Thursday, April 29, 2004

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Best quote of the day:

In today's WWD, there was a report on a party held this past Tuesday at the Four Seasons restaurant, to celebrate a new book about Jackie Kennedy, "What Jackie Taught Us" by Tina Santi Flaherty.

In addition to Ron Gallela, Oleg Cassini, Arnold Scaasi, Susan Lucci, and Josie Natori, Joan Rivers was also in the crowd, reportedly to "deliver the laughs, despite standing near an oversized 1963 photo of Kennedy at her late husband's funeral" according to the paper.

At one point, the plastic surgery- enhanced comic observed, "By the way, Jackie Kennedy caught in a rainstorm looked better coming in than I looked going out." Well Joan, you got that right. And sadly, the same thing can be about all of us mortals.

-Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

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This Editorial Just In: "Martha's Newest Project"

"Prison Yard Gardening"

Her newly redecorated cell. Click on image to enlarge.

Our favorite convicted Diva is the subject in this series of very funny photos depicting what she might do to keep herself busy while in prison. Photos are credited to As soon as we find who specifically these images belong to we will post it. Meanwhile below are links to some really funny photos. Because laughter is good for the soul, we wanted to share these images with you....As they say, "Once an editor- always an editor"....even in prison.

"Formal Hallway" Click on image to enlarge

Here are links to more pictures: decorated barbed wire electric chair bath tub formal dining magazine cover holiday entertaining

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

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No Haute Couture Runway Show for Givenchy

The House of Givenchy will not present a runway show during haute couture season this year because no successor to Julien McDonald has yet been found. The venerable label is said to be "searching for a rare pearl". The new CEO, Marco Gobbetti, appointed last February, prefers to take time to analyze the situation "in order to attentively chose the future Artistic Director for the haute couture and ready-to-wear women's collections." "There will be no press presentation in July, but a small collection of 20 or so pieces put together in the studio will be presented to faithful clients", indicated a spokesman for the house. On the other side, Ozwald Boateng, the new Artistic Director of Givenchy Homme will present his debut collection at the Paris men's shows scheduled for early July.

-reported by Timothy Hagy, contributing editor
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On the 'Wet' Carpet at the Met:

"Dangerous Liaisons" was set up NOT in the basement space which traditionally houses the Costume Exhibits, but rather, in the Museum's French period rooms, The Wrightsman Galleries. The only other time this has happened was back in l962, for an exhibit called "18th Century Women", under the tutelage of Diana Vreeland.

Last evening was the much anticipated benefit gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, celebrating the Costume Institute's new exhibit "Dangerous Liaisons"- and thanks to the soggy weather, the Red Carpet more closely resembled a 'Wet' Carpet. Ah, but of course, that would hardly concern or phase those rich enough to shell out $3500 for the pleasure of partaking in the fabulous evening since I think we can safely assume most did not travel by subway.

Amber Velletta (click image to enlarge)

Because the theme of the night was 18th century splendor, pomp and circumstance, and the invitation suggested that one "dress up in a version of 18th century costume" (hey, it isn't called the Costume Institute for nothing, let's face it) this threw many seasoned party goers into a bit of a tailspin, as had been reported previously, leaving many to ponder how they would best translate the mandate. Well, from what I could see, the few that really took the whole thing THAT seriously, were fairly few and far between, but in my opinion, Amber Valletta lead the pack with her gold satin lace back corset top, gathered, bustled, printed long skirt, AND let us not forget the requisite powdered wig, which completed the look.

Also doing her homework- - and no surprise there since this has seemingly become a full time job for the always 'out there' social fixture - - is Helen Lee Shifter, whose hubby Tim owns Le Sportsac. Always dressed to the nines, she really took the tone of the evening to heart and opted for a boned, ruched, multi 'paniered', corseted turquoise satin gown finished off with a lavender satin stole.

Zac Posen (click image to enlarge)

Of course, in the 18th century, men were truly the 'peacocks', and our own modern day peacocks strutting their stuff last night included Zac Posen, whose vest and cummerbund together made it seem as though he raided the wardrobe locker from the original "Pirates of Penzance"; Vogue's very own Hamish Bowles who tastefully and elegantly spiced up his black tuxedo with a pale satin embroidered vest and an ivory satin embroidered coat thrown over it all.

