Saturday, October 22, 2016

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ®

Hot Footing It

Phillip Lim & Garance Dore
All photos Laurel Marcus

Last Wednesday night I was invited to sit ringside while a man and a woman conducted a discussion for broadcast. No, I was not in Las Vegas at the third (and thankfully last) presidential debate, but rather here in NYC at the taping of installment number 151 of the podcast "Pardon My French." Created by photographer, illustrator, award winning writer Garance Dore, the episode is entitled "The In Conversation with Garance Dore & Phillip Lim". The event, held at Neuehouse Gallery was presented by the website which sells previous season discounted spinoff of The podcast will be published on Dores' eponymous fashion and lifestyle website ( and on iTunes October 27.

Part of the audience

Before the podcast began I had the opportunity to quickly peruse the clothing downstairs -- the site of a dinner later that evening hosted by Zanna Roberts Rassi. I thought I had died and gone to fashion heaven when I saw the racks of glittery holiday offerings -- I'm part magpie when it comes to embellishments. will soon have clothing from designer Tom Ford -- although they have previously sold his eyewear and accessories the clothing line is new to them. I also checked out The Outnet's in-house line Iris & Ink for more basic clothing. Seeing the festive accessories including colorful shoes and clutch bags (book clutches from Olympia Le-Tan as well as poured acrylic "word" clutches by Edie Parker) being pressed into service as great bookends or decorative objets d'art on bookshelves was an inspirational idea. Take that into consideration if you own any shoes that you (or your feet) have decided might be prettier to look at than to actually wear. Unfortunately that describes most of my shoe wardrobe!

Shoes & books

After procuring one of the three specialty vodka drinks from the bar --I made mine a Moscow Mule and I don't even know Putin (ha) I settled in on the carpeted bleacher-type seating to watch the podcast. Originally from Corsica, Dore spent her teen years in the South of France, her young adult life in Paris and now lives in New York. She maintains that French gift of storytelling which you will hear if you listen to her podcasts or read her writing for publications like Vogue (American, British and Paris), The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, T Magazine, Elle, The Guardian, and New York Magazine; or her 2015 visual memoir "Love Style Life." As she interviewed Phillip Lim, it became evident that the designer also had no shortage of interesting stories up his well crafted sleeve.

Illustrations by Garance Dore handed out at the event

Phillip Lim recounted his somewhat circuitous journey to the top of the fashion industry in a humorous, down-to-earth and engaging way. He was born in Thailand to Chinese immigrants who then fled to Southern California in the wake of Cambodian civil war. Growing up in Orange County in what he describes as a "super conservative community where I tried to assimilate by playing tennis and wearing a tennis outfit," he claims, he didn't trust himself to know that his calling was fashion.

Trying to fulfill the dreams of his seamstress "salt of the earth angel mother" (his biggest source of inspiration) and professional poker playing father (who Lim calls out as a mortifying example of a "hustler who dressed like a playboy and drove a pimp mobile instead of a station wagon"), he enrolled in Cal State Long Beach business school, but his heart wasn't in it. One day in his third year there he abruptly left his accounting class and walked into a home economics class down the hall; a major he eventually obtained his degree in, without notifying his parents of the switcheroo. Once the cat was out of the bag his family didn't speak to him for years.

Lim recounts how, as a child in grade school, he would watch his mother "transform things with her hands" and beg her to show him how to make the clothing that he coveted from MTV and music videos. "The musicians were self-styled in those days -- they looked like the music they made; they looked like a tribe of people that I wanted to belong to." After succeeding in the transformation of his school clothes Lim couldn't wait to show them off. "I would get dressed and sleep in my clothes. I couldn't wait till daybreak to put on my shoes and leave the house!"

"I didn't have a dream, I just followed what excited me," a principle that Lim still uses for inspiration in his daily life. Among other topics -- how his company became 3.1 Phillip Lim ("I was hiding behind the number) which stood for "31," the age that he and his business partner and friend Wen Zhou were when they started the company. Now celebrating his 10th year, Lim radiates Zen (spiced with the use of some four letter words) while speaking of how he survives the constant push/pull of fashion and the need to feed the beast by creating collections twice a year -- definitely worth a listen as well as having a look at Garance Dore's site.

