Saturday, May 02, 2015

In the Market Report: I’ve Seen the "Future"

Critic Award Winner Luis Peralta with a model wearing  his design
(Photos by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for FIT)

Who will follow in the footsteps of celebrated FIT alumni Calvin Klein, Francisco Costa, and Ralph Rucci? The answer may lie in the Future of Fashion runway show that was held on Thursday evening in the John E. Reeves Great Hall on the FIT campus. Welcoming remarks were made by FIT President Joyce Brown who proudly told the guests that this year, the acclaimed design school is not only marking its 70th anniversary, but was named 6th in the world. She also reminded everyone that they do offer other degrees, but quickly pointed out that fashion is still their “signature”, their “calling card”.

Nicole Richie with Francisco Costa 

The end of year runway show, hosted by Nicole Richie, was supported by a $2 million multi-year gift from Calvin Klein through the Calvin Klein Family Foundation and Calvin Klein Inc. Francisco Costa, head of design for Calvin Klein, was seated in the front row, and he was featured in a pre-show video, which put the spotlight on the talented graduates and their innovative designs (it included snippets of one young knitwear designer, Shane M.P Thompson, who amazingly knits with his own hands!)

FIT students

The professionally produced show featured 77 looks created by 90 of FIT’s top graduating Fashion Design students. They were whittled down from a class of 160 students by a group of judges that included Bryan Boy, blogger; Annie Georgia Greenberg, senior style editor of Refinery29; Anne Keane, fashion director at Lucky; Maria Marrero, group content chief of Meredith Hispanic Media, publisher of Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres magazines; Lilliana Vasquez, founder of and author of “The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style,” and Colleen Sherin, vice president, fashion director of women’s ready-to-wear at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Critic Award Winner Lisaneyla Almonte with a model
wearing her design

Included were 5 categories (fashion design specializations offered at FIT): knitwear, sportswear, intimate apparel, special occasion, and children’s wear. This year’s fashion critics gave a special Critic Award citation to a student in their group. They were Reem Acra (special occasion), Jason Mahler and Annalise Frank from American Eagle Outfitters (knitwear), Victoria Bartlett (sportswear), Morgan Curtis (intimate apparel), Tess Giberson (knitwear), Azede Jean-Pierre (sportswear), Phillip Lim (sportswear), and Nicholas and Christopher Kunz from Nicholas K (sportswear).

People's Choice Winning dress by Caroline Vagnone

Winners were Sofia Menasse (for her black cashmere/wool and silver fur samurai jacket, crème transparent striped tunic, black pants); Jose Camacho (for his gray wool drop shoulder coat with hand embroidery); Luis Peralta (for his blackish green sculptural top over pant with navy nylon short jacket); Esmeralda Fyhr (for her beige black bustier with alencon lace, fan lacing, and double helix bone channeling with panty); and Lisaneyla Almonte (for her silver cut gold chain evening gown). There was an award for Best Use of Cotton in Knitwear (Zenna Zhang) and Best Use of Color (Shannon King). New this year was, a People’s Choice Award, which went to Caroline Vagnone (who created a dress featuring a net bodice of handmade French knots and beading with a feathered skirt).

A model wearing a knitwear ensemble by Shane M.P. Thompson

For me show highlights were the outerwear, the knitwear, and the crowd pleasing children’s wear segment, complete with pint sized models (with larger than life attitude). And my personal favorites were ensembles by Sofia Menasse and Luis Peralta; Shane M.P Thompson’s cream cotton blend arm knit turtleneck, cotton monofilament dress, and white slip dress; a camel coat by Suzy Kim; Caroline Vagnone and Lisaneyla Almonte’s dresses (so I suppose you can say I pretty much agreed with the critics).

Roslyn Harte

But while the show was a celebration of the young and upcoming talents (the ‘new generation’ if you will), as it turns out, the real highlight for me was getting to sit next to a diminutive 91 year old force of nature, Roslyn Harte. As President of Lances Harte, Inc., whose offices are at 136 Madison Avenue, she has celebrated 61+ years in the intimate apparel industry, has received 3 lifetime achievement awards, and is a dedicated mentor. She is still working, still involved, and loves every minute of it.

This inspiring woman’s career began when she graduated from high school in Brooklyn, in 1941. She landed a job at Vogue Magazine where she worked until 1946. She subsequently answered an ad in WWD and came into the intimate apparel industry as a designer of Lady Duff Trousseau Lingerie. She then started her own contract studio in April, 1954 under the name Roslyn Harte Lingerie Originals. She has also designed costumes for award winning shows and movies (including “The Pajama Game”). A lifetime member of The Underfashion Club ( she is very involved in the Intimate Apparel Square Club HUG Awards ( which benefit pediatrics at RUSK NYU Medical Center. In addition, she mentors students from the High School of Fashion Industries; hires and helps entry level designers from FIT.

“Nobody can come near a Brooklyn girl. I still kick ass and that’s why I’m still here” she has said. (And boy-oh-boy can she ‘kick ass’. When Nicole Richie made her short introduction, she referred to a cue card the entire time. Roslyn turned to me and said, “She couldn’t have done that by memory? When I’m asked to speak, I get up and you can’t shut me up!”).

But it’s obvious that the real reason she is still here is that she is passionate, has remained active and involved, and keeps moving. When she handed me her business card, I noted her email address and said I would email her. But she told me she is never really on the computer because she never sits down. She and Stan Herman (another intimate apparel veteran and legend), meet for lunch periodically (he likes to tell her that she’s the only person older than he is). AMAZING!

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, May 01, 2015

In the Market Report: Uniformly Speaking

Tonne Goodman wearing her signature uniform

This is a heady time, and there’s a lot of buzz surrounding the fashion world these days, to say the least. Ballots just went out for the CFDA Awards (the results will be announced at Alice Tully Hall on Monday night, June 1st). This coming Monday morning, there will be a press preview for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute’s new exhibition, “China: Through the Looking Glass” , which promises to be bigger than ever (“Twice the size of anything we’ve ever done before” in the words of Andrew Bolton, curator at the Costume Institute). Later on that evening, there will be the attending Met Ball, which has got to be THE ultimate ‘costume party’. But as fun and wonderful as fantastically dressing up may be, let’s face it; most of us don’t live in costumes but rather, rely on great wardrobe basics to get us through our daily paces.

Ralph Rucci wearing his uniform of a crisp white  shirt, black jeans,
 crocodile jacket and Elsa Peretti belt

There’s no question that given the way in which fashion comes at us at a breakneck speed 24/7 (and the busy lives we lead), affecting a ‘uniform’ of sorts, makes so much sense on so many levels. While we all want to look good, we don’t necessarily want to worry about the way we look, and once you’ve found that magic formula that works, it’s very freeing (if you can stick with it). The late great Geoffrey Beene, a designer who defined ‘modern’, was a strong proponent of the ‘uniform’, and he even called his spring 2003 collection, ‘Uniforms’. But he was not proposing the uniform of a man’s stiff suit, a garage mechanic, or a flight attendant, but rather a chic wearable modern uniform that flatters a woman (one of the proponents could easily be the versatile jersey jumpsuit that he loved so much and that so often served as the foundation of a day to evening look).

Regardless, there are many ways to think of a uniform and it can mean different things to different people, particularly notable fashion figures and tastemakers (designers and editors) for whom uniform dressing is perfectly suited (they earn their livings working with fashion so it makes sense that they treat clothes as uniforms, wearing variations of the same designs on a daily basis).

Diana Vreeland 

Diana Vreeland’s daily uniform consisted of the pairing of a simple sweater or blouse with a perfectly cut skirt or pants; always punctuated with matching Verdura cuffs, her beloved KJL ivory tooth necklace, and fabulous footwear (often in red). Architectural Digest’s editor in chief Margaret Russell relies on simple black sheath dresses. Alexander Wang always dresses in head to toe black. Alber Elbaz always adds an oversized bowtie to whatever suit he happens to be wearing.

Vera Wang in a white tank and black leggings

For Vera Wang, it’s all about a legging and some sort of t-shirt or boy’s tank (played out in a palette of gray, black, white). This is the basis of her signature foundation to which she then adds knee-highs or hosiery, a “crazy belt”, or one of her “incredible jackets, outerwear and tunics” which bring the “fashion part to her uniform”.

Rick Owens 

Rick Owens, who bragged that it takes him only ”minutes to dress”, admitted (during the course of an interview that ran in Harper’s Bazaar a few years ago) that he wears the same all black outfit  every day (“like a priest, or a prisoner” he observed). “It’s very attractive when someone knows himself like that”, he offered. To that end, he stockpiles crisp black shorts, soft black t shirts, and black cashmere turtlenecks, and instead of carrying a bag, he uses his pockets. As he put it, “I like sticking with a decision. I can’t imagine having to choose something that I might sour on later in the day.

Geoffrey Beene jumpsuit 

It makes perfect sense to me, though, from my point of view, the ultimate uniform is one that is built around the monochromatic pairing of black and white. And for obvious reasons. It’s timeless, fail proof, and fool proof as you cannot make a mistake, you can literally get dressed in the dark, and everything goes with everything. In addition, it’s seasonless and works for both day and night, (even in its informality, there’s a certain formality to it). That being said, while I invariably go back to this formula myself, I admit to having to ‘cheat’ every now and then, in order to get my ‘fix’ of more fanciful flourishes (“Variety is the spice of life”).

Tonne Goodman 

I’m not as disciplined as say, Tonne Goodman, Vogue’s fashion director, who has mastered the art of dressing in a black and white uniform. She happens to be on my mind because she, along with her two sisters, (Wendy, who I worked with at Harper’s Bazaar, and Stacy) was the focus of Holly Brubach’s article, “Sister Act”, in this month’s W Magazine.

Reading about her rigorously edited rules for life and fashion, I was reminded about the marvelous way she pulls herself together, adhering to a strict, pared down, minimal uniform which is unwavering. Wendy hailed her as being really “disciplined in her modernity, so it’s all black and white”, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute’s Harold Koda, (who worked with her in the Vreeland years), pointed out, “She was almost exactly then as she is now”. She wore a uniform “that said everything about her: sporty, chic, confident informality.”

Regardless of the season, the time of day, or the occasion; whether she is here in New York, or traveling, she wears only black and white, and her go to look consists of pristine crisp white jeans, a black turtleneck (or button down shirt), a natty Charvet scarf tied at the neck for pattern, and flats (boots, smoking slippers, driving moccasins, sandals, etc.). She will add a black jacket or black coat depending on the occasion and the weather. It’s a look that can best be described as quintessentially American, unapologetically un fashiony, and one that transcends the vagaries of fashion’s ins and outs, which is fitting considering her position.

Jackie Kennedy in Capri       

There is no question that the paring of something black on top with white on the bottom, is particularly striking, eye catching and chic in its utterly modern simplicity, and it’s probably not coincidental that it was also the favored uniform of Jackie Kennedy (especially when she was in Capri or on the Island of Scorpius). Whenever I see pictures of her, dating back some 50 years, I am always reminded that there are certain things that cannot be improved upon.

Michael Kors in white jeans, black t and black  jacket  

Michael Kors, a designer who makes no bones about his ongoing obsession with Jackie and her sister Lee, (he has used both as inspiration for his collections) unsurprisingly has a similar fixation on this fail safe combination, especially as it pertains to his own sartorial choices. As he once put it, "Guys wear white on top and black on the bottom, but if you don't do it right, you look like a waiter. (FYI, Ralph Rucci and Tom Ford, who almost always wear a uniform of a crisp white shirt with black pants, are two immaculately dressed men who definitely do it right and it doesn’t hurt that they normally add an impeccably tailored jacket, made of the most luxurious fabrics or skins, of their own design).

So, his suggestion? “Try a black jacket and white jeans— suddenly you're sexy and dangerous."

- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Girl Scouts of New York Annual Gala

Photos: Lieba Nesis

The dinner for the Girl Scouts was held at Cipriani 42nd Street, one of the most elegant venues in Manhattan. The Girl Scouts is a pivotal organization serving more than 29,000 girls annually, and helping to give these bright lights the "confidence, courage and character" to lead productive lives. Seventy percent of the girls come from low to moderate income families and the Scouts gives them a chance to expand their horizons and think outside their box.


The evening began with a cocktail reception and red carpet where all the beautiful young girls in their Scout uniforms were able to pose and smile for the photographers like real life celebrities. The self esteem imparted to these girls was evident in the joy on their faces and the dignity with which they carried themselves. At the conclusion of cocktails the dinner began with a welcome speech given by two "Troopers" Kailey and Alyssa; these young girls conducted themselves with such poise and maturity it was hard to believe they were not sent to finishing school.

The dinner

The CEO, Barbara Warrington, then spoke of the importance of the Scouts in helping all girls realize their possibilities, and then introduced Denisha Thiaw a remarkable young woman. Denisha grew up in the South Bronx with a strong hardworking mother constantly encouraging her to pursue her dreams, and possessed a love for fashion and art from an early age. Denisha recalled being surrounded by negativism and despair in her neighborhood but under the Scout leadership program she learned to change her mindset to one of positivity and hope. The program helped her score an internship at Eileen Fisher which changed her life and career trajectory. Denisha, will be attending College in the fall and from the Scouts she learned "you can do anything you want." Denisha's mother stood up to receive enthusiastic applause from the audience and I found myself tearing up at this emotional moment.

The Scouts numerous programs help girls choose career paths that they ordinarily avoid. The STEM program, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math which teaches Robotics to girls from ages 5-17 provides hands-on experience and group challenges in an environment that fosters creativity and perseverance. Adele Gulfo, one of the night's honorees and the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Mylan, a pharmaceutical company with 22,000 employees, spoke of the need to encourage women to pursue careers in science. She noted that girls and boys are equally interested in science while attending Middle School however, when it comes time to choose a career men far outweigh women in the fields of science and math.

Honoree and executive vice president of Marketing
for the NBA, Amy Brooks

Reiterating this sentiment was Amy Brooks, another honoree who is Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the NBA, who spoke of the importance for girls to think into the future. The last honoree, Davia Temin, the CEO of a global marketing company, noted that the world was getting "a little bit meaner" with the advent of social media often being utilized for cyber bullying. She called on the female audience to inspire girls with compassion, kindness and respect to remedy the "soul killing" effects of this conflict.

The extent to which women are shaping and beautifying society was manifested by the significant contributions of the evening's illustrious honorees. The gala chair, Jennifer Lee, Managing Director of Private Banking for Wells Fargo, stated that this year's dinner attendance was 30% over last year and raised more than 586,000 dollars. A live auction was then held with the first item sold being a glass of milk and some Scout cookies for the paltry sum of $1500.

Leicha Richardson

Leicha Richardson, a personal assistant to famed makeup artist Trish McEvoy, who was closely watching the auction in her fashion forward color blocked gown told me that McEvoy hosts these girls at her offices and teaches them the 8 steps of putting on makeup and how to succeed as an entrepreneur. However, McEvoy mostly teaches them that beauty is inside out and reflected by how you treat others.

