Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Geoffrey Beene:

--I was so saddened to hear about the passing of a true American design icon- Geoffrey Beene, at the age of 77. I initially met Mr. Beene in the 70's, when I was an assistant fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar...I fortunately went on to become his editor when I assumed the responsibilites that go along with the title, Fashion Editor.

He was always a soft spoken, low- keyed, gentleman (with a wicked sense of humor), a singular and individual voice, with a truly perfectionist attention to detail and one of the most truly consistent design forces in American and global fashion. Idolized, followed, and revered, he was continually referenced (a nice way to say, 'copied') by many fashion designers, both young and old.

His amazing influence is ALWAYS felt and seen (gloves? Geoffrey Beene...boleros? Geoffrey Beene....the mix of high and low, whimsy and elegance? Geoffrey Beene...Sportswear mixed with couture? Geoffrey Beene....'Beene there...done that!') and this past New York Fashion Week for spring 2005 was no exception. Though many in the business site names of younger, more 'hip' names like Miuccia Prada, Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Guesquiere, Olivier Theyskens, etc., as the forces to reckon with, I always feel the amazing influence of Geoffrey Beene (he was was 'hip'-- make no mistake about it) in terms of purity of line, shape, and proportion. He had the ability to create elegantly refined, clothing that nonetheless always looked modern and youthful and never had even a hint of the dowdy (which is no easy feat if you take a look at the kinds of overly staid ladylike clothes which are far too literal and referential these days). He was also one of the first to use humble fabrics like burlap in the same way as the finest imported French silks and satins.

Quite frankly, there is very little I can sum up in a sentence, paragraph, or column, which does justice to the man or his legacy. But last April, I
interviewed him for Fashionlines, click here to read (I am their New York Editor) and it is an interview I was then and still am very proud of, an interview which I feel captures his essence, his philosophy and his views. One of the most memorable quotes, (which has particular relevance now as we are in the middle of the Spring 2005 Collections, and the idea of 'new, new, new' seems to be on many a fashion pro's mind)is his assessment,"It's not what's new that's important, it's what is 'good' that counts."

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, September 17, 2004

Reflections on the season: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly of Olympus Fashion Week, Spring 2005

The most joyously visual sight: The Lilly Pulitzer - clad crowd that showed up to attend the Sunday morning Lilly Pulitzer show. Hordes of young women, older couples, moms with daughters or babies in tow were all dressed in variations on the nostalgic and signature lime green, pink, orange, blue floral shifts, skirts, pants, tops- as if to mirror the runway.

Most surprising conclusion: In an urban jungle like New York, where black has usually ruled, all the aforementioned riotous country club, Palm Beach inspired color looked pretty fab and not a bit out of place on that beautifully summer like Sunday.

The least surprising revival: Emilio Pucci. What a perfect time to enjoy and wear upbeat color and pattern. Not only did Fashion Week begin with a party to formally celebrate the opening of the brand new Emilio Pucci store on 5th avenue, where a majority of the crowd turned out in a plethora of Pucci prints, but the famous Pucci patterns- both new and vintage- were worn many show attendees. And not just the women- there were several men wearing Pucci ties or Pucci patterned headgear as well. Oh, and by the way, many designers seemed more than just a tad influenced by Emilio Pucci’s color and pattern sense in the clothing they sent down the runway.

The designer whose influence was most apparent on both the runways (as well as embraced by those attending the shows):. Miuccia Prada No surprise there. Not only were runways filled with Miuccia-isms, such as interesting prints and patterns, jeweled embellishments, thrift shop chic, vintage inspirations, full circle skirts, mismatched suits, Orientalia and exotica, brocades, and brooches, but so too were members of the audience (talk about ‘life imitating art’!)

The most beautiful runway: For his New York debut, the print loving Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch turned his runway into a true primrose path. It was a veritable garden and work of art, filled with assorted fresh flowers (like the beautiful roses and lilies), and it even boasted a topiary bear.

The most Romantic Moment in a fashion show: The finale of Alice Roi. The soundtrack quickly changed to John Lennon's romantic ballad, "Woman", and the models strolled out holding up large signs which read, "Will you marry me?", which had been pre-arranged by Alice's boyfriend, who was seated in the front row.

The Best News about the season that just unfolded: If you usually get dressed in the dark, early in the morning, and never know if you are 'coordinated' as you head out the door, OR if you happen to be color blind, it won't matter this season from the look of things. It's all about mismatched looks, clashing colors (or the unexpected use of color)...so it will hardly matter!

The Worst PR Moment: Again being harassed and stiffed by Harrison & Shriftman Public Relations at the Lacoste show. These two continue to confuse who they are with who they work for.

The reason why the shows run so smoothly: The security guys who know just how to keep things moving wihout getting in the way. The real unsung heroes of the shows.

The most laboriously plodding, overbearing, self-conscious, collection: Donna Karan. A perfect example of why anything that comes off as too forced simply doesn’t work right now. Also, when one tries too hard to be modern, the resulting effect is quite the opposite.

The most timely – and welcome- collection: Narciso Rodriguez. After days of dizzying prints, in your face, over the top embellishments, runways filled to the brim with the notion of ‘more is more’, the quietly refined, calm, perfectly executed, restrained collection of Narciso Rodriguez was like a breath of fresh air.

The most unapologetically upbeat, joyous, energetic, and gleeful show: Michael Kors, who looked exactly like Michael- doing what he does best. Plus, the musical soundtrack was upbeat and quick paced, and the models literally seemed to dance on the runway

Best-dressed editor: Anna Wintour. She somehow manages to show up each day, wearing the ‘news’ of the season, without ever looking like a fashion victim. SHE wears the clothes - they don’t WEAR her. It’s a good trick if you can pull it off!

Most disconcerting (or sobering) thought: With all the prints and patterns being shown for next season, we may all actually start to resemble Shayil Upadaya - the Nepalese gentleman who has become a fixture at the tents, showing up daily in head to toe eye-popping and often jarring, printed ensembles of his own design. Many make fun of him, but let’s face it he does get noticed and photographed!

The most annoyingly out of the way show venue:
The West Side Piers (at West Street and 13th street), where Marc Jacobs showed both collection and Marc this time. While I love what Marc does, and applaud his going back to this location (the last time was the night of September 10, 2001), it is annoyingly difficult to access, downright dangers at night, and unless you have a car and driver, finding a cab is a real production. And as if that were not enough, we are asked to go back and forth there two days in a row…Why not simply kill two birds with one stone and present both collections at the same time? (Just a thought).

The most atmospheric show venue: Catherine Malandrino’s brand new shop, located in the Meatpacking district, which served as the intimate setting for her extremely focused collection (which she told me celebrated “amazing individuality” as well as “really special handwork”).

Most joyous and charming runway show: Marc Jacobs. It was a thoroughly gleeful, colorful, highly tactile and textural romp filled with charming pattern mixes.

The show with the best people watching: A tie between Marc Jacobs and Zac Posen

Best gift(s): While I always love all the wonderful makeup we receive (Bobbie Brown Nars, etc.) this time around I would say it had to be large, roomy, practical, heavy canvas totes we received at Lilly Pulitzer. They were on each seat in assorted colors (orange, lime, pink, blue), boasting six large outside pockets, a large inside zipper, and lined with Lilly’s signature floral. Of course, I also appreciated the wonderfully large and elongated tan nylon Kipling travel bag, filled to the brim with goodies, courtesy Olympus Fashion Week. While I usually don’t care much for the bag itself, this time I know I’ll use and enjoy the tote.

Most disorienting aspect of the week: That it ran from Wednesday to Wednesday. Instead of the shows going from Friday to Friday, they were scheduled from Wednesday to Wednesday, which made for a few disorienting moments: sort of like the movie, ‘If it’s Tuesday it must be Brussels’. I’ve gotten so used to the schedule as it had always played out, that there were moments of real disorientation. For example, during Anna Sui’s afternoon presentation, I began to wonder why I was not sleepy and tired (Anna has always shown at 7 pm on Wednesday). And by end of Ralph Rucci’s show, I kept thinking it was Friday.

The best part of the Tents: Their convenience, all the free reads, complimentary shots of Dunkin Donuts’ yummy espressos and lattes, and I can’t leave out the always professional, polite, and utterly patient squad of black clad security guys that are on hand to make sure everything goes alright.

Worst part of the Tents: The incredibly shrinking Press Room which has been reduced to a small booth all the way in the back, one couch, and three computers (plus on day there were only 2 seats for those computers).

Worst choices for an accessory used on a runway: Ralph Rucci’s old fashioned, stiff and pagoda like hats, which opened his show. Ralph should have gone out of his way to ensure that the beautifully crafted and executed collection look as modern, easy, relevant and casual as possible. The second runner up is Michael Kors with the HUGE Janis Savitt jeweled crosses adorning the neck of several of his models. I was surprised that Michael, who I believe is half- Jewish (at least), would use this religious symbol so prominently. And any way, doesn’t he realize that the Star of David is so much ‘cooler’ and far more ‘hip’ thanks to Madonna’s endorsement of Kabbalah?

The most incredible use of fur: Ralph Rucci’s seemingly paper- thin, oyster perforated sheared mink shirt worn with oyster lambskin jeans.

The most standout knitwear: Oscar de la Renta’s disarmingly delectable and feminine crochet sweaters.

The most obvious conclusions that can be drawn by the end of Fashion Week: Anything that is too forced, aggressive, hard- edged, tackily sexy, OR too literally prim, proper, or ladylike, doesn’t work now. It’s all about a certain natural and unforced charm- a look that is soft, feminine (not prissy), and eclectic, resulting in a slightly off kilter, thrown together and highly personal effect.

And while black may well be chic, one cannot underestimate the joyful, uplifting, and optimistic effect of color.

The best part of seeing the shows: Getting ideas for how to put myself together, and achieve a new look, without necessarily going out to buy new things.

The best part about Fashion Week coming to an end: Not having to wake up and figure out what to wear!

-by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Best For Last...

Chado Ralph Rucci Collection

It started with a downpour that dampened spirits and delayed shows, but it ended with two smashing presentations that could hold their own on runways all over the world. Yesterday Chado Ralph Rucci showed clothes that reflected the elegance and style of the Paris couture and just before him Ralph Lauren showed styles with an American infllection that would be beautifully appropriate anywhere in the world. They were brought the week of New York fashion shows to a graceful and attractive conclusion.

Chado Ralph Rucci Collection

The Rucci clothes were beautifully shaped and included narrow dresses, many in black, but a lot in ivory and white. Rainclothes in colors like green and appricot opened the show. Puffs of chiffon, paillettes and feathers decorated the hemlines. Different kinds of stitching gave body to the fabrics. Nothing was ostentatious.

Chado Ralph Rucci Collection

Neither designer resorted to wild and woolly styles that were more appropriate for way-out magazine covers or red-carpet openings. They were clothes people could wear. It proved that fashion was possible.

Chado Ralph Rucci Collection

Ralph Lauren stayed mainly with pale shades like white and ivory, adding some pale blue and pink for diversity. Ruffled blouses softened the look. Pants were rare. Ruffles gave movement tothe skirts, beads appeared for evening, prints were nonexistant. The effect was calm and charming.

Both collections proved that good clothes could be presented without hoopla in styles women would be eager to try for themselves.It was a good day for fashion.

-posted by Bernadine Morris with photographs by Ernest Schmatolla
Down to the Wire

Yesterday began and ended on a high note. One need not ponder the meaning of life in order to find merit in Michael Kors' 10 a.m. upbeat, joyous, and fresh collection. In fact, it was so unapologetically and simply exuberant and straightforward, one could say that it's appeal was downright shallow and superficial (or as Guy Trebay chided in a recent discussion of the superficial nature of what we in the fashion business do, "I'm so shallow I'm deep"). For his journey this time around, Michael admittedly took inspiration from Greece - "Greek Chic" - for a collection that oozed relaxed and easy glamour, which is precisely what MK does best.

There was plenty of saturated color played off white, lots of graphic stripes, prints (including a floral and tiger and python prints - what would a Michael Kors collection be without an animal pattern?) noteworthy swimwear with coordinating coverups, djellabas, outstanding coats and jackets, his usual lineup of amazing cashmere knits, and dresses (he ended with a group of 'Goddess' gowns). Shine was used with abandon, from gold and bronze metallics to lavish embroideries, and statement making chunky jewelry was courtesy Janis Savitt. One thing I could have done without were the in your face, oversized turquoise crucifixes which hung from several models' necks. I was surprised that Michael (who is half Jewish) would use crosses in such a prominent way- it just seemed uncharacteristic. Hmmm, perhaps he could have had Janis design some turquoise Stars of David as well.

And while it seemed for awhile that Narciso Rodriguez's 8 p.m. show might not actually take place (there was a mini power outage at the Tents and everything went black for several minutes), catastrophe was averted and thank goodness. With the beautifully conceptual 43 piece collection that was an evolution of what he has been doing thus far, Narciso continues to prove his amazing talent and why he is in a class by himself.

A master architect who loves pure form, Narciso's linear shapes, perfectly sculpted, seamed and artfully constructed, were rendered in his signature palette of black, white, and nude, softened with pale pink, and enlived with bold color (coral, citrine, turquoise, 'pool' blue). While dresses were the heart and soul of the collection, Naricso also made a case for athletic inspired jackets as well as shorts. Bras and corsets which are seemingly built into almost every piece, were shown to best advantage on his lineup of young, tall, skinny, and flatchested models. Please not: this is definitely NOT a collection for you if your bras size is larger than an 'A' cup.

While prints were not exactly prominent here (there was only one very subtle print used on a short), the solids were broken up by color blocking and collages. In fact, everything was subtle here -- including the beading. Whereas on many other runways, shine and sparkle were so pronounced you actually needed sunglasses for the glare, in Narciso's hands, everything is held in balanced check. What a way to end a long day and wind down a long week!

-Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

And speaking of prints...

You know, I mentioned yesterday that the two big stories this season are Miuccia Prada's continued amazing influence -- as seen in the collections that are unfolding -- and prints and patterns. But what occurred to me is that Miuccia IS responsible for the renewed interest in prints and patterns, and that her hefty endorsement of them is what has sparked fashion's love affair.

Ikat prints opened Oscar de la Renta's wonderful show yesterday morning (I loved the chicly tailored trench coat worn with matching shoulder bag). Proving himself to be a consistent designer with a clear vision of his customer, this was signature Oscar. He hit all the right notes and struck just the right balance with easy sportswear pieces (well, he made them look easy anyway), wonderful knitwear (including crochet sweaters and a tennis dress), sequined tweeds, embroidered boucle jackets and dresses, starchly crisp navy ottoman dresses and jackets (some accessorized with large gold buttons), printed swimwear, and of course- evening wear.

While he could have left off all those corset tops (a bit too 'Dangerous Liasions'), his tulle embroidered feather cocktail dress and gown, lace sweaters and embroidered organza skirts, and tulle and taffeta embroidered gowns were pretty great and made me wish for an occasion to wear them to.

Marc Jacobs' show held last night at the West Side Piers, on 13th street, is always wonderful for people watching. Liv Tyler, Kate Hudson, Donald Trump and Melania, and J.Lo were amongst those who came to see Marc's artfully bold, and often bright spring collection, that was about as far away from minimalism as you can get. Floral print dresses, spotted cardigans, rugby striped sweaters, and woven embroidered organza coats and jackets in eyepopping colors made for a very textural and visual sight. Marc's coats and jackets are always amazing, and his emphasis was on a full skirt. Pinstriped trousers or chinos were all very full, sitting low on the hip, and often cuffed above the ankle for a slouchy look. He ended the show with a group of sculptural taffeta evening dresses and everything was shown with a round toed very high heeled Mary Jane. At the end, pink shredded paper came from the ceiling to spill on the runway (and the show attendees). I still have them in my bag.

Question: If you're a furrier, how do you make a case for showing a spring collection? Do what Gilles Mendel did for J. Mendel Furs. Choose the thinnest most supple pelts, use them for the tiniest shrugs, reversible little jackets, or as trim on collars and cuffs, show a lot of great ready to wear, AND make sure you have a loyal friend and customer like the pretty Dr. Lisa Airan, show up on a hot late fall day, to take her place in the front row, wear one of your designs.(For the record, she chose a fox capelet).

- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, September 13, 2004

"All The Print That's Fit to News"

No, this is not a typo...The print and pattern story is so big this season, that The New York Times might temporarily want to change the quote that appears on the left side of the newspaper, ("All the news that's fit to print").

After Miuccia Prada's amazing influence here at Fashion Week, the second biggest story is that the season is all about prints. There are so many dizzying prints of all types being shown on runways, it seems as if designers have figured out that we simply don't need any more solid clothes for the time being. The scary thing is that many of the models and many of the show attendees are actually starting to look like Shayil Upadaya. (you know, the funny looking guy who hangs around every day dressed from head to toe in dizzying prints of his own design). Anna Wintour has been wearing printed dresses or patterned ensembles every day as well.

There has hardly been one collection that has not either focused on interesting prints, or at the very least, used them in the line-up. Yesterday's Lilly Pulitzer show, held at the Tents, was a shining example of how "the more things change, the more they stay the same". The happy, optimistic, signature colors and patterns that define Lilly Pulitzer were not only shown on the runway, but as a fitting homage, many guests, getting dressed for the event on a beautiful, warm Sunday, opted for their own Lillies. It was quite a visual sight! There were older couples decked out in Lillies, moms and daughters (like lookonline.com contributor Vivian Kelly and her two beautiful girls), and young women, all wearing one version or other of Lilly Pulitzer. And you know what? It looked great. It was a nice nostalgic throwback to happier, more simpler times.

When you walked inside the tent area, you were served cool refreshments in plastic gobblers which were tinted lime, pink, yellow. Instead of feeling as if you were in New York, you could have easily been in Palm Beach. And on each seat, attendees were treated to large, great looking Lilly Pulitzer tote bags (orange, lime, pink, blue) ...all lined in the trademark floral print. Each bag held contrast colored tiny terry hand towels and a bottle of water. All day long, you could see show-goers carrying their souvenirs.

Best yet, at the end of the show Lilly Pulitzer, the legendary founder of the company that bears her name, took a bow on the runway along with the new designer at the helm, both dressed head to toe in Pulitzer prints.

-Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Norman Norell Show

"Hailed as the “Dean of American Fashion” Norman David Levinson, born in Noblesville, Indiana on April 20, 1900 was the first American fashion designer to have his name on a dress label. He was also the first to produce a successful American fragrance - Norell - with a designer name. His simple, sophisticated, and elegant well-made clothing would last and remain fashionable for many years that would become the hallmark of Norman Norell."

The Norman Norell Spring 2005 collection was introduced last night at a runway show at Bergdorf Goodman. The short but well-edited collection of 20 looks created by Creative Director Patick Michael Hughes was reviewed by about 200 friends, editors and retailers who had to first endure a 45 minute delay in the start the show.

This is the second season the collection has been previewed. The Fall 2004 collection, though previewed, was never actually produced or sold. This season the collection was larger with a more couture feel to it. The use of lux fabrics combined with simple lines gave a breath of elegance and refinement to the collection while nonethelesss it was still very youthful in spirit.

The Creative Director of Norman Norell New York, Mr. Hughes is a lecturer in costume history in the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design. He is a graduate of Manhattanville College with a major in the History of Art and Performance. His graduate studies include Architecture at Parsons School of Design and a Masters of Arts in the History of Decorative Arts from the Parsons-Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. Together with his graduate study in costume at Musee de la Mode et du Textile in Paris, Mr. Hughes was also the recipient of a post-graduate artist-in-residency at the Texas Fashion Collection at the University of North Texas. He has worked on the collections of several different designers presenting in New York and Vienna.

For more information about the Norman Norell collection visit their website at normannorell.com

-posted by Ernest Schmatolla

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Day 4-9/11

The palpable influence of Miuccia Prada continues to be a force to reckon with here on 7th Avenue (or should I say 6th Avenue - at least until next Wednesday). The ideas and aesthetic that are the heart and soul of Miuccia's collections -- routed in an eclectic, vintage, and highly individual sensibility -- have served as the single most influential vision, spawning countless re-interpretation on both sides of the Atlantic.

On some of the most highly respected runways, it is obvious that Miuccia is alive and well... and living in the tents. Though I happen to be a fan of the creative team behind Proenza Schouler, and they certainly have carved out a signature with their corset like tops. I was hit by how very 'Prada' it seemed in mood and porportion, not to mention their prints, and touches of eccentric arts and crafts as seen in the wood and bead trimmed pieces.

When I asked Joan Kaner what she thought of that collection and the season thus far, she quickly noted, "We only need ONE Prada".

On another note, though it was seemingly ignored at 7th on Sixth where business was as usual (and I agree that it's how we should all go on with our lives), it's not easy to forget that today marks the third anniversary of 9/11/01. So with that in mind, I must say that I found something very appealingly reassuring about Zang Toi's escapist, happy, innocent, upbeat, and unapologetically "old fashioned" runway show this morning based on the "Waspy looks of the rich and famous" which were inspired by the Round Hill Villas in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Ivana Trump, an avowed fan and client of Zang's, was front row center along with her much younger boyfriend, and this sums up his appeal. But while I could certainly imagine Ms. Trump wearing much of the collection, it spoke to a wider audience (just as long as they have a major bank account of course).

Following this was another highly appealing moment - Brazilian born Alexandre Herchcovitch's very first New York runway show. The designer who normally shows in Paris- but chose the Bryant Park Tents this time around - is known for his highly individual prints and patterns, and he certainly did not disappoint. The best looks made the most of his exquisite color and print sense, and the standout shapes were his shrunken flyway shirt jackets paired with elongated cuffed shorts, narrow gather skirts or little dresses, often sporting coordinating hoods. He extended the voluminous tent shaped flyway theme to a group of floaty above the knee length chiffon dresses as well. The finale, and my favorite group, reminded me of Thea Porter with its colorful patchwork melange.

Oh, and one more thing, the collection looked nothing like Prada....what a relief!

= Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Zac Attack:

Zac Posen's spring show held at the Theater in the Bryant Park Tents last evening was so dangerously packed to the rafters, I'm sure it was a fire hazard. Not only was it so crowded it was claustrophobic, there was pushing, shoving, and chaos as photographers and invited guests tried making their way into the venue.

Mr. Posen has sure come a long way in a very short time since that first rather small and intimate (by comparison) formal runway presentation just a few years ago in a 6th avenue bank. He continues to prove he has the talent, ability, drive, AND star power to really be a design force to reckon with.

The 44 piece collection which was presented on a lineup of the world's top models (Naomi, Liya, Carmen, Gemma, Caroline, Elise, etc.) was all about Zac's sexy, sporty, athletic take on the classics (polos, trenchcoats, tuxedos, cabled cardigans, nautical stripes). He used techno fabrics (stretch lycra and teflon) for optimum effect, which helped emphasize the practical and thorougly modern nature of it, and Cartier jewelry and Manolo Blahniks were the luxe accompanying accessories.There was nothing old fashioned or vintage-y about this show.

Colors ranged from a mix of optic whites and high voltage geometric patterns, to several black evening gowns that were anything but dull, and metallics 'upped' the shine quotient. His workmanship, seaming, and detailing continues to be very grown-up and couture like, and it's obvious that Zac loves the female form.

Speaking of female forms, Paris Hilton, looking especially tacky in camera-friendly form fitting gold sequined dress and wild bleached blond hair, was causing a paparazzi frenzy, while Bernadette Peters and Joe Pesci looked on from the front row.

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Love is in the Air

Ah Spring. The season always conjures up images of renewal, love, and romance, and romance seems to be on the minds of many New York designers as they unveil their collections. In the Olympus Fashion Week, 'The Official Program', there was a section, 'It's About...' and Alice Roi admitted to the editors, "This season embodies a seventies romance and is punctuated by re-interpreted classics". In her appealing show this morning, she sent out boy meets girl shrunken blazers, trousers, oxford shirts, and cashmere sweaters, along with sweet jumpers and lace or tulle dresses."

