Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The New York Times Fashion Department’s Mental Health Issues

Speaking of The New York Times Fashion’s Department’s ‘bi polar’ disorder…they also seem to be suffering from an identity crises of sorts.

In today’s ‘Dining In’ section, there was an article written by the always entertaining fashion critic Cathy Horyn, “Everyone’s Driven to Eat. How Many Arrive in a Bentley?”, that has left me scratching my head.. Ms. Horyn admits she “had a funny idea about taking a drive to Flushing and Bensonhurst for a new dining experience”, but it’s somewhat of a stretch to say the article is about the dining (except for the mention of a few greasy spoons or neighborhood spots away from Manhattan with names like Spicy & Tasty in Flushing).

Nor is it really about fashion, even though its subject was the always fashionable Amy Fine Collins, Vanity Fair special correspondent and member of the International Best Dressed List. It was more about Ms. Collins as a new driver, who has overcome her fear of driving, thanks in large part to Attila Gusso, a good looking Turkish driving instructor with celebrated clients like Rudy Giuliani’s son, AND about a new book she has written, “The God of Driving”, which is more about her relationship with this man, than about driving. Confused? So am I.

By the way, I’m waiting to see whether or not Ms. Horyn’s fashion predicting, hat crocheting, Ebay surfing teenage son Jonah (the subject of her Tuesday column, “The Next Wave of Style Begins at Home”) will be the fashion department’s next fashion hire. Perhaps he is being groomed to take over from Ginia Bellafante’s, who is no longer covering fashion.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The New York Times' 'Bi Polar' Disorder

Talk about duplicitous (or perhaps just playing it safe). It seems the editors at The New York Times couldn't agree on which story was more valid, so they took the easy way out and gave almost equal time to both.

Today's 'Fashion' section was almost literally divided in half by two articles whose captions and attending images completely and blatantly contradicted one another. Ruth La Ferla's "Department Stores Discover That, Um, Sex Sells", illustrated by Henri Bendel's "naughty mannequins" and Patricia Fields' racy windows for H & M, spoke to the way in which 'sex sells', "light kink" has gone "mainstream", and that as the holidays approach, department stores are helping their customer tap into their "playfully kinky" sides.

While just below, Ginia Bellafante's "In 2004, Prim Looks Foretold the Mood" reflected on the year, which was marked by fashion's desire to "offer women clothes that made them look less like sunbathers on the shores of Brazil and more like graduates of the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial school around 1955" as exemplified by the decidedly demure pictures of Nicole Kidman in her hair held back by a bow trimmed headband and clad in a tweed skirt, and Jennifer Lopez in a bow trimmed top and little black wristlet gloves. She wrote that "2004 will be remembered as a time when Seventh Avenue demonstrated a rare kind of prescience, reading a cultural shift toward conservative beliefs and tastes earlier and more accurately than a legion of political prognosticators."

And she observed that the aforementioned conservative, ladylike styles "are generally interpreted with a sense of irony", the word 'irony' being the key here. It should be noted that the term, "irony" is something that is always alluded to by the keenly observant Cathy Horyn, whose entertaining and witty thoughts were noticeably absent today (I assume she is taking some time off). But if she was called upon to add a third 'take' on the subject at hand, no doubt she would have reminded us that it is precisely this paradoxical sense of irony, the almost shizophrenic and bi polar mix of high and low that adds interest to life (and fashion). And chances are, if you look beneath the "full skirts with button prints, dresses for garden parties, pink pants with embroidered pineapples" that Ms. Bellafante describes, you will find the black racy lingerie that Ms. Ferla spoke about in the article just above.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, December 17, 2004

Napoli Crea Event at Kiton:

Finamore Shirtmakers is one of
the members of the consortium

There were a number of fashionable events going in New York city last night and not the least being the press conference and party for the current exhibition 'Napoli Crea' promoting the Italian designer Consortium of Naples. The event was held at Kiton, a world famous tailoring and clothing store on Fifth Avenue and 54th Street that has its roots 30 years ago in Naples. The Mayor of Naples was there last night to make a presentation and he certainly added to the glamour of the event. A short film was shown highlighting the companies and products produced in the Campania region of Italy.

