Monday, July 26, 2004

By George!

Jennifer George burst on the scene in the 80’s (1982 to be exact) when she partnered with good friend David Rubin to start Jennifer George Inc. Her fashion shows soon became must see events for all the top fashion editors, and her very consistent designs, routed in “classic American sportswear” were routinely editorialized on the pages of all the major fashion magazines.

Jennifer’s dizzying resume belies her versatility and creativity: amongst her ‘special projects’, the Parsons grad designed Tipper Gore’s 1996 inaugural coat and gown; designed stage clothing for the likes of Carly Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood, and Toni Braxton; developed and designed a new women’s shirt line for Hathaway; created “easy sew’ design packages for Vogue Patterns; and created the uniform for waiters at the trendy “Atlas” restaurant in New York.

As someone who has given generously of her time and talents to help others, philanthropic pursuits have also figured prominently into her activities. Jennifer has been involved in breast cancer awareness, has raised approximately $100,000 for women’s charities in San Francisco through private trunk shows, and has created Fresh Air Fund logo, camp tee shirts and buttons. As a CFDA member for 10 years, she “conceived and compiled” the CFDA Cookbook sold at the very first “7th on Sale” in 1990.

Ms. George made the tough decision to close down her business in 1998, but she is still very much involved in design - much to the delight of her extremely loyal customers who continue to go to her for chic, urban, luxurious yet casual AND practical designs, that are never trendy or fashion victim-y. I recently went to her beautiful Upper West Side apartment to view her concise and well-edited fall 2004 collection that ranges in price from about $110 to $650. (Jennifer does not sell to department stores, and does not wish to). The primarily neutral palette (black, white, ivory, oatmeal, brown, charcoal) is accented with plum, aubergine, and blue, and jolted with fuchsia. The easy, fluid shapes (some of which are convertible) look very ‘trademark’ George as well.

Standouts include the reversible jerseys and heavy stretch matte jersey pieces, the one size fits all long and short quilted cotton ‘duvet’ coats with nylon shells, the paisley chiffon classic shirt with pom pom scarf (Jennifer admits she loves and collects scarves), the stretch cotton corduroy coat with quilted liner and matching pants, the charming 100% cotton Liberty of London shirts with striped vest backs, and the crème de la crème: the toasty warm thick and luxurious cashmere pieces (which are 2, 3, or 4 ply!). Included in this luscious group are a classic poor boy, a ribbed sleeveless turtleneck, tube skirt, hat and glove set, and the most expensive piece (and MY personal favorite) the 4 ply oatmeal colored tube shrug.

But perhaps Jennifer’s most inspired and timely idea (considering how popular charm bracelets are these days, not to mention the idea of personalizing and customizing) is her collection of ‘Memory Bracelets’, You know all those lost earrings, and random pieces of heirloom and sentimental jewelry you’ve collected through the years that are just languishing in your jewelry box because you haven’t been able to figure out what do with them?

For $400 and up, Jennifer will custom design a highly personal and individual double wrap charm bracelet (which is so much more important looking, more sophisticated, and less childish than the single strand charm bracelets you may have worn in the 50’s or 60’s). She takes what you bring her, selects a base chain to put the trinkets on, and literally fills in the gaps with bits and pieces culled from the amazing collection she has amassed through the years. For more information, you can contact her at 917 657 2267 or email: By the way, her son thought up the name 'puff mommy' ...cute!

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

‘Bag It’

‘99’, the needlepoint bag

...And speaking of ‘due east’, on a recent trip to Easthampton, the Jonathan Adler boutique (6 Main Street, 631 329 6499, caught my eye. His third shop (he already has one in Soho: 47 Green Street, 877- 2871910, and one in Los Angeles: 8125 Melrose Avenue, 323 658 8390), Adler recently moved from another one practically across the street, where he had been for about 4 years.

Known as Simon Doonan’s ‘better half’ (or partner in ‘creative crime’ as it were…boy, what a talented pair THEY are), they have fallen in love with the area (the duo have a house in Shelter Island) and Adler jokingly admitted to a local magazine that one reason he opened a shop on the ‘East End’ was to validate spending so much time at the beach!

Like his others, he has filled this small and well-edited store with a signature selection of mid century modern textiles, ceramics, furniture, and pottery. Also included are some highly collectible vintage pieces he has picked up along the way on his trips. Priced anywhere from about $40 for a bud vase, up to the thousands, everything is highly graphic, visual, and eye- catching, but perhaps most important- it all seems to have a sense of humor- which is precisely the point.

But the best news, if you happen to be a fan of the Jonathan Adler aesthetic, like myself, is that he is launching a handbag line for the fall. Crafted in Florence, Italy, prices will range from about $405 to just below $1,000 and the collection will focus on a palette of chocolate brown, baby blue, camel, beige, and black, with rich texture mixes of pig suede, calf, pony skin and needlepoint. Shapes will reflect Jonathan’s love of distinctive, timeless classics: small wristlets, medium sized trapezoidal handbags for day, hobos, small and large totes.

Examples are ‘Billy’, the brown pig suede trimmed with brown pigskin and bone color hardware ($495), and my favorite and most expensive - ‘99’, the needlepoint bag trimmed with brown calf ($930) whose pattern is taken from one of Jonathan’s signature rugs (see top photo). The selection will be shipped to the three Jonathan Adler stores, as well as Barneys, Coplons, Gito, Jeffrey New York, Hirshleifers, and Steven Spodek, in August and September.

- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Slobs..... or Snobs?

I found it interesting to note that in Monday's edition of The New York Times, in the section where they tell you what will appear the following day ("Tomorrow in The Times"), it was 'advertised' that Guy Trebay's 'Fashion' column, "Summer, Untucked", would be a report about the popularity of the "untucked shirttails" know, mens' way of "getting in touch with their inner slobs". That didn't sound too enticing to me.

