Saturday, October 20, 2018

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

Trick & Treat!

Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel runway is always fertile ground for styling tricks spring 2019 ready-to-wear
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The actual clothes presented on the runways, in and of themselves, are not necessarily the only interesting element of the formal shows. Equally compelling, as far as I’m concerned, is the mood, the attitude, the way the clothes are presented AND the styling tricks employed. By merely thinking out of the box, as the designers often did, you can reinvent and refresh your closet without necessarily buying anything new. Here are some examples from recent runways that might serve as inspiration.

His, Hers, Theirs

Gender bending, gender-neutral fashion has been one of the most pronounced themes this season, and it is not just a passing trend but here to stay. For spring 2019 Haider Ackermann staged his first unisex, double-gender show (the houndstooth trousers worn by the male and female models were all but indistinguishable from one another). The entire wardrobe worn by the male models on the runway of Celine, for Hedi Slimane’s freshman outing, was unisex and will be available for women. At Monse, there were about 12 unisex items inspired by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia’s male friends who are fans who had already been wearing the women’s pieces.

Timothee Chalamet and Jamie Lee Curtis

So, why not agree to share and swap clothes with your husband, wife, significant other, and partner? You will instantly double your wardrobe. If you are smaller, you get that fashionably oversized look, and if you are larger, you get that always chic shrunken look. If you two are the same size, that’s great but not imperative. Far more important is having a similar aesthetic but either way, it’s a win-win situation. To perfectly illustrate the point, a few weeks ago Jamie Lee Curtis and Timothee Chalamet appeared separately but on the same day, wearing almost identical red pantsuits.

Red Alert

Valentino  spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Nothing packs more or of a wallop than red. The fiery hue has long been a signature of the house of Valentino, and on Pierpaolo Piccioli’s spring 2019 runway there were some beautiful red dresses, both short and long. But what really struck me was the practical way he used just a touch of red (lips, bag, shoes) to make black come alive. We all have something red, and of course, we all have tons of black in our closets, so it’s a simple and easy way to add instant pizazz regardless of the combinations employed.

Scarf Tricks

Marine Serre fall 2018 ready-to-wear

Tying a Hermes scarf around a bag is a forever-chic styling trick and an easy way to incorporate a print or pattern into a solid ensemble. But Marine Serre has taken that a step further and then some. For fall 2018, long scarves dramatically trailed from the models’ heads and Marine used oversized scarves to cover spherical bags that were actually gym balls. For spring 2019, an entire dress was fashioned from pieced together scarves (further accessorized with a scarf printed cap). The 26-year-old who was awarded the 2017 LVMH Prize and launched with spring 2018, has made her innovative way with scarves somewhat of a signature. Maybe she will inspire you to get similarly creative with yours.

DIY Couture

Marine Serre spring 2019 ready-to-wear

About 50 percent of Marine’s spring 2019 collection was made of an upcycled material, and one of the most dramatic pieces was a black opera coat decorated with key fobs. The designer said she was inspired by her grandfather’s key fob collection, but apparently, you can take a favored coat or jacket and use it as a base to personalize by decorating with anything you especially love.

What’s the Use?

Fendi spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Are you a hopeless scatterbrain and routinely lose/misplace your keys, phone, glasses, receipts, tickets, etc.? Turn your personality ‘flaw’ into a fashion statement and do it in style no less. Utilitarian, functional fashion is back with a vengeance for spring 2019. Belt bags, multiple bags, multi-pocketed coats, and jackets were shown on many runways including Chanel and Fendi. Even the most disorganized amongst us will have no excuse to get better organized.


Burberry spring 2019 ready-to-wear

The first look on the Burberry runway in London (it was Riccardo Tisci’s first show for the house) was a classic tan Burberry raincoat. But instead of using a matching self-belt, Riccardo added a wide brown corset-like belt to give it a defined shape really. If you want to change the look of your coats, this is an easy way to do it. Just substitute the belt it came with something broader and more contrasting. It’s an instant shape-changer and a whole new coat.

Be a Visionary

Givenchy spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Near or farsighted? Embrace your imperfect vision and instead of wearing contact lenses, find the most fabulous, statement-making glasses around just like Iris Apfel, who has made her sizeable black owl sized specs a signature. Put these Givenchy frames on, add the earrings, and you are good to go!

Let it Rip

Calvin Klein spring 2019 ready-to-wear

In keeping with the “Jaws” theme for spring 2019, Calvin Klein’s Raf Simons created a skirt with a prominent ‘bite’ taken out of it; presumably by a shark. So, instead of throwing out or donating clothes with moth holes, rips and tears, why not wear them with pride and confidence?

Mix and Clash

Thom Browne  spring 2019 ready-to-wear

If you tend to get dressed hurriedly in the morning, and more often than not, in the dark early morning hours, and sometimes find yourself wearing mismatched socks or shoes, or other combinations that don’t necessarily ‘work,’ don’t let it bother you. There was a lot of clashing and mismatching this season. It was certainly memorable at Thom Browne where almost the entire spring 2019 collection, shown in Paris, was a study in jarringly mismatched colors and prints down to the tights, knee highs, and footwear. You can think about it as crazy mixed up clothes for a crazy mixed up world. Perfect. Or should I say, perfectly imperfect?

In the Clutches

Givenchy spring 2019 ready-to-wear

You don’t need to go out and buy a new clutch bag when you can literally turn your favorited shoulder bag or handbag into one. All you have to do is merely carry it differently. Ignore the strap or handle and hold it tightly against your body the way Clair Waight Keller did on her Givenchy spring 2019 runway.

To Tuck or Untuck

Givenchy spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Another thing Clair Waight Keller did on her recent runway, was to tuck the jackets (tuxedos, leather jacket) into her high waisted trousers. This completely changed the look and gave it a new proportion. If you have the right pieces, this is relatively simple to do yourself.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Comme des Garcons spring 2019 ready-to-wear

If you are always fretting over graying hair and/or a body that is not quite what it used to be, check out Comme des Garcons for spring 2019. Rei Kawakubo’s most recent collection was a self-reflective homage to birth, creation, and aging complete with gray-haired models, whose tummies, in some cases, had added protrusions to make them look pregnant. Who knows, you might even be inspired to stop dying your hair and throw away those Spanx!

Make Leggings - and Bicycle Shorts- Great Again

Chanel spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Perhaps you are among those who think that common every day black leggings are only gym and jog appropriate. And just the thought of tight bicycle shorts immediately calls to mind Kim Kardashian West. Guess what? You just might want to rethink after Karl Lagerfeld’s chic makeover for both on his beach like spring 2019 runway. Even if kicking off your shoes is not practical, you can imbue an easy beachy informality to your most formal jackets (tweed or otherwise) by pairing them with leggings or bicycle shorts instead of opting for a skirt, trousers, or jeans.

Speaking of tricks and making something great again, if only someone could "Make the Presidency Great Again and turn Donald Trump into a true leader. Now, that would really be some great trick!

And finally, sneakers: trick OR treat? A little of both I suppose. Some undeniably look like they could be part of a Halloween costume.

I will preface this by saying that I am an avowed sneakerhead who has literally lost count of how many I own. I have high tops and low tops, solids, and patterns, I have white, red and black sneakers. I have sneakers that are unisex and generic (Vans, Converse Chuck Taylor, Adidas) and sneakers with designer labels. Some that are plain and some that are embellished. I have some that are single soled and some that are platformed. Some that slip on and some that lace up. What ties them together is that they are all comfortable and ‘cool’ in their own way.

I read with interest Vanessa Friedman’s article, “Season of Peak Sneaker Silliness,” October 18th. Yes, I agree that the sneaker “silliness” has gotten a bit out of hand these days, but that is always the case when something in fashion reaches such heights of popularity. But I don’t think the bubble has necessarily ‘burst’ on them either because as Ms. Friedman also pointed out, once a woman gets used to comfort, it is tough to go back.

I contend that there is a time and place for everything: pointy-toed stilettos, block heeled loafers, mannish oxfords, demure kitten heels, ballerinas, tall boots, booties, elegant boots, rugged boots, and yes, sneakers. It isn’t a one or another proposition. One category does not replace the other. They each serve different purposes and create a different mood, look, and proportion. And each is a valid part of a well-balanced wardrobe.

Although Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia showed nothing but pointy-toed boots and pumps on his recent runway, as Ms. Friedman pointed out, and there seems to be a return to formalization, let’s face it, there is also a time and place to be more casual. Who wants to wear high heels all the time? In the same way, I would never wear sneakers with formal attire, I also would not run errands, or run through an airport wearing sky-high stilettos.

The bottom line is that it all depends on what you need, what look you are going for, and the appropriateness to an occasion. It’s up to the customer to reject ugly sneakers (with price tags that insult the intelligence to boot) and select the ones that make sense for them.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, October 19, 2018

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

"Dior and his Decorators" Featuring Author Maureen Footer Take on Sotheby's

Dior and His Decorators Book Cover
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While examining the fashion and interior design history of Christian Dior is never a bad idea, this fall the French designer really seems to be trending.  Not only is his "New Look" the jumping off point for the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Fabulous Fashion exhibition, he's hot in the world of furnishings as evidenced by a new book "Dior and His Decorators: Victor Grandpierre, Georges Geffroy, and the New Look," by fashion historian/author and Francophile Maureen Footer. Of particular note for fashion fans: the book features a foreword by Hamish Bowles.

Left to right: Caroline Rennolds Milbank, Mitch Owens, Maureen Footer, Dennis Harrington

I was fortunate enough to attend a panel discussion at Sotheby's on Tuesday night featuring Footer; fashion historian and curator Caroline Rennolds Milbank; Decorative Arts Editor of Architectural Digest Mitchell Owens who served as moderator; and Vice President/Senior Specialist at Sotheby's Dennis Harrington.  Suffice it to say that even though my parents were avid collectors of French 18th century furniture and antiques --(Sotheby's Saturday auction entitled "L'Art de Vivre: Property from the Collection of Kathleen and Martin Field," features their high-end selections) which they lived amongst in their Main Line suburban Philadelphia home, I know precious little on the subject.

Photo credit Laurel Marcus

In an almost Monty Python-esque moment, Harrington opened the talk by informing the large audience in attendance that the upholstered chairs the panel was sitting comfortably in were Lot 1040 of the upcoming sale. An additional tie-in with Footer selecting her favorite pieces from the sale can be seen here.

Caroline Rennolds Milbank, Mitch Owens, Maureen Footer, Dennis Harrington
(Photo credit BFA)

The ensuing discussion centered on how the beginnings of the House of Dior was instrumental in recreating Post-war French style. "France has just come out of the war. Love, lives, and belongings have lost every bit of value," said Owens. Footer agreed that "France had very little sense of hope or optimism when Christian Dior came on the scene." Somehow he managed to shift their perspective, transitioning back to better times while still embracing modernity.  "He supplied beauty when life had been so restricted, putting the richness back -- tapping back into a great tradition.  Dior reminded everyone of their heritage," she explained.

Christian Dior Parfume Boutique in "Dior Gray"

In the French tradition Dior hired two decorators for his Paris townhouse  (usually one for the downstairs public spaces and one for the upstairs bedrooms).  Grandpierre was a former fashion photographer and Geffroy (pronounced like the French phrase "J'ai froid" meaning "I'm cold") a former fashion designer for Jean Patou. Summoned from his summer home in Cannes Grandpierre had only three months to complete the gut renovation on Dior's salon at 30, Rue Montaigne. Legend has it that the paint was literally drying as Dior presented his first show. Grandpierre took a modernist approach incorporating stainless steel, track lighting, Louis XVI chairs and a touch of pink. He still has his stamp on the House of Dior through the identifiable "Dior Gray" walls with white plasterwork trim. (Benjamin Moore Dior Gray #2133-40). Even the template for the Dior brand -- its typeface, logo, and packaging, are his creations.

 Geffroy, a former silent film set designer had a flair for the dramatic mixing the classic with the modern to great effect particularly with textiles. A purist who would only take on one job at a time he worked with famous furniture designer Henri Samuel to decorate his home as well as in conjunction with Grandpierre on those of Gloria Guinness, Daisy Fellowes, Yves Saint Laurent, Marcel Rochas, and Maria Callas. Grandpierre and Dior, as well as to a lesser extent Geffroy shared a real fondness for the Belle Epoque, incorporating potted palms, winter gardens, woven rattan and tufted furniture in their designs.

The trinity of Dior, Grandpierre and Geffroy produced a "very modern sensibility, pared down and streamlined. Then they'll have a judicious 18th-century chair mixed with a houndstooth pattern. There was a spirit of adventure as the world got smaller -- rugs from Nepal, Nordic stoves, pre-Columbian statuary on a Riesener desk," said Footer who wrapped up the panel portion of the evening by thanking Dior for all their support during her four years of research on this book.

Maureen Footer signing her book

After the talk, cocktails and hors-d'oeuvres flowed on the fourth floor among the French and English furnishings and antiques. Footer's book was available for purchase -- a long line formed for those wishing to have their book signed so much so that the considerable stack eventually sold out. Even though this was my third time visiting Sotheby's this week for various events and to view the displayed "rooms" it was still a bit surreal to have this event take place amongst my family's soon to be sold collection.  I made the best of it by giving mini-tours of my parent's "house" to those who were interested, marveling to myself how even oft-seen items, much like acquaintances spotted out of their familiar context, are often hard to place.

- Laurel Marcus

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

NY Cake Opens its Flagship Store in "Sweet Location"

Jenny Kashanian, Joan Mansour and Lisa Mansour
All photos Lieba Nesis - click images for full-size views

I wish I would have known before attending Law School that the most lucrative profession might be cake making. All those weekends I spent baking an apple pie with my grandmother I viewed as a hobby - licking the bowls, eating the raw batter, devouring the pie before it was fully done-were all trademarks of my childhood. When did cakes become an industry - and why didn't my family tell me before the fierce competition set in?

The store opening

The opening of NY Cake's 6,000 square foot flagship space by doyenne Lisa Mansour along with Jenny Kashashian on 118 West 22nd Street is paradigmatic of this unstoppable trend. Instead of tech, real estate, or hedge funds, the new billionaires will be the cake bakers.  Forbes next cover will feature those who made billions on cakes with a supplementary issue on the best places to buy ingredients, what are some new exciting innovations in cake baking, and where the industry is headed. All kidding aside, it is doubtful Joan Mansour knew 30 years ago when she was baking cakes with her daughters that they might be part of a growing Empire whose potential is seemingly endless.

Custom Cakes

Joan started selling cake supplies in the back of her husband's pharmacy on 50th Street relocating to more than three different locations as the business expanded. This magnificent store which sells cake supplies bakes the cake on the premises and has an accompanying cafe which produces the cakes right from the nearby kitchen is genius.  Entering the store there was a 3-D mural depicting the Manhattan skyline created by cake artist Colette Peters which was comprised of baking tools such as cake candles, cupcake tins and cake molds.

The cafe with the kitchen Academy behind it

While "NY Cake” has been in the business of selling cake supplies for decades this is the first time they are producing and selling custom cakes with organic ingredients. The cakes are decorative, beautiful and expensive with prices ranging from $1,500 to $10,000. The space contains an "Academy" where people will be flying in from all over the world to learn the intricacies involved in baking a cake. In the Cake Academy students can learn how to bake and decorate in a state-of-the-art kitchen that can host 22 students seated and 30 standing- I would rather stand so I can burn off some calories. Classes are led by master Lisa Mansour along with renowned guest instructors Collette Peters of "Colette's Cakes" and Michelle Doll of "Michelle Doll Makes."

Cake Supplies

Prices for the three-day-workshop will range from $40 to $595.  I can't imagine coming home from college and telling my mother I would be attending NY Cake Academy. I am wondering if they will soon be giving out degrees where you can say you have A Ph.D. - literally "Papa Has Dough" - in cake making. The Academy is also open for kids birthdays, bachelorette parties (you have easy access to whipped cream to put on your male dancer) and corporate events with prices ranging from $100-$150 per person.

Michelle Doll and Ron Ben-Israel

The opening night this past Thursday, October 18th featured a number of "Cake Celebrities" including renowned cake decorator Ron Ben-Israel.  Ron called himself a "poor shlepper" and when I asked him about his business he told me to read it on his website - apparently cake making can go to your head. Ben-Israel said he doesn't care about making cakes for celebrities since all his clients are stars.  Despite my better instincts, I looked up Ben-Israel on the internet whose cakes are referred to as "The Manolo Blahnik" of wedding cakes.

Some Treats

Ben-Israel started off as a dancer and ended up as a baker discovered by Martha Stewart who saw one of his cakes in a window-this is a "Hollywood True Story." He has produced confectionery pieces for the opening of the Mandarin Oriental and Ritz Carlton and has appeared on The David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey Show. He also appears as a host and judge on a number of cake shows including "Sweet Genius" and "Cake Wars."  The only information he gave was that he learned all he knows from the NY Cake Academy who let him attend free classes in return for working as an assistant.

After I had tasted the delicious white pretzels, pastries and chocolate covered popcorn (which was all free) I was desperate to leave before I needed to be rolled out on one of the cooking pans.

- Lieba Nesis