The consortium is made up of companies in the high end fashion sectors and related accessories industries (textiles, apparel, leather, goldsmithing, and jewelry making) and the group represents some of the best names in the Campania region. Participating in the exhibition are: Andreano, Aprile, Attolini, Cortis, De Cristofaro, Finamore, Isaia, Marinella, and Tramontano. Their website is at:

We met some very interesting people but for us one highlight of the evening was being introduced to the beautiful Italian sculpturess Lina Russo who lives in Rome and also designs the most exquisite jewelry. She was wearing a gold cross inlaid with emeralds of her own design that was just breathtaking.

The large crowd of several hundred was mostly Italian -- dressed very elegantly -- with just a smattering of Americans present. We did however run into Joan Kaner, fashion director of Neiman Marcus, Lisa Silhaneck of 7thonSixth, Ken Panton of, and Amedeo Angiolillo the well known publisher.

The event was very well run and special mention goes to Ian Mackintosh for the good job he did handling the front door. For more information about the exhibition and consortium contact: Compania Region Office, 4 East 54th Street. 212.486.8227 Email:

-by Ernest Schmatolla

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Big ‘Bang (le)’ Theory

So the question is following on the heels of those ubiquitous and ever popular pins and brooches that burst on the scene this fall, what’s the ‘Next Big’ accessory? According to Neiman Marcus it’s all about bangles, bracelets, and cuffs like the ones that decorated the arms of Sandra Wilson (Accessories Fashion Director) at her recent spring summer 2005 accessory preview, held at the Chambers Hotel. (Just a note, N-M still believes in pins, but the pins they favor this time are likely to resemble estate jewelry or vintage collectibles).

Ms. Wilson is always the walking embodiment of the retailer’s accessory philosophy, particularly at this highly visual twice-yearly editors’ preview. And this time was no exception, as she happily ‘modeled’ armloads of beauties many of which are ‘exclusives’--see photo top -- from the likes of Lee Angel, Stephen Dweck, and Mark Davis (whose exotic and exceptionally textural bakelite and diamante assortment sell from about $3,000 to $5,000). Ms. Wilson also feels very strongly for beads and necklaces (like one truly exceptional beauty from Stephen Dweck that could also do double duty as a belt. Talk about versatile).

Gucci Bag

Regardless of the category, the thread throughout the exhibit is ‘exotica’, which sums up the mood for the coming season. It is something that was very evident during the spring/summer 2005 ready to wear collections, and is perfectly captured by the entire accessory story. Exotic and exotica are words that Sandra used over and over to explain the current ‘message’ as she took me from display to display, each one bursting with fabulous jewelry, bags (from Prada, Gucci, Jonathan Adler, Juicy Couture, Roberto Cavalli, etc.), scarves, hats, and shoes (culminating in a veritable “ascending staircase” of ankle tied rope soled platform espadrilles). The whole ‘trip’ (and it’s always a trip when Neiman’s puts their accessories preview together) was like taking a “virtual world tour” without leaving town. And that is precisely the point of these accessories. They are meant to transport you to another place and time or of course, simply help you look and feel fab!

Even the somewhat exotic color story sums this up. While brights (particularly pinks and oranges) are still favorite accent shades, what decidedly looks the best are the entire range of blues inspired by the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas (Sandra singled out ‘pale aqua’ as the newest of this group), luxurious corals, and vegetable dye hues like saffron, curry, ochre which were seemingly plucked from spice racks in some glorious and faraway locale. It’s all-perfect for the “global traveler”, which is how Neiman’s obviously envisualizes its customer.

What else does Neiman Marcus feel strongly about? “Sparkle, but NOT bling” decreed Ms. Wilson (as in gold, crystals, beads); python and snake; and leopard patterns (very Roberto Cavalli, no? Perfect timing with the just opened ‘Wild: Fashion Untamed’ exhibit at the Met’s Costume Institute). By the way, the neutral shades of snakeskin, zebra, and leopard look AMAZING with semi precious stones like turquoise and coral. What’s important is that this look embraces an eclectic, rich bohemian, individual, personal, and vintage aesthetic, and is one that relies on items that resemble one of a kind treasures (again, it all goes back to the idea of wonderful collectibles picked up by a “global traveler” as she encircles the globe).

Adrienne Landau

And as if to heighten the overall exotic effect, displayed alongside the accessories on both floors of the duplex suite, were Adrienne Landau’s marvelous heavily jewel encrusted silk organza ‘kurtas’ (short caftans) which for me are THE item to have for next season (grab them now if you can as they are perfect for the holidays!) As you know, I have been talking about caftans and caftan tops since last summer. They are timeless, chic, festive, versatile and easily go from day to night. And because Adrienne’s already have jewels affixed to them, you don’t even have to add any other accessories. Talk about being able to get dressed in a hurry. That’s what I call modern!