But as it happens, there were no slobs or untucked shirttails spoken about or photographed in what turned out to be the main article: "Calvin Klein Introduces 400 to His Piece of Heaven", which detailed the sumptuous, luxurious, over the top, and perfectly 'perfect' soiree Calvin Klein threw at his new Southampton 'palace' on the beach, a scene complete with perfectly buffed bodies, beautiful male models, beautiful waiters from 'central casting' who were called upon to serve caviar....etc. In other words - it was exactly what you would expect from Calvin Klein and his well documented, finely honed aesthetic.

I guess someone in charge at the paper figured this would make for a better read on a miserable, dark, damp, rainy summer morning, than an article about men being, well, men!

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner
You gotta hand it to her

Marjorie Mortensen is one of the best (AND reasonably priced) vendors selling non-vintage accessories anywhere around town. On any given Sunday, she can be found at the indoor/outdoor Greenflea Market, located on Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th streets, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., where she has been a fixture for about 20 years. You can find her inside the school building, and you can't miss her because she has the most dazzling displays.

This very interesting New Yorker - who studied literature and loves home decor as much as accessories (which she claims to "buy to sell" rather than to collect or wear herself), told me she was one of the co-founders of the Tibet Center on East 28th street more than 25 years ago, where she set up the first Tibetan Bazaar and taught Tibetan cooking. It quickly became a mecca for such acclaimed visitors as James Beard. The experience got her interested in selling. As they say, the rest is history.

Standouts among the items she sells, which range in price from about $4 to $165 (for a rhinestone bracelet) include her incredible selection of silk and leather flower pins which come in every size, shape, and variety imaginable. She admitted she does very well with them, since she began selling them 6 months ago. Also catching my eye were her colorful and fanciful jeweled nature friendly dragonfly and butterfly pins (the large dragonfly sells for $28). By the way, the butterfly was used throughout John Ray's recent Gucci Men's spring/summer 2005 runway show in Milan - a butterfly print was used on some shirts and caftans, and butterfly pins accessorized chicly tailored jackets.

And I can't leave out her surrealist grouping of red lips (most of which sell for as low as $6 and $8) that undoubtedly would have made Salvador Dali smile. Coincidentally, Marjorie told me she met Dali and his wife Gala in the late 50's through a photographer friend and frequently socialized with the couple in the early 60's.

But speaking of surreal, my 'hands down' favorite is her 3 inch rhinestone hand punctuated with perfectly manicured ruby red jeweled nails. At a mere $55, it is one of the best buys in the city and the idea way to make a statement.

She counts major fashion magazine editors, designers, actors, and "Lincoln Center people" amongst her loyal customers. My suggestion: run, do not walk!

- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I’ll show you the ropes

Is the common rope poised to become the next fashionable object of desire and status symbol? Chains have always been seen as edgy, hip, cool, sexy, while ropes have traditionally been seen as sporty and boaty.

But of course, that’s precisely the point - for the international resort 2005 collections (and as a season, resort IS admittedly becoming more important and directional ever year) as well as the spring/summer 2005 menswear collections, there was an unabashed and unapologetic nautical undercurrent within some of the most directional houses. This was exemplified by the return of the natty navy blazer complete with gold buttons, the reliance on the classic maritime color palette of crisp navy and white, graphic and sporty stripes, and ropes.

And because ropes were seen in collections by highly regarded designers, it’s a sure bet that this will be interpreted and referenced at all price levels in the future. When WWD previewed Stefano Pilati’s “very Saint Laurent” first collection for the house of YSL Rive Gauche, which admittedly is more about safari than boating, he used gutsy natural ropes to replace belts for both day and evening wear, as trim on epaulets of chic trenchcoats and jackets, as handles on slouchy bags, and as the base for his sexy platform sandals.

And for her first collection for the house of Gucci, another Tom Ford replacement, Alessandra Faccinetti, used ropes to trim handsome tan trenchcoats, used them as belts, and as decoration on handbags.

Let’s face it, if anyone can make ropes seem edgy, it’s Helmut Lang, whose sexy, urban yet very nautical menswear spring/summer 2005 menswear collection, just shown in Paris, was replete with ropes: white ropes were seen as ‘appendages’ dangling from belts, and encircling seersucker suits. He even took it a step further and used a rope print to add interest to the side of a t shirt.

And of course, there is always the classic and traditional rope- soled espadrille. Versions of the flat espadrille and the more retro platformed espadrille are being seen on chic women in town and country- as well as at the beach, and it is poised to become the shoe of the season. As they say, it’s ‘beachy’ keen!

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Rubber ‘Sole’:

Notwithstanding Barneys New York’s highly publicized business woes, the store as usual, sure looks great! On a recent trip up Madison Avenue, I was taken by the windows featuring some of Christian Lacroix’s colorful and graphic fall/winter 2004 designs for Emilio Pucci. In addition to the usual and predictable thin silk jersey dresses, what really stood out were the two lean quilted 'ski' jackets and especially, the wonderful patterned rubber wellies. When I checked them out in the 4th floor designer shoe department, I was delighted to find they were only $100! Available in two colorations, they are unlined, which makes them perfect for almost all year round. In the winter, during the snow and slush season, simply wear thick socks to keep your feet warm and dry.

And speaking of rubber boots, which I adore because they are so practical, especially if you live in New York, the Co-op shoe department is currently selling the Marc by Marc Jacobs rubber wellie with a 2-inch heel. Featured in his runway show back in February, they are already a sure hit. Available in black, yellow, red, and bright blue, the latter two colors are trimmed with an adorable little grosgrain ribbon on top. Like the Pucci boots, these are also unlined, and sell for $100! Who says 100 bucks gets you relatively nothing these days

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner