Friday, February 27, 2004

Been There, Done That:

I had to chuckle when I read a review of the Prada fall/winter 2004 collection in WWD. As they noted, in their positive assessment, "Prada long ago claimed ownership of vintage- lady chic. A mood that might seem easy enough to knock off. But a fur shrug and pencil skirt are no substitute for depth of thought impeccably realized".

Well, based on all the fur shrugs and pencil skirts (not to mention long fitted gloves, bracelet length sleeves on coats, mixes of tweeds and florals, etc. etc. etc.), it seems that many designers wouldn't mind a piece of whatever it is Miuccia has. I guess the old adage is true, "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery".

And speaking of Milan, it is obvious that Tom Ford will be sorely missed by the fashion cognoscentii. His well received farewell collection for the house of Gucci was filled with, as he put it, items that have become his signature s- the things that he loves passionately - which go to the heart of why he became a designer in the first place. After all the somewhat dowdy, conservative, and retro clothes being offered elsewhere, his brazenly sexual dresses, form fitting jackets, Oscar worthy gowns accentuated with smolderingly dark eye make-up (which has the in your face effect of having spent a night of steamy sex) were a welcome change of pace.

I am not exactly worried about Mr. Ford's future. I have a feeling that whatever he decides to do, he will do it well.
Because CHIC is NOT a NOUN....

(and other reasons why this week, you may be a FASHION IGNORAMUS...)

YOU KNOW YOU'RE A FASHION IGNORAMUS IF....

* You're still using "chic" in a phrase, or as a noun, to describe the current hot new trend or fashion movement seen on the runway...

* You think membership at the Soho House New York is still something to be coveted and you go there more than once a month at your leisure for celeb spotting, fashion trawling, or to preview film screenings...

* You still think it cool to hang out at Schiller's Liquor Bar for any meal of the day....

* If you're carrying (or wearing) the NEXT season's must-have accessory, rather than a more obscure, vintage, classic or signature find you've made your own personal style statement....

* If you're still on the ATKINS diet, or any diet for that matter, in an effort to lose weight or brain mass and bone density....

* If you haven't been to, or still can't point out the difference between Japan and Hong Kong on a map... and your only known reference to the Far East is the Upper/ Lower East Sides of NY or the latest flag ship opening in Asia and fashion/ Japanese artist collaboration...

* If you're still pondering the social and cultural implications of the end of Sex and the City on fashion...

* If you don't own an Ipod...or know what one is...

* If you're still using Friendster...or have never been on Friendster...

* If your drink(s) of choice at a fashion event are sparkling water or champagne only...

* If you're still reading Page Six for news on the Hilton sisters, or worse, to see if your name has finally made it into print...

* If you're considered an "It" anything by the media...

* If your essential reading list only consists of US Weekly and W alone on a regular basis...

* If the last time you read a book was to impress a boss, because everyone else was "reading" (or has already read) it or because you were trying to get better dating, marriage, diet, career climbing and self-help tips...

* If you consider Vanity Fair an influential publication for the latest fashion credits and celebrity photos, rather than its content...(and if you don't read the New Yorker because there are no pictures...)

* If you don't already have a custom monogram and are still toting around a designer's initials rather than your own...

* If you're still using French words to describe anything, even though you only speak English and never learned any French....

* If you only go to the movies when there's a celebrity premiere...

* If you prefer your steak well-done and your sushi pre-cooked...

* If you consider sample sales an indulgence and diets a spa holiday...

* If you don't dance at fashion events for fear of sweating...

* If you've complained and thrown a fit because you weren't invited to or were third row at any of this seasons shows, when last season you were second...

* If you're under 40 and getting botox injections...

* If your only contributions to charity have been attendance at socialite and celebrity heavy events...

* If you consider vintage and potential consignment items a valid financial investment...

* If your definition of a "hot new designer" is someone who has been in business for over two season's and was just "discovered" this season by some major magazine or newspaper critic...

* Last but not least, you know you're a FASHION IGNORAMUS, if anything on this list has gotten under your skin...

Until next time....

SML

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Sample Line Collection Rocks:



With chain stores from New York to Sioux City selling mass-produced “vintage” gear once only worn by those hip enough to know which bins to scour at the local resale shop, good luck finding a look that really makes you different. That is, until you find Sample Line, Aimee Grubel’s line of statement-making tops, skirts, and dresses available in New York boutiques as well as cool stores across the country.

This is not clothing for the blend-into-the-background crowd. Grubel, who loves to mix texture and play with design, will often layer mismatched stripes into a ruffled skirt with an asymmetrical hemline or put a faux-bustle of contrasting fabric onto an A-line skirt. “These are for women who are not wallflowers,” she explains.

“I’m not interested in conforming,” says Nancy Levie, a jewelry designer who is one of Grubel’s best customers “Aimee does expressiveness in a way that’s well-designed and really high quality.” As an artist herself, Levie likes to wear her clothing as a statement. Frustrated with what she perceived as a lack of risk-taking by women in New York, supposedly the world’s most fashionable city, Levie was delighted when she discovered Sample Line.

Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of Grubel’s clothing is not its individuality but that these clothes are flattering to so many figures. Too often clothes for the achingly cool only work for the young and thin. Grubel sells pieces to moms in their fifties and prom dresses to their teenaged daughters. Her bouncy skirts and angular shirts will certainly make their wearer the center of attention, but Grubel specializes in enhancing women, not turning them into caricatures. For instance, a long winter skirt made out of two fabrics, one an orange, yellow and black stripe, boldly reminiscent of the seventies; the other a muted brown, winter white, and black stripe. The fabrics make the piece really stand out, particularly with the irregularity of the layers and the gathers at the bottom, but the wearer never looks silly, only adventurous.

At 31, Grubel has been practicing that art since her college years. After graduating from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Grubel worked designing lingerie for Carol Hochman, a company responsible for Christian Dior and DKNY underwear. She also freelanced at Marc by Marc Jacobs, all the while working on her own designs. When Grubel noticed that the more adventuresome and interesting pieces from the major lines were being cut, she decided to focus on her own risk-taking designs, determined there was a market for creative clothing. Even better is their reasonable price with most skirts and tops costing between 100 and 200 dollars.

This is ideal for Michelle Johnson, the owner of Lagniappe, a small boutique in the hipper-than-hip Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, who focuses on stocking up-and-coming designers. Johnson, like Levie and Grubel herself, loves the appeal Sample Line has for creative women of all ages as well as the clothes’ appeal to so many of Johnson’s client. However, as a business owner, Johnson has other, more practical reasons for stocking Sample Line. “Business-wise, Aimee is fantastic,” said Johnson. “Her company is very easy to deal with, and I’d rather deal with her than with a large corporation.”

