Monday, April 24, 2017

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

"Pom Pom" & Circumstance

Figue ‘Iris’ slides in multicolored buffalo leather and goatskin with pom-poms, $295 More info/Purchase

The word “pom-pom” dates back to the 18th century and is derived from the French word “pompon”. Soldiers from different regiments of Napoleon’s army wore tall structured caps and personalized them by adding their own trademark pom-poms in varying colors and shapes.

In South America, traditional garments (for both men and women) were decorated with differently colored pom-poms to signify their marital status. In Rome, clergymen wore squared caps with pom-poms in different colors to mark the wearer’s order. In Scotland, men’s traditional Balmoral bonnets (berets) were adorned on top with a bright red pom-pom called a toorie.

It was not until the Great Depression of the 1930’s, that pom-poms enjoyed their biggest popularity due to their accessible DIY properties and their affordability: they were easily scrapped together using leftover yarn and became an easy way to embellish and decorate. To this day, they continue to be popular forms of embellishment and as it turns out, they are right in step with the rather exotic and global vibe that is winding its way through the fashion universe.

Almost nothing puts a smile on my face as quickly as seeing something otherwise serious and straight-laced, playfully embellished with pom- poms and because of my embrace of the fun, amusing, and quirky side of fashion, I have long gravitated to them. Admittedly, they can tend to look a bit too puerile if not done in a sophisticated way but luckily, there are some really good pieces (accessories and ready-to-wear) that fit that bill; some, unapologetically more colorful, eccentric and ‘out there’ than others.

 Among my favorites:

Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons black jacket with scarf overlay and pom-pom details, $550. More info/Purchase

Joshua Sanders pom-pom embellished slip on sneakers, $152.  More info/Purchase

Joshua Sanders grey leather and wool pom-pom sneakers, $156.  More info/Purchase

Figue Tuk Tuk tote with colorful pom poms, $495. More info/Purchase

Figue Tuk Tuk medium tote in black & told toned cotton and leather with black pom-poms, $795. More info/Purchase

Figue onyx silk ‘Maja’ shorts with pom-poms, $250. More info/Purchase

J.Crew Lily pom-pom trimmed ankle-wrap black & white gingham flats, $228. More info/Purchase

Gaia for J.Crew pom-pom trimmed black and white gingham bag, $128. (FYI, Gaia refers to goddess of the Earth in Greek mythology and the company, founded in 2009 creates handcrafted accessories by female refugee artisans. Based in Dallas, Texas, Gaia provides a living wage and dignified, sustainable employment that expands women's skill sets. This exclusive bag was inspired by Moroccan pouches and comes with a hangtag signed by the artisans who lovingly made it. More info/Purchase

Nannacay Baby Roge pom-pom embellished woven raffia tote, $170. (FYI, Nannacay, an exclusive at, is known for its fashion project ‘Creative Hands Transforming Lives’. Its mission is “to provide artful opportunities around the globe”). More info/Purchase

Sanayi313 pom-pom embellished striped canvas slippers, $860. More info/Purchase

Les Petits Joueurs Alex mini leather fur-pom bag in black and red, $1050. More info/Purchase

- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

Fashion Group International Presents "The Influencer Factor"

Anne Fulenwider, Toto Haba, Conor Begley, Brittany Hennessy, Kyle Anderson
Photo Laurel Marcus
Click image for full size view

What becomes an influencer, or the brand they're promoting, most? I've appropriated the old Blackglama mink tag line to represent the subject of last night's FGI panel discussion, "The Influencer Factor" held at the Hearst Tower auditorium and led by EIC of Marie Claire USA Anne Fulenwider. Panelists included Toto Haba, VP of Global Digital Marketing, Benefit Cosmetics; Conor Begley, Co-Founder and President, Tribe Dynamics; Brittany Hennessy, Director, Influencer Talent, Hearst Digital Media and Kyle Anderson, Market and Accessories Director, Marie Claire.

First off the bat, "What is an influencer?" short definition version. Anderson -- "An 'influencer' is someone who would influence someone's decision to buy something." Hennessy -- "People who create great content". Conor Begley -- "I think of them as publishers rather than influencers. Those who build an audience and try to monetize it. This is the new wave of non-traditional publishers." Haba -- "The cream is rising to the top. There are really two kinds of content -- How-to-use vs. aspirational."

How does one track ROI (Return On Investment) when using influencers? Begley mentions that his company tracks the top 50 lifestyle influencers and sets about figuring out the correlation in revenue growth or value generated, which is not an easy proposition. In a case such as Gucci which has gained a large market share since designer Alessandro Michele came on board as Design Director (try 300% year-over-year), how do you measure the improvement in product against the large investment in influencer development? It is suggested that one needs to read the tea leaves on the relationship between the two variables. Later on, Haba mentions that there are algorithms to measure how influencers do in certain instances.

Fulenwider asks about paid vs. organic influencers -- how do you create a spark for a brand? Haba mentions an incentive trip where 25 of their top influencers were sent to Necker Island to help launch a product.  The product became the top seller at Sephora that week. Anderson breaks down the difference between fashion and beauty influencers remarking that you often see "people dressed by a brand or carrying a brand's bag at fashion week" and you don't know if they were gifted that bag or they bought it themselves.

As far as selecting an organic choice of influencer, everyone agreed that it's important to have someone who's a fan of the brand or somehow identified with it such as Gucci Ghost with Gucci over an Instagram fave like Kendall Jenner. "We are thinking of these people as editors," he said adding that they like to "bring the influencer into the creative process when possible" so that they'll have "genuine enthusiasm for a brand giving it authenticity."

Hennessy adds that they look for scale and engagement with a brand, "Does an influencer actually like the brand? I look for someone who has bought the brand herself."  She cautioned against what they call "Thirst Traps" with Instagram followers. For instance, take Karlie Kloss, please. "Seventy-five percent of her followers are men, so we can use her for beer, sports or cars," she said. If a man said that, it would be considered sexist, right?

Haba avoids falling into this situation: "We make influencers give up their follower data, audience demographics, and growth. That way we can narrow it for a product launch and target to a specific audience."

A brief summary of earned media (editorial coverage) vs. paid media ensues and who is budgeting for what. It is mentioned that 40% of the marketing budget goes to influencers in the beauty biz. To get editorial coverage you need a really great product. If you don't have a good product and people talk about it you will get creamed. Believe it or not, Kylie Jenner Beauty is one of the top 10 brands right now.

"The tipping point is, is it believable?" said Hennessy. "The top influencers are very protective about their brand and don't want to sign on unless they believe in the product or they will lose followers. Some brands don't get it -- they want to instruct the influencer how to promote the product which is not authentic. If the content is good, people don't care if the influencer was paid, or if there's a #Ad."

A few quick stats according to Begley -- the top growing cosmetics companies NYX ("I thought it was a New York airport at first,") Too Faced, and Anastasia Beverly Hills, all worked directly with smaller influencers -- NYX with about 700-800 and Too Faced with about 1,500. Haba gets his plug in by adding that Benefit (founded in SF in 1976) has over 10,000 influencers worldwide and is now a $1.5 billion company.

Lastly, when working with influencers there's often a "if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" approach. Begley believes that there should be a "very genuine relationship" between the influencers and the brand. There should be a consistent approach to "finding the people who really love your brand and helping them to grow."

- Laurel Marcus

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

Amanda Lepore Showcases her "Doll Parts"

Amanda Lepore with her book "Doll Parts"
All photos: Laurel Marcus
(Click images for full size views)

Amanda Lepore at 49, is a woman born both before and after her time. Entertainer, model, muse, blonde bombshell and now author with her just released book, a memoir titled "Doll Parts," she shares dual roles as a pioneering member of the OG transsexual world, yet she pays homage to a throwback in the pinup queen era.

Book signing

One of the early 1990's Club Kids and nightlife figures, she made her way to NYC after escaping life as an abused child bride in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, (her father-in-law paid for her transition), working as a manicurist in a nail salon, a stint as a dominatrix, and as a cosmetic salesgirl for Patricia Field.

