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

Thursday, January 05, 2017

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

To Live & Design in NY

If 2016 taught us anything it's that it helps to present a clear message and point of view whether you're talking about the world of politics or that of art and fashion. As fashion goes through its inevitable changes, it's worthwhile acknowledging that the brands/designers with a consistent yet quirky, often eye-popping aesthetic (think Gucci's Alessandro Michele) are of the moment RN. I recently had a chance to check in on two different design showrooms, for a little peek of what goes on behind the scenes in two foreign born emerging design companies now making their way in New York.

Martina Dietrich in her studio
Photo by Marsin

When I visited Martina Dietrich's MD Couture studio on the Lower East Side it was a somewhat gray day (unfortunately that's the norm in NYC this time of year) making the whiteness of the studio and the profusion of color greeting me at the top of the stairs, all the more pleasing. I had met Ms. Dietrich at an art gallery event and was intrigued by her bright orange tresses and interesting manner of putting herself together. Once I learned that she was a German fashion designer by way of Italy, Paris and now New York with a private clientele who seek out for her custom-made one-of-a-kind frocks and separates, I had to know more.

Photo by Marsin

"No one comes to me for a black t-shirt," she joked.  Indeed her neon orange hair is in direct correlation to what I think of as a "girls just want to have fun with an elevated sensibility" flair. Many of her designs feature neon orange piping along the edges enhancing and helping to identify this signature look. Her fabrics are all sourced from Italy and include many with stretch -- various jerseys, knits, velvets, leathers (often combined together in unexpected patterns) and a few intricately patchwork custom fur pieces. "The material must speak to me -- it tells me what to do," she explained. "If you don't listen to what the fabric wants to do, you will never get it right." I tell her that Project Runway's Tim Gunn agrees with her. How many times have we stalwart PR viewers (Season 15 just ended BTW) heard Gunn advise and acknowledge that the design challenges are either won or lost during Mood fabric selection?

Martina Dietrich silver arm warmer

Dietrich is also a proponent of '90's style layering -- she showed me how she transforms her pieces by placing one of her long tulle skirts underneath to dress up the look or one of her specially designed "boas" (a unique technique involving a "car wash" or thickly fringed neck piece) to give it another dimension of playfulness. Since I was wearing my silver H&M jeans and Kruzin silver sneakers that day, I was immediately attracted to a pair of orange-piped ruffled-cuff silver arm warmers and a crushed velvet floral top which, of course, I had to have. The designer also showed off a beautiful periwinkle blue velvet fabric that she tempted me with, even draping it over me, just so. Her custom creations vary in price but average in the $700 and up range.

As a young girl, Dietrich cried when her seamstress mother made her a "regular skirt" -- clearly she turned into a designer that enjoys creating the unusual and finds her inspiration everywhere. Martina's mission is to help create memorable experiences for her clients ultimately allowing them to steal the show at any occasions through her 100% custom-designed dresses. If you'd like more info (www.martinadietrich.com) or to book an appointment with Martina click here.

Beyonce with Blood & Honey Fur Bag

My next studio visit was in the garment district with Dave Rowan, the US manager for Blood & Honey -- a clothing company that makes distinctive graphic fur coats and accessories in Kiev, Ukraine, only recently entering the US market.  As so often happens, there was a gestalt-like formation which brought Blood & Honey onto my radar -- meaning that more than one sighting or reference occurred symbiotically.   Around the same time that I had seen a photo of Beyonce carrying one of their fur bags (with the provocative slogan "I Kiss Better Than I Cook" emblazoned on it) I also encountered the line at the newly opened KYLE By Alene Too boutique (the east coast version of the store owned by RHOBH Kyle Richards).

Lee Pfayer with Blood & Honey David Bowie Coat

Designed by former art critic and interior designer Lida (Lee) Pfayer with assistance from Liliia Shydlovska, these super fun furs are a joy to behold on a gloomy day (or any day for that matter) and are meant to be worn by a special clientele -- those who want to be noticed. According to Dave "Moscow is drab and gray so Lida found a way to brighten it up.  Her palette is fur and the medium is people.  She wants the woman (or man) who these speak to, to be her customer."  They've shown at Ukraine Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week, and at Miami's Art Basel, and have decided to come to New York, moving production here, as one does, especially lately. Her designs feature rex (extremely soft rabbit fur) and mink intricately inlaid with stripes, checkerboards (often giving a 3-D effect), hearts, evil eyes, stars, smiley faces, along with many other motifs. The unlined rex coats are about $1,500 while the minks range from about $3,500-$4,000.

Denim jacket by Blood & Honey

Originally Pfayer began her line in 2015 with mother/daughter cardigans featuring pandas, cupcakes and other whimsical designs as fur embellishments on pockets, and knit dresses with detachable fur cuffs. When those did well she expanded to vibrantly hued fur chubbies, fur scarves and accessories including high heels and slides. I got a peek at the spring line which features a Native American inspo complete with suede fringed and beaded ponchos, pencil skirts as well as jean jackets with fur embellishments and cartoon logos such as Betty Boop.

Blood & Honey Band Coat

Three specialized one-of-a-kind handmade men's coats combining the themes of art and music were stars at Art Basel, and are set to be auctioned off in the near future. These include a rex "cardigan" featuring the Beatles likenesses in a Warholian style (retailing for $9,900), a mink "bands blazer" featuring logos from Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Kiss, The Beatles, Deep Purple, Queen, Pink Floyd, The Police and The Rolling Stones (retailing for $39,000) and the piece de resistance: the turquoise mink Ziggy Stardust coat. In the case of the spectacular Bowie coat, over 50 pieces of mink were cut and placed like a jigsaw puzzle to form the image, taking two and a half months to make. This coat is valued at $59,000!

"The Eye Has To Travel” Fur coat by Blood & Honey

In 2017, expect to see more celebrities wearing these coats (Britney Spears, Rihanna and Andra Day are a few that have expressed interest) as well as a faux fur line (which DJ Vashtie is rumored to be in on), as well as a possible stand alone brick-and-mortar store coming for fall 2017. Right now you can shop online (https://blood-honey.com/shop/fur-coats/), or in person at selected Nordstrom stores in the Olivia Kim shop as well as at the aforementioned Upper East Side Kyle By Alene Too (1298 Third Ave). Other possible online sellers may soon include Moda Operandi, Net a Porter and Fancy.com. and stores such as Opening Ceremony, Dover Street Market and Kirna Zabete."Right now we're just a small company of four," says Rowan. "We are experiencing the usual growing pains of an emerging brand learning how to best get out our product."

- Laurel Marcus