Wednesday, July 26, 2017

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

"Cheap Thrills": Mid-Summer Edition

High fashion undeniably comes with astronomically high prices. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t bargains to be found. And who amongst us doesn’t love a bargain? Once again, I have reprised my "Cheap Thrills" column; selecting a number of items in the market, I show their high priced version along with their (far) less expensive doppelganger (in most cases, they are a fraction of the cost of the originals).

Will the quality, workmanship, fabrication, and detailing of the latter be on par with the former? Well of course not. But in many cases, the differences are miniscule, barely discernable, discernible only to those with the most well trained eye, and not enough of a negative to outweigh the positive (the price tag). Let’s face it, most of us, without the clothing allowance of First Lady Melania Trump for example, can’t afford not to take cost into consideration. In some cases, I actually prefer the less expensive version and not just because of the price but by virtue of its design, size, etc.

FYI, if it appears that almost all but two of the inexpensive pieces are from Zara, that was unintentional but given how in sync they are with the pulse of fashion, and how successful they are with creating affordable fashion, it shouldn’t be that surprising. Is it any wonder that Amancio Ortega, the founder and owner, has been named the third richest person in the world?

Click images for full size views...

The XL Multi-Striped Leather Shopper

Left: Balenciaga, $2550 More info/purchase : Right: Mango, $99 More info/purchase

The Fringed Black Leather Belt

Left: Azzedine Alaia, $6800 More info/purchase; Right: BCBG Max Azria, $98 More info/purchase

The Colorful Bejeweled Buckle Pump

Left: Manolo Blahnik, $695 More info/purchase ; Right: Zara, $65.90 More info/purchase

The Structured Wicker Bag

Left: Mark Cross, $1048 More info/purchase ; Right: Zara, $59.90 More info/purchase

The Elongated Frayed Edge Tweed Jacket

Left: MSGM tweed blazer, $785 More info/purchase ; Right: Zara elongated tweed jacket, $129 More info/purchase

The Vividly Hued Pointy Toed Over The Knee Stretch Boot

Left: Balenciaga, $1395 More info/purchase ; Right: Zara, $89.90 More info/purchase

The Silver Studded Black Leather Bag

Left: Elizabeth & James, $695 More info/purchase ; Right: Zara, $69.90 More info/purchase

The Fringed Cobalt Blue Tote

Left: Stella McCartney, $868.50& More info/purchase ; Right: Binge Knitting, $98 More info/purchase

The Minimal White Slingback Pump

Left: Tibi, $425 More info/purchase ; Right: Zara, $59.90 More info/purchase

The Striped Wide Legged Trouser

Left: Lanvin, $458 (50% off) More info/purchase ; Right: Zara, $69.90 More info/purchase

The Slouchy Trench Coat

Left: Vetements, $2867 (reduced from $4095) More info/purchase ; Right: Zara, $219 More info/purchase

The Silver Oxford

Left: Loeffler Randall, $395 More info/purchase ;Right: Zara , $49.90 More info/purchase

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Gucci Domination Explodes

Alessandro Michele at his 2018 Fashion Show

In the past two years, the fashion industry has gone through tremendous change as designers Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy and Raf Simons of Dior have been given the boot. However, the greatest transformation in the industry has been the appointment of Alessandro Michele who has singlehandedly transformed Gucci into the "it" collection.

Few times in the past decade has there been a designer equally influential in both men and womenswear. Michele, an avid antique collector, was appointed creative director of Gucci in January 2015 after Patrizio di Marco and Frida Giannini were abruptly fired. In that short period he has caused a fashion revolution by producing covered-up attire that is more sensual than sexual - leaving a lot to the imagination. Before he was chosen, rampant speculation abounded as to who would replace Marco and Giannini with names including Joseph Altuzarra, Riccardo Tisci and Tom Ford being floated around.

It came as a tremendous surprise when little known Alessandro Michele was chosen; a man who had spent 12 years working in Gucci's accessories department with the last three serving as assistant to Giannini. Michele took over in January 2015 and was given just five days to put together a men's collection to be shown in Milan. In 120 hours he created a collection that ushered in his ascendancy in menswear and continues to improve with each collection. Why choose Michele? After years of sluggish sales and mixed reviews the billion dollar behemoth named Gucci decided to head in a new direction and felt Michele had a more "contemporary vision." Michele was tasked with being in charge of all of Gucci's collections as well as its global brand image - a job five fashion veterans would have trouble performing.

Celine Dion in Gucci in July 2017

He has taken the fashion world by storm with his "grandma chic" clothing-mixing prints and patterns with pinned bows and plaid hats-creating a look that is distinctively Gucci. The tiger sweaters, snake designs and starry dresses have injected a joyful whimsy into a fashion world that had become gloomy. The pared down sexy look of Tom Ford's Gucci which caused a sensation in the 90's has been turned on its head with Michele. The "maximalist" modest look debuted by Michele is a look that can be worn by the most religious individual. It is hard to imagine that Hollywood, which has become a glorified Burlesque show, would embrace his designs so enthusiastically.

Yet the fashion and entertainment universe is obsessed with all things Gucci. Even his fur loafers have become ubiquitous with both men and women of the fashion elite clamoring for this reasonably priced $995 luxury item. His new shoe designs allow you to put clip-on bows on pumps and stickers on sneakers. His consistent innovation is astounding. Moreover, the bags in navy blue and turquoise with bows, flowers and lions are coveted by the masses and are in the acceptable price range of $1,000-$4,000 - especially compared to a $12,000 Birkin. Even his belts have gained traction and with a price point of $400-$1,000 they may soon supersede the omnipresent Hermes belt which starts at $800.

Brie Larson Wears Gucci to 2016 Oscars

His dresses are astronomically expensive ranging from $2,000 for the most basic dress to upwards of five figures. However, everyone will compliment your Gucci and admire your commitment to fashion. He even collaborated for the past two years on a perfume called "Bloom" which will be making its debut shortly. How has one man been able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time? Firstly, he relishes his job with an over-the-top contagious enthusiasm.

Gucci from Resort 2017

More importantly "his Genius has no boundaries" akin to the prolific Karl Lagerfeld; and I dare say for the first time in decades we are seeing a designer of that caliber. Born in Rome in 1972, this 45-year-old phenom studied at the Accademia di Costume e di Moda in Rome and started as Senior Accessories Designer at Fendi before being tapped by Tom Ford in 1992 to join Gucci's London based Design Office. Since Michele's rise to creative director he has received the 2015 and 2016 International Fashion Designer of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards and the 2016 CFDA International Award - incredible achievements in a limited time period.

Beyoncé heads to JayZ's office in head-to-toe Gucci

His slovenly appearance only adds to his mythological status - his look is "Jesus meets heavy metal rock star in a Williamsburg cafe". And in case you haven't noticed, celebrities get photographed when they wear his modest garb-take note Emily Ratajkowski. The first time he designed for the Oscars in 2016 was an astounding success. Brie Larson wore a flowy royal blue Gucci - needless to say she won the Oscar and best dressed. Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto love Gucci with Gosling wearing it to the Oscars, Cannes and numerous premieres. And let's not forget Beyonce who appeared in a $3,400 head-to-toe Gucci ensemble to visit her husband, Jay Z's, office. Her pleated metallic midi skirt coupled with a blush colored Intarsia Merino butterfly wool knit sweater was the most talked about look of 2016-more than any of her sleazy ensembles. Moreover, when she showed up to a basketball game in a $20,000 Gucci kimono the press went wild.

One of his maximalist designs from Resort 2017 Collection.

These modest looks may be part of the Hollywood shift to more demure attire. If you make money from exposing body parts like Nicki Minaj, the Kardashians and the Hadid's you may never adopt this look (although Kim recently wore a sheer Gucci bra as a "shirt"). However, talented artists who want to be admired for something other than the size of their butt desire his attire.

Melania in pink pussy-bow blouse to debate

Case in point, superstar Salma Hayek wears almost exclusively Gucci. Melania Trump made headlines when she showed up in a pink "pussy bow" $1,100 Gucci top to her husband's 2016 debate. I would be remiss if I failed to mention Nicole Kidman's Green Gucci sequined dress with a parakeet sewn into the plunging neckline which she wore to the January 2017 Sag awards. This dress had the Twitter universe in a tizzy and was largely applauded by the fashion police.

Nicole Kidman at 2017 SAG Awards in Gucci

This fearless design was paradigmatic of the label's unapologetic move into high fashion with bold attire. Celine Dion was recently photographed in a floral Gucci dress as well as normally barely covered Dakota Johnson. How have sales fared? In the first quarter of 2017, Gucci's revenues increased by 50 percent - retail sales went up 34 percent and wholesale increased by 37 percent. It's parent company Kering, reported Revenue of $3.9 Billion thanks in large part to Gucci - who even outsold Kering's other lucrative Hedi Slimane Saint Laurent brand. If this past May's resort collection in Florence, where the likes of Elton John, Dakota Johnson, Kirsten Dunst, and Salma Hayek turned up to applaud the extravagant Renaissance collection is a harbinger of things to come; then it is fair to say the unstoppable ingenue named Alessandro Michele may be ushering a "rebirth" into the world of fashion.

- Lieba Nesis