When I left this wonderful event my mother recalled how important the Girl Scouts was for her as an insecure young teenager from a small town in New Jersey, in instilling a feeling of self-assurance and hope for the future. The extraordinary ability of this organization to help underprivileged girls through so many different eras and time periods is a remarkable achievement that should never be taken for granted.

- Lieba Nesis

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In the Market Report: Patricia Underwood Book Signing & Cocktail Party

Patricia Underwood with her book
(Photos: Marilyn Kirschner)

Hats will be the center of attention at the Kentucky Derby this Saturday, at the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon at the Central Park Conservancy, (affectionately called the Hat Luncheon) next Wednesday, and at England’s famed Royal Ascot (June 16th through June 20). No doubt, a good many of them (whether they are made of straw, felt, leather or cashmere) will bear the label, Patricia Underwood (, whose mission from the outset was to make hats “a woman could wear”. I guess you could call her a ‘Thoroughly Modern Milliner’.

Ivan Leon and Victoria Perry assistants to Patricia

The famed British born milliner, who has been working in the USA since 1967, is known for her unwavering commitment to quality and design, and for her luxurious, custom made, hand finished and understated designs (all made in the USA). While attention grabbing and eye catching, they are never a distraction but rather flatter and enhance (many women claim their husbands were initially attracted to them because they were wearing one of her hats).They put the woman in the spotlight but never steal the spotlight.

Jeffrey Banks Doria de la Chapelle and Fern Mallis

Last night, hats (many of which were Ms. Underwood’s) were out in force, as was the designer herself. The occasion: a celebration of the publication of the new book, “Patricia Underwood: The Way You Wear Your Hat”, by Jeffrey Banks and Doria de la Chapelle, published by Rizzoli (, $33). Among the guests who attended: Fern Mallis, Mary McFadden, Freddie Lieba, Stan Herman, Cece Cord, Audrey Smaltz, Louis Dell Olio, Jean Shafiroff, Chiu-Ti Jansen, Teri Agins, Lauren Ezersky, Ellin Saltzman.

Patricia Underwood's hats on the Ralph Lauren Fall 2015  runway

In addition to having her own line, Patricia has worked with the some of the world’s most renowned designers (her headwear always adds the finishing touch and the right attitude to whatever story they are telling). This list includes Perry Ellis, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, and Ralph Lauren, with whom she has enjoyed a storied and ongoing collaboration. So it could not have been more fitting that the venue for last evening’s event was the gorgeous Ralph Lauren flagship at 888 Madison Avenue.

Rizzoli's Nicki Clendening wearing a Patricia Underwood  hat 

As it turns out, the beautiful coffee table tome is a perfect way to celebrate (or should I say, “cap” off) the 40th anniversary of Patricia’s contribution to the fashion industry which began after she enrolled in an evening course in hat making at FIT. But it really took off after Vogue’s legendary Polly Mellen put one of her designs on Lauren Hutton during a Richard Avedon shooting. She has been appropriately honored with a Coty Award, a CFDA Award (she is an Emeritus Board Member of The Council of Fashion Designers of America), an American Accessories Achievement Award, and Fashion Group International’s Entrepreneur of the year award (of which she is a member).

Tziporah Salamon wearing a striped turban

The book contains images from her own archives in addition to iconic magazine editorials by the world’s greatest photographers (Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Horst, Annie Liebovitz, Barry Lategan, among them). Ms. Underwood’s designs have been featured in such films as “Sex in the City 2”, “Cinderella”, “Sabrina”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Austin Powers”, and they are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum and the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Marilyn Cane wearing a Patricia Underwood hat

Here are some of my favorite quotes about hats through the years:
"Wearing a hat is like having a baby or a puppy; everyone stops to coo and talk about it." (Louise Green)
"Fashion was not only supposed to make women beautiful, but to reassure them, to give them confidence, to allow them to come to terms with themselves." (Yves St. Laurent)
"Life is like a new hat. You don't know if it suits you if you keep trying it on in front of your own mirror." Shirley McLaine.
"A hat is a flag, a shield, a bit of armor, and the badge of femininity. A hat is the difference between wearing clothes and wearing a costume; it's the difference between being dressed and being dressed up; it's the difference between looking adequate and looking your best. A hat is to be stylish in, to glow under, to flirt beneath, to make all others seem jealous over, and to make all men feel masculine about. A piece of magic is a hat." (Martha Sliter)
"Fashion is a kind of communication. It's a language without words. A great hat speaks for itself.""Whenever you wear your hat, your day will be special." (Margo Nickel,
"Women are vain.  They think they look better in hats--if they have any sense." (94-year-old Louisa Hagood).

Marilyn wearing a hat and carrying a Ralph Lauren bag

There is no question that hats can instantly change the way you look, your outlook, and attitude. I even put one on for the occasion.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™: Celestial Chic "Star" Footwear

1970's Glam Rock Platform Leather Boots made
for David Bowie ($2,500) at 1st Dibs

Stars are suddenly everywhere and I'm not referring to the kind you might have seen at the Tribeca Film Festival. The concept of celestial chic was featured in so many collections for SS2015 that now it's just a matter of seeing which of these interpretations actually float down to earth and translate from the runway to real life. Ironically, nothing is making me feel more grounded than these "twinkle toes."

Yves Saint Laurent star sneaker

Brands including Anna Sui, Saint Laurent, and Tommy Hilfiger apparently want you to walk on a cloud with their star embellished footwear. Think glam rock; Ziggy Stardust five-inch platform optional. Stella McCartney has a pair of star embellished creepers with a thick, high sole called Elyse while Saint Laurent's sandal platforms are almost exact replicas of the glitter rock era.

My Gold Booties

For me, this starry obsession all started just a few days ago with a photo from model Joan Smalls' Instagram. What immediately caught my eye was her footwear: Tommy Hilfiger booties with multi-colored metallic leather stars and a low stacked and sculptured shiny red heel. Not only "Yes, Please!" but "OMG! Need these!" cried out the side of my brain that continues to delude itself into thinking that I'm a '70s era rocker chick. With only three phone calls I tracked down the last pair "company-wide" in gold which I also love (Joan's are black) in my size. Once they arrive from LA-LA Land (as soon as they said they would check the L.A. store I knew that they would be found), I will do the fleet-footed dance of joy and contemplate a worthy outfit.

Joan Smalls in Tommy Hilfiger booties

Judging by Joan's IG photo, she was feeling both the stars and the stripes, but in a sophisticated manner rather than in a literal patriotic holiday way. Her soft looking and unstructured black and white striped silky blouse is a nice counterpoint but I prefer the crisper version I found in this Sass & Bide tailored jacket ($550). I also admired/purchased this TH Runway vest but would probably resist the urge to team it with the star booties; even my propensity to go all "matchy-matchy" knows some limits. LOL

Anna Sui star boot Spring 2015

Another example of a "star" witness is Anna Sui's lace-up star bootie made in collaboration with Ballin also from the runway of SS2015. Saint Laurent has both sneakers and the aforementioned platform sandals with star motifs in more typical patriotic/nautical colors.

Jimmy Choo black star-studded Dart boots

Perhaps the Jeffrey Campbell "See Stars" booties that I bought in 2012 (seen on Selena Gomez) may have been my "gateway drug." I believe they were copied from the Jimmy Choo star-studded Dart booties that were popular then, at $1,525 versus around $270 for the Campbell boots. Giuseppe Zanotti continues to make a popular high heeled sandal with raised gold stars as does Kate Spade in a more sedate pump and ballet flat version. The trend is quite different when you compare the two older JC (HA! Same initials) examples from the current models; the raised silver metal stars lend a moto/biker babe-vibe while this year's metallic leather versions convey a more rich bohemian hippie aura. That's my justification for owning more than one pair of star booties and I'm sticking to it. In terms of footwear and a few other closet items, I'll just keep "reaching for the stars."

- Laurel Marcus 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

In the Market Report / Better Bets

“The Tooth, the Whole Tooth & Nothing But the Tooth”

Diana Vreeland wearing her signature ivory tusk necklace

I’ve been busy working on my "The New Best Dressed List" (which will be out next month). I would be the first to admit that the notion of ‘Best Dressed’ is highly personal and it's all so subjective (especially nowadays when there are almost no rules). That being said, I am always struck by the powerful presence that defines or defined certain past ‘best dressed’ icons, all of whom I paid homage to on my first list  (Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, CZ Guest, Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Jacqueline de Ribes, Slim Keith, Grace Kelly) and it never ceases to amaze me the way in which they completely stand the test of time.

Diana Vreeland wearing her signature ivory tooth
necklace and matching cuffs

Then, of course, there's Diana Vreeland (maybe she's on my mind as of late because of the upcoming Costume Institute exhibition). While she was known for her over the top personality and pronouncements, she was simplified and utterly modern in that she basically stuck to a ‘uniform’ (albeit one that was luxuriously fabricated, perfectly cut, and proportioned), and she always accessorized with a few dramatic signature pieces: her Verdura cuffs, and her beloved Kenneth J. Lane ivory tusk pendants. In fact, Diana Vreeland and KJL were good buddies, and she was famous for wearing his horn necklaces with almost everything, (year round and for both day and evening). She sometimes wore two or three together (didn’t she famously say: “Too much is never enough”?)

Vintage Kenneth J Lane faux ivory tusk claw charm necklace 

In any case, I have long been obsessed with these iconic necklaces (they do look great with everything), and while they are indeed timeless, they have that boho vibe and immediately ‘say’ 70’s. And because both are having such a fashion moment as of late, they could not be more 'of the moment' and 'happening'. If you’re looking for the real deal, you’re in luck because Kenneth J. Lane ivory tusk necklaces are always available, it seems. There are several vintage versions on and on (priced at $70), which is where I also found a rare charm necklace composed of a faux ivory and red coral tusk, claw, jade arm hands, gold coins and glass beads ($229.99). A well priced non-vintage KJL ivory tusk necklace which was recently available at Neiman Marcus has unsurprisingly sold out.

Stephanie Lake Double Tooth necklace

Among the most noteworthy non KJL offerings: a wonderfully unique, one of a kind piece in antique gold capped ivory, and vintage resin ivory, made by Stephanie Lake (, $1125. And while you're at it, please check out her other amazing pieces which are not for the faint of heart ('Think' Iris Apfel)! But perhaps my favorite is the eye catching version by Dsquared2 (, which was used to accessorize many of the pieces on their 70's inspired resort 2015 runway. Made in Italy, it combines a brass link necklace with a resin tooth pendant measuring a hefty 6 inches long ($615). And perhaps you want to channel Diana Vreeland, and wear dramatic cuffs as well? Check out their brass and resin Armlet, $915. FYI, the good news is that the website is currently offering a 20% discount!

The whole "truth" certainly seemed to have come out during the course of Diane Sawyer’s gripping and extraordinary sit down interview with Bruce Jenner that aired on ABC last night. It was in fact, the only two hour interview the news icon had ever conducted and I must say, it’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling this off.

Bruce Jenner

“I am a woman for all intents and purposes”, and “my brain is more female than male”, said the sports legend, who confirmed that he will be transitioning into a woman (he did not want to reveal his new name at this point). “I am me, I am a person. I am not stuck in anyone’s body. This is who I am.” He displayed a self-deprecating and humorous side, and while he appeared a bit nervous at the beginning, he seemed truly relieved and at peace with his choice to come out in such a public way, after keeping a secret and living a lie up until this point. He was so conflicted, he admitted to having considered taking his own life at one point but decided he couldn’t go through with it (“I have to know how my story ends” he said).