But literally 'taking the cake' was larger than life (and I mean LARGER) Vogue editor at large, Andre Leon Talley, who arrived accompanying Renee Zellweger in a voluminous ivory satin greatcoat made especially for him by Karl Lagerfeld. The contrast between the tiny, sparrow like Zellweger, and the giant sized Talley made for an especially arresting visual image. Oh, by the way, I reported that in Sunday's Style section of The New York Times, an article,"Today's Cinderellas Face an Old Question: How to Dress for the Ball" mentioned that Bernice Kwok-Gabel, a spokeswoman for the Costume Institute, had been asked to literally measure the door that leads into the museum for an "unidentified" attendee. Well, there is no question in my mind that the person in question must have been Andre Leon Talley's assistant - nobody even came close to wearing such an impressively sized number.

Anna Wintour (click image to enlarge)

Who else stood out? I happened to have loved Anna Wintour's soigné and oh so elegant Christian Dior Haute Couture fitted, jeweled, and embroidered silvery knee length coat with balloon-like hem, worn with a pale taupe-y green satin long slim gown. What a nice change of pace for the editor who usually opts for bare, slip- top,narrow gowns. The idea of wearing an ornate coat was very unusual and really set her apart from everyone else. It was also a modern and chic way to translate the decadent theme of the night. And Anna's daughter, Bee Shaffer, is turning into a beautiful young fashion plate in her own right. Accompanied by the young, attractive Olivier Theyskens, who designs for Rochas, she opted for the designer's extremely appropriate, flattering, dreamy, frothy, pale strapless full skirted tulle gown.

Getting back to the idea of 'modern'- the ever modern Nicolas Guesquiere’s ‘date’ for the evening- actress Diane Kruger- was dressed in a satin gown the shade of “pink champagne” based on a “1932 look by Cristobal Balenciaga” as he explained to WWD. The designer also told the newspaper that he felt the dress “evoked the 18th century theme of the party in its material and color, but not in its silhouette” and admitted that he doesn’t often ‘do’ long dressy dresses but “it’s what we’re working on now.”

Another fashion star that wanted to go the ‘modern’ route was Carine Roitfeld who wore a narrow, black sheer illusion top Helmut Lang long gown. It may not have been the most standout, breathtaking or arresting dress of the evening, but simple and modern it was. Speaking of standing out, Linda Evangelista shined in her decidedly Orientalist one- shouldered Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture gown. And Charlize Theron, Hollywood's new Golden Girl looked amazing in black strapless long full-skirted Dior Haute Couture gown worn with black fur stole, her blonde wavy hair arranged in an unpretentious up do. Jennifer Lopez also looked 'glam' with her hair tightly pulled back in a chignon, red lipstick, and black frothy, strapless dress with pale 'fringed' fur stole thrown over, compliments of Dolce & Gabbana, the duo that also served as her dates for the evening.

Renee Zellweger (click image to enlarge)

Who didn't fare so well? I was disappointed in Renee Zellweger's gold satin Carolina Herrera bustle back gown. I don't understand the star's obsession with this designer- I just find the choice a bit stiff and old fashioned, and with all the great fashion out there, she could have really done so much better. Denise Rich may in fact be RICH, but certainly not in taste - she continued on with her usual tacky, tasteless style dressed in ill fitting shocking pink strapless, and is living proof that money has nothing at all to do with the way one ultimately looks.

-Marilyn Kirschner with photos by Randy Brooke

Monday, April 26, 2004

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Roberto Menichetti is appointed Artistic Director of Celine

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world¹s leading luxury goods Group, announces the appointment of Roberto Menichetti as Artistic Director for Celine.

Roberto Menichetti, 37 years old, Italian, born in America, has extensive experience and rare knowledge of the international world of fashion and luxury.

Since 2002, he has been concentrating on the creation and launch of his own brand, Menichetti. He presented his first collection in New York in February 2004.