Cocktail party at Stuart Weitzman boutique

The following night I revisited the shoe theme -- doesn't everything start with putting your best foot forward?-- with a cocktail party hosted by Quest Magazine at the newly renovated Stuart Weitzman boutique on Madison Avenue. Gone are the wavy purple couches reminiscent of a groovy '70s Austin Powers airport lounge. They have been replaced by a monochromatic, streamlined beige environment which I was told by a salesperson is "more contemporary... although Stuart liked it better the way it was before." Yes, I'll take character over blandness any day. Stuart Weitzman shoes often fit into that gap of being trendy but not so extreme as well as comfortable. In honor of TBT I wore my now Kindergarten-aged-first pair of true OTK Weitzman suede boots. I remember when I purchased them thinking they were so "Pretty Woman"-- now they look tame.

Sonja Morgan

As the store filled up I spied several of the notables that one sees in a "well-heeled" crowd including members of the FIT Couture Council including Yaz Hernandez and FIT Chairman of the Board Liz Peek; and what event would be complete without a housewife? RHONY's Sonja Morgan did casual chic, looking very youthful) in minimal makeup, skinny jeans, blue blazer and black patent leather YSL Tribute pumps. Was I the only one wearing SW's?

Kimberly Guilfoyle

A face that perhaps is not that familiar to Manhattanites is that of Fox TV news "The Five" co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle. Just in case you prefer watching CNN I'll fill you in: the diminutive (5'2") Guilfoyle is known for her extensive (and expensive) high-heeled shoe wardrobe which along with her stunning legs, are always prominently visible from her foreground perch during the show. Perhaps this is a vestige of the reign of Roger Ailes, however, I would venture to guess that it is one which most red-blooded American males hope the Murdochs' don't end up shelving.

- Laurel Marcus

Friday, October 21, 2016

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

American Ballet Theatre 2016 Fall Gala

New ballet Daphnis and Chloe
All photos Lieba Nesis
(Click images for full size views)

The American Ballet Theatre held its annual Fall Gala on October 20, 2016 with the performance beginning at 6:30 PM at the David H. Koch Theater. This year I had a front row seat.

Calvin Klein

I was able to view all the luminaries entering including: Linda Fargo, Brooke Shields, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Star Jones, Hamish Bowles, Deeda Blair, Amy Fine Collins, Joanna Fisher, Julianna Margulies, Calvin Klein, David and Julia Koch, Peggy Siegal and so many others.

Brooke Shields

I wondered when the last time Brooke Shields and Calvin Klein were in the same room, but tonight there was a lot coming between Brooke and her Calvins and that included some great dancing.

Michael and Shirley Weil

The evening started with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (JKO) and the ABT Studio Company wowing the audience with their youthful agility and professionalism in Alexei Ratmansky's "Rondo Capriccioso".

Amy Fine Collins, Joanna Fisher and Hamish Bowles

It started with a young dancer peering into a mirror and viewing her older self. The music was sparse but the dancing was multifaceted, and the crowd reacted enthusiastically when the four and six year olds moved across the stage.

Socialite Deeda Blair

Up close I was able to view every sinewy muscle on the dancers' bodies and I noticed many were more voluptuous than in past years-stick thin is no longer in.

George Condo and principal dancer Stella Abrera

After this Act, there was a pause and dancers Marcelo Gomes and Gillian Murphy gave a speech congratulating the JKO school on its' twelfth anniversary and thanking American Airlines and Northern Trust for being the leading sponsors of the School.

Misty Copeland

They then introduced the next piece "Symphonic Variations" which was choreographed by Frederick Ashton and notified us that the six dancers performing would be on stage for the entire 18 minutes.

Star Jones, Chair Sutton Stracke in Dolce and Jennifer Tilly in Dolce

This was no easy feat but Misty Copeland, James Whiteside, Jeffrey Cirio, Devon Teuscher, Skylar Brandt, and Craig Salstein performed with ease although I was able to see them sweat and breathe heavily-thankfully, none of the droplets hit me.

Christian Zimmermann, Keith Lieberthal, Julianna Margulies
 and Richard Kielar

During intermission I spoke to actress Julianna Margulies, who was taking a break from her television show "The Good Wife". Margulies is more radiant than in her ER days, which she attributes to living in New York where she enjoys watching and observing others, something necessary for her craft and which she couldn't do in Los Angeles.