Her quest for fame was realized when she became an international legend after meeting photographer David LaChappelle one night while hosting at Bowery Bar. She has appeared in ads for Armani Jeans (in Italy they call her La Silicone),MAC Cosmetics, Smart Car and others. In 1999 Swatch used a LaChappelle likeness of her on their Time Tranny watch. In 2011 she released an album (I...Amanda Lepore) and has since released three EP's.

Far right Patrick McDonald

If you want more details, it's all in the book, which oddly shares a name with a Courtney Love/Hole song which Lepore may or may not have collaborated on. A few snippets (ooh, maybe a poor choice of words lol): She was born Armand Lepore to a schizophrenic mother who was in and out of mental institutions; her father would buy her dolls while her mom was institutionalized and take them away when she returned.

Left: Artist Scooter LaForge aka "Bluebeard"

She claims she always knew she was a girl and couldn't understand why her parents were dressing her in boys clothing. In her early teens while attending hairdressing school as well as high school she met a transsexual who paid her for the costumes she made with hormones. She dated her boyfriend, (now former husband), for three months before he had any idea she was really a he -- due to her feminine features and "Mia Farrow look."


She's endured countless surgeries hence the title "the most expensive body on earth," including an operation in Mexico (it's illegal in the U.S.), in which her two bottom ribs were cracked and moved in order to make her waist smaller (rumor has it that Cher and Raquel Welch, among others, have also had this surgery.) Her press materials describe her as "a woozy, inflatable doll" and "like a Jeff Koons statue of Marilyn Monroe." It takes her a minimum of three hours to get ready to go out but she doesn't do the whole look for errands or to go to the gym -- "I'm a woman in the world" she says.


Last night I attended a book signing at Bookmarc followed by a launch party at The Standard High Line. Both were absolutely mobbed by a feeding frenzy of what I'll call "civilians" and those of her peers/friends/fellow club denizens/members of the trans community. At Bookmarc, the crowd spilled out into the street, while a long line formed inside as the Jessica Rabbit lookalike signed, and smiled for endless photos.

Susanne Bartsch

Amanda was dressed in a sheer black get-up to which she occasionally added a white fur boa. Her wig basically obscured her right eye making me think that she could have saved time by not making up that side of her face. Her lips are exactly like those fake red wax lips only incredibly glossy although I think I see the faint shadow of a mustache. Her decolletage and overall skin tone is alabaster with no signs of aging whatsoever. It's a lot to take in.

Boom Boom Room

It was actually my first time at this legendary lounge space. The party at the top of the Standard's Boom Boom Room, is known for its amazing views however the view had some competition this evening as the people at this event were something to drop your jaw at as well. I saw relatively few familiar faces including Dandy Patrick McDonald, another queen of the nightclub scene Susanne Bartsch, Photographer Roxanne Lowit and Artist Scooter LaForge aka "Bluebeard" -- his beard was actually dyed a bright blue!


When the room was a sea of people, a little over an hour into the party, a minimally clad Amanda wearing your basic ensemble of nipple pasties, garter belt, thong, nude fishnets, and over-the-elbow crystal embellished gloves made her grand entrance, riding in on the shoulders of two bare-chested men. She was taken to one of the platform seating areas where she performed a little pinup posing routine.


In a cage of her making against the upholstered wall, alternately sitting and standing on the banquette, she was stalked like an animal in the wild; camera light flashes constantly strobing the small area. I worked my way to the front of the pack for as long as I could handle it however soon the jostling for position got too intense and I struggled to come out for air.

Female Impersonator

An Amanda Lepore female impersonator, also minimally clad in fishnets and nipple pasties accessorized with the ne plus ultra of drag striptease: a red feather boa -- performed Amanda's club hit "I Don't Know Much About Clothes But My Hair Looks Fierce," while prancing and pirouetting expertly along the narrow bar top in high heels. I can't so much as stand for one more minute in mine. Even though he's probably got an appendage tucked under, I'm secure enough to admit that he's the better woman.

- Laurel Marcus