John Varvatos, and Ken Chenault appearing via film to laud his accomplishments. His beautiful wife Tina commented that he has manners and grace "without a hair out of place" and then joked that it was annoying.

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour, clad in a floral coat, spoke about Terry and how she admired that, "while most people will attend an opening Terry is one of the few who opens his checkbook." Terry also has a great sense of humor thanking Anna Wintour and Ralph Lauren for coming and stating they were so iconic they were readily identifiable by their first names.

Beatles cover band the Hofners at the cocktail party

He also thanked Ryan Seacrest, who he said was more than just a pretty face, as he has brought great educational programs to America such as "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" seeing their potential before others did - adding that Seacrest suits were only available at Macy's.

David Lauren

Lundgren expounded on the importance of education noting that neither one of his parents nor his five siblings attended college and he considered graduating University of Arizona a pivotal moment in his life. Lundgren thanked his wife for never allowing him to be complacent and praised his two daughter's one of whom recently welcomed a child. Terry announced that $4.5 million was raised this evening for FIT and The Terry Lundgren Center for Retailing to which he received a standing ovation.

Chef Daniel Boulud presenting Terry and Tina Lundgren
 with birthday cake and Ryan Seacrest

Being that tomorrow was Lundgren's 65th birthday, and ironically he was handing over the CEO reins the next morning to Gennette, chef Daniel Boulud presented Lundgren with a cake made from chocolate golf balls while Puff Daddy sang Happy Birthday via a movie screen. As the crowd rushed home at the early hour of 9:15 PM, I grabbed a Macy's goody bag which contained a scarf, tie, cream and other condiments - a rewarding conclusion to a powerful evening.

- Lieba Nesis

Friday, March 17, 2017

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

March Madness

Dolce & Gabbana wicker ice cream cone bag with pom poms
drives me mad
Check out the price!

There’s a lot about fashion that makes me mad. The lack of diversity on the runways is one of them. Although that has slowly begun to change, and this season more and more designers cast real people instead of (or in addition to the usual glamazons) and took a stand for inclusion and diversity vis-a-vis ethnicity, body type, gender, and age.

Vetements Fall Winter 2017

Quite frankly, there were so many older models, I guess you could say the recent runways were filled with "50 Shades of Grey" hair. What has not changed however, are the ridiculously high prices. In fact, it’s gotten worse. You’ve got to be mad to pay these prices! I sometimes get the urge to open my window and shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore”. But of course, there’s also a lot that I love.

Among the things I’m especially ‘mad’ for right now:


Nothing is as cool or modern - and nothing compliments black and white quite like silver. It showed up on several runways including Chanel and Paco Rabanne where it helped impart a futuristic space age feeling. Needless to say, just a touch is really all one needs. I am completely mad for the Saint Laurent satin-trimmed silver lame tuxedo blazer with black satin lapels.More info/purchase

Pierre Cardin Couture 1960's Metal Bones Iconic Dress

This vintage Pierre Cardin Couture 1968 iconic Metal Bones dress (which is found in the permanent collections of the Met, the Museum at FIT and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston ) has a massive silver metal plate collar built into the dress. Mod perfection! More info/purchase

How great would these Loeffler Randall silver leather Jasper pointy toed oxfords look with crisp white jeans? Knockout! More info/purchase

Black & White:

It never gets old, which is why I love this graphic color block Courreges cropped vinyl jacket (an update on the original 1960’s version) - the epitome of cool, hip, and modern.More info/purchase

Christian Dior

J’Adior Christian Dior’s J’Adior sling backs from Spring Summer 2017. Made of black technical fabric they are on a 2 inch comma shaped kitten heel that you can actually walk on. No wonder they are almost entirely sold out. Thankfully, there should be a new shipment coming next month. For more information call: 1 800 929-DIOR.

Chanel cap toe ballerina

While fancy footwear is ‘dope’, when all is said and done, you can’t beat these classic Chanel black and white cap toe ballerina flats. Timeless perfection! More info/purchase

Proenza Schouler sneaker  

The only thing better than black & white is the added punch of red. I love that lipstick red completely lines these black and white Proenza Schouler slip on sneakers making them even more graphic. More info/purchase

Play Comme des Garcons t shirt

How could you not smile when you see this Comme des Garcons Play t shirt? More info/purchase

Western Wear:

Balenciaga Santiago distressed leather boots

It’s hard not to be smitten with authentic American western wear, which was all over recent runways. Not only on this side of the Atlantic, but in Europe. Western boots reigned supreme in many incarnations, but leave it to legendary French label Balenciaga to create one of the best versions available right now -- their tall distressed leather Santiago boots have it all.More info/purchase

Vicki Turbeville Zuni Squash  Blossom necklace

Authentic Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces in sterling silver and turquoise are iconic and they look better than ever at the moment. What would look more fabulous paired with chamois, rust suede, head to toe denim, or worn with a white shirt and jeans for that matter? FYI, I’ll bet they (along with Concho belts, and all manner of Native American jewelry) will be accessorizing many layouts in fashion magazines’ upcoming fall issues.More info/purchase

Statement Making Gold Buckles:

Burberry Westford sneakers

So, remember I said I love silver? Well, I also happen to be mad for bold gold, especially buckles. All the better when gold studs are added to the mix; they literally take the place of jewelry. These Burberry slip on leather trainers feature a pronounced gold buckle (an obvious homage to the buckle on their iconic trench coats), and edgy gold studs. More info/purchase

Philosophy di Lorenzo gold buckled belt

I love the proportions of the rectangular gold buckle on this wide black Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini belt.   More info/purchase

Great Looking Rain Boots

Givenchy Eva Chain boots

Since April is upon us (which means April showers), I can’t think of a better investment than a pair of black rubber boots that don’t look like rain boots. The Givenchy Eva Chain Boots featuring a rubber chain-link, are an edgy update to a classic style and are so chic you’d like to wear them as much as possible, regardless of the weather, More info/purchase

Belted Equestrian Rain Boots

The same can be said about Burberry’s weatherproof equestrian rain boots with knotted belt and loop detail.More info/purchase

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

Agnès b. Explains it All at French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF)

agnès b
Photos Laurel Marcus
Click images for full size views

"Fashion does not interest me, only style," said the inimitable designer, entrepreneur, gallerist, photographer, movie producer/director agnès b during an Art de Vivre talk last night at FIAF's Florence Gould Hall. "I don't like fashion shows. I go a lot to see art but not to see clothes," although she admits to making an exception years ago when "Yves Saint Laurent said goodbye." (Her Fall/Winter show featuring the latest versions of her timeless workwear-inspired designs took place last week during PFW). The 75-year-old visionary was here to launch her new coffee table book, agnès b. STYLISTE, a retrospective celebrating 40 years of her eponymous brand which covers everything from her personal philosophy and signature style, to her many influences, including rock music, the 18th century, ingenués, and androgyny.


In the mostly filled auditorium, film critic Amy Taubin recounted discovering agnès b.'s first store in Paris on the Rue du Jour (agnès referred to it as her "day home in no-man's land") which opened in 1975. Previously a butcher store, it was all white perfect for writing on the walls and had an ever growing population of birds nesting overhead as well as young people hanging out. Here Taubin found the simple, yet chic, pure cotton, silk and rayon clothing that she couldn't find anywhere else. At the time she had no knowledge of who agnès b. was and would have been too shy to speak to her anyway. Taubin was later thrilled when an agnès b. store opened in New York (there are now three including 50 Howard which includes an art gallery. She became acquainted with the designer years later when their paths crossed through the world of the cinema.

agnès b and Melissa Ceria

Journalist Melissa Ceria joined agnès on stage posing questions about her unique childhood and early career. You really do get a sense of adventure; that this woman has led an action packed, charmed life but not without its hard times. Growing up with three siblings in the town of Versailles gave the future designer a historical and design perspective (she was influenced by the palace's clean architectural lines) evolving into a lifelong fascination. Her lawyer father, who shared with her his interest in art and music encouraged her childhood dream to become a museum curator even arranging a special tour of the onetime royal residence's secret rooftop. "I read everything about Versailles as a child. When you see this empty shell you want to know what happened there. I'm still reading about it and I brought a book with me," she added. As the anticipated snowstorm was alluded to, agnès reminisced briefly over her memory of how beautiful the snow topped statues at Versailles were. "Now they cover them," she said in her lilting French.

agnès b Styliste book

Married at the tender age of 16, ("My parents said 'You want to go -- you go and manage yourself. Bon'" clapping her hands as if to dismiss the subject) to publisher Christian Bourgois -- whom she adopted the b. from. A year or so later, dressed in her preferred original flea market finds, she was discovered and recruited by ELLE Magazine where she became a stylist. She also worked freelance for Cacharel and Dorothee Bis where she learned a lot about PR and buying (she hates math and any thought of marketing) and, to this day, she doesn't believe in advertising her brand, only in storytelling. At 19 she had twin boys though her marriage turned out to be brief.

In 1973 she worked at Limitex creating her signature classic striped t-shirt, signifying her quiet style. "I don't like emphasis (she says accenting the second syllable). I don't like bling-bling," as explanation for the usage of lower case letters in her brand. "I love to design for people -- I want them to be happy with the clothes," adding that the Japanese really enjoy the simplicity of her designs starting from 30 years ago to the new generation. "They hug me when they see me," she said.

Book illustrates the snap cardigan

Other signature pieces which she is known for include the oversized white shirt (she remarked on the sudden ubiquity of white collars popping up on celebs everywhere) and the snap cardigan (a show of hands in the audience revealed that many own this versatile item; I actually own the longer version known as the snap dress). The book illustrates how she used a sweatshirt as a prototype for her snap cardigan after she got tired of having to pull it over her head. Garments featuring many buttons from Versailles served as further inspo -- yet she tweaked that concept too -- "I love the sound the snaps make when you open them." She later had photographers "tell the story by doing their own version of the snap cardigan."

"So many people (meaning designers) copied. I don't look at trends, I have to make new trends," she explained. Other iconic pieces that she revisits and reworks season by season include overalls or jumpsuits -- her newest version involves two side zippers and elastic which facilitate use of the bathroom "without your sleeves dragging on the floor."

agnès b Rue de Marseille store

Fittingly with her nationalistic efforts, about 40% of her collection is manufactured in France. As a humanitarian/activist she is a proponent of open borders and is not a fan of what's going on in our country or needless to say, of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. "We don't have the same vision at all," she remarks. Her humanitarian efforts were visible during the siege in Sarajevo when she traveled to the war torn country 18 times and designed a heart which was sold in her stores to benefit the mothers who couldn't feed their children -- "after so many young men were killed you only see young women in the street."

Other philosophies: "I believe in elective affinities. My friends are artists, musicians, not always family." Besides her two sons she also had a daughter, 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

As for her film career, in 2006 she met American film director Harmony Korine and "became friends with him in 20 minutes." This lead to her signing on as producer for his commercial hit Spring Breakers as well as nearly 30 other films. She is also friends with legendary filmmaker/poet/artist Jonas Mekas. Her own directorial debut came in 2013 with the film Je m'appelle Hmmm... a story of abuse which she claims is not her story but that she cryptically says is one that "needed to be told." She loves street culture and told of having met Keith Haring "in the street in Venice along the canal." She touched on the story of her brother's ship once owned by pirates, now used for photographers expeditions, which they named Tara after Gone with the Wind. "My parents took the boat back to Antibes which was like going home to Tara," she explained.

Of her 287 privately owned boutiques (including the original Rue du Jour) employing 2,100 employees worldwide, she professed to particularly enjoying the cities of Hong Kong " It's a big Marseille," and Manhattan which she admits has "changed a lot" but likes Canal Street. It is clear that agnès b. plans to stay busy. Besides designing her collection, collecting art for her gallery and taking photographs including those used for the book and those used as prints on her apparel (she previously used a Nikon but now mostly uses her phone) --- she also loves to cook. During the Q & A, when she was asked which dishes she enjoys cooking, she got an idea. "Maybe I should do a cookbook."

- Laurel Marcus