Grubel plans on staying small. She has no interest in being the next Donna Karan, instead admiring successful designers like Betsey Johnson who manage to stay true to their work and vision as they grow. She now employs free-lance sewers and takes in enough money to hire pattern-makers to work on the more structured pants and jackets she wants to introduce into her line. Besides Lagniappe, Grubel’s clothes are also available at exclusive Manhattan stores like A-Uno and 30 Vandam in SoHo, and she even sells in California, the Virgin Islands, and London. Sample Line is also available through her website at www.samplelinerocks.com.

Despite her success and the growth of her company, Grubel’s Washington Heights studio in the northern part of Manhattan still maintains the look of an artist’s den. An ironing board crowds the entry way, and racks of clothing and shelves of her instantly-recognizable striped fabric fight for space on the scuffed wood floor with several half-draped mannequins and an old-fashioned Singer sewing machine. The space is barely big enough for two people, ensuring that, at least for now, Sample Line is going to stay small and manageable—just the way Grubel wants it.

- by Elizabeth Fitch
eaf238@nyu.edu

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

NYU Live Wire Service
http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/livewire/

Lookonline.com will begin to highlight new fashion content provided by a new fashion resource: NYU Live Wire Service. Every week, graduate journalism students from the NYU School of Journalism report and write New York-based trend, feature and news stories. The pieces are edited by Prof. Eileen Ogintz, a syndicated columnist with 25 years of newspaper experience.

We think this is a great concept whose time has come. We provide our readers with a new young perpective on New York fashion and, at the same time, we highlight new developing talent from one of the best schools of journalism in the country. How can we go wrong?


Sunday, February 22, 2004

Again in Bill Cunningham's Column:



Marilyn Kirschner, for the second week in a row, is in Bill Cunningham's "On the Street Column" in the Style Section of this Sunday's The New York Times. Bill this week focused on "Cat Spotting" with photos of women wearing real and not so real leopard skin coats and accessories. Our editor ( she is far left) was wearing one and carrying the other.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Lookonline.com's Coverage of the Oscars:

Once again our contributing Entertainment Editor Diane Clehane will be filing a report for us on what happened in front of and behind the scenes at this year's Academy Awards. The report titled "The Final Word" will be onlne the following day after the awards. Diane gets great access to all of the pre-Oscar events and parties and her reports are always very interesting as well as entertaining. Click here to see her prior reports: 2003 Report and 2002 Report.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

You Gotta Love Her:

Janice Dickinson gives new meaning to 'Fashion Victim'...According to Page Six of the New York Post, the blabber mouth former supermodel, for whom there seems to be nothing sacred, has written a follow up to "No Lifeguard on Duty" ("Everything About Me is Fake and I'm Perfect"). In it, she admitted that while she was locked in a very deep French kiss with the late JFK Jr., all she could think about was, "what ever happened to Jackie O's First Lady Wardrobe."

As she put it, "God forgive me, that that's what I was thinking while I was smooching the Prince of Camelot."

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Vintage, 'Shmintage' (?)

Need more proof that top fashion designers are not beneath using the occasional vintage item as direct inspiration?

After thinking about the New York Collections, and all the somewhat novel fullness added to the silhouette via coats and skirts, I began obsessing about a fabulous Lilli Ann coat from the 50's I had seen at a recent vintage show and bypassed. I thought this would make a great addition to my wardrobe.

I emailed the dealer (who happens to be a friend) about the item in question- a thick oatmeal wool beauty with interesting pleated collar, nipped in drawstring waist, and very very full below the knee length skirt- to see if she still had it. She told me that she had sold it to the group from Ralph Lauren at a recent show. As we all know, Ralph's collection was based on a new fuller silhouette, and was dominated by camel and beige.



Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Week That Was(nt)?

I thought it was highly interesting that in place of Cathy Horyn's traditional apres - Fashion Week roundup in the Tuesday 'Fashion' section of The New York Times, she instead focused on the retail arena. Of course, retailers do seem to be the news these days, what with the recent overly hyped opening of the "behemoth Louis Vuitton flagship" on 5th Avenue.

The article, ("A Store Made for Right Now: You Shop Until It's Dropped") which perhaps even more interestingly, was given star status by being placed on page 1 of the first section (rather than being buried in the 'Style' pages). In it, Ms. Horyn talks about the new Comme des Garcons Guerilla Store that opened on Saturday in Berlin, which she observes, "flouts conventional wisdom in almost every way". Why, well, because it will be closing within a year, regardless of whether it makes money or not.

Horyn spoke about the "highly perishable nature of fashion", the idea that "Fashion changes radically every season, so why shouldn't the boutiques that sell the clothes?" And as she noted- on the heels of the New York Collections - "Last week, 130 designers presented their fall 2004 collections, with more to follow over the next month in Milan and Paris. Yet by the time their clothes are manufactured, a factory in Malaysia or China will have produced cheaper versions. Stores like H&M and Zara will have them on their racks - and the consumer will be on to the next thing."

So true; which is why I firmly believe in finding clothes that combine style and substance, clothes that are relevant and appropriate for one's lifestyle, age, occupation, and personality. And more importantly, clothes whose designs will stand the test of time and transcend 'ins' and 'outs' and trends. That is also why collections by Ralph Rucci and Narciso Rodriguez really stood out this time.



Saturday, February 14, 2004

Unsolicited Hostility:


Our editor Marilyn Kirschner featured top center in Bill Cunningham's 'On the Street' column in the Style Section of this Sunday's The New York Times

It seems certain New York fashion publicists think it is open season to criticize us after Paul Wilmot forwarded one of our faxes to WWD. The latest tirade against Marilyn Kirschner our editor-in-chief comes from Greg Mills a fashion publicist who has worked for many years as a rep for a number of New York designers:
Greg Mills wrote:

"I am not sure i understand why miss kirchner is in a position to critique anyone's word in design. it is not as if she has the innate sense of style style that would make one want to look to her for direction and ideas. considering the rediculous outfits she parades around in to garner attention to herself, one is hard pressed to take anything she says seriously."

Pretty tough comments! As pictures speak louder than words our only response is to show a photo editorial by Bill Cunningham featuring Marilyn Kirschner in his "On the Street" column where he devoted the entire column to Marliyn - 18 photos of her in outfits she wore that he thought was stylish (see editorial). The last two people Bill had devoted his entire column to before Marilyn was Anna Wintour and Anna Piaggi-- editor of Italian Vogue, Then subsequently Patrick McDonald. Not bad company!

And speaking of timing Marilyn is featured today front and center in Bill Cunningham's column (see photo top) To quote Bill "Marilyn Kirschner really gets it. She understands what fashion is all about;" Who are we to argue with him?

-Ernest Schmatolla

Ralph Lauren Show:

It is not necessary to be weird or flamboyant to make clothes that women want to wear. Ralph Lauren had an inspiration when he turned to shape to focus on in his fall collection, shown the last day of fashion week. Other designers have concentrated on color or fabrics. Lauren emphasized silhouette (see photos).

Not a never-before-seen shape. That would not be likely after about a hundred years of modern fashion. A lot of shapes have been dormant, however. And among them are many that women would like to see again.

Lauren's choice was a smooth-waistline, flaring skirt silhouette that is flattering ro many figures and has not been available for a long time as designers concentrate on bareness, flippy skirts and different lengths. The runway mannequins moved easily and comfortably. There was no need to clutch their bodies to be sure everything was intact. The clothes looked amazingly fresh and women who want to get dressed and forget about it perked up.

Colors were not exuberant. Black, beige and some red were shown. Sometimes a snug sweater topped the flaring skirt. Some styles were one-piece dresses. For formal wear, there was lace and emboidery. Women who have not been enthusiastic about clothes found a lot to approve of.

Fashion can be fun and practical without being outrageous. Lauren found a way to make this happen. It was a high spot of the showings.

-review by Bernadine Morris

Friday, February 13, 2004

Donna 'Shrugs' Off Fashion Week:


Donna Karan ended New York Fashion week with a love song to New York (the collection was dubbed "Urban Decadence") and a celebration of her 20 years in business. To that end, she reworked many of her signature jersey pieces and continued on with her love affair with draping, texture, pulled together with a self- conscious dose of sensuality (see photos).

It was all about the body (no surprise there), many of the designs hugged the form like bodysuits and leotards- even the practically shoulder length gloves accompanying most of the pieces fit like second skins. The rather moody, dark palette of neutrals (and black of course) was periodically enlivened with a hit of gold here and there, and she even managed to throw in some plaids and nubby tweeds.

As usual, her leather coats and jackets are worth noting, and one can easily imagine the feathered full-skirted long gown with spaghetti straps or the finale, a gold sequined torso fitting number, making it to the Red Carpet at the upcoming Academy Awards.

The one item that seemed to be the thread throughout, was the shrug - the item of the season - which she showed in dizzying versions including sheared mink, burnout velvet, and some that resembled sheer spiderwebs.

But that said, all in all, the collection seemed to be weighted down, appeared a tad self conscious- if not forced and pretentious- and did not seem very modern or relevant for these times.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

One More to Go


Ralph Rucci Show - click on image to enlarge
photo by Ernest Schmatolla


Okay- we're down to the wire...one more day of shows. The highlight of Thursday was Ralph Rucci's beautiful, breathtaking collection (it really has to be appreciated up close and personal because of its subtle brilliance) - which ended in a well deserved standing ovation see photos. As Edie Locke put it, " Thank God for Ralph Rucci". Indeed.

The day was also marked by the showings of three of 7th Avenue's young guns (Peter Som, Behnaz Sarafpour, and Zac Posen) and there were some wonderful items in each of these collections, though Zac's was definitely the most sophisticated and grown up of the group see photos . By the way, his 6pm show in the Tents (his first time in this large space) was a packed to the rafters scene - predictably.

I really liked what Behnaz had to offer see photos. It was a complete departure from her black, short, tight, sexy spring/summer line- actually, it could not have been more dissimilar- much softer, less aggressive, lots of knife pleats, longer skirts, boucle, tweeds, and small fur pieces (which are a major statement all over 7th avenue- both on and off the runway).

Peter Som's collection was for me, the least interesting of the three. Though he offerered some nice, fresh ideas and takes on the trends of the season see photos, I must admit I don't really understand what all the fuss is about- and many of his pieces just seemed to have been referenced from others' past line-ups. Like Behnaz, he focused on tweeds, furs, cardigans, fresh and optimistic colors and silhouettes. His preppie 'take' is perhaps why the Park Avenue social set flocks to the show, sitting front row center.

Thursday also marked the second collection designed by Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein. His first - for spring 2004 - met with mixed reviews and the fashion fold was obviously eager to see how he would evolve this time around. When I asked the well respected fashion director of a major luxury department store chain (who shall remain anonymous) what she thought, she paused for a nanosecond and said very deliberately: "it may have been the worse show I have ever seen". Ouch!

And I couldn't agree more. It was obvious after the first few outfits came out (these set the tone for what is to follow) that the collection was just not going to make it off the ground. One does not expect to see pale, sheer, lanquid, droopy washed silks open the fall/winter collection of a house whose name and reputation is built on clean and chic tailoring. (Of course, it's possible that Mr. Costa was intent on creating his own new look for the label and was purposely going against what Calvin Klein stood for). Regardless, it didn't work. The clothes didn't even look good on those tall, young, skinny models. Costa was criticized for showing too much sheerness last season, so what could have prompted him to continue the trend with so much see thru? Maybe he is suicidal....

There were a few tailored pantsuits, several structured coats, and one pretty long gown at the end- but basically, that was it! The entire thing was completely baffling and puzzling. And to make matters worse, the location (Milk Studios 10th avenue and 15th street) is terribly inconvenient (unless you're having lunch at Pastis or shopping at Jeffrey) especially at that time of the day heading into rush hour traffic. It was hardly worth the effort.

'Spotted':

Okay- enough about the clothes on the runway for the time being... although I will quickly say that I was a bit disappointed with Michael Kors see photos who seemed to be on a mission to infuse his always luxurious all American sportswear aesthetic with a heavy dose of cool 'attitude' down to the uncharacteristic and blaring rock and roll soundtrack normally associated with Anna Sui and Marc Jacobs; Gilles Mendel's well edited 33 piece collection see photos
of furs and fur trimmed jackets, skirts, and dresses was just lovely; and although Wednesday afternoon's Proenza Schouler show see photos was not my favorite of the three collections they have presented since being in business, you have to give the duo credit for their innovative and experimental cuts and construction and isn't that what fashion is all about?

We all know that the fashion story off the runways is often the most interesting part of any fashion week. And observing what the 'key players' are wearing is a spectator sport in and of itself.

The most frequent item I have 'spotted' (literally) is the leopard coat versions have been worn by front row fixtures like Anna Wintour, Amy Astley, and Elizabeth Saltzman, just to name a few. And though this group may be wearing the 'real deal'- the fabulous fakes are obviously more prevalent, more 'politically correct' and have quite the same impact.

And speaking of Anna Wintour, I couldn't help but notice that the High Priestess of Fashion has already nabbed Prada's new 'coat of the season' and Spring's answer to leopard - the narrow snakeskin trench - which by the way, also showed up on the back of Anne McNally (hmmmm- I wonder how they scored this new arrival so early?!?)

Of course, the other big trend both on and off the runway continues to be the tweed coat- still an editors' 'fave'. Carine Roitfeld looked positively stuffed into her shrunken salt and pepper coat which she wore with bare legs and nude toned lace up high heeled oxford pumps - very French. In fact, her coat was so small, it seemed to be half the size of the gigantic fur collar on Anna's Benjamin Cho white wool coat which she paired with a Proenza Schouler skirt - both designers who coincidentally were showing collections on that day. It must be pointed out that Anna, who is known to champion the young up and comers, is known to wear the designs of those showing on each particular day.

But hands down, one of the most obvious trends off the runway is the wholehearted embrace of winter white. which has been seen in fabrics ranging from white wool and white down, to white furs (particularly white mink). In fact, many show goers are taking this obsession one step further and wearing the impractical shade from head to toe. I'm one of them.

My vote for one of the silliest trends is the idea of ignoring seasons (bare legs again). Many fashion pros are simply intent on thumbing their noses at the calendar, and jumping ahead to spring or summer. I have noticed that Elizabeth Saltzman has been favoring somewhat summery (and considerably bare tops and dresses) beneath her winter coats which show off her well toned but thin arms and cleavage (she doesn't really have much cleavage but she is showing off her neck, throat, and chest rather than covering up in wool turtlenecks like the rest of us mortals). Yesterday, she added to that combination a pair of open toed sandals worn with bare, well pedicured feet (natch!). Me? I was literally shivering in my boots. Personally, I find it rather chilly inside the tents as well as outside, but as they say, "C'est la vie."

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

What Makes The Perfect Fashion Marriage? Tradition and Virtue, with a Mistress on the Side...

Hamish Morrow, former designer at Krizia, found it impossible to fulfill his vision, as reported by WWD, and was replaced by a younger design team under the creative direction of Mariuccia Mandelli. Amidst rumors started at LVMH rival Pinault Printemps, that Marc Jacobs and M. Carcelle are prime to take over the Gucci vacancies, some “friends” of Mr. Jacobs have said that he is growing frustrated with how slow his private label is expanding, (which to the devoted Jacobs’ fanatic may seem an absurd reality) somehow inferring that the time may be ripe for a change?

With the constant swirl of unsatisfactory unions between the young, yet highly talented and newly minted fashion genius with venerable design houses in need of a lift or jolt of vitality, what constitutes a successful lasting fashion relationship?

By example, most recently with Krizia, also at Prada, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Gucci among others, the successful creative model is a marketing savvy creative director not necessarily a designer by craft, who may have a generational link, appreciation and affinity for a label, thereby respecting it’s history and preserving it’s voice, while overseeing a talented pool of humble talented designers by craft.

A harem of submissives is not the only answer however. There is a way to marry youth and tradition.

Julien MacDonald made no secret of his anguish at Givenchy, a place where he just could not seem to implement his personal flair with the house’s tradition. John Galliano and Alexander McQueen both faced the same difficulties.

Alexander McQueen also jumped ship at Givenchy, given the opportunity to focus on his own vision of fashion instead of honing in on someone else’s. McQueen’s first collection for Givenchy, was a case study in what not to do as he attempted to reinvent the label in his own image. Looking back even he had to admit it was a bust. McQueen thought, as most creative geniuses do, the original tradition and vision of M. Givenchy was irrelevant in these modern times.

The problem seems to be not with the conservative approach tradition implies, stifling youth’s vitality and creativity at every turm, with ideals of what is proper and important. The problem is with the designers. Design houses, venerable labels and their brands have been around for a reason. They have clients. As with everything in fashion, there is always a flavor of the season. Not everyone can be a favorite with media and public alike, especially in an industry that is constantly looking for something new to satisfy its insatiable demands for excitement and “genius.”

Karl Lagerfeld should serve as model and mentor for many young designers who just can’t wait to make it big or to get their hands on the backing and notoriety that a well-known label can provide. He has successfully made a career revamping labels like Chloe, Fendi and Chanel, preserving and respecting their mission and clients’ sensibilities, while simultaneously giving them the jolt and modern vision they seek. Who would have thought Coco Chanel would be doing frayed denim with the traditional tweed jacket, or combat boots and georgette, signature pearls in tow, albeit a bit longer and bit larger and a bit funkier? It’s reaching for the edge, without going over it.


Mr. Lagerfeld’s artistic vision is sound. The secret to it all is realizing this is a job and not a private canvas. There are people who need to buy and a house that needs to satisfy and sell. Mr. Lagerfeld’s touch kept fashion fun as Coco Chanel would have wanted, stylish and modern...all buzz words for the Chanel vision, but still Chanel nevertheless.

Another secret that makes this marriage work? Find yourself an exciting mistress on the side, one whom you can explore all your fantasies, unconstrained and uninhibited. The perfect wife, I was once told, would be both an uninhibited mistress and virtuous bride.

As with fashion, in his private label Mr. Lagerfeld still found a place to vent his own vision, to voice his own opinions about what is excellent in fashion, what women should look like in his world, while filtering these fresh ideas to evolve existing brands with existing personalities.

Tom Ford’s experience and collections for YSL Rive Gauche, although hailed by international editors and fashionellas around the world, was seen as a sacrilege to the YSL tradition, taste and French name. Was it his personal interpretation and obvious sexual connotations where M. Saint Laurent would have been more subtly stylish ? Or was it the fashion marketing American taking over a French label known for respect and preservation of a seemingly irrelevant craft that caused the problem? Perhaps a little bit of both.

Galliano at Dior works well - but each time a collection is launched, a show is planned, the heads of state cringe not only at the expense, but wonder at the necessity for such showmanship - growing a bit lax with the reigns each season as they see, that Galliano style shows translate into sales all around - from collection, accessories and shoes to beauty and fragrance. Galliano at Givenchy was a different story. M. Givenchy was no wallflower, but then again he was not the creator of a New Look either. He had edge but was not edgy in the futuristic sense. He gave women power with the sculpted qualities of his cuts and stylish details. Galliano was too risque for Givenchy. Does Galliano respect the tradition that is Dior? Only if you think of the redefinition of the female figure and the blatant disregard for what others may view as acceptable, tasteful and sophisticated as M. Dior did with his New Look. For Galliano, EVERY season is the New Look.

Jacobs realizes it’s not that tradition, nostalgia or history in fashion, and repetitive silhouettes or ideas are irrelevant, but that they need to be refreshed, looked at with new eyes. Each season he makes the old look new, the new look even better and always with a hint of a memory, color, cut, or a print from the past. He makes fashion fun, not frightening, and flattering in a youthful way not fussy or too avant garde.

The Marc Jacobs collection was dedicated not to followers of fashion, but indie girls, and art school types who loved clothes that added to their personalities with substance that did not define them, but clothes they defined by the way they wore them, the pieces they chose, it said something about the girl, and it was not Marc making the statement. He was just dressing it.

Jacobs knows it is colloboration and not reinvention that will give an established label the jolt it needs to be modern, preserve its existing clientele and make everything covetable by mother and dauther alike. A tall order.

Great designers realize that the canvas may be their own, but there is someone providing the paints...without the paint, you cannot create and you must respect the patrons even if you don’t agree with them - whether they be buyers, bosses, presidents of fashion conglomerates or the everyday girl with money in her pocket and the desire for a bit of fantasy.

Fashion is not always a revolution, but more an evolution. As with Darwin, it is about survival of the fittest. Like the animals that have morphed over time, changing appendages as the environment changes around them, fashion loses, bits and pieces that are no longer useful or relevant, while still retaining a semblance of its original form. There is always something familiar that brings comfort to the eye at the base of a look, while innovation is in the new treatments, uses, and visions that revolve around those familiarities at times. Even the Space Age is familiar - Star Wars, Star Trek, Paco Rabanne, Thierry Mugler....inevitably there will always be references until someone creates new ones. The evolutionary process of fashion is still based on a familiar vision, even if that vision is not clothing from an archive, but is instead a building or a chair, or in Dior’s case, a Cadillac.

The past is always relevant to the present and the future. You have to start somewhere after all, as this week NY Times article clearly demonstrates, all designers’ mood boards or inspiration journals contain familiar images that morph together to create a new story, a new vision, based on the past and those things that already exist. Youthful energy is recaptured, reenergizing the ideas of the past. The perfect fashion marriage, respects the traditional framework, while redefining and reenergizing the union with innovation, constantly exploring the unknown and adding spice with a seduction of the senses.

-S.M.L.

Animal Farm:

7thonSixth is not just going to the dogs (as I previously reported). On Tuesday- horses got into the act as well.

Right outside the Bryant Park Tents, throughout the day, a gentleman in traditional red riding habit with trumpet in hand, was sounding a musical invitation to visit the O'Halloran collection conveniently set up in a horse trailer right across the street from the shows. After Blass ended, somehow it seemed like a good idea.

Once inside, I was pleasantly transported to another place and time- horse country. The trailer was right out of central casting, and had the look and feel of a quaint chic store in Millbrook, New York- complete with atmospheric decor, candlelight, scented candles, and welcome treats like warm apple cider, crisp apples, and sugar coated donuts.

Cathleen O'Halloran Cordova, the owner and founder of the company that bears her family name (and whose family crest adorns each piece), has been in business since 1999, and was on hand to meet and greet. The enterprising young woman wisely took this opportunity to get editors to see what she was up to.

And it worked- in addition to myself, Ruth Finley, and some of her associates from Fashion Calendar, there was WWD's Bobbie Queen checking out the novel horse printed pants, colorful horse blankets, blanket coats for men, women, and children, beautifully tailored jackets, novelty t-shirts with horse motifs, shoes, bags, and accessories for the home.

You can see her entire collection by visiting her store at 65 Main Street, Millerton NY, calling for a catalogue (518-789-4785), or by shopping online at www.ohalloranco.com.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

77 Not So Easy Pieces:

This morning was Michael Vollbracht's second show as head of design for the house of Bill Blass. I really wanted to see something great, and I tried desperately to like it but let's just say that based on what I saw and the comments I heard from others, I would be very surprised if he continues on in this position for much longer.

The clothes fell flat, looked matronly and as if they had been lifted from Bill's past archives (and unfortunately, not even the best pieces). And from where I was sitting, many of the items looked no different than offerings from moderate price houses like Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman. In a season marked by texture mixes and eclectic luxury, there were so many different ways Michael could have used the Blass name and history and really run with it - but he didn't. The uninspired suits, puzzling prints, and lackluster evening started to look repetitive and became boring really fast.

Michael's use of 'old time' models (who still look great by the way) like Chris Royer and Pat Cleveland- while fun the first time around and completely understandable since it was his launch- was a big mistake this time in my opinion. He would have been wise to go with a younger, less identifiable group. Quite frankly, Pat Cleveland, with her highly energetic runway theatrics, began to grate on my nerves- I felt like saying, "okay- enough already."

I was looking across the runway at Cathy Horyn who did not look terribly amused and who never lifted her pen once during the show. I don't mean to speak for her- mind you - but that was my observation. And when I questioned others, many shared my sentiments. At one point, I could almost 'hear' people smirking when a black and white dotted ostrich feather clutch coat that resembled 'big bird' worn over a black and white polka dot skirt came out.

One of the recurring soundtracks that kept playing during the show repeated the phrase: "somethings goin' on...." Unfortunately, it wasn't "going on" on this particular runway.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Fashion's Going to Extremes (or should I say, 'Going to the Dogs'?)

The biggest dog show of them all - the Westminster Kennel Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden- always coincides with the fall/winter collections in February. But this time, the doggies (adorable ones at that) were also out in force in front of the 6th Avenue entrance to the Tents. So I guess one can say 7thonSixth is truly 'going to the dogs'.

Cute little white bull terriers (the breed that appears in Target's print ads with that signature red bullseye around one eye) along with their handlers, were clad in the chain's coordinating red and white bullseye sweaters, and mingled with the show attendees, young men and women dispensing free WWD's and copies of 'The Daily', and assorted spectators. What a three ring circus! It was in conjunction with the Humane Society and the effort to bring pet awareness to the public.

And it seems fashion is also going to extremes. On Monday I reported that the house of Tuleh might have broken a record by staging the quickest runway show in history.

On Tuesday, Oscar de la Renta may have catapulted himself into the 'Hall of Fame' with a show that started - get this - only a mere 15 minutes after it was supposed to begin! Now, that's a record. It's true: while most shows are well over 45 minutes late these days, Oscar's 50- piece presentation was 15 minutes early. In fact, his 1 p.m. show ended before most would have begun. Bravo to Oscar and his associates for pulling that one off.

And the day had it's ups and downs-while Oscar was very-well- 'Oscar', (feminine, chic, luxurious) with some beautiful coats, furs and fur trims, suits, and evening dresses ((see photos) Carolina Herrera (who says she was inspired by chic European ski resorts of decades past), was really disappointing (see photos) . In fact, I overheard a fellow show attendee commenting to a companion that it was so bad, it looked like the collection was "designed by FIT students." Ouch! In all fairness, some of her little horizontally worked mink jackets looked sporty, snazzy and young, but there was far too much wine and burgundy (she called it 'aubergine') used- particularly for the evening portion. As an accent, it's a fine hue, but in large doses, there is nothing more matronly and aging. (In my opinion, the only place a large serving of burgundy really belongs is in a wine goblet).

And I was also disappointed with Badgley Mischka - though there were some beautiful dresses and separates, the show lacked a cohesive thought, and some of the combinations just didn't work.

I did like Palmer Jones though. The chicly individual and well executed 24 piece collection from the young duo (who are handled by LaForce & Stevens), was aptly named 'Cinderella Attic Dressing Up Box'. It was like a breath of fresh air- perfectly pulled together and styled, the hallmark was it's adept construction and tailoring, beautiful evening pieces- long and short dresses-mixed in with a touch of vintage. It all looked- and is- expensive, one of a kind, and practically couture-like. A nice surprise.

And boy - talk about 'what a difference a year makes'. It's hard to believe that one year ago, Marc Jacobs' runway was a costume party ode to the 60's with jarring colors and contrived shapes. After last night's show, (see photos) it's clear that he's come full circle, embracing a new sophistication- renewing his love affair with cut, tailoring, and dressmaking- but still with his youthful spirit intact. From the look of things, soft blouses (with self bows) and fuller pants will be the benefit of yet another revival.
30 'Easy Pieces':

Is there such a thing as being just, well, too 'well-edited' for your own good? Perhaps. With the high cost of staging a runway show these days, the really short and to- the-point Tuleh collection (see photos), shown on Sunday evening, seemed to be a true splurge. (I think the entire show may have made the Guiness Book of Records, taking all of 7 minutes).

The well- attended collection, traditionally shown at this time slot, has become somewhat of a fashion happening, drawing front row celebrity editors (Anna Wintour looking exceptionally wonderful in a chinchilla jacket, and ex protege Kate Betts also turning out), and the requisite uptown (and downtown) social set, all dressed to the nines, in their limos and town cars, and ready for their closeups.

But was it my imagination or was Bryan Bradley's show so short and to the point (30 pieces to be exact) that the whole shebang seemed to end before it even began? In terms of time, let's just say that the entire thing most probably took a fraction of the time it took the average socialite to get dressed for the event.

That said, it's hard to complain about the looks presented. On parade were all the signature and at this point, expected pieces we have come to love and expect from Tuleh (with or without Josh Patner) including animal prints galore (zebra and leopard), endless variations on the tweed jacket and coat (worked and re-worked in ways that have made Coco 'loco'), and color, print, pattern, etc. etc. etc. And yes, there were a few coats to almost literally kill for.

You know that now famous Vogue spread in October that all the designers are supposedly taking inspiration from this season? It was certainly alive and well and living on this runway- though in all fairness, Tuleh has always stood for this brand of style. The black finale was a bit disappointing, and fell a bit flat, but all in all, it was a very good collection.

Speaking about well edited....Marc Bouwer would have been wise to think about properly editing his collection, presented on Sunday as well. The theme was dressing for the Red Carpet (in case you didn't 'get it'....a huge red carpet decorated the runway as well as several of the walls)...and many of Marc's decidedly 'old fashioned' and glamorous evening gowns (long, short, and everything in between) were quite beautiful and well executed. BUT- that said, it all seemed to get repetitive after awhile, and there were just so many gowns, the woman next to me fell asleep.

In addition, there were lots of empty seats, including many in the first two rows, and many with standing room only tickets, began to fill in. This is the same problem that plagued Alice Roi's 11 am show as well. Usually such a well attended 'draw', I was surprised at all the empty front row seats. Though there were some perfectly sweet pieces and items, I didn't understand all the Prada influences. Haven't we already seen enough of that now famous crocodile glove that resembles an oven mit?

While I'm griping, I may as well add another thought....Shalil Upadaya, the Nepalese gentleman who shows up regularly each season, dressed in dizzying patterns of his own designs (themed accordingly), is a complete enigma. The guy has no press credentials, does not write, edit, or run a business based on fashion. His only mission in life seems to be getting himself pulled together twice a year, show up, and hopefully, get photographed. To this end, he hangs around the Tents with his 'possee', almost always gets into shows (often procuring better seats than some of us journalists and fashion pros) and is later seen at all the parties, drink in hand.....Not surprisingly, he was one of the first people I saw at the Jeffrey/Paco Rabanne party last night. Yikes! What started out years ago as an interesting and quirky sighting has become rather tired. Shalil- the thrill is gone.

Curious about who made those fabulously over the top (and toasty warm) Finn raccoon fur trapper's hats at the Catherine Malandrino show today? Kokin, the milliner whose been in business for many years. He is located at 20 West 36th street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10018 and you can reach him by phone (212 643 8225) or fax (212 643 8284. By the way, I was hardly surprised when I realized that the label of one of my most favorite vintage finds (a tall black ostrich feathered hat) happens to be Kokin. He has not lost his touch.

-reported by Marilyn Kirschner


Calling a Spade a Spade:

As a longtime member of the press, I've had to rely on PR firms through the years. Since Fashion Week has gotten underway, this relationship has been even more exaggerated and important. Simply put, at this moment in time, they are the bane of our existence, it seems.

Happily and thankfully, most of the companies (you know who you are) we've had to deal with (for tickets to shows, events, parties) have been nothing but professional, easy to reach, and consistently helpful.

Of course, there are always exceptions.....without getting really ugly...let's just say, the names could be changed to reflect the real situation:

Paul Wilmot: Paul Wil 'not'

Pierre Rouget: Pierre 'Rude' get

PR Consulting: PR 'In' sulting

MGI: MG'Try'

Hood Public Relations: 'Should ' Public Relations

Ogan/Dallal: 'Ugh' an/ Dallal

Rand.M: 'RanduM'

Harrison & Shriftman: Harass & Stiff-them

Okay, I got that off my chest - I feel better already...

-Marilyn Kirschner


Sunday, February 08, 2004

Ralph Rucci & Anna Wintour: What is Really Going On with Vogue Not Covering His Shows:

It is no secret that US Vogue does not report on New York designer Ralph Rucci. At his latest couture show in Paris no one from American Vogue even reported on this important collection. His clothing does not appear in Vogue editorial pages and even Style.com gives him almost no mention.

So what happened? Why has Anna closed the door and chosen not to show her support for one of our most talented designers? We were working on an article about the issue when we realized that it was already reported and well documented. Below is an editorial written in November by our friend Christine Suppes the publisher of Fashionlines.com with the whole story about Rucci and Wintour confirming what we have heard from other sources. It is reprinted with permission:

"Chances are, if you read Fashionlines, you have heard of Ralph Rucci. He is the only American designer who shows couture in Paris. If you read Fashionlines, you also probably are aware that the French fashion industry is not generally known for cutting American designers a lot of slack. Mr. Rucci makes their cut, and understandably so, as his clothes are absolutely couture quality and give elegant simplicity a strong, new American identity. As an American-based fashion internet site, we are proud to present Mr. Rucci's clothes to our international audience. Apparently, this is not the case at American Vogue. The editor in chief, Anna Wintour, has yet to put in an appearance at one of Mr. Rucci's Paris couture shows. Her excuse is generally that she has to leave town early. But then Mr. Rucci is not covered in the pages of American Vogue, either. It is a mystery worthy of its own reality television show.

Open any page of Italian Vogue. Page after page is devoted to Italian designers. Open French Vogue. Never known as a culture to buck national pride, the magazine is full of French -based designers. British Vogue embraces British designers either known or just starting out. And here is American Vogue's chance to support America's only couturier working both in Paris and the States, and Ms. Wintour chooses to flagrantly ignore the opportunity. But it's not just Ms. Wintour. The famous New York designers American Vogue feature prominently have regrettably been doing some arm twisting of their own. Fashionlines has learned that at a recent museum retrospective of Manolo Blahnik's career, a certain very well known older New York based designer specifically had Mr. Rucci blackballed from the event. Why? Jealousy, of course! Believe it or not, this well known older designer, famed for his lavish personal lifestyle, and his New York based colleague, a Manhattan society favorite, have actually asked the most talented American accessories makers to "give" them items for their shows, citing the fact that they are "broke." These hypocrites should stop showing off their fancy Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and buy the work of struggling young artisans working in America to show with their own collections.

The most brilliant American designer to have been ignored by the American fashion press up until now is Geoffrey Beene. So Mr. Rucci is in the finest company. American fashion editors, especially at Vogue, have a lot to answer for. This back turning on America's best designers is unspeakably ignorant. It is shameful and also harmful to the future gifted designers who come onto the scene. American Vogue has single handedly turned fashion from art into a power game. It is disgraceful and embarrassing, especially when foreign writers ask why the American fashion press ignores its own best home grown talent. Perhaps what American Vogue needs at this point is an American editor who loves America and American designers. "

-Christine Suppes, publisher

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Thank you Paul Wilmot!

After we faxed a rant over to Stormy Stokes and Paul Wilmot of Paul Wilmot Communications for their continuing blacklisting our editors from attending any of their clients' events guess what those two "sweethearts" did for us? Instead of answering our complaint they forwarded our fax to WWD in an obvious attempt to embarrass us. WWD ran in this weekend's special show edition "Fashion Scoops" on page 15 the following item. You be the judge as to why it puts a smile on our faces!


HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE: Ernest Schmatolla,
the publisher of the fashion news web site lookonline.com, apparently doesn't care anymore that you can catch more flies (and flacks) with honey rather than vinegar. He uncorked a whole bottle of the later on Thursday, firing off a fax to Paul Wilmot complaining about he and his site's editors are being excluded from this week's Wilmot produced fashion shows.

"Paul Wilmot and Pierre Rougier are the only two agencies we are currently having problems with getting access to their client's shows" he wrote. " Perhaps there is something more in common with the two of them than just blacklisting us. It might make a good story for our email newsletter to 1,300 fashion editors, writers, retailers, and designers after the shows. A good title might be "The Two Worst P.R. Firms" in New York. Everyone agrees about Rougier, but Paul Wilmot, for us at least, is a close second. As a matter of fact you can bet on that article going out."

Schmatolla lamented to WWD that "getting into the show, sometimes has little to do with what your credentials are; the stylist's boyfriend gets in, but if you're a real member of the press, you don't." While he doesn't take back his vitriol, he would like to give a shout out to his two favorite firms, KCD and LaForce & Stevens. (Which means he's set with them for next season.)

Don't Look a Gift Bag in the Mouth

Well it's too early to talk about trends or major fashion moments, but after day 1 of Olympus Fashion Week for fall 2004, I can dish about the freebies I've received so far. And to put it mildly, the loot could pass for props on 'Survivor'.

There is enough variety in the merchandise, to help me get me through the next 6 days of fashion shows comfortably, and quite frankly, the stuff can help me cope with almost any of life's future emergencies.

If I get lost looking for a show, thanks to David Chu, I have Nautica's fine looking black and taxi cab yellow compass to set me in the right course; if I have food stuck in my teeth and need to floss in between meals- no problem- with the Johnson & Johnson 'Reach Access' disposable easy flosser and refreshing 'Clean Burst' peppermint flossing kit put inside the bags at the Red Dress Collection. Also in that show's gift bags- some tasty Ethel M chocolates- perfect for hunger pangs caused by skipping meals due to the hectic schedule this week.

Need to freshen up? Thanks to Kenneth Cole, who left samples of his new perfume, 'Black' in pouches on the seats of his show, we will all smell just fine. What about the dry skin that's a by- product of being inclosed in those overly heated tents? The CFDA gift bags had several large moisturizers- including a very good one from Johnson & Johnson.

What to do if you've eaten a burger with raw onions and fear the worse? (you know, bad breath....) Altoids and FullFrontalFashion mints to the rescue (and luckily, samples from both were included in the aforementioned bag).

Want to flash your pearly whites for the paparazzi? Thanks to the Crest Whitestrips Premium dental whitening formula packs also included in the CFDA goodie bags, you will truly be 'ready for your close-up'.

And if you want to go incognito, just put on that black cotton baseball cap with the 'Song' airlines logo (yup- a Fashion Week sponsor)...that should do the trick!

Friday, February 06, 2004

Gen Art Show:

I'm glad we are starting on the right foot and listened to Stan Herman that all shows should try to start no later tht 15 minutes after the hour. Well Thursday night The Gen Art Show, now moved to the Waldorf Hotel was supposed to start at 8PM and the senior Hiltons, Mr. and Mrs., minus any daughters strolled in at 8:10PM posed for 5 minutes for photos, next were interviewed by Judy Leicht and we waited! The Mrs does love the spotlight, Dad seems a little more laid back about the attention, he was more interested in the contents of the goody bag.

The upper tiers were filled but that is where the paying people sit. At 8:20PM the press section was about half full. Rah Digga, and entourage, female hip hop star pranced in with a mink coat. Too bad she couldn't afford mink on her sleeves...fox is cheeper.

Only three designers were showcased. Usually it is five or six and no accessory people were spotlighted. Sorry folks no discovery tonight.

- a friend

Thursday, February 05, 2004

7thonSixth Drops Firstview.com as Official Photographers for New York Shows:

It has not been a good year for Don and Marcio of Firstview.com. First they get arrested in Paris after the Chanel show and were thrown in jail for two days. Firstview's actions is now blamed by some publishers we know in causing problems for other fashion websites to obtain photo credentials to cover the French RTW and couture shows. And now they lose their prestige gig in New York as the official photographers for the 7thonSixth shows. We have just heard from a reliable source that Getty Images, one of the world's largest stock agencies, is in addition to shooting for IMG World, the parent company of 7thonSixth, will take over from Firstview the responsibility of photographing the shows for 7thonSixth.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

An Eccentric Moment:

Since Fashion Week begins on Friday, I was interested to read Ruth La Ferla's column in today's 'Fashion' section of the New York Times, ("The Moment in Fashion: Eccentric"), which was to deal with the 'divine inspiration' behind the upcoming fall/winter 2004 shows. And apparently, it has come from the "visually arresting images" which were recently captured on the pages of Vogue Magazine.

According to La Ferla, "one of the behind-the scenes influences on the trends for the season may turn out to be an unlikely source: a fashion spread from the October issue of Vogue "Mad About You", the 16- page feature photographed by Steven Meisel and conceived by Camilla Nickerson."

Of course, Ms. La Ferla may refer to the influence as "unlikely", but it was hardly "unlikely" to this editor, who has been known to dress rather colorfully and 'eccentrically' herself and who disdains the boring and predictable.

I was completely blown away by the entire layout, and it seemed rather likely to me that this pictorial would be influential on many levels. I was even moved to write a 'Letter to the Editor' which was subsequently published in Vogue's January issue:

"Bravo to fashion editor Camilla Nickerson and photographer Steven Meisel for the spectacular portfolio ("Mad About You") which captured the essence and joy of unexpected mixes and the inventive, irreverent approach to dressing. This should serve as inspiration to both designers and readers."

Marilyn Kirschner
New York City

Olympus Fashion Week Set to Start:

A Note from Jacquie Kelleher of 7thonSixth:

All registered members of the press are welcome to visit the main lobby of the Bryant Park tents to take advantage of a number of additional amenities provided by this season's sponsors: Olympus, Redken, MAC, W Hotels, North Fork Bank, Johnson & Johnson Companies, Song, Evian, Silhouette, Blue Fish Concierge and media sponsors Vogue and The New York Times. Be sure to stop by the The Hanger, a unique press lounge hosted by Song. The hanger will include two rows of actual song seats, showcasing its VIP seating -- 33 inches of legroom – and song’s in-flight entertainment system that features individual seatback television screens, live feeds from the fashion shows, broadcast to each individual screen, as well as to flat screen monitors throughout the lounge, treats from dylan’s candy bar – the newest product sold exclusively on-board song flights Song ‘swag bags’ to stash various giveaways from the tents, a microsoft flight simulator (to try your hand at flying), laptops with internet connection and web portals and Song ticket giveaways.

We are happy to inform you that this season we are providing members of the registered press with a press credential to expedite entry into the tents. Please be aware that this press credential only provides access to the lobby. It does not provide access to the shows. As always the shows are by invitation only and invitations are sent directly by each designer and their public relations teams. Press Credentials can be picked up beginning Friday, February 6th at 9:00am in the Song Hanger in the tent lobby.

You may also redeem your Fall 2004 Gift Bag in the Song Hanger from Friday, February 6-Thursday, February 12th from 10am-6:00pm. You do not need a ticket to redeem your bag - your name will be on a list at the pick-up location. Please note: We have a limited supply of gift bags, so they are available on a first come first serve basis. One bag per person. You must come in person to collect your bag. No bags will be given to a third party.

For a current schedule visit our website at www.olympusfashionweek.com. Click here for the complete Fall 2004 designer contact list.

Monday, February 02, 2004

‘Lady of the Fleas’


Charlotte Marler

Yes, it’s cold out there - but if you’re like me and refuse to give up on your weekend trips to the 26th street flea market, a good way to get that vintage ‘fix’ and stay warm and toasty, is to walk around The Antique Collection, a ‘street of shops’ housed at 28 West 25th street, between 5th and 6th avenues. There you will find 23 different ‘galleries’ which sell vintage items ranging from fine oriental antiques, gold, silver, and bronze coins, decorative accessories for the home, and of course, clothing and accessories.

It was there that the wonderfully well-edited and eclectic booth of Charlotte Marler, a young (32 year old) dealer with an obviously well trained eye, caught my eye with her selection of designer and non-designer items.

She credits her love for vintage clothing to her distant cousin, the well-known dealer, Beverly Birks, who always shows at the New Yorker Vintage Fashion & Textile Show & Sale. About 3 1/2 years ago, she decided to follow her lead and she set up shop at the dollar lot at the 26th street flea market. This past October, she moved inside to her current location.

Among the items that stood out, were the ($650) Koos Van Den Akker collage blazer see photo, beautifully cut and colored, from the early 60’s; a generously sized late 60’s Mark Cross dark brown leather midi trimmed with wide horizontal bands of raccoon on the hem, at the wrists, and around the collar ($750) see photo; a silver Paco Rabanne ‘kit’ dress from the 60’s; and a black heavy wool twill Courreges dolman sleeved ‘pea jacket’ from the early 70’s ($450). And of course, she sells lots of bags and shoes. Just a note, her prices are of course, “negotiable”.

Charlotte told me that when she was outdoors, she found shoes and bags to sell the best, and now inside, handbags are still what the customer is looking for. And who are her customers? Fashion designers (and admitted vintage junkies) Anna Sui, Vivienne Tam, and Betsey Johnson are regulars, as are dealers, and she has quickly acquired a strong customer following as well. In fact, the day I was there, she was expecting a gentleman who is always on the lookout for Chanel items- like this iconic 'very Jackie O' vintage Chanel jacket from the 60’s- for his wife see photo.

You can find her at booth 14 and 15, and the building is open on Friday 11am- 6pm, Saturday, 8:30am- 5:30pm, Sunday from 8:30am – 5:30pm, and Monday 11am- 6pm. But contact her ahead of time to make sure she will be there (email: char_marler@hotmail.com, cell phone 646 369 3101).