Thursday, October 31, 2002

Happy Halloween!

I attended the press preview of "Blithe Spirit: The Windsor Set", at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit spans the period from 1935 to 1940, and chronicles the elegance of cafe society in the years immediately preceding World War 11. Among the 80 outfits that are on display in five galleries, are couture designs by Chanel, Vionnet, Lanvin, and Schiaparelli.

When I asked Andrew Bolton- the Associate Curator of The Costume Institute, who organized this exhibit (with the assistance of Harold Koda), which his favorite group was...he quickly answered, "since I have such a pronounced dark side, Gallery 4 (called 'The Aesthetics of Ruination')....which is very ghoulish". How fitting, since today is Halloween! To illustrate his point, he brought me over to the area he was referring to - and pointed to the Schiaparelli 'Tear' evening dress printed with tears, which came with a matching headscarf. Not only was the fitted gown covered with fictive tears, but there were actual tears on the headscarf, which was produced "as a response to the rise of Mussolini and as a "warning against the dangers of Fascism."

Then he showed me a Vionnet black satin evening gown covered with black sequins which had the appearance of black birds (long considered to be an ill omen in dreams). As the brochure stated, "the birds seemed to swarm around the body of the wearer like ominous raptors."

And then there was the Schiaparelli Fuchsia silk jersey evening dress with matching gloves, that was entirely covered with black sequined flies, suggesting "the pestilence of war", and serving as "harbingers of disaster." As the descriptive pointed out, the decorative insects "placed as they are, on pink fabric redolent of flesh, appear to be feeding off the raw flesh of a corpse." Hmmmm, lovely thought....I wonder if these designs will serve as inspiration for some of today's fashion....In this crazy business, one never knows!

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Launch of the New Boutique on the Upper East Side:

Vivaldi Boutique had a launch party last night for several hundred invited guests and members of the media to celebrate the opening of their new boutique and as a benefit for the Central Park Conservancy. Vivaldi has been an Upper East Side establishment for beautiful eveningwear and couture for over 25 years. The new boutique evokes images of the 1940’s couture salon in Paris. Owner David Trugerman travels to Paris and Milan twice a year to hand pick the collections and offers the highest quality evening wear to his discerning clientele. Some of the designers featured at Vivaldi include, Valentino, Balmain, Emanuel Ungaro and Thierry Mugler.

Public Relations for the event was handled nicely by Think PR. The boutique is located at 1388 Third Avenue (at 79th Street).

Tuesday, October 29, 2002 is at it again!

Once again, the folks at can't seem to get the names right, or they don't know whose pictures they're using for their 'star sightings' photo gallery. In an entire section they just put up, showing some of last week's highest profile parties, they ran a picture of Gayfryd Steinberg, with 'friend', donned in black and white for the Whitney Museum Black and White Ball. The 'friend' is Lisa Perry, a well known New York social fixture, and Democratic fundraiser, whose picture with accompanying name was seen last week in WWD and The New York Times. Oh, and that's not all...Lisa had just been the focus of an entire layout in a recent issue of Vogue Magazine, showing her glamorous Sutton Place apartment, decorated to the hilt. I think one hand should at least know what the other is doing...

Monday, October 28, 2002

Fitting the 'Bill':

I must say I thought The New York Times' 20 page tribute to Bill Cunningham, was very well done. It had the right mix of essays, articles, columns, quotes, and illustrations, not to mention a section written by the man himself, "Bill On Bill". Though I didn't think I was going to discover anything about him that I didn't already know- after all, I have known him for about 30 years, and interviewed him last December for our 'Master of Fashion Video Series', which touched on many of the same things The New York Times focused on- I did learn that he enrolled at Harvard for a semester (not too surprising, since he is a very bright, learned man).

I think the part I found most surprising, was Anna Wintour's honest admission ("The Picture Subjects Talk Back") that "we all dress for Bill", and that she wonders "if Bill will like this." I guess it proves even fashion goddesses are not always sure of themselves, and suffer from bouts of insecurity sometimes.

Roundtable Interview with 3 Top Fashion Editors

Coming up in November on the is a roundtable discussion conducted with three well known black fashion editors. The editors are Constance White formerly of The New York Times and Metro TV; Teri Agins of the Wall Street Journal; and Robin Givhan of The Washington Post. The discussion will cover a wide range of fashion related subjects and will be lead by contributing editors Bernadine Morris, Vivian Kelly and Marilyn Kirschner.

Special thanks to Deborah Hughes of Deborah Hughes Communications and the restaurant Bottino ( 246 Tenth Avenue) for providing lunch.

Friday, October 25, 2002

'Happy Talk'...

The big news in journalism this past week, was the announcement on Tuesday, that The New York Times was buying the Washington Post's 50% stake in The International Herald Tribune...and now begins the speculation as to how this will effect things at IHT and its 60 or so journalists, one of whom is the legendary fashion editor Suzy Menkes. Menkes was on hand at this past week's Fashion Group International's 19th annual Night of Stars, where she was honored with their 'Super Star' Award. Though Lisa Lockwood, in her Memo Pad column in WWD today, reported that Menkes "could not immediately be reached for comment" with respect to the changes at hand, when I asked the outspoken writer how she thought this would effect what she does, she seemed optimistic, adding "they (The New York Times) certainly have a lot of money!"

In addition to Suzy Menkes, the star studded gala, held at Cipriani 42nd street, honored their usually interesting mix of the fashionable...this time it was called 'The Provocoteurs'. Receiving awards were Eve Ensler ('The Vagina Monologues', if you don't already know) who received the Humanitarian Award, P. Diddy, Roberto Cavalli, A.M. Stern, Catherine Martin, Graydon Carter, Viktor & Rolf, Manolo Blahnik, and Baz Luhrmann with star presenters including Anna Wintour and Sara Jessica Parker. And naturally, everywhere you looked you saw media celebs like Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg, Anne McNally, Billy Norwich, and Elsa Klensch.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Beene: An American Treasure

This past weekend, Geoffrey Beene was the subject of an article in The New York Times Magazine, "Clothes Made the Man", by Peter McQuaid. It included wonderful pictures of his Hawaiian retreat, against which were backdrops of some of his designs, spanning 1992 to the present. It proved (not that Mr. Beene has to prove anything) that his designs are forever chic, timeless, and transcend fad and fashion folly- something which is at the heart of the man's design philosophy. The article also included some quotes from this outspoken legend...the best of which were, "Advertising and money, not creativity, dictate the fashion world. Most of these designers go to vintage stores and absolutely defrock them. They whisk away to Paris and do their version. It's a joke". "Fashion is in a terrible state. An overdose of too much flesh. The greatest concubines in history knew that everything revealed with nothing concealed is a bore."

How true, and by the way, Geoffrey easily could have been referring to Angie Harmon, a beautiful woman who does not need resort to such obvious, sleazy displays (like the Cavalli mini corset dress she wore to the Vogue/VH1 Fashion Awards last week) in order to grab people's attention, or to stand out in a crowd.

What the article omitted, was that next week, Geoffrey is to receive the National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum at a breakfast hosted by Marylou Luther, during which he is expected to 'reflect on his career, inspiration, and vision' . Also on hand will be Kim Hastreiter and Grace Mirabella...longtime friends.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Fashion Group International's 19th Annual 'Night of the Stars':

Thursday October 24th at 6:30PM: "The Provacateurs" by Fashion Group International for cocktails, dinner & awards at Cipriani 42nd Street. Superstar Awardee: Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune. Tickets: $1000; Contact: 593-1715

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

It Certainly was Exuberant!


The 'Scaasi: Exuberant Fashion' Exhibition that opened last night, at the Museum at FIT, was also a cocktail party to benefit Breast Cancer...I practically needed sunglasses to shield my eyes against the vibrant, often clashing color, overscaled florals, dots, dots, and more dots, and feathers and fur galore. Arnold takes great pride in his disdain for minimalism, which is evident in the over the top selection. Mixed in with the mannequins on display, were blown up pictures, some in black and white, some in color...showing celebrities actually stepping out on the town, and wearing the clothes....there was Barbara Streisand, Joan Rivers, Liz Taylor, Natalie Wood, and Joan Crawford, to name a few.

The scene was exactly what one would expect (considering that Mr. Scaasi is not exactly a designer 'of the moment')...hardly the young, hip, downtown, edgy crowd. Nor was it a real 'fashion' crowd (well, Stan Herman was there). Well heeled attendees included Cartier's Ralph Destino, Eileen Ford, Shirley Lord, John Pomerantz, and Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg (Gayfryd, of course, is a longtime customer, whose blown up image was also one that was displayed on the wall).

Hardly surprising, the best of the featured items were quite frankly, his more subdued, low-keyed items...several black dresses, a few pieces in graphic black and white, a zebra printed gown and jacket...and several short sequined numbers in chrome yellow and red that looked almost Stephen Sprouse-like.
I will say this, in view of the exuberance on recent runways, these clothes didn't really look as 'off the mark' as they might have in the past. .

The exhibit runs through January 4th

Friday, October 11, 2002

Get Your Facts Straight,

During the round of international fashion shows, not only features entire runway collections, but they also include a section entitled, 'star sightings'. Though sometimes it's obvious that the sightings have been slim, and so they have had to resort to using photos of Vogue's 'star' editors like Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Hamish Bowles, and Grace Coddington. Well alright, admittedly, they are 'stars' in the fashion world (or 'stars' at Conde Nast), and there's nothing wrong with a little self promotion. But I would expect the folks at to at least know the names of celebrities whose pictures they are running. The other day, among the 'star sightings' at Chanel, they had not one, but two shots of actor Don Johnson with a woman they only refer to as, 'friend'. Well, it just so happens, the unknown companion is none other than Don's wife, Kelly...WWD seemed to have that fact straight when they ran a similar picture. This is not the first time they've made these kind of dumb mistakes...tsk, tsk, tsk.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

"Blithe Spirit: The Windsor Set"

Press Preview: Thursday October 31st, 10AM-12Noon
Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 1, 2002 - February 9, 2003
The Costume Institute

(Press Release) The raptuous elegance of cafe society in the years immediately preceding World War 2 will be captured in Blithe Spirit: The Windsor Set. Dating from 1935 to 1940, the exhibition - featuring an extraordinary collection of couture by Chanel, Lavin, Vionnet, and Schiaparelli - focuses on the men and women who shaped the fashion and lifestyle of the period.

By invitation. Contact: 650-2123

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Tina Brown's New Column Begins:

In her debut Times of London "Lunching in New York" column former Talk editor Tina Brown writes: "Between the summer's business scandals and the hyperactive stock market, half my lunch partners these days are doing, in handcuffs, the perp walk, filing for bankruptcy, or 'exploring new opportunities' and 'spending more time with their families', ie, getting fired."

Of course Tina knows just about everyone of importance in New York and runs into most of them as she lunches regularly at the Grill Room of the Four Seasons. I counted 14 big names she name-dropped in this first column - everyone from Steve Florio, Sam Waksal, Martha Stewart, Ken Lipper, Jack Welch, Thomas Middelhoff, to Barry Diller, Ron Meyer, Mike Nichols, and Robert Hughes.

I guess for Tina "you are who you know". Some things about this woman never changes.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Gucci and Versace: Over the Top and Vulgar

Thank God most New York designers resisted the urge to go the obvious sex route for spring/summer.The collections shown for Gucci and Versace, to name a few, seem more than a step backwards for women, with their over the top, cliched, and overt sexuality. If nothing else, most of New York presented classic, wearer friendly designs that are appealing, fresh, and appropriate for the times. And as far as the House of Versace's current 'muse' Britney Spears (who sat front row center at House of Field, and several other campy collections in New York) she seems, at 20, like a caricature of herself (just like Donatella). Actually, Donatella looks more like a female impersonator, and many of her designs seem more appropriate for female impersonators as well.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Finally, Cathy Horyn has found something to really like!

To paraphrase the fashion writer's opening sentence in today's review of the Milan collections...("finally, the collections here produced a designer who is alive and connected to the real ground...")..she 'knighted' Burberry's new designer - Christopher Bailey, and gave him her seal of approval, and the utmost compliment. She also found little to complain about at Giorgio Armani's show.

As a Pucci collector, I was very interested to see what Christian LaCroix would do for his maiden collection (one that was highly anticipated, publicized, and well attended by key editors). From the look of things, he is on the right track, and it's hard not to feel as if the 'fit' of the two names (Pucci and LaCroix) both so highly associated with exuberant prints and color, seems so perfect. Horyn found little to criticize on that collection- though she threw in a line about the need for more attention to the Italian, sporty heritage.....Regardless, what this means to all Pucci collectors- like myself- is that their own archives will be even more coveted, and vintage Puccis (as well as the new items) will most likely be selling with higher price tags.