Tuesday, May 24, 2016

In the Market Report

The 2016 “Class” Act

Parsons Dean of Fashion Burak Camak addressing the guests
All photos Marilyn Kirschner

The late great Geoffrey Beene famously argued that it’s not what is “new” that matters, but what is “good”. Of course, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that something can be both.Such was the case yesterday afternoon, when the top collections from The New School’s Parsons School of Design, class of 2016, were spotlighted at a runway show held at Pier 60.

Design by Xingyuan Xu

I suppose you could say it was a dress rehearsal for the show which was repeated again last evening during the course of the 68th annual Parsons Benefit; a collaboration between Parsons School of Design and the College of Performing Arts. Hosted by Andy Cohen, honorees were Beth Rudin DeWoody (BA Liberal Arts’75), Arianna Huffington, Donna Karan (BFA Fashion design ’87), and Sarah Jessica Parker. Funds raised will go to support scholarships to The New School for students unable to attend the university.

Design  by Song Deoyoon

Joel Tower and Burak Camak, Parsons New School’s Executive Dean and Dean of Fashion, respectively, were on hand to make their welcoming remarks. Mr. Tower asked the faculty and new graduates who were seated in the audience to stand and called them (and “the staff across the university”), “an amazing group of people”.

Ya Jun Lin puffer jacket

He also acknowledged that this is the first time the runway show would combine Parsons College of Performing Arts and its Fashion School. He went on to say this would be our “first look” at the show that has launched the careers of many iconic designers including Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. The Dean echoed the sentiment that it’s been an “amazing year”.

The fast paced show began with fashion designer, performance artist and opera singer Alejandra Burguete (whose vision of luxury mixes creativity and sustainability) and included the designs of approximately 28 students (there were three to 5 pieces shown per each).

Design by Sarah Kate Belcher

Among the standouts: the work of 2016 Solstiss Award Winner Sarah Kate Belcher (her thesis collection, Free/Form was sponsored by Solstiss Lace and Kayrock Screenprinting); Natasha Kumar’s humane, ecologically sound, deconstructed designs; Xingyuan Xu’s geometric, color blocked 3D Orientalism;

Design by Natasha Kumar

Angela Luna’s distinctive outerwear (she is in the process of creating an accessible, humanitarian fashion brand); Han Wen’s mix of the cross cultural and the highly experimental, with couture like construction; Ya Jun Lin’s focus on the graphic and sculptural; Sijun Guo’s three dimensional sculpted shapes;

Design by Nicola Romagnoli

Nicola Romagnoli’s high tech, futuristic designs. They would have been right at home at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibition, “Manus x Machina”: Fashion in an Age of Technology, and could have easily been worn by some of the attendees of the recent Met Gala.

Design by Jackson Wiederhoeft

The show’s finale fittingly showcased New York based fashion designer Jackson Wiederhoeft. I was not at all surprised to learn that he has apprenticed in both fashion design and costume design and always seeks to imbue his clothes with serious “star quality”. For him, it’s not about age, look, or gender, but “attitude”. This was quite apparent in his debut collection, “The Dollies”, for which he cast a variety of models, drag queens, and club kids.

Thom Browne looking on as Jackson Wiederhoeft designs
come down the runway

And I was hardly surprised to learn that following graduation, where he was one of twelve Womenswear Designer of the Year finalists, he will begin working for Thom Browne, assisting the Design Development Team for both the men’s and women’s collections. Like a proud papa, Thom was taking it all in from a ringside seat.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, May 23, 2016

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ®

What the Frock at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards?

I really didn't want to do this. In fact I went to bed last night thinking that I'd just wake up in the morning and the whole Billboard Music Awards pink carpet would be a distant memory. Instead I lay awake with visions of crimes of fashion, rather than sugar plums, dancing in my head. Here is what plagues me.

Britney in Reem Acra
Photos: AP & Getty Images 

The Plague of Heatstroke: You're in the Las Vegas desert heat -- do you really want to wear velvet, turtlenecks and over-the-knee boots? Apparently Britney Spears, back at it again in a Reem Acra lace bodysuit trailing a black silk "tail," and Jessica Alba in a black velvet Zuhair Murad "ice skater outfit" do. Unbelievable fact: there is a hairdresser taking credit for Britney's "beachy waves" aka her fried locks/extensions. Uh, no -- but love you Britney!

Zendaya in Calvin Klein

The Plague of the Missing Chicken Cutlets: Fashion chameleon Zendaya made a rare misstep of Paltrow-esque proportions last night. Remember Gwynnie's ill-fitting pink Ralph Lauren Oscar dress? Zendaya has now subjected another old master of design namely Calvin Klein to the same fate. Her two- piece nude colored long skirt with bra top seriously needed those friendly helper inserts to make it fit properly. While Donald Trump may or may not have once stated that a flat-chested woman can't be a "10," I would argue that she just needs a little foam rubber or gel-type padding. I don't even go to the gym without mine.


The Plague of Colonel Sanders: Speaking of chicken cutlets, did the KFC front man dress Kesha last night? I didn't really mind the purple vintage Nudie suit with its Prince meets Bob Dylan meets a matador vibe but when she changed into the white sequin embellished Gucci suit to perform leaving the white shirt and black bolo on underneath, I had an inexplicable craving for some extra-crispy wings. Kudos for her straight up performance of "It Ain't Me, Babe" though, after all the controversy over whether she would be allowed to perform or not.

Rihanna in Thierry Mugler

The Plague of the Dun Brown Dress on a Fashion Icon: This one's totally got me SMH. Rihanna, who can and normally does pull off anything, had a major slip up in this vintage Thierry Mugler getup. The color, the fit, the wrinkly fabric, even the shoes were a hot mess not worthy of my fashion idol. Did she lose a bet or something?  Her performance suit with the green fur was so-so but her change of a-dress afterwards into a long green and gold Dries Van Noten gown was also substandard for dear Ri-Ri.

Ciara's Only Good Look -- Naeem Khan 

The Plague of the Hostess Gown: Please don't make me revisit Ciara's collection of ugly and ill-fitting frocks throughout the long night. I really will run screaming in horror.  How do you take someone with a perfect figure and make them look awkward and occasionally shapeless? No explanation other than #LostABet...

Madonna in Gucci

The Plague of the Iconic Female Pop Star Giving a Tribute to a Fallen Iconic Male Pop Star: As seen at the Grammy's with Lady Gaga's manic attempt at a David Bowie send up, Madonna actually went to the opposite extreme producing a morose routine in "honoring" her friend Prince. She was obviously very emotional as you could see her visibly shaking and shedding a tear or two from the sides of her face where her eyes now reside. Stevie Wonder for the win during the "Purple Rain" segment.

Kate Beckinsale

Did anyone get it right? I would say kudos to presenter Kate Beckinsale in a white Hamel gown, if only for correctly identifying the season; although different rules may apply since she's an actress, not a musician.

DNCE in Moschino

As for musicians who got it right, I loved the yellow and blue trompe l'oiel Fall 2016 Moschino outfits worn by DNCE's Joe Jonas, Cole Whittle and Jack Lawless. I'm not sure who female member, guitarist JinJoo Lee was wearing but her white frock featured a huge trailing back bow sash which reminds me of my daughter's Azzaro high school prom dress. Nice to see cool rocker chick Lee sport a satin big bow -- her addition of tall patent leather boots is giving me life as well as a great styling idea for future wearings of the prom dress!

- by Laurel Marcus

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ® by Laurel Marcus

An Evening with Staci Greenbaum: Costume Designer for "Broad City"

Staci Greenbaum
Photo Laurel Marcus

Much like those she costumes, lead characters/writers/creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of the hit TV show "Broad City," Staci Greenbaum is not one to mince words. After all,  any woman who can make two separate "ass" references (one to kissing, one to wiping) in the course of a 45-minute inspirational and career-guidance talk to an audience of mostly Millennials, is someone who knows the industry. Last night I attended a program sponsored by Fashionista.com and Macy's clothing line Bar III, which featured a little window into Ms. Greenbaum's life and times as costume designer on Comedy Central's "Broad City", Bravo's "Odd Mom Out" and Hulu's "Difficult People". Executive Editor of Fashionista Alyssa Vingan Klein posed questions for Ms. Greenbaum at Space 530, ranging from information on her interests, her background and her fascinating but exhausting job.

Executive Editor of Fashionista Alyssa Vingan Klein
questions Ms. Greenbaum

Photo: Laurel Marcus

"When I was 11 or 12 I decided that I really wanted to be the next Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta or Betsey Johnson," Greenbaum recounted. "Mom said I should learn to sew so I took Home EC courses in Middle School." After snagging an internship while still in high school, with a friend's mother -- a local theatrical costume designer in her native North Potomac, Maryland -- "A magician who produced everything out of her basement," Greenbaum came to love costume design. In college at the University of Wisconsin, Greenbaum had her first internship with the film "American Gangster" which she was able to parlay into her first paying job. "I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and willing to do anything," she recalls. "As a PA (Production Assistant) I would drive the designers around Manhattan for hours listening to them complain about the traffic as if I could will it away for them. I tried never to complain. It was like what kind of toilet paper do you want me to wipe your ass with?" she quips.

Greenbaum's next stint was as an Assistant to the Costumer on "The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman II" where she was a small fish in a big pond. When that wrapped she put out feelers to be an assistant on a smaller scale production -- that of "Broad City." She was on her way to Fire Island for a bachelorette party over a long summer weekend, when she got a last-minute call to "put a proposal together" for the job of Costume Designer -- the show's original costumer had backed out. Greenbaum had four days to organize her pitch, consulting Pinterest boards underneath her towel at the beach while saying things like "Oh, you're getting married!"

Cast of Broad City

When she met the women of "Broad City,"(the gross out comedy of two best friends living in NYC playing younger, highly exaggerated versions of themselves), they hit it off. In fact, according to Greenbaum, Abbi said she felt like it was a therapy session. Ilana was a bit harder to nail down. "I didn't quite get her at first. I thought she would have sayings on her shirts and wear leopard print but no," said Greenbaum. Interestingly, Ilana is now her favorite character to dress due to a melange of crop tops, printed leggings, "floor clothing", not to mention the hilarious episode where she wears a dog hoodie to work, her hair in ponytails where the canine ears should be. Greenbaum also enjoys dressing the character of Jill on "Odd Mom Out" because she has a "rock 'n roll hard edge" which includes "lots of leather but it's scalloped, beautiful and laser cut."

Ilana and Abbi in HotMiamiStyles

Where does Greenbaum source Abbi and Ilana's BC wardrobe? "I try to be true to their socio-economic status, which is low," she chuckles. Many items come from fast fashion retailers such as H&M, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Madewell, Free People, Uniqlo, Zara, Century 21 or Old Navy, so if you think you recognize a top or two, you may have encountered it at the mall. "We try to support local New York stores whenever possible," adding that some things are ordered online such as Ilana's MessQueen tie-dye leggings. Two other popular websites are HotMiamiStyles.com (Abbi's oft-repeated, season spanning blue bandage dress, as well as Ilana's two-piece cropped top and skirt that she wore in the closing episode of Season 1), and CountryClubPrep.com ("A treasure trove of ridiculousness"). They also rent from various costumers such as Anne Roth ("Costume Depot" is what Greenbaum calls it), shop for vintage finds (there's a great episode with the girls at Beacon's Closet - see video) and pull items from various local designers. One thing you won't catch them in is Spanx however Ilana is all about the colorful, visible sport bra and requires a gazillion pairs of wacky socks.

In the frequent "nude" scenes, (Abbi joyously dancing naked in her apartment after Beavers, her unseen roommate's boyfriend who is essentially her real roommate, leaves town for a few days; as well as a communal scene in the unisex gym locker room), Greenbaum lets us in on a little secret. "I have trunks of 'nude' stuff from a brand called Nubian Skin. They make items in all shades of nude, because not everyone is off-white. There are pasties, petals, tube tops and shibuis (paste-on thong underwear) that are used," she said.

Broad City tackles the dress

When asked to pick a favorite scene from any of the three seasons so far, Greenbaum chose the first episode of Season 3 entitled "Sample Sale" (I thought it had an element of the Larry David "Curb Your Enthusiasm" only grosser, to it) and the 90-second montage that opened Season 3 which was meant to give a time elapsed video of the girls complete with costumes they wore over the year since Season 2 ended including the "Blue and Black dress vs. White and Gold dress." Incidentally, they had to make the white and gold dress since it didn't exist. The costumer liked the way the cold open showcased the season calling it the "We're Back episode."

Ilana Glazer, Hillary Clinton, Amy Poehler, Abbi Jacobson

Greenbaum didn't mention it in her talk but she has certainly had some interesting and high profile guest stars to clothe, particularly for this past third season including Vanessa Williams, Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg, Alan Alda, Tony Danza and the biggest get: Hillary Clinton (she wore her own green pantsuit). The fact that Amy Poehler is the show's executive producer may have initially been the draw for attracting talent, but Jacobson and Glazer are quickly becoming their own forces to be reckoned with. The show, currently on hiatus, has even been picked up for two more seasons.

When asked to share an important piece of advice for getting ahead in the industry Greenbaum recommends being a self-starter, making yourself indispensable on set and above all, her "mom-ism" of "catching more bees with honey than you do with vinegar" aka being nice to people. "The toes you step on today may be attached to the ass you'll be kissing tomorrow," is the unattributed quote she used in her second butt reference.

What is next for Staci? Well, she's got Season 4 of Broad City in which, for the first time ever, we will see winter time on the show (they have always filmed in the summer before this). Following the talk, I asked her if she had any idea how she's going to deal with that, she said she thinks it will provide all kinds of comic fodder and can imagine the girls getting all bundled up and then sweating to death on the subway. Aside from BC, Greenbaum mentions that she'd love to do a movie period piece since that's where her roots are, preferably set in the Victorian Era between 1870-1890. Otherwise, she's taking the next five months off for another type of production: a baby boy due in July. Here's where her bottom wiping experience will really come in handy!

- Laurel Marcus