At the end, the soundtrack quickly changed to John Lennon's romantic, "Woman" and as if on cue, a male guest seated in the front row raised a large placard with the words, "Will you marry me?" Needless to say, the audience went wild, and Alice seemed overcome with emotion and truly surprised. I have a feeling this is one time when the young designer will hardly care what the post show reviews are. Oh, and let's just hope she said, 'Yes!"

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, September 10, 2004

Yeohlee's 'Reality Check'

Well, okay...so admittedly I can't say that I necessarily relished sweltering, nor did I love sweating profusely into my beloved vintage Pucci silk blouse. But, having said that, after just two days (is that all? It seems like a lot longer at this point) of covering the spring 2005 collections, Yeohlee's reality based show, shown not in a polite air conditioned venue but on a gritty New York subway platform, on real people with real bodies, was a breath of fresh air and provided an interesting contrast and point of view.

Her chicly neutral toned architectural and sculptural shapes, which artuflly mix form and function and are perfect for 'urban nomads' (as she likes to call us), were presented in the hotter than hot subway platform located at 42nd street and 6th avenue- directly under the Bryant Park Tents. I even spotted Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who was escorted by a team of secret service police, heading down under to make sure the event proceeded without a hitch. (Or of course, he might have just coincidentally been there at the same time).

With assorted a list editors and buyers in attendance, an accomplished and diversified round up of 'models' (including some of Yeohlee's best friends and muses) showed off her new collection. While the group included no professional mannequins, the team on hand was nonetheless great looking and well suited to the task. Included was the tall and beautiful Atoosa Rubenstein (editor in chief of Seventeen), fab looking Constance White (fashion director for Ebay), tv fashion personality turned mystery writer Elsa Klensch (looking especially good), and Farrah Fawcett (yup!).

Even the accompanying music made quite a statement. Instead of a predictable soundtrack put together by a high paid musical expert, a group of street musicians did their thing, high- spiritedly banging on their drums for an energetic city beat. Speaking of reality, Ray Kelly or not- as a skeptical and cautious native New Yorker, I must admit I kept looking down at my feet just to make sure my bag was still there.

Thus far, the first few days of shows have been filled with some pretty great clothes- just the kinds of things American designers are relied upon for. Standouts include Patrick Robinson for Perry Ellis, who was going for a light hearted and romantic feeling- something that would be a welcome relief from fall's heavy tweeds; Carolina Herrera's luxe sportif Riviera homage; Tracy Reese's pretty printed dresses with tiny cardigans, wonderful jackets, or patterned coats; Sebastian Pons' crisp linen shirts and beautifully cut and tailored pieces (forget the overly ethnic and costumey references); and Jeffrey Chow's perfectly proportioned, beautifully fabricated, and wonderfully accessorized collection which embodies the idea of youthful couture. Quite frankly, I coveted every piece and would 'kill' for the amazing jeweled encrusted red and white printed coat that served as the finale.

And while I didn't actually get to see Bill Blass (I was "uninvited" owing to what was perceived as a "mean spirited" review of last season's collection), I did see the show nonetheless. How? Well, there are large screens througout the main lobby of the tents, which air the collections as they are unfolding. It all looked perfectly nice and wearable (some pretty dresses) if not a bit uninspired. The best part of the afternoon though, was running into the colorful Zandra Rhodes, a close friend of Michael's, who was here from London to attend the Bill Blass show. The diminuitive British fashion designer was certainly hard to miss with her shocking pink hair, clad in a mix of her signature colorful prints which were accessorized with oversized mirrored pins, earrings, and assorted safety pins.

Harrison & Shriftman: "harrass & stiff them"...

And speaking of mean spirited, the girls of Harrison & Shriftman public relations have found new ways to live up to their reputation of "harrass & stiff them" a slogan we coined for them last season for the miserable way they treat some of us. This time we are sent an invite to the Lacoste event by messenger but when we got there our names where not on any list. When finally we located the "headphoned madame"--whose self importance was only surpassed by her rudeness toward us -- she would not allow us to substitute another writer who was standing there for Marilyn who could not attend the event. "No substitutions permitted" she boldly announced to us. So we were forced to leave. All we can say is with her limited people skills, maybe she would be better suited working as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant!

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner with an additional item by Ernest Schmatolla