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, December 10, 2004

'The Couture Council' of FIT Meets for the First Time:

From left: Dr. Valerie Steele, director, The Museum at FIT; designer
Zac Posen, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president, Fashion Institute of
Technology; and Elizabeth T. Peek, chairperson, The Couture Council.

The Couture Council was launched at a private event held on December 8 at the Tribeca studio of Zac Posen, where council members gathered to hear the designer describe how he finds inspiration for his collections. Mr. Posen showed images and fabric swatches that inspire him, along with finished garments.

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) recently announced the formation of the Couture Council, a membership group designed to help enhance exhibitions, conserve FIT’s extensive, world-class costume and textile collections, fund acquisitions, and improve facilities.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for those with a passion for the fashion arts to support the only museum in New York City dedicated entirely to fashion,” said Dr. Valerie Steele, director of the museum. “It’s also an excellent way to meet and become part of a circle of informed fashion enthusiasts.”

Elizabeth T. Peek, an investment analyst, journalist and philanthropist, has been appointed the first chairperson of the Couture Council. There are 30 founding members in this rapidly growing organization.

Benefits of membership include invitations to exclusive events and private viewings, admittance to museum educational programs, acknowledgements in exhibition galleries and printed materials, and complimentary publications.

For more information contact: Loretta Lawrence Keane, VP for Communications and External Relations or Judith Schwantes Acting Assistant Director of College Relations at (212) 217-7642.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

‘Mixed Greens’

No, I’m not talking about salad. This Saturday from 11AM-6PM there promises to be an fun event, at Mixed Greens, a gallery in Chelsea at 601 West 26th Street, 11th floor, which is especially perfect if you are looking for gifts and want to find something that is not commercial or run of the mill.

Put together by Robin Goetz, the gallery provides the venue and organizes the event (with Robin’s help), and is comprised of a hand picked group that includes artists from the gallery. Amongst them is well-known vintage dealer Pink Wolman - who is the only one selling vintage wearables. And while her selection will not include clothing items, what she will have are accessories, including “lots of jewelry, designer and unique handbags, including alligator, snakeskin, leopard (both real and faux), designer scarves, neckties, and some fun cocktail hats. There will also be great vintage Pucci items, Gucci, Hermes, and fabulous signed vintage brooches and modernist jewelry.”

For more information contact 331-8888 or

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Preview of Chantal Thomass Collection for Victoria’s Secret

(click on image to enlarge)
Chantal Thomass and models at press conference.

Victoria’s Secret announced at a press conference yesterday a new line by French haute couture lingerie designer, Chantal Thomass, Chantal Thomass for Victoria’s Secret. Inspired by Thomass’ Couture Collection, the European-inspired designs are now available in America exclusively at Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret models wore pieces from this ultra feminine collection (see picture above), which comprises of structured bras, panties, bed jackets, sleepwear, corsets, and hosiery; all finely detailed, sleek and sophisticated.

Chantal Thomass has been designing since 1967, and is world renowned as an innovator in the world of lingerie. Her universe is refined and original, and these qualities are apparent in her exquisite work. Her designs are best known for lifting and framing the cleavage and for using only the highest quality fabrications and European lace. She is also known for introducing lingerie as an indispensable part of the contemporary woman’s wardrobe, and has invented the style “Dessous Dessus” (Underwear used as Outerwear).

For more information contact Jane Cha, Lindsay Hebert, Full Picture Tel: (212) 627-0001

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"WILD: Fashion Untamed" Exhibition

December 7, 2004–March 13, 2005
The Costume Institute, ground floor
For more contact: Bernice Kwok-Gabel 650-2123.

Some photo highlights from the December 6th press preview of the Collection by Randy Brooke: Design by Jean Paul Gaultier; Design by Roberto Cavalli; Design by Bob Mackie; And additional photos from the collection: 3 4 5 6

Animal Magnetism:

‘Wild: Fashion Untamed’ is the name of the new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute which opens to the public today. The exhibition, which strives to present “ an extensive exploration of man's ongoing obsession with animalism as expressed through clothing”, does just that (and brilliantly I might add, illustrating the way in which its original usages have morphed into the contemporary vocabulary).

Included are some of the most exemplary and statement making designs from influential designers past and present, like Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Rudi Gernreich, Fendi, Yves St. Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, Azzedine Alaia, Bob Mackie, Gucci, Chanel, and the ‘wild and crazy’ guy himself Roberto Cavalli, a man whose body of work traditionally walks on the wild side of things, and who undoubtedly never met a leopard he didn’t like. Coincidentally, the famed and high living Italian designer was THE sponsor of the exhibit (talk about a ‘marriage made in heaven), with “additional support provided by” 7th avenue ‘veteran’ John and Laura Pomerantz.

In the beautiful coffee table book, “Wild: Untamed”, that accompanies the exhibit (and by the way, it sells for $24.95 and makes for a perfect holiday gift), Associate Curator Andrew Bolton, observes in the forward, “Skins, furs, feathers, and animal prints have played a major role in the history of fashion”, and he goes on to list deer, tigers, zebras, leopards, spiders, serpents, crocodiles, and birds’ plumage as examples of wild life that have long inspired designers, artists, and fashion followers since the beginning of time.

As we all know, the ongoing obsession with these creatures goes far beyond merely practical issues of “warmth and protection” and have become signals and tools which enable us to show our wealth and power, explore and express our sexuality, and display the exhibitionist (our inner peacock -- pardon the pun) that lurks in within. By the way, the ‘politically correct’ exhibit even gives equal time to the folks at PETA, by presenting the other side of the coin through famous anti-fur ad campaigns such as ‘What Becomes a Legend Most”.

To fete the opening of the exhibit, there were several events yesterday, a press preview in the morning, and a gala last night, both of which bore witness to its ‘wildly’ popular theme. After all, fur, feathers, and every type of animal pattern (particularly leopard) are always perennial favorites of both designers and customers alike and furs of all types both large and small are so ubiquitous on the streets of New York they have become positively mainstream and treated as just another fabric.

And notwithstanding vagaries of fashion’s ‘Ins’ and “Outs’, fur, these aforementioned items are never off fashion’s hit parade. How many of the Costume Institute’s past exhibits have had such relevance to so many or have played to such a large audience as this one with its emphasis on leather, fur, and animal patterns? When is the last time you saw a dog, infant, or toddler dressed up in, say, an Adrian creation or a corset and pannier from the Dangerous Liaisons era? (Both are examples of exhibits that ran in the last few years).

So it was hardly a surprise that at yesterday morning’s press preview, so many seem to have been inspired by the subject at hand when they got themselves dressed. Included were fur loving Anna Wintour in Prada’s jewel-adorned chic black broadtail coat, several who wore ocelot or leopard patterned coats and jackets, pony printed overcoats, and two artistic women (‘birds of a feather’ Marjorie Nezin and her friend, Hanne Lauridsen) who literally WERE the exhibit and garnered much attention clad head to toe in fur, feathers, AND leopard.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Frederick's of Hollywood Show

A cocktail party and runway show showing the Spring collection was held last night at Sky Studios. A small but beautifully appointed runway showcased 24 well-edited looks that were for the most part both sexy and sophisticated to a crowd of about 150 editors and guests. See show photos: photo-1 photo-2 photo-3 photo-4 [photo-5 photo-6

But the best part of the evening was after the show. Everyone was handed an empty bag and the room where the cocktail party was held was filled with hundreds of wrapped presents of all kinds of sizes, shapes and descriptions.

The presents were filled with Fredericks of Hollywood lingerie, makeup and all kinds of other luxury goods. It was best goody bag presentation we ever saw. Jessica Lindkrantz, who handles public relations for Frederick really did a great job. One of the best parties we have been to in a long time!

-Ernest Schmatolla

Wednesday, December 01, 2004 Celebrates

10 Years On-line

(Invitation to December 1 1994 Launch/Benefit Party) is the longest running fashion site on the web:

Since the official launch on December 1, 1994 as a BBS dial-up service, the Lookonline has been on-line for over 10 years. In fact, we were a BBS service by subscription first beginning in late 1993 and in March of 1995 we began a website (under another domain name) in addition to our BBS site. Later in 1995 we discontinued our BBS service and concentrated on developing our website using our own domain name lookonline.

Our official launch was a party/benefit called "CyberTaste" for the "Charge Against Hunger" program from American Express and Share Our Strength on December 1, 1994 (see above invitation) The event was held at Sony Plaza at 550 Madison Avenue in New York. Over 850 members of the press & public attended the opening that featured 13 chefs from top New York Restaurants serving their signature dishes; a designer auction, wine tasting, desserts, and a live Jazz orchestra. According to officials at Sony, it was one of the largest, if not the largest event ever held to this day at the Sony Plaza's Atrium. Major Sponsors for the event included American Express, Food & Wine Magazine, Tourneau, Romana Sambuca, Coca Cola Bottling Company of NY, Georgette Klinger, Colorite, and Sony Plaza. is the longest running on-line fashion publication in the world. We have not always gained the attention or notoriety of some other sites, but those in the industry who have followed our development over the years know we helped pioneer the use of the internet in providing real time coverage of fashion events, regularly scheduled video reports, market reports, editorial cartoons and original runway and event photography long before there were sites like or Fashionweekdaily.

I want to personally thank all of our many contributors who over the past 10 years have helped our site grow and prosper. And special thanks to Grace Mirabella for hosting the original "Masters of Fashion Video Series", Bernadine Morris for her excellent feature reports from the New York shows, Diane Clehane for her wonderful entertainment reports and of course Editor-in-Chief Marilyn Kirschner who writes and edits The New York Fashion Report and helps define the scope and content the site. We will continue to work hard at improving the site.

-Ernest Schmatolla, publisher

All’s Well (ie) That Ends Well (ie)

Tamara Kitten heeled bootie

As a firm believer that there is nothing that beats the combination of form and function (especially with regard to fashion), I have always adored the idea of waterproof boots that enable you to weather the storm (literally), jump puddles while others are forced to carefully navigate wet spots in their oh so expensive Manolos, slosh around the ice and snow, AND still look chic, individual, inventive, and whimsical) ALL at the same time! Selections for the above category were rather hard to come by years ago, so whenever I found unusually patterned or hued rubber boots, I felt as if I had just won the lottery, and would grab them up (and horde them) instantly. Hence, I have a somewhat amazing collection at the moment.

Of course, as of late, with footwear being such a successful category at retail, with much demand thanks to the consumer’s proven spending habits, supply has caught up and there are luckily and happily, many wonderful versions of streetwise and weatherproof shoes and boots. But the reigning queen of this genre (who has single handedly turned it into a successful business) has to be Tamara Henriques ( whose amazing rubber wellies have been spotted on what seems to be a small ‘army’ of tots and moms, working women, chic fashion types, and those who just enjoy eliciting smiles and compliments, and having the focus on their colorful feet as they brave the elements.

How did it all begin? “I decided to design rubber boots for a very simple reason. I grew up in Scotland where I lived in Wellington boots. When I moved to Hong Kong where it rains nonstop for months at a time, it dawned on me: why are these boots only available in army green? Wearing flip-flops in puddles was definitely not the answer.”

According to her biography, courtesy Ann Magnin who handles her press, (212 6266690, email:, “As luck would have it, Tamara stumbled upon a factory that specialized in making rubber boots for children while she was busy designing and manufacturing silk mules. Why couldn’t the boots in all their bright, shiny glory be made for adults, too? No more dull boots or wet feet for the kid in all of us! The owner confirmed that rubber could be printed with anything, but that no one had ever tried to do an adult version because the process was very labor intensive. Each boot is printed and cut by hand. After that, they’re glued together over a metal mold and heated in an oven to ensure watertight seams.

Tamara decided to give it a whirl. She designed a pair of floral boots, which she promptly sold to Paul Smith. Then British Vogue photographed them and the business was born. Within months Tamara was selling to stores in Europe and The U.S., shipping hundreds of pairs of floral boots from her basement.

Today the collection has grown to include lots of different florals as well as stripes, polka dots, paisleys, plaids, hearts and animal prints among other patterns. What’s more, the boots are also available in Japan and Canada — not to mention the rainy U.K. where Tamara was raised. Needless to say, Tamara doesn’t ship from her basement anymore, but from state-of-the-art warehouses around the world.

Next up? Tamara is planning to expand her "weatherwear" concept to include snow boots, rain hats and umbrellas with trench coats not far behind.” For the record, MY personal favorites are the animal patterned fleeced lined leopard boots, but I also love her new version (hot off the press) a decidedly more delicate kitten heeled bootie that will be available in a pink toile, stripe, and plaid.

- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner