Thursday, March 31, 2005

Other Voices, Other Views...

Christine Suppes Letter to the Editor of The Los Angeles Times Regarding LA Fashion Week:

The snotty, uninformed article by your style critic Booth Moore about Los Angeles Fashion Week, picked up by among others, the San Francisco Chronicle, left us aghast and disgusted. Ms. Moore is notorious for penning brutal reviews. It is no secret that Ms. Moore, who thoroughly relishes being the big fish in a small pond was officially uninvited to Sue Wong’s Fall 2004 show, after tearing the designer’s previous collection to shreds. Since the resolution of that scandalous ordeal, Booth Moore has been exhausting her venomous ink to condemn Los Angeles’ promising talent Louis Verdad.

To Ms. Moore, Verdad is a mere atelier rehashing the same designs season after season. In her piece, “Haven’t we seen this already?” Booth laments, “Unfortunately, we have seen most of what he did here before; he’s been showing it for two years.” The main problem with her assertion stems from an apparent inability to distinguish distinctive style from replication. Let’s think about the evolution of the Chanel suit for instance. Indeed, Karl Lagerfeld has given this fashion staple a face lift by renegotiating proportions or perhaps adding some lace to the cuffs, but ultimately the instantly recognizable lines of Chanel’s timeless construction have remained the same since its conception.

Louis Verdad has a unique vintage-inspired flair underscored by rigorous tailoring and classic elegance. Expecting him to depart from his trademark look solely in the name of ‘change’ is simply absurd. Furthermore, we are skeptical whether Ms. Moore was able to pay close attention to the collection—she may have been preoccupied with cozying up to Vogue Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour—for this season Louis Verdad did innovate change. While staying true to his roots, the designer spiced things up with bold prints, beaded details, embroidered embellishments and crock accents. Throwing into the mix beautiful renditions of his strong shouldered silhouettes in corduroy, leather and wool shearling, Louis proved his willingness to experiment with new materials.

Ms. Moore dismissed Verdad’s eveningwear as “awkward and overdone.” Since when has going to extremes been a vice in fashion? Anyone who has seen Galliano’s sarcophagus dresses or Kabuki faces knows that the runway is a theatrical platform upon which the creative mind alludes to larger than life ideals. Choosing controversial Mexican painter Frida Kahlo as his muse, this season Verdad created beautiful clothes that referenced the captivating icon’s boundless spirit and inimitable art. The exaggerated volumes, exotic patterns, floral jacquard details, ruche, and shoulder ruffles that Booth found to be “awkward” resonate with the folkloric attire and aesthetic sensibility of a rich culture. Unfortunately, blinded by Hollywood’s preoccupation with “sexy twist front jersey dresses,” Booth Moore is unable to appreciate the exquisiteness of these offerings from the heart.

There is no doubt about it: Los Angeles is neither New York nor Paris. Here designers don’t thrive under the protective wing of the Federation de la Couture or take creative leaps knowing that the multi-million dollar safety nets of fashion conglomerates are there to catch them lest they fall. Los Angeles designers cut and construct with dedication, compassion, and a pure love. Given how hard they strive to do so much with so little, they all deserve unwavering support and a standing ovation.

As for Booth Moore, she needs to rethink her offensive simplification of Los Angeles fashion of “celebrity fueled fads as Uggs boots [which are made in Australia, incidentally] and hipster jeans.” Indeed, this would be a good time to wipe those black rimmed glasses and take a closer look at what is coming down the catwalk. Then perhaps Moore could come up with an editorial that is not a reiteration of her cynical repertoire.

Note: All of the quotes contained in the body of this piece are taken from Booth Moore’s article, “Haven’t we seen this already?”

-Christine Suppes,

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Luella Bartley 2005 Collection

Perhaps the most important ingredient you can add to your closet this season (or more importantly, next season)…is sitting and waiting for you at the Yves St. Laurent Rive Gauche Boutique on east 57th street (212 980 2970). And the good news it costs under $300!

No silly, I’m not referring to the black and white polka dot blouses and skirts (which range in price from about $750 and up) that are not only in the company’s ad campaigns, and are currently decorating the store’s windows, but were recently seen on the backs of two of fashion’s most influential women- Carine Roitfeld and Anna Wintour. Both Vogue editors in chief chose variations on the theme designed by Stefano Pilati for his inaugural spring 2005 collection for YSL, when they made the rounds of the Paris Collections, literally putting their collective stamps of approval on the designer’s work.

But what I AM talking about is the very wide belt with large square buckle that accessorized the waists of almost all the models during the YSL spring show last September, (literally holding the collection together), which also appears prominently in all the spring ads.

The $295 belt, which is at least 3 inches wide, is available in black and purple patent leather (though I was told they are going fast) and is coming in shortly in red suede. Sized from 28 to 34, it is the perfect accessory…a collector’s item, really: classic, timeless, seasonless, yet highly distinctive. And of course, the wide belt was a major theme during the recent round of fall 2005 collections. Worn over a shirt, jacket, or coat….or used on a dress, skirt, or pants…it’s the quickest way to put some shape into your life and add a bit of style and chic. Actually, it’s a ‘cinch’!

Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, March 25, 2005

All The Right PR/Special Events Stuff at FIT:

If you’re a staff or freelance specialist, responsible for Special Events and/or Public Relations in the fashion and related industries, or if you’re not presently working in the field but looking to explore these areas as a new career, FIT can help you to open all the right doors.

The college’s Center for Professional Studies has launched a dynamic, hands-on Professional Development Certificate Program that’s all about giving participants (novice and otherwise) an exciting, current education