During the course of the interview, which effectively made use of footage of the 1976 Olympics (during which time he was hailed as “The world’s greatest athlete”), Jenner admitted to cross dressing from a very early age (periodically raiding his mothers’ and sisters’ closets). He didn’t know why he was compelled to do so, except that it made him “feel good”.  He also said he was sexually attracted only to women  and considered himself to be heterosexual. “Sexuality is who turns you on but gender identity is who you identify with inside”, he observed. At one point, he took Diane into a room where closets were filled with dresses, and he pulled out a little black number which he said he would wear when they went out to a planned dinner. He joked, “at least you won’t be the tallest woman in the room”.

Married three times with six biological children and four stepchildren, love and devotion to family was a huge theme during the entire interview. A ‘star’ on the reality show, “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, along with his other family members, he found it rather ironic that he was, in fact, “the real story all along”. He told Diane that he and Kris would still be married if she had been “okay with this”. Interviews with his older sister and 87 year old mother, were especially touching and at the end, his mother said, I didn’t think I could be more proud of you standing on the podium at Montreal, but I’m learning I can be.”

Diane ended by asking Bruce (who will continue his transition in the near future) if this interview could be considered a “goodbye to Bruce”. He answered, “It’s not a goodbye to me but to people’s perceptions of me. This is who I’ve always been.”

- Marilyn Kirschner

Better Bets:  Mother’s Day Books for the Fashionable Woman

Horst: Photographer Of Style

This book is the companion volume to a 2014 exhibit of the famed fashion photographer’s work at the Victoria and Albert museum (V&A). The German born Horst worked primarily in 1930’s Paris for Vogue, then in New York, for Vogue and other Condé Nast publications.

Horst’s style was created in part by his training with other Condé Nast photographers and by publisher Condé Montrose Nast’s insistence on the use of oversized 10 x 8 inch black and white photographic plates.  This meant that Horst photographed his subjects, including many of the leading names in fashion and the movies, exclusively in the studio, with carefully crafted lighting that produced dramatic shadows.

As World War II approached, Horst departed for New York, where his work would evolve, influenced by Bauhaus and modernism, but always in his own unique style, including stunning color photography using Kodachrome.  The book draws on the V&A’s extensive collection of Horst’s work, as well as other important pieces, and includes a variety of interesting essays on the iconic photographer.

 Text by Philippe Garner, Claire Wilcox and Robin Muir; Edited by Susanna Brown; Foreword by Anna Wintour

Published by Skira Rizzoli
336 pages

Available at: $75.00

"A Healthy You" - by Carol Alt with Jocelyn Steiber

Super Model, Carol Alt continues her advocacy of raw food in her new lifestyle book, “A Healthy You” co-written with Jocelyn Steiber.  Alt, who hosts the A Healthy You health and wellness show on the Fox network, shares her personal raw food living philosophy, interspersed with essays by doctors and others who share her point of view.

 Starting with nutrition and the argument for a raw diet, Alt also covers fitness, skin care and beauty, and how to age gracefully.  The book is very personal, as Alt shares her journey from a model who avoided food to a practitioner of what she views as the optimum healthy lifestyle, including alternative health practices, such as coffee enemas for detoxing.

 The book includes a plethora of raw food recipes and personal tips, such as avoiding chewing gum because it stimulates digestive enzymes, staying away from non-refrigerated oils, maintaining a slightly alkaline pH, and fitting in squats during conference calls.  To be sure, the lifestyle described can take quite a bit of effort, as Alt tells us that she brings her own salad dressing to restaurants, and a platter of raw cheese and crackers (yes, these are also raw) to parties, but, according to Alt, the payoff is well worth it.

Foreword by David Perlmutter, MD
Published by Dey Street Books
288 Pages
On Sale 5/12/2015: $25.99

- Rhonda Erb
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