Thursday, March 05, 2015

In the Market Report:

Dries Van Noten's Artistry in Fashion

Dries Van Noten Fall/Winter 2015 Collection
(All photos - click on images for larger views)

It’s a beautiful thing when everything comes together for a designer (the venue, the collection, the mood, etc.). Such was the case in Paris on Wednesday, when Dries Van Noten showed his fall 2015 collection. Richly hued with military undertones, it had stellar outerwear, pieces that are simple yet special enough to stand on their own, tactile surface interest, ornamentation, and standout accessories (the chunky gold metal twisted ropes and feather and fabric flower necklaces are bound to be highly sought after), and it represented Dries at his best.

It also perfectly illustrated why this highly revered, influential designer, (known for his cross cultural, global aesthetic, predicated on effortless layering and superb fabric mixes), was awarded the CFDA International Award in 2008, and the 2009 Couture Council Artistry in Fashion Award.  Previous winners were Ralph Rucci, Alber Elbaz, and Isabel Toledo, and to say these four illustrious creators set the bar high for his honor, is an understatement.

The collection was luxurious and glamorous in a way that can best be described as unforced and believable; ageless in that one could easily imagine it on a wide range of ages (which is not an easy feat!); and with its Eastern references (China is on everyone’s minds these days thanks to the upcoming exhibition at the Costume Institute), it was timely, yet timeless. In addition, it was the epitome of deluxe bohemian without looking one bit costumey (long a Van Noten signature).


The models looked beautiful, graceful, and comfortable, as they easily strode the runway in their blocked heeled footwear (boots and open toed sandals, which were often covered in brocade or damask), and slouchy chino pants. In one fell swoop, Dries made slightly rumpled, super wide legged chinos look desirable and chic. By the way, his use of humble utilitarian cotton drill in tan and navy, along with more opulent gold threaded brocades and pailletes, was just one of the highly effective ways he was able to create those perfect mixes he is known for (fusing the banal with the opulent, day with evening, boy meets, girl). At a time when everyone is talking about modern luxury and modern glamour, he hit the nail on the head.

Anna Dello Russo wearing chino cargo pants
and fabulous  patterned fur coat

Speaking of chino pants, while they are not likely to ever replace denim as the universal, all time favorite wardrobe staple, it looks like we might be bracing for a revival of sorts (such as the one following Nicolas Guesquiere's landmark fall 2007 collection for Balenciaga). Apparently, Anna Dello Russo already got the message as she was spotted sitting front row at Dries's show, wearing chino cargo pants (narrow ones), with a crisp white shirt and Navajo turquoise jewelry beneath her fabulous patterned full length fur coat.

- Marilyn Kirschner

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™

Sipping in Spring at the DRESSBAR

Storefront window
(All photos Laurel Marcus)

"The Right Dress Has Transformational Powers" claims the beginning of the " wall mantra" at DRESSBAR a pop-up shop and spin-off of Dressbarn, launched on lower Fifth Avenue (102 Fifth) last night featuring an exclusive line: LUXE by Carmen Marc Valvo. CMV, previously known for his flashy red carpet designs  was there in the flesh doing the meet and greet along with his seven-piece-dress collection of mostly floral and a few pleated polyester frocks priced from $42 to $70. The store will be open for business today accompanied by a major national ad campaign celebrating the femininity, fun, and functionality of the dress. Further store prototypes are expected to be added in the fall.

"The Scene"

"Who needs an N?" read the cocktail waiter's black t-shirt in a drollery on the fledgling bird leaving the (n)est or maybe the (clothes) horse leaving the (dress)barn. In fact, DRESSBAR wants you to forget all about its humble suburban-strip-mall parent company and plug into its younger, hipper, and slick digital in-store experience courtesy of integrated iPads that help you select a dress by occasion or mood: date night, GNO or that "look at me now" reunion weekend. Yes, they are working hard to convince you that this is not your mother's Dressbarn but rather a boutique or "curated collection of dresses that includes exclusive design collaborations with notable and trusted names in fashion." Other "name" dress collections include MiXT by Heidi Weisel, Lovely by Adrianna Papell and dbRSVP by the db Fashion Studio as well as a jewelry collection from Celeste and Satu Greenberg of Tuleste called TRUE and priced between $10 and $29.50.

Carmen Marc Valvo posing in front of his dresses

The event's atmosphere was very welcoming and spring-like with hanging flowering branches everywhere further enhanced by soft pastel lighting in the double height loft- like space. Prosecco and candy colored cocktails flowed and tiny squares of salmon and avocado were passed on long rectangular trays. Everything about the event was melded together very synergistically thanks to Linda Gaunt of LGC. Mr. Valvo, dressed all in black, happily posed for photos and even complimented me on my Yoana Baraschi dress (maybe Ms. Baraschi should think about a DB collab). Other notable attendees included Teri Agins and Robert Verdi in a "Sgt. Pepper/band leader/Gopher on the Love Boat" jacket.

Buy Now! "100 Unforgettable Dresses" at

Fashion illustrations were being created in watercolor of and for guests which is something that no fashion party seems complete without recently. One large wall and focal point showed a slide show of projected pages from the book "100 Unforgettable Dresses" by Hal Rubinstein which I found quite interesting. The book features many iconic dresses such as J. Lo's infamous green print Grammy's Versace, Julia Roberts vintage Valentino Academy Award dress, and Princess Diana's black off-the-shoulder "Revenge" dress to mention just a few. I was thrilled to find that this fashion tome was the goodie bag take home treat of the evening along with a bouquet of fresh Margarita daisies from the "florist" station by the door, providing a much needed taste of early springtime cheer even if was just a prelude to yet another snowstorm.

- Laurel Marcus

Monday, March 02, 2015

Editorial: What Happened to Old Hollywood?

Left McConaughey 2010; Right Oscars 2015
(Photos Just Jared, & Getty Images)

The Oscars 2015 proved to be a big snooze as predicted and yet, the greatest disappointment was the complete absence of male eye candy. While I had practically given up on any female fashion standouts, my hope was that some gorgeous men would steal the show and allow me to sleep with dreams of a Cooper (Brad) or a Tatum (Channing) sweeping me off my feet on some deserted Caribbean Island. Even Matthew McConaughey was on my mind, hoping he might appear in some heavy duty Dolce and Gabbana tuxedo with some great hairdo reminding me of his history as a heartthrob back in the days when he was voted People's Sexiest Man Alive.

Unfortunately, most of the men ending up looking like Bruce Jenner, with too much surgery and enhancements and by the end of the show Michael Keaton was the only alpha male that had captured my attention--and that is not a good thing. It is hard to explain what has occurred in male dominated Hollywood, but suffice it to say the days of Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and John Wayne are finito and a new era of Bruce Jenner "men who look like women" has arrived. Alternatively, there is the homeless grunge thing going on which is equally depressing. Not to diminish or ridicule Jenner, who has been widely mocked by an unrelenting media, but I am tearful as I try to come to terms with why Tinseltown's leading men enlist their plastic surgeons to make them unrecognizably womanly, disappointing their faithfully devoted female audience.

Left: Bradley Cooper  2014; Right Oscars 2015

The worst offender of his own beauty is Bradley Cooper, an incredible actor, stunning specimen and classy gentleman. Bradley has been nominated for 4 Academy Awards and continues to astound with his acting prowess. However, it was not until he starred in the "Hangover" trilogy that he skyrocketed to fame and this was mostly due to his comely appearance. His long hair, statuesque physique and sleazy smile made him irresistible and allowed him to progress to more serious roles that showcased his prodigious talent. Kudos to Bradley, he is a megastar breaking box office records with "American Sniper" and selling briskly on Broadway in a magnificent "Elephant Man" performance. What happened to your face and hair Mr. Cooper? There is a fakeness and tightness that is indescribable which leaves me brokenhearted-your girlfriend Suki looks more masculine than you. The hair is slicked back, short and dark, no more sexy highlights rubbing against that spectacular face. Bradley, whoever your plastic surgeon is please stop. You owe it to the public to not only impress James Lipton on Actor's Studio but to give joy to those that supported you during your "Hangover" days. Grow the hair back, stop with the Restylane and Botox injections, and take the picture of Bruce Jenner and Eddie Redmayne off your refrigerator, these men are not good role models.

John Travolta Oscars 2015

Similarly, John Travolta, albeit a leftover celebrity, continues to amaze, with his creepy ladylike appearance, showing up at the Oscars with a head full of fake hair, a "Frozen" face (shout out to Adele Dazeem) and made up looking eyes and cheeks, complete with a cowboy necklace. I am getting a "Saturday Night Fever" just thinking of his unfortunate appearance, especially when comparing him to the days of "Grease" and "Welcome Back Kotter." His career is done but we are sure he can console himself with his Boeing 747. Some more unfortunate pinups who have gone awry include Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, and even a lesser known Tim McGraw. Matthew McConaughey awed with his Academy Award winning performance in the 2014 "Dallas Buyers Club" in which he lost 47 pounds and his movie star looks. Years later and his face still remains gaunt and unattractive. Moreover, his Unabomber beard which he debuted at the Oscars made him look disheveled and awkward, something that no Dolce and Gabbana tuxedo could compensate for. Matthew, one thing is for sure, you will never have to worry about appearing in a romantic comedy again with your morose and dejected demeanor.

Left: Channing Tatum 2010 Right Oscars 2015

Another "Magic Mike" disappointment is Channing Tatum who catapulted to fame with his boyish masculinity in "Step Up." His looks have since trended downward with a pathetic side combover, a surgically altered face and a blank stare. The imperfections are what made these men outstanding, and now they look like cardboard cutouts of their prior selves. While Tim McGraw was never much of a looker in my book, he had a sexy schmaltziness that was somewhat appealing. At this past Oscars, his thinning side-parted hair coupled with his gaunt face and body left me longing for the mildly dashing country star of latter days.

Jared Leto 2015 Oscars

While there were some decent looking men at the Oscars with Chris Pratt looking dashing in a Tom Ford tuxedo, John Legend looking adorable in a Gucci tuxedo, and Benedict Cumberbatch looking better than usual in a white suit, the overall showing was less than impressive. Even Jared Leto, someone who wowed at last years Oscars, looked like Jesus's crazy brother, with his shaggy unwashed hairdo and dumb behavior (licking and rubbing Patricia Arquette's face on stage), making him a "what was he thinking" poster child. There are still some men who have aged gracefully and appropriately without overdoing the surgery, including Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Harrison Ford; however, without them attending the Oscars I found myself longing for the "good old days" when men without tattooed eyeliner and greased combovers graced the Oscars with their majestic presence.

- Lieba Nesis

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Fashion Editorial: "Gone Gucci" by Marilyn Kirschner

Gucci backstage Fall 2015 RTW Collection
(Photos: &

I remember the first time I walked into the Gucci boutique located on 5th Avenue and 55th Street, in the elegant St. Regis Hotel. It was the 1960’s, and the fabulous jewel of a shop (where you could easily rub shoulders with Jackie Kennedy at any moment) was small, elegant, and special, and just being inside you were magically transported to Florence or Rome, without having to get on an airplane. And I certainly remember my first Gucci purchase. It was a pair of the iconic brown suede loafers, on a low stacked heel, punctuated with the company’s signature gold horse bit. Luxurious, low keyed, and immediately identifiable, they symbolized all that the famed house (which began as a small saddlery shop in Florence), stood for. Well, goodbye to all that. Forget "Goo-be-Gone". This is more like "Gucci-be-Gone". Well, for the time being anyway.

Alessandro Michele taking a bow after his debut
 Menswear 2015 Collection 

It is now under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, who has been on the job for about two months. He was promoted from head accessories designer and deputy to Frida Giannini (who was ousted, along with her husband who was CEO of the company, in an attempt to bolster sagging sales). And from my point of view, the label, is all but unrecognizable. His much talked about debut (for the Fall 2015 menswear collection in Milan last month), was gender bending, offbeat, rule breaking, eclectic, and streetwise, as was his Fall 2015 Womenswear collection (perhaps a bit too much so), which was unveiled last week. He was certainly making a statement and distancing himself from the past. Actually, the word "grunge" comes to mind, and I’m of the belief that nobody over the age of 18 should wear "grunge".

Gucci Fall 2015 RTW Collection

It immediately recalled Marc Jacobs’ landmark grunge collection for Perry Ellis in 1992, which was made up of the kinds of clothes Marc has always loved (and the sort of things his friends and contemporaries actually wore). While the press were immediately enamored, the powers that be began to question whether or not, customers would pay so much money for clothes that looked “a little bit fucked up”, (in Jacobs’ words), and he found himself out of a job (and you can see how that ‘ruined’ his career LOL!)

Gucci Fall 2015 RTW Collection

In any event, I know that change is good and change is needed, and it’s important to make luxury relevant for our times. But surely there’s a better way to do that than by filling the runway with a group of models made to look like nerdy kids dressed as though they raided the vintage and thrift shops of the lower east side. And notwithstanding the good pieces and good ideas, that was the overall effect of Alessandro’s runway show.
Gucci Fall 2015 RTW Collection

We have to give the designer some time to settle in, I wish him the best of luck, and hopefully, he has a plan.  There is no one blueprint for remaking an iconic luxury label. When Hedi Slimane took over as head of design for the venerable house of Yves Saint Laurent, he quickly got rid of the word Yves, but otherwise started out slowly, paying homage to the house’s famed archives for his first collection. It was then that he began to put his own imprint on it: pulling things apart, making it hip, and youthful with a rock n roll edge. While his efforts initially met with mixed reviews (especially from the Parisians who have always glorified all that YSL stood for), one thing became obvious: he had his fingers on the pulse of today’s fashion (even Cathy Horyn has since warmed up).

On the other hand, Nicolas Guesquere’s first few collections after taking over the reins at Louis Vuitton, were by and large met with universal praise. Highly focused and smart, he has thus far, been successful at putting his own personal spin on the house, making it appealingly wearable, and seeing to it that the handbags (by introducing new shapes) become even more highly sought after than before. Most importantly, he has kept the luxury quotient high.

Gucci logo handbag fall 2015

Alessandro Michele has said that he wants to make Gucci more contemporary, more romantic, and more democratic, and proudly boasted that there’s nothing of the house’s archives in the Fall 2015 collection (accept for one GG logoed bag on a small gold chain). Am I missing something? Doesn’t there have to be some link to the company’s luxurious saddlery past? Shouldn’t there be something of the company’s DNA intact in order to fuel desire, drive sales and rationalize the hefty price tags? Does Alessandro really believe that the 20 something lower East Side kids (the ones who are now apparently the face of the label), should really be the target customer for luxury items that sell for well into the 4 figures?

This past Saturday, I attended a memorial service for former Harper’s Bazaar executive fashion editor June Weir who recently passed away (she was also a former fashion editor at WWD and W). She was remembered as a woman of many talents with an almost childlike curiosity and wonderment about the world; a consummate communicator, with flawless manners and an almost unparalleled love and knowledge of fashion (Ralph Rucci, who was one of the major designers who had benefitted from June’s knowledge and wisdom, was also in attendance). Afterwards, I had lunch with two colleagues and we were all talking about the new Gucci. Unsurprisingly, since we are contemporaries, we were all in agreement (I have no doubt this is a generational thing).

Gucci Fall 2014 RTW Collection

While I may not have been a fan of everything Frida Giannini did in her tenure as head designer, I have to say that her last few collections (Resort and Pre-Fall 2015) looked especially good, and I thought that Fall 2014 was right on the money (everything from the colors, the perfect proportions, the furs, the exotic skins, the use of denim, the fabulous boots, and the bags). To me, it was chic as all get out (and really, is there anything wrong with that?) and in fact, there were more than a few things in the collection that I obsessed over. On the other hand, I can’t say there is one thing on Alessandro’s Fall 2015 line that would entice me enough to buy. He’s lost me (for now, anyway).

- Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, February 28, 2015

In the Market Report:

In the "Pink" of Things

Anna Wintour at the 87th Academy Awards

So, it seems Anna Wintour knew that something was in the air when she decided to wear that pastel pink gown and matching fur shrug at the 87th Academy Awards last Sunday. Surprise, surprise (not!) She, along with supermodel Karolina Kurkova and Gwyneth Paltrow, were the other fashionable attendees who stood out on the red carpet by virtue of the fact that they opted for this traditionally sweet, girlie, feminine pastel hue, instead of the more predictable shades of red, black, white, gold, silver, etc. that one is accustomed to seeing at these high profile events.

Prada Fall 2015

As I have previously mentioned, the combination of baby pink and red has long been considered to be a decidedly chic and fashionable (if not an unusual and surprisingly off beat color combination), so, it should not have been that surprising when it appeared in several guises during the course of Miuccia Prada’s pastel - saturated Fall 2015 runway show held in Milan on Thursday evening. Like the rest of us, the brilliant designer apparently bores easily and seems to have a short attention span; and she has turned being fickle and contradictory, into an art form. Which explains why each season, you can rely on her to go completely against what she previously showed. Case in point, just about one month ago, she unveiled an almost entirely all black pre fall 2015 collection and admitted that she was feeling for strict and severe “uniform” dressing (which has also beens another Prada signature through the years). But not this time.

Prada Fall 2015

For Fall 2015, Miuccia was in true form with a collection that was a testament to her ongoing love affair with strange and unorthodox colors and color combinations (various shades of pink, blue, green, gray, mustard, ochre, etc.); offbeat use of furs and plastic (as ornamentation); gutsy, hefty tweeds along with luxurious, exotic skins and innovative fabrics; pared down, almost minimal shapes (in this case, everything was neat, fitted, short, and cropped, including the pants); and of course, her beloved structured satchels.

The overall effect was subversively ladylike (and innocently childlike at the same time), and her runway did not look like anyone else's this season. But of course, she did look like the Miuccia we have all come to know and love. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that while off beat color combinations and pastels defined her collection, (there were even pastel hued walls in her show venue), Miuccia herself took her bow in the always chic combination of black and white. It's as though she was saying, "Do what I say, not as I do."

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, February 27, 2015

Editorial: Saggy Boobs Get Their Day in the Sun

Ashley Benson
(Photo: Getty Images)

This past fashion week flew by with remarkably few moments that stood out in memory, except for the Reem Acra show. While the gowns and dresses were spectacular in their bohemian gypsy-like beauty, what was more surprising was a front row attendee who had her saggy boobs on full display smack in the middle of the audience.  It appeared as if no one noticed and I felt slightly perverted for staring and focusing on her droopy chest but her young age and the prominence of the display made me uncomfortable.

The girl's name was Ashley Benson, a 25-year old from the television show "Pretty Little Liars" and there were numerous headlines from Perez Hilton to the Daily Mail and even a YouTube video made of her cleavage, documenting this momentous event. This was the "coming out" party for Benson, and it is almost assured she is on her way to fame and fortune due to her revealing garment.

Sofia Vergara Vanity Fair party

This was the revered fashion week where icons Anna Wintour and Linda Fargo set the dress code with long sleeves, mid-calf skirts and an occasional flounce or skinny jean. Was I even in the right place? Then I began to feel melancholy as I looked at her boobs because they reminded me of my grandmother (or bubby) who used to sit me on her lap with her voluminous chest, and talk to me about her days in Poland and the struggles she endured. Wow the emotions that this exhibitionistic display riled up left me perplexed. Upon going home to view the Reem Acra show online it became clear that the press did in fact take notice of this woman and there were multiple pictures and comments discussing her revealing dress.

Jennifer Lopez at the Vanity Fair party

However, Ashley is not alone, as the saggy boob trend has been picking up in Hollywood this past awards season with Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, Heidi Klum and Amy Adams forerunners of this increasingly popular trend.  And why not, aren't we all sick of looking at the perfectly perky breasts of Salma Hayek, Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian? Plaudits to Kate Upton for appearing on the Sports Illustrated cover twice with her low hanging boobs sans bra saying hello to the male audience in 2012 and 2013 - we were getting sick of the perfect Photoshopped Victoria's Secret models stealing all the attention.

Gwyneth Paltrow at 2002 Academy Awards

Gwyneth Paltrow was an early advocate, appearing at the 2002 Academy Awards in an Alexander McQueen sheer gown with little support, even lamenting this dreadful look years later claiming she should have worn a bra, beachy hair and less makeup. Thank you Gwyneth for being so self deprecating but you are in good company. Jennifer Lopez has hit nearly every awards show sans bra, recently appearing in an Elie Saab dress at the Academy Awards that had everyone talking.

Jennifer Aniston at the SAG awards

Jennifer Aniston, another offender, appeared at the "SAG" awards in a vintage Galliano dress that left little to the imagination, and Heidi Klum showed up at the Elton John Oscar party in 2013 in a Julie Macdonald dress that had tongues wagging at her dangling duos. Furthermore, Amy Adams limping lemons were practically the focal point of the entire "American Hustle" movie, the one in which she was nominated for an Oscar in 2013. Even goddess Sofia Vergara has been showing some southern movement in her chest area as the pictures from the recent Vanity Fair Academy Award's party reveal, making her more relatable to her vast female audience.

Heidi Klum Julien at the Elton John AIDS Foundations Oscar Viewing-Party

The burgeoning popularity of low hung boobs is a feminist statement of sorts. It says to the world I am proud of what I have even if it does not conform to the ideal of female perfection. However, its "downside" is it increases society's objectification of women and puts attention in all the wrong places. We should be applauding these amazing women for their incredible career accomplishments and instead the only thing that stands out are the two things that have always garnered the most attention, since the days of Marilyn Monroe - and I am not talking about their soulful eyes.

- Lieba Nesis