Celine, with an international network of 100 owned boutiques, and a strong presence in the best points of sale worldwide, is a house in complete expansion.

The company is experiencing one of the fastest rates of growth in the industry. In 2003, Celine achieved double-digit organic sales growth. This progression has escalated during the first quarter in 2004.

Jean Marc Loubier, President and CEO of Celine, stated: "With Roberto and his creative imagination and knowledge of products, we are reinforcing our ambition to establish Celine as a creative reference and a state-of-the-art brand in the world of fashion and luxury."

Roberto Menichetti stated: "Although fashion is in a period of great transition, LVMH and its brands remain one of the most important forces in the industry. I am very pleased to be joining the women¹s brand Celine as I have always been fascinated with the allure and sensuality of Parisian women. I look forward to the challenge that the continued evolution and potential of Celine represent."

-press release forwarded by Timothy Hagy, Contributing Paris Editor

Sunday, April 25, 2004

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Bustle Skirts…..or Swelled Heads?

I was tickled by this Sunday's article in the ‘Style’ section of The New York Times, “Today’s Cinderella’s Face an Old Question: How to Dress for the Ball”, by Ruth La Ferla. In it, she discussed the trials and tribulations of getting oneself dressed to the nines for the ‘big event’ (of course, I’m referring to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume benefit gala) whose attending theme is “Dangerous Liasons”.

There were quotes from several of the city’s most serious fashion players (with attending images), who admitted this has been a daunting “conundrum” and a stressful one at that. After all, what one decides to wear to a high profile party such as this, can make or break them (well, in fashion jargon anyway), and can make the difference between being ignored (heaven forbid!) by the paparazzi OR ‘scoring’ and turning up on the coveted party pages of the New York Times, WWD, as well as fashion websites such as in the days following.

Of course, it’s rather sobering and highly amusing to note that while much of the city’s population is struggling to simply make ends meet, pay the bills, pay the rent, etc., a small and fortunate few, are seemingly plagued by their biggest worries and stresses: their immediate wardrobe dilemmas.

The article also spoke about the potential problem that will present itself to those opting for voluminous gowns: how to get out of a car door OR into the door of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Quite frankly, knowing the egomaniacal, egotistic, narcissistic group that will be out in force on Monday night (oh well, you know fashion folk) including some of the biggest names in the business, it seems more likely that swelled heads may pose a bigger problem than bustle skirts.

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, April 24, 2004

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Soho Grand:

Well, okay, so it may not be sooooo grand, but today was the 'grand' opening of the brand new Bloomingdale's Soho, 504 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, 212 729-5900. It was the perfect spring day to check out the 90,000 square foot 6 story shop that had once been home to Canal Jeans. While there was a blockade set up to accomodate an imposing looking waiting line (with the requisite black clad security guys standing in front) which lent an air of excitement and created a buzz, I think it was more for the effect than actual need. In actually, it took less than a few minutes to wind one's way into the very appealing, terribly inviting retail outpost. And hey, let's face it, if it were not inviting today- on it's very first day open, you could say they'd have a big problem.

I rarely shop in Bloomingdales on Lexington Avenue (or rather, I try to stay away as much as I can)...I just find it too big, usually too claustrophic, dark, etc.) And I just happen to prefer smaller shops with charm to large, mall-like department stores. But, having said that, I must admit- the new space, while true to Bloomie's 'vibe' (you basically KNOW you're in Bloomingdales), has retained the downtown, Soho edge thanks to art gallery-like high ceilings, exposed brick on walls, tall architectural columns, bleached wood floors, and lots of light thanks to big windows and a beautiful skylight.

To get things going, a limited edition green and black 'graffiti' print umbrella (the same print is used on their new shopping bags) was being offered for free to those opening a Bloomingdale's charge account today, in addition to a 15% off 'chose your own sale date savings certificate'.

So, what is the main difference between this store and the one on Lexington Avenue? Well, aside from the much smaller size and downtown location, the merchandise is edited differently. For example, Soho carries no petite sizes, only a limited number of 'bridge' designers, and no Chanel, Armani, Louis Vuitton, or Marc Jacobs (since his shop is right around the corner). Also missing are many newer, edgies names- though they had a nice selection of up and coming Derek Lam's spring items.

I made my way up the escalators to the pounding tune of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' (how 80's!!!) with the energetic 'Billie Jean' blaring in the background- and interestingly (or perhaps not), the only designer I spotted was Patricia Underwood, checking out her selection of hats on the main floor. The store is definitely going after a younger, hip, crowd, but it will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Friday, April 23, 2004

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Condé Nast Blacklisting Lookonline Reports:

It appears Condé Nast does not want their editors and writers to read what we have to say. Their webmasters are treating our directed opt-out email newsletters to and domains as part of their "Realtime Blackhole List" and thus deleting all our news reports and feature articles as so much "spam". While over 30 of their editors & writers are prevented from reading our reports, others do in fact accept and access our feature articles.

I guess they do not like getting scooped by us. For example, just the other day we broke the news in New York about Gucci Group appointing a new chief executive officer almost 4 hours before WWD sent out a breaking news alert via email.

Blacklisting is a Fairchild family tradition of sorts. For years they ignored top American designers Geoffrey Beene and Pauline Trigere by never mentioning their names in any of their publications. Of course they are not above reporting a negative item -- in an obvious attempt to embarrass us Paul Wilmot forwarded to WWD a fax we sent him complaining about not getting invites to his clients' shows. WWD published parts of the fax as a "scoop" item in their special weekend edition during fashion week. It turned out to be great press for us while making Paul Wilmot seem small, petty and thin-skinned.

All we can say is in the words of the 1950's folk singer group The Weavers talking about being blacklisted during the McCarthy era: "If it were not for the honor we would rather not be". Just what are the poor dears so afraid of?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

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Gucci Group appoints new Chief Executive Officer

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 21, 2004: Gucci Group N.V. (Euronext Amsterdam: GCCI.AS; NYSE: GUC) today announces the nomination by the Supervisory Board of Robert Polet as President and Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Board of the world's third-largest luxury group.

Mr. Polet succeeds Domenico De Sole, who is leaving the company on April 30. Mr. Polet's appointment will be confirmed at a shareholders' meeting to be scheduled in the coming weeks. Mr. Polet will also become a member of the Management Board of Pinault Printemps Redoute, Gucci's majority shareholder.

A 48-year-old Dutch national, Mr. Polet joins Gucci Group after a 26-year career at Unilever. In his latest position, Mr. Polet was President of Unilever's Worldwide Ice Cream and Frozen Foods division, a $7.8 billion business consisting of over 40 operating companies. During his more than three years at the helm of the division, profit margins increased by 70%. Prior to that position, Mr. Polet worked in a variety of executive positions within Unilever, including chairman of Unilever Malaysia, chairman of Van den Bergh's and executive vice president of Unilever's European Home and Personal Care division.

Adrian Bellamy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Gucci Group N.V., said: "We warmly welcome Robert Polet as our new President and Chief Executive Officer and wish him every success in his new position. He brings considerable global experience and a deep knowledge of consumer brands to his role. On behalf of my colleagues on the Supervisory Board, I would also like to express special appreciation to Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford and all our people in the Gucci Group, for their extraordinary contribution over many years."

Serge Weinberg, Chairman of the Management Board of Pinault Printemps Redoute and Chairman of the Committee designated by Gucci Group's Supervisory Board to search for the new Chief Executive, declared: "We are thrilled about Robert's appointment. His international background, his broad experience in developing brands, his entrepreneurial and managerial talents and his ability to be both a leader and team player make him an ideal choice to run Gucci Group."

"This is a new era for Gucci Group. I'd like to thank Domenico de Sole for the outstanding job he has done, together with Tom Ford, to make Gucci Group the extraordinarily successful company that it is today. Domenico has a worthy successor in Robert Polet. Working with the strong management teams and talented designers that are in place in each of Gucci Group's brands, Robert will keep on building the best luxury group in the world."

Robert Polet declared: "I'm very honoured and excited to have been named to run Gucci Group. The different brands within Gucci Group are iconic names in the world of fashion and luxury goods. I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be entrusted with their development. It's a great challenge to succeed Domenico De Sole, and I'm greatly looking forward to working with the wonderfully talented people of Gucci Group to write a new chapter in its brilliant story."

Gucci Group N.V. is one of the world's leading multi-brand luxury goods companies. Through the Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Roger & Gallet, Bottega Veneta, Bédat & Co., Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga brands, the Group designs, produces and distributes high-quality personal luxury goods, including ready-to-wear, handbags, luggage, small leather goods, shoes, timepieces, jewelry, ties and scarves, eyewear, perfume, cosmetics and skincare products. The Group directly operates stores in major markets throughout the world and wholesales products through franchise stores, duty-free boutiques and leading department and specialty stores. The shares of Gucci Group N.V. are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and on the Euronext Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

-Timothy Hagy, contributing editor

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

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Ebay and Doyle: 'Perfect Together'

The long awaited moment for all vintage collectors, has arrived. I am of course, referring to the highly anticipated and well attended semi annual Important Estate Jewelry Auction being held today at 10 am, and tomorrow's Couture Textiles and Accessories Auction, at Doyle New York, 175 east 87th street, website:

When I asked Clair L. Watson, Doyle's Couture Specialist (whom I saw on Saturday when I stopped by to view the items) which numbers seemed to be generating the most interest, she admitted there was "a lot of interest in a variety of lots - the Pucci collectors/lovers adore the beaded dress and the float; the Balenciaga feather coat is getting a lot of attention from variety of sources; the fuschia Poiret has been been lovingly inspected; the Dior Musique de Nuit admired."

She also observed that there "has been a steady stream of people generally enjoying and looking at it all - one of the fun things is the diverse appeal of vintage couture - Sophie Dahl came in and loved the Dolce & Gabbana multi godet creme chiffon mini; the 'faces' paper dress obviously rarely up - has generated a lot of interest; the Yrigere Trigere coat; the Desses..."

By the way, one thing I found VERY interesting, and worth noting, is the link to Ebay, which is something new and still somewhat experimental. When I contacted Louis LeB. Webre, Director of Marketing, Media, and Internet for Doyle New York, to get the lowdown, he explained: "The entire Couture catalogue is posted on Ebay. We have contracted with Ebay to utilize their live Internet bidding service for several sales this spring."

"What this means is that all of the lots were posted on Ebay beginning ten days in advance of the auction date. Our lots show up on Ebay's search functions, and users may leave absentee bids which will be executed on the day of the auction. Users may also register to participate live at our auction and use their computer mouse as their paddle. They will watch the bidding progress on their monitor, and click their mouse when they wish to bid."

"As to our goal with this arrangement, our focus has always been to provide maximum visibility to property offered in our auctions and make participation as convenient as possible for interested bidders. By alerting millions of ebay users to our sale and providing convenient bidding capabilities, we are hoping to foster greater competition for each lot, resulting in higher prices for our consignors' property."

"A few years ago, we held the auction of the Estate of Jame Cagney. The auction was televised live on Pax Network, and we provided live Internet bidding through the Internet auction company, The arrangement was a success, with 80% of the lots offered receiving bids from Internet bidder, and 25% of the lots actually selling to Internet bidders."

"Today's auction of Important Estate Jewelry will be our first auction with Ebay. Tomorrow's sale of Couture will be the second." So, whether you attend the auction up close and personal, or track it on Ebay, good luck!

-Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, April 16, 2004

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Manolos Still Hot, But Jimmy Choo Is, Too

Emma Crookes had been planning the trip for years, waiting for the day she could afford the splurge...

On a rainy Thursday evening, she stepped into the Manolo Blahnik shoe store in Midtown Manhattan and now only needed to decide between Mary Jane-style pumps or strappy stilettos with dangling adornments.

“I’ve always wanted a pair since I could afford Vogue, which was when I was 17,” said Crookes, who is now 30 and lives in London. “No other designer has got the imagination.”

Crookes, who bought her London apartment a year ago, knew she should spend the $500 the shoes would cost to improve her home.

“You just do it, don’t you, whether you have the money or not,” she said, laughing. “Next year, the kitchen may wait.”

Crookes is not alone in her love for Manolos. Some women confide they’ll skip lunch to save for a pair. The designer shoes remain as popular as ever despite the conclusion this winter of “Sex and the City,” the HBO comedy with which they became so identified.

“Certainly, Manolo Blahnik is still very much a hot line,” said Bill Boettge, president of the National Shoe Retailers Association. “Nothing has taken its place so far.”

But Howard Davis, adjunct professor of footwear design at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, said while Manolos are a perennial favorite, Tamara Mellon’s Jimmy Choo brand is stepping up as the new heel of choice among his students.

“They’re really into Jimmy Choo because they like how he decorates his shoe,” Davis said, noting the skilled use of rhinestones. “They find it beautiful.”

But Blahnik lovers continue to seek out the tucked-away retail store at 31 W. 54th St., with four shoes in a picture window next to miniscule sign bearing the designer’s name.

Cate Alderson, 25, of San Francisco, came searching for shoes for her June nuptials. Although most of the pumps were readily touched and admired by customers, faux-pearl-laden wedding shoes with an absent price tag – salespeople revealed a cost of $1,200 – were kept behind glass.

But Alderson, who normally spent no more than $300 on footwear, had been shopping the entire day and was ready to pay what she must to have shoes she loved.

“There’s more leniency to how much you can spend,” Alderson said.

Saleswoman Terrilyn Lee, 21, of Queens, said the store is no stranger to seeing customers willing to do anything to own the designer footwear with heels that can surpass five inches.

The $690 “Oklamod” construction boot with a 4-inch stiletto heel, known colloquially as the Manolo Blahnik Timberland, was so popular last year after it was featured in a song by Jay-Z and Beyonce that the store phones were ringing with desperate customers from California, Georgia, Texas and everywhere in between promising to send money orders to reserve the boot.

“There were like, ‘I’m not going to pay my rent just to buy these boots,’ ” Lee said.

Some lucky customers don’t pay retail. Lori Matthews, 35, who lives in San Francisco, managed to get a pair of the coveted boots on sale for less than $500. “I got the last pair,” she said smiling.

-Heather Fletcher
Via NYU Live Wire News Service

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

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Roland Nivelais's Fall 2004 Presentation a Winner:

Roland Nivelais & model wearing green satin and organza gown

Roland Nivelais may not be a household name, but he has been quietly staking his claim in the fashion world for over 15 years, and is certainly well known and well respected by the cognoscenti. The charming French born designer (who has retained his equally charming accent) is an American citizen and a long-standing member of the CFDA, and first launched his label in New York. I first became aware of him in the 80’s, when I was an editor at Harper’s Bazaar, and we routinely featured his couture-like gowns and dresses in our editorials.

Last evening, I attended a lovely, small, and very civilized cocktail presentation of his fall/winter 2004 collection, held at his showroom at 202 west 40th street (where he has been for 5 years). Like his clothing, the showroom is chic, classic, and refined, and it was a lovely venue in which to see the beautifully constructed and fabricated suits, dresses, and evening gowns that he describes as being “feminine, glamorous, sophisticated” and “not so obvious- sexually”.

Black satin fitted evening suit trimmed with ruby red satin

The well-edited and very succinct collection is unapologetically not for everyone, nor is it meant to solve wardrobe problems for working-women. As he put it, these are clothes meant to be worn for “5 p.m. and later...or perhaps for “an expensive lunch”. He makes no apologies about the fact that he “doesn’t understand sportswear or casual clothes”. How refreshing! A designer who knows what he’s good at, what he’s passionate about, and does not want to please or appeal to everybody.

Ruby satin gown with a train back

Standouts included the green satin and organza gown that was hand beaded and hand dyed “5 times” to achieve the degradations of color; the molded torso black and pink strapless degrade sequined gown with organza ‘petal’ bottom (at $4500 this is one of the most expensive items on the collection; the most expensive item is the $4700 brocade strapless gown trimmed with Russian sable); a group of black satin fitted evening suits with a molded jackets, one of which featured a winged collar trimmed with ruby red satin; several little black dresses that were anything but dull or run of the mill; and a long black column that was a knockout and truly an investment piece.

Left: black and pink strapless degrade sequined gown with organza ‘petal’ bottom

He counts Sigourney Weaver (whom he describes as “not a fashion person”) as one of his loyal customer- she sure has the body and stature to show off his designs- and his collection is carried in such upscale stores as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. Though he has in the past staged formal runway shows, the smaller more intimate presentation seems to suit his aesthetic, and when I asked if he might consider doing a formal show next season, he said, “probably not.”

- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, April 12, 2004

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'So(ho)' Fine

Let me just say, Soho, which had been one of the business 'casualties' of 9/ll (the area, of course, is in close proximity to where the World Trade Centers once stood) has seemed to recover nicely, from my perspective.

I strolled around this past Saturday, and because the weather was glorious, and it was the day before Easter, the shops and sidewalks were brimming with people not just tourists, but locals. And yes of course, there undeniably IS a difference.

The upbeat streets that define Soho were filled with the usual artists, artisans, clothing designers, and graphic designers, hawking their wares, and it was bustling. I was especially taken with one enterprising young woman who used this pre Easter opportunity to sell fabric flower pins in a variety of colors and sizes. Of course, the weather on the following day turned very unspring like- unseasonably cool and damp, but as they say: “c’est la vie”!

Speaking of flowers (the hallmark of spring)… streets and shops seemed to be filled with flora and fauna: fresh flowers decorated storefronts and display cases as well as cafes and restaurants- both inside and out; floral prints and patterns abounded on clothing and accessories; there were even flower decorated umbrellas- those that graced the whimsical windows of Jan de Luz a wonderful French antique shop on West Broadway (345 West Broadway, 212 343 9911). I had previously reported on these ‘must have’ $98 umbrellas, and showcased them as THE perfect April find, but in case you missed it, they are available in a variety of irresistible color combinations, and some are currently on back order thanks in large part to their placement in a recent issue of ‘O’- Oprah’s magazine.

I then hit one of my favorite gourmet destinations - Dean and Deluca- which is always crowded, and a treat for the eyes (and tummy), and then headed diagonally across Broadway to check out Prada. As you know, Miuccia was the subject of an article in the New York Times Magazine section this past Sunday, (‘Planet Prada’ by Herbert Muschamp), and her influence seems to know no bounds. The shop is certainly quite a retail departure from anything else- more like a museum. The mannequins that stand in several rows, to seemingly 'greet' you upon entering on Broadway, are literally guarded by security men. If you try to get too close (in order to better observe the fabric, the accessories, the detail), you are stopped in your tracks.

The colorful, printed, and eclectic spring collection, is the perfect look and mood for the season, especially following on the heels of our long drawn out, cold winter, and in my opinion, is so 'right on' for this moment in time. I happen to adore the whimsical travel prints but was taken by the way in which one colorful blouse in particular, reminded me of one of my vintage silk Puccis from the 60's.

Needless to say, I believe that you can achieve a similar (and far less costly) effect on your own, without the benefit of the Prada label sewn in, if you just experiment and play around with the clothing in your closets. If you really examine how Miuccia puts herself together, it is all about an attitude; an intellectual, offbeat, off the cuff approach that remains very un-precious. Very often it’s just a gesture, a manner, a mood. Sometimes it's just the way she leaves her coat open and belts it, or the way in which she layers items, and juxtaposes offbeat combinations of fabrics, colors, and patterns. This is part of her genius, something she always translates on her runways, and something that can be adapted to your own wardrobe.

Take out your vintage prints, revive those glorious Mexican circle skirts (or find them on Ebay, online vintage shops, or at vintage shops), roll up the sleeves of your shirts and jackets, and tie an exuberant scarf around your neck- OR on the handle of your bag. So much the better if you happen to have something that is tie- dyed (nothing too hippie-ish please, as that is NOT the effect we're going for). And if you own a snakeskin coat (remember when it was the 'Year of the Snake' several springs ago, after snakeskin was all over the international runways? Well, if you were wise enough to hold on to your snakeskin coat or jacket from YSL, etc., you are in luck now!)

Just a note, going to the Prada shop can be dangerous (and not just to your finances). Aside from all the steps needed to navigate up and down the first floor, when you leave the back entrance, the heavy door literally opens abruptly onto a steep staircase, and as I was leaving, the weight of the door closing behind me practically knocked me off and down onto the street (and I wasn't even carrying a shopping bag filled with heavy purchases).

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Sunday, April 11, 2004

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Clothes Make The (Wo)man:

As we all know, one’s clothing choices signal many different things and can be used for or against us in many different ways. Like it or not, what we chose to cover our bodies with, holds far more significance than merely rating a ‘well dressed’ nod of approval by fashion insiders, or qualifying us for ‘best dressed’ lists.

Particularly so for those who are in the public eye (whether they be high profile celebrities- actors, socialites, or big name felons standing trial), who constantly find themselves being scrutinized and ‘graded’ vis a vis their fashion statements (or lack thereof) on a constant basis. And since we are in an election year, this fact of life is most obvious within the political arena.

Last week’s appearance of President Bush’s national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice before the commission investigating the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks, was yet another indication of how public figures are held under a microscope, and the way in which they present themselves (their demeanor, grooming, and clothing) is an entire package and fodder for discussion. Regardless of one’s political views, it is undeniable that Ms. Rice is bright, able, talented, articulate, and a formidable and highly regarded player in the current administration. She is also attractive, confidant, always flawlessly groomed, and has deemed the suit (with knee length skirt) as her uniform of choice for public appearances. No surprise there- the suit has traditionally been seen as the one indispensable wardrobe staple that is meant to signal power, authority, intelligence, empowering woman and putting them on the same playing field as the guys.

I never expect to see Ms. Rice (or other women political figures) wearing fashion forward or edgy versions- like the ones we routinely see on runways. Naturally, hers are far more commercial, mundane, and well, ordinary. But that’s okay. My main criticism (and I cringe) is when I see her or her cronies, in Chanel copies (you know the drill: gold buttons, braiding, piping, and other tricky details that don’t cut the mustard when they are not the real deal and perfectly done).

For the big event on Thursday morning, Ms. Rice wisely stayed away from the aforementioned versions, and settled on a neutral, plain, (bland?) taupe, shawl collared form fitting (but not too much so) jacket worn with a matching skirt, white silk top beneath, and accessorized only with small, tasteful, and discreet gold clip- on earrings, a slim gold necklace, and of course, the ubiquitous American flag pin affixed to her lapel.

This ‘look’ was subsequently talked about ad nauseum and was even the subject of an article in the first section of the New York Times on the following day. In Alessandra Stanley’s column, Friday, April 9th (‘TV Watch- Testimony Provides Breath of Racial Reality for TV’), the writer observed, “There was absolutely nothing in Condoleezza Rice’s neutral-toned suit, primly folded hands or calm demeanor to draw attention to her sex or race.”

Yes, the fact that she is decidedly and unapologetically “neuter” and typically, non (or shall I say, a- sexual) in appearance, certainly helps her cause and contributes to her overall acceptance, high approval rating, and credibility. Again, this is nothing new- most women who reach a certain pinnacle in their high profile careers, know how to play the game, and they know that a certain androgyny goes a long way. Thanks to all the no- nonsense, classic, menswear inspired, cuffed trousers, jackets, and tailored coats, rendered in neutral, un-gimmicky colors, you too can reap the career benefits. Go for it!

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, April 03, 2004

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Twentieth Annual Fashion/Beauty Benefit by Citymeals-On-Wheels

This is always a great event for a great cause. Meet an greet some major fashionistas on Monday May 3rd at 6-9PM at Metrazur in Grand Central Station. The Benefit this year will honor Jane Elfers, President and CEO of Lord & Talyor; Felicia Milewicz, Beauty Director of Glamour Magazine; and Ruth Finley, publisher of Fashion Calendar for The Lifetime Achievment Award. Gourmet Buffet & Silent Auction. Tickets $200 - contact: Citymeals 687-1223.