Anka Palitz and Musical Director Ormsby Wilkins

Margulies was thin and statuesque in a black and white Herrera and confided that she loves riding the New York subway when she goes to see Shakespeare in the Park. Her husband, Keith, is a dead ringer for Matt Bomer and the two of them met inadvertently at a dinner party.

Choreographer Benjamin Millepied

As the harpsichord rang, we were told to find our seats and treated to the Company Premiere of "Daphnis and Chloe" which was choreographed by Benjamin Millepied, husband of Natalie Portman, and danced beautifully by Stella Abrera, Cory Stearns and James Whiteside. Abrera, who has been with ABT for 20 years, told me she practices five hours a day during the season and tries to eat food that energizes her while sneaking in some CrossFit sessions.

DiMondo in Gucci and Fe Fendi in Roland Mouret

"Daphnis and Chloe" was given its World Premiere at the Paris Opera Ballet in 2014 and was designed in one movement with three parts. This piece was inspired by the Greek novel by Longus and tells of Daphnis discovering his love for Chloe ending with the young lovers reuniting.

Editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest Amy Astley, with dancer Isabella Boylston
 and artist George Condo

This was a lovely and understated premiere, finishing with the dancers in bright blue, green, yellow and orange costumes.

Lauren Santo Domingo, Hamish Bowles and Linda Fargo

At the conclusion of the ballet, guests headed to the ornately decorated second floor for some delectable food and dancing. I spotted a dashing man, named Carlos Souza, who has been Valentino's Brand Ambassador for 35 years.  Souza was excitedly recounting the rave reviews Valentino recently received for its Paris presentation.

Peggy Siegal and Valentino Brand Ambassador Carlos Souza

Souza met Valentino when he was modeling for him many decades ago and he continues to be an integral part of the brand. As the DJ began playing tunes, Souza and his compatriots danced enthusiastically with the crowd of prima ballerinas and moguls participating - another remarkable night in the City of New York.

- Lieba Nesis

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner


Prada Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear
Her runways are always fertile ground for styling tricks
All Photos:

The actual clothes presented on the runways, in and of themselves, are not necessarily the only interesting part about the formal shows as far as I’m concerned. Equally compelling is the mood, the attitude, the way the clothes are presented AND the styling tricks employed. By simply thinking out of the box (as the designers did), you can re- invent and refresh your closet

While all fashion shows have the potential to be fertile ground for styling tricks needless to say, some more so than others. There’s almost no designer whose runways are more inspiring from a creative point of view, than Miuccia Prada. Others who have been similarly consistent: Dries Van Noten, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld, and Demna Gvasalia in his role as Creative Director for Vetements and Balenciaga.

Here are some excellent examples (taken from recent runways), of ways you can apply styling tricks to update your own wardrobe without buying anything new or without spending much money (or any money at all for that matter). I guess you could say the trick IS the treat!

Balenciaga Fall 2016 Ready-To-Wear

1 Puff Piece: Hand’s down THE most editorialized look for fall 2016 was the Balenciaga off the shoulder red puffer jacket shown over a diamante turtleneck, stirrup pants and bejeweled satin high heeled pumps. It spoke to so many of us because it was taking something practical and basic, and reinventing it to make it special and new. It’s also something relatively easy to duplicate (as are the following 14 examples) without necessarily buying the Balenciaga components because let’s face it, we all have high heeled evening pumps, something bejeweled, and puffer jackets (unbutton yours and tug it off the shoulder to get a similar look should you desire).

Balenciaga Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

2 What’s the ‘use’? Who says something functional and pragmatic can’t be made fanciful? Certainly not Demna Gvaslia who is known for his counterintuitive pairings. This multi pocketed vest is a perfect example. Again, you don’t need these specific pieces; all you have to do is apply the same thought process involved in mixing the streetwise with the couture like.

Junya Watanabe Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

3 Entrenched: The humble trench is perhaps the most iconic piece of clothing we all own and while it is traditionally been thought of as practical daywear, it’s actually the perfect piece to unexpectedly wear at night, or mixed with something unexpectedly edgy, whimsical, and artsy.

Prada Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

4 Twisted Sister: Speaking of trenches, which are inherently classic, you just might want to follow the lead of John Galliano at Maison Margiela and Miuccia Prada both of whom made them look purposely lopsided. This is relatively easy to do: instead of buttoning and belting yours in a traditional way, wrap it around your body asymmetrically and a bit off kilter and belt in place.

Prada Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

5 Mix and Clash: You don’t need Balenciaga’s bold florals and stripes or Miuccia Prada’s checks, plaids and florals to make this work. Simply look in your closet and pull out your favorite patterned pieces and have some fun. Getting dressed in the dark never looked so chic! Needless to say, the key to pulling this off is understanding the importance of scale and having confidence.

Balenciaga  Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

6 Color my World: It’s not just clashing patterns but clashing colors that are making a statement. Take your brightest pieces and put them together in bold, jarring combinations you wouldn’t normally think would work harmoniously. Needless to say, this works best when the pieces themselves are rather simple and straightforward. Let the color do the talking.

Celine Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

7 Size Matters: You don’t have to buy Celine’s, Vetements’, Jil Sanders’ or Balenciaga’s outsized tailored jackets to duplicate this look. Simply raid your husband’s, significant other’s, boyfriend’s, or dad’s closets. I started borrowing my husband’s Armani and Burberry trench coats and it worked for me.

Alexander Wang Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

8 The Four Seasons: I have previously noted that I found it rather fitting that Tom Ford held his see now buy now fall 2016 Ready-To-Wear show during NYFW at the iconic Four Seasons Restaurant (prior to its complete relocation and renovation) considering that it’s all about seasonless clothes, ignoring seasons, or schizophrenic-ally mixing them: the epitome of modern. So, why not treat fur as another fabric and consider it appropriate year round depending on the weather?

Prada 2017 Spring Ready-To-Wear

9 In the Clutches: Who needs a new IT bag when you can literally reinvent your favorited shoulder bag or hand bag by simply holding and carrying it differently? Ignore the strap or handle and hold tightly against your body the way Miuccia did.

Lanvin Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

10 Evening Hours: Why not rethink evening? Why does an invitation for a black tie evening have to mean a predictable long gown or a cocktail dress? Why not invent your own festive gender fluid put togethers as Lanvin’s Bouchra Jarrar did?

Chanel Fall 2014 Ready-To-Wear

11 Training Day: Nothing changes the look of an outfit (or adds an edge) as quickly as choice of footwear. Happily, no longer do women have to choose between being comfortable, and being well dressed. Trainers and all manner of sneakers are now offered in every imaginable iteration, in endless variety, and are now deemed as appropriate for day as for evening; for work as for play (depending upon where you work of course).  When Karl Lagerfeld showed them throughout his fall 2014 collection (pairing them with evening dresses, coats, tweed suits) his endorsement almost single handedly changed many women’s opinions about the appropriateness of wearing them 24/7 if you so choose.

 Delpozo Spring 2017

12 Lend an Ear: Maybe all you really need to instantly update what you have and bring in the WOW factor, is to add a pair of amazing earrings (and not just shoulder dusters but ones that are longer in fact). Delpozo’s Joseph Font showed some of the most amazing examples on his most recent runway.

Dries Van Noten Fall 2016 Ready-To-Wear

13 Spot On: They say a leopard never changes its spots, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change the way you think about leopard. Leave it to Dries van Noten to breathe new life into this perennial favorite by mixing it with elements of decadent, luxe menswear.

Christian Dior Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear

14 Opposites Attract: Boy, do they ever. Masculine and feminine, hard and soft, streetwise and couture, high and low, day and evening, sheer and opaque not only made their appearance on many runways, they sometimes all appeared together in one outfit. Such was the case with many designs by Maria Grazia Chiuri in her freshman outing as Creative Director of Christian Dior. How you apply this to your closet is completely up to you but I’m sure you already have the components.

Christian Dior Spring 2017 Ready-To- Wear

15 My word: Slogan t shirts were all over the runways whether hidden beneath jackets or standing on their own. Do you want to get something off your chest (literally)? It’s a great (and relatively inexpensive) way to advertise your feelings, your thoughts, and your convictions.

- Marilyn Kirschner