Friday, October 31, 2003

‘Starry Starry Night’

Well, Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars certainly lived up to its name last night. The stars were out in force at Cipriani 42nd street for the 20th Annual event (dedicated to ‘The Dreamweavers’- Those Who Inspire): there were ‘star’ designers - and designers to the stars- like honorees Dolce & Gabbana (given their award by Lisa Marie Presley whose husky voice is evocative of her dad’s), Jean Paul Gaultier (given his by Vogue’s November cover girl - the stunning Uma Thurman), Philip Treacy (presented by an exotically hat-clad Iman), and Dries Van Noten (so honored by Isabella Rosellini).

Demi Moore (no slouch herself) arrived to give the Superstar Award to her good friend and very svelte Donna Karan, a designer with stars in her eyes (she accepted the statue saying she was ‘star struck’ after meeting Dries Van Noten, and admitting that what she’d really like to do is “design other people’s clothes” (that was, by the way, an open invitation to both Dries and Jean Paul). But even more than that, what she would really like is to see a woman as president (hmmm- can we expect her to start campaigning any time soon? She’s done almost everything else, it seems.)

Oh, and speaking about stars, Liza Minnelli may not be so svelte these days, but she is brave and did not stay home to avoid the public glare, but rather, appeared on the podium dressed in black to present the Humanitarian Award to MAC Cosmetics’ John Demsey. Who else was there? Chloe Sevigny was on hand to honor Stanislas De Quercize from Cartier, with the Corporate Stargazer Award. The Host for the ceremony was Simon Doonan, who provided just the right cheeky, sarcastic, and irreverent touch. By the way, the gift bag given out at the end of the evening was not so shabby either…. in addition to chic Cartier stationary (what did you expect- a tank watch???), a handsome black Waterman pen, Dolce & Gabbana’s new Sicily perfume, and a box of Godiva chocolate, there was a $50 gift certificate for Mme. Paulette - arguably the best dry cleaner in the city. The only catch is that it’s only usable on services that exceed $300. Oh, well, like they say, ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.’

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Having a ‘FIT’:

Last evening, there was a cocktail party and dinner honoring the creative genius of Pierre Cardin and commemorating his 50 years in the fashion business. Given by the Alumni Association of FIT, it was also a celebration of their 50th anniversary, and an opportunity for the organization to bestow an Honorary Alumnus of FIT award on the 84 year old icon. By the way, he is the first designer to receive this honor, and in so doing, he returned the favor by bestowing his own scholarship fund.

The 200 or so guests milled around enjoying cocktails while watching a parade of models wearing some of Mr. Cardin’s vintage designs. After being seated for dinner, there was a formal fashion show which highlighted some of the signature designs for men and women the very influential designer made famous. While some admittedly looked rather dated, overly costumey and stylized, there were several dresses and outfits that could have easily walked off recent runways for fall/winter 2003 (which had many designers evoking an almost literal translation of the 60’s), there were also many numbers that stood the test of time and still look great today. And of course, some were testament to the brilliance of Pierre Cardin, as they were practically feats of architecture, engineering, and construction.

One disappointment was the attire chosen by those in attendance: they were asked to dress in ‘Black Tie or Cardin’- but the results were anything but creative or interesting. Most women chose uninspiring, boring black dresses, and many men looked as if they had just come from their offices. One standout (even though she was clad in black) was Vanity Fair’s Amy Fine Collins (who came with Tiffany’s Robert Ruffino). She showed up in a black confection that was modern and short, accessorizing her legs with fishnets and Manolo Blahniks. When I asked whom she was wearing, I knew the answer -of course - would be ‘Geoffrey Beene’. As the designer’s muse, she wears nobody else’s designs.

-Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Review of Gilles Bensimon's new book: "Photography: No Particular Order"

Sarah Valdez starts her review of Gilles new coffee table photo book "With subjects like Naomi, Linda, Claudia, Kate and Christie, it might be tempting to think it would be hard to make anything but an extraordinary photograph." Read the whole review.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

CFDA Launches Official Website

October 28, 2003
The Council of Fashion Designers of America launches its official web site today at The highly anticipated site provides comprehensive information about the organization and its members, the leading fashion and accessory designers in America. Included in the website is an overview of the CFDA mission and its programs, as well as a broad range of profiles on American designers. also provides up-to-the-minute information on fashion-related events and member news, together with access to extensive fashion industry resources. For more information about the launch and to visit the site, please go to

Monday, October 27, 2003

A 'FIT'ting Celebration:

This Wednesday, the Alumni Association of FIT, which happens to be celebrating their 50th anniversary, will also be commemorating the 50th anniversary of 84 year old Pierre Cardin's brilliant fashion career, with a cocktail party, retrospective fashion show, and sit down dinner for about 200. The event will be held at the Art Director's Club on West 29th Street. Cocktails and show at 6:30, dinner at 7:30. What to wear? The invite suggested 'Black Tie or Cardin'. It should be an interesting and highly visual evening.

- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Yeohlee Book Launch Draws an Exceptional Crowd:

Some of fashion brightest lights came out tonight to support the book launch of "Yeohlee: Work Material Architecture" at the Municipal Art Society's Urban Center Books on Madison Avenue. The signing was hosted by Paola Antonelli, Harold Koda and Valerie Steele. Hardly lightweights any of them.

Yeohlee is one of those American designers, like Ralph Rucci, who toiled quietly for many years without the big media fanfare and whose talents are now being universally recognized. Indeed Yeohlee Teng, Ralph Rucci and Geoffrey Beene may now be the high watermark of what is the best in American fashion design.

Just to mention a few of those we recognized at the party was Elsa Klensch, Fern Mallis, Robert Verde, Pat Jacobs, Stan Herman, Patrick McDonald, Mary Lou Luther, and Ruth Finley. Even better there was a long line of fans who purchased the book waiting for personalized autographs by Yeohlee.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

How ‘Bazaar’

Of course, what I really mean is, ‘bizarre’. The latest (November) issue of Harper’s Bazaar proves that it is slowly fading into high fashion oblivion. When Glenda Bailey took over the reigns of this once legendary fashion bible, she excitedly promised to resurrect the magic and elegance of the grand Bazaar that once was. That was then- this is now. It is becoming harder and harder to tell the it apart from another Hearst monthly - Marie Claire- which is almost as far away from a high fashion glossy as one can get. Of course, Leslie Jane Seymour is not trying to be another Vogue or Bazaar- but more like a sister to Cosmopolitan- yes- another Hearst book, what with the barrage of sex related cover lines and features.

But getting back to Bazaar, the opening portfolio (‘Getaway Glam’) shot by Patrick Demarchelier, may feature bombshell Gisele (on second thought, isn’t she getting a bit ‘old’ these days?), and the high priced clothing may be credited to the likes of Stella McCartney, Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, etc., but it looked somewhat tacky nonetheless. And with the all too clichéd poses and dull styling, the pages could just as easily be culled from H & M or Bebe. The same can be said about Melanie Ward’s ‘Fashion Preview’ shot by Anthony Ward. Neither one of these portfolios, noticeably lacking any trace of elegance or polish, would have gotten past Anna Wintour- that’s for sure.

Harper’s Bazaar was once a revered and hallowed name, a name that really meant something, signified something, and stood for something. That is slowly but surely fading into oblivion.

- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, October 17, 2003

--'Better Red Than Dead'

Speaking of the color red (as I have been lately), and the continued obsession with luxury handbags by customers throughout the world, there was a piece in yesterday's Page Six of the New York Post, that really amused me. Apparently, Stephanie Seymour was mugged in Tribeca by a bunch of thugs who asked her to hand over her purse (if she didn't want to suffer the consequences). The supermodel- who is married to billionaire Peter Brant- was not concerned with what was INSIDE her bag, but she refused to part with the precious bag itself, so she handed over her wallet instead and escaped unharmed, bag in tact.

The article did not mention the brand of bag she was carrying, but I surmised it MUST have been an Hermes bag of some sort. I was right- in today's WWD, they identified the bag as a tomato red Hermes Kelly bag. This gives new meaning to "Better red than dead."

Of course, speaking of red, the fab color didn't help the Red Sox win last night- but they still looked good!

-Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Editorial: Amy Spindler & Babes in Coutureland

Babe's in Coutureland editorial
We are of course sorry to hear that Amy Spindler is stepping down as editor of The New York Times Magazine Fashion Section because of health problems, but we are not sorry to see her go. As one former senior fashion editor and one of the most respected names in fashion journalism told us: " she (Amy) was in over her head from the very beginning".

The low point for us in her career was the "Babes in Coutureland" piece that ran under her supervision last year in the magazine's fashion section. It was in such bad taste that reporter Anne Taylor Fleming of PBS ran a segment on the "News Hour" about media exploitation of young girls and displayed the "Babes in Coutureland" photos as examples. When we first ran our editorial ( see August 21 2002 archive critical of the piece ) and then forwarded it to Amy Spindler she had The New York Times lawyer call us charging we were harassing her.

We will have more to say on Amy Spindler's tenure as editor of the magazine's fashion section in our upcoming New York Fashion Report. Look for it in your email inbox this Friday.

-written by Ernest Schmatolla

And in response to the above editorial comes a note from


Another giant of our industry speaks up in defense of Amy...


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

‘Boss Tweed’:

Okay, so you already know that tweed is ‘THE’ fabric of the fall season. And you already know that it shows no sign of letting up as it is going forward into spring thanks to lighter weight, more deconstructed versions. They were all over the recent runways - not just that of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.

And you already KNOW that I believe the best tweeds are the real, authentic vintage tweeds - they simply don’t make ‘em like that nowadays. Some great examples were recently on view and for sale (far below retail offerings, natch) at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th Street) this past Friday and Saturday.

Among the dealers whose collections stood out were Milan Tainan’s Just Say When ( loved her fur collared black and white tweed short coat; Ina Davidson’s Buy-Gone Days ( I especially loved her gold/black/red tweed Bonnie Cashin swing coat with gold hardware turnkey closures. But one of the best selections- coats and suits- was on the racks at Cat’s Pajamas (

Of course, there were gloves galore, shoes and bags of all kinds, lots of hats, colorful Puccis and Leonards, and there were some wonderful dresses as well, including several very newsworthy 50’s taffeta numbers boasting tanbubble skirts. I spotted Stan Herman making the rounds (he had just purchased a vintage Oleg Cassini jacket which he was planning to give the designer over dinner this week. And groups from Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren were also checking out the merchandise (for inspiration for the next season I assume).

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner
The New Style Sizzle: Puerto Rico Fashion Trends:

Sure, you’ve been to the shows in New York and all over Europe, but now, there’s a new mega-style venue opening up, featuring a crop of respected Hispanic designers you need to know. They’ll all be lifting the veil on their haute couture, prêt a porter and accessories collections in San Juan come April 2004. The gala Puerto Rico Fashion Trends event, which will be lead sponsored by Mercedes Benz, already has a still growing list of big name industry and media supporters, such as Sony, Absolut Vodka, Coca Cola, Piper-Heidsieck, Fiji Water, Sears and San Juan City magazine. The big show premieres in April but there’s a hot kick off/launch on October 23, 2003. What’s happening here is a lavish cocktail party and preview fashion show featuring capsule collections by the six designers who’ve already joined the fold. Both the big April 2004 event and the October 2003 kick off preview will be held at the glam Caribe Hilton hotel.

To fill you in on the October details, the first designer showcase spotlights young createurs such as Lisa Thon, Irines Vazques and Solazul, beginning at 7:30PM; on the catwalk at 9:30PM are Pipo Pere, Margara Busquets and Ecliptica.“We conceived this event as a way to make that all-important introduction of talented, local designers to the eyes and minds of the international fashion press and major retailers. Understanding that there is strength in numbers, we’re putting together a very strong group of talented, new artisans who will debut in April 2004. Extending the fashion on the runway, we’ll be hosting a series of cocktail parties and meet & greet the designers events for all of our invited guests. Right now, we’re using the October launch event and the first six designers who’ll be showing, as an introduction to what everyone will be seeing come April,” says Cristina Caraballo, Executive Producer, Puerto Fashion Trends.

For further information and sponsorship details, contact Ms. Caraballo at 787-466-8510 or by email at

-- written by Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Book Signing:

"The House of Klein: Fashion, Controversy and a Business Obsession" by Lisa Marsh.

Thursday, 16 October from 6 to 8 pm Bloomingdale's 2nd floor, 59th Street & Lexington Avenue, NYC. Instead of speaking to a group and then signing books, it will be more of a one-on-one situation, so if you have questions, please do join her.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The Passing of Eleanor Lambert:

Publicist Eleanor Lambert, one of the most influential and honored pioneers shaping American fashion, died Tuesday at the age of 100. She passed away at her Manhattan home after a brief illness, according to her assistant, Stephen Nix.

Lambert presided over the International Best-Dressed List and helped create many of America's most important fashion institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. She also was a mentor to many of America's top fashion designers. She will indeed be missed.
'Best Western':

Okay, so Western did not really 'happen' on the runways for spring/summer 2004, as I had predicted (based in part on information that was passed on to me that the folks at Ralph Lauren were busily buying authentic Navajo Concha belts and turquoise jewelry in the Southwest to be used at last month's runway show). Though- Donna Karan and Alice Roi were two designers here who did cite the desert as inspiration, and integrated some Western ideas into their collections.

And in today's Milan fashion review written by Cathy Horyn for the New York Times, she singled out "Western-style minidresses, leather and suede jackets" within the collection presented by Roberto Cavalli. As she put it, his "inspired Cher-wear show of cowboy leather and showgirl feathers managed to be both cool and outrageous."

So- stay tuned for next fall. (If you think about it, fall is a far better season for the Western theme anyway, and Ralph is due for a reprival).

- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, October 03, 2003

Legends & Legacies: 5th Annual NYU Fashion Conference December 5-6th:

This year's conference focuses on continuing influence of fashion and style icons. Rare appearences and lectures by Fleur Cowles, founder of Flair Magazine; Glanmari Buccolatti, head of the renowned Milanese jewelry and silver house; Marc Bohan, renowned fashion designer with Dior over 20 years, Andre Leon Talley; Vogue journalist, Grace Mirabella; former editor-in-chief of Vogue, Ralph Rucci, fashion designer; Laudomia Pucci, daughter of Count Emilio Pucci, and Zandra Rhodes, designer & museum founder.

Most daytime sessions will happen at the New York Academy of Medicine (1216 Fifth Avenue @ 103rd Street). A final schedule of evening dates to take place at various locations in New York City will be announced at a later date.

Registration for the conference is $355 and people may register online at referencing conference number SCPSO11 or by phone at 212-998-7130.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Leader of the Pack:

Miuccia Prada has apparently done it again - setting the standard for the season to come and doing it by not going the predictable, clichéd, expected route for Spring 2004 (like so many New York designers who unfortunately, seem to have said to themselves, “okay it’s Spring- let’s give ‘em pastels, ruffles, florals, brights.” Bravo Miuccia: just when fashion starts getting boring and formulaic, Miuccia shows us the way, and more importantly, shows us how to mix our own clothes for similar effect. If you just pay attention to what she does on her runways, you really don’t have to go out and buy new clothes each season- she is such a wealth of styling tricks. (Although some of her tie- dyes are to die for!) And best of all, she really didn’t change her aesthetic from fall- she just made it more relaxed and easy (more ‘je ne sais quois’), which is what Spring should be all about, n’est- pas?

Speaking of Miuccia- her delicious and irreverent influence (such as the vintage inspired, individual, eclectic, eccentric vision she sent out for fall/winter 2003) has been the inspiration for many designers this season, and was seen all over the colorful and splendid pages of October Vogue. Dedicated to ‘Freestyle Fashion’, Wintour’s mag, as far as I’m concerned, completely ‘BLEW OFF’ its competition. More to the point, Harper’s Bazaar looks especially uninspired when critiqued next to Vogue. Just compare the brilliant, colorful, exuberant pages in the portfolio ‘Mad About You’ styled by Camilla Nickerson and photographed by Steven Meisel, to the awful ‘Round the-Clock Wardrobe’ styled by Brana Wolf and photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. There IS no comparison. Bazaar’s styling has truly gone downhill. - reported by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Ten Best Looks from the New York Spring 2004 Shows

Our senior fashion editor Bernadine Morris chooses her ten best looks from the New York Spring 2002 Collection. Click here to read article.

Bernadine was for over 30 years the senior fashion writer for The New York Times. She is one of the most respected fashion journalists of our generation.