Thursday, November 04, 2004

Global Warming

All right, so last week I focused on Paris and French style. This week, coinciding with Election Day and following on the heels of our highly charged Presidential election, it’s seemingly all about American style. One event that sought to capture and celebrate this spirit was last night’s soiree to fete Kelly Killoren Bensimon and her new coffee table book, simply titled, ‘American Style’ published by Assouline. Hosts were Harold Koda, the Curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wunderkind Zac Posen the award winning designer whose polo-filled spring 2005 collection was infused with a decidedly ‘All American’ sporty spirit, and Cynthia McFadden, the ABC correspondent for Primetime Thursday.

Amongst those milling around and admiring the fabulous watches and jewels. were American fashion designers Jill Stuart, Arnold Scaasi, and Nicole Miller; Fern Mallis; Aerin Lauder (looking very all American in her chic blazer, well tailored pants, and long scarf); Deborah Roberts (Mrs. Al Roker) an ABC correspondent for Primetime Thursday, looking very chic in American designer Marc Jacobs’ military inspired oatmeal coat with large brass buttons; and of course, a contingent from Elle’s fashion department, including its French born style director, Isabel Dupre, who did her bit to celebrate American style by wearing an all American jean jacket.


Ironically, the party was NOT held at a bastion or symbol of American style such as Polo (or the Gap for that matter), but rather, the elegant Cartier Mansion on 5th avenue, which can be considered the ultimate and quintessentially French symbol of luxury. This irony was not lost on me, nor was it lost on several guests, including Judy Licht and Hal Rubenstein. When I mentioned this to both, and asked whey they thought Cartier was the chosen venue, Hal, who is never at a loss for words, humorously replied that it was probably the first place that offered. But he also noted that Kelly’s (the author) hubby is none other than the very French photographer, Gilles Bensimon, who happens to be Publication Director for American Elle, a magazine which has always well represented the global picture, and has long celebrated the beauty of divergent races, cultures and ethnicities.

Of course, fashion, like everything else, is nothing if not completely international and global (and becoming more so all the time). In the same way Cathy Horyn (in her November 2nd article, “You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? Or Are You?”), observed that it’s hard to tell the New Yorkers from the out of towners by what they are wearing, so too is it hard to discern nationalities. There is an international language of fashion that transcends city or country (though not planet as far as we know).

And speaking of global style, it cannot go unnoticed that the publisher of ‘American Style’, is the French based and thoroughly international Assouline, which is known for their books on fashion, design, art, architecture, photography, and lifestyle. A well established publishing house with outposts in the “most important international publishing capitals of the world” (New York, Paris, Toronto, Berlin, and Hong Kong), they have added retail ‘boutiques’ in such renowned high end locations as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Holt Renfrew, and they are planning to open more ‘niche’ boutiques in the U.S. as well as in China, Japan, and other countries.

While I’m on the topic of global style, perhaps no designer has so perfectly captured and translated the current mood than Antwerp born Dries Van Noten. Known for his graceful peasant skirts, billowy blouses, embroideries, and beautiful prints, he recently celebrated his 50th collection in Paris, and as Style.com’s Mark Holgate noted, “the current fashion moment belongs to Van Noten”.

Coincidentally, the well respected designer just happens to be here in New York and is making a personal appearance at Barneys New York, where his collection is carried on the store’s 5th floor. Tonight, he will be on hand for a Polly Mellen hosted party to fete a book, which celebrates his 50th collection. According to WWD, there will be 49 projectors that will show videos from all but his first collection, since they were unable to find a “filmed copy of that show.” He will also be on hand Friday and Saturday, for a trunk show of his highly acclaimed spring 2005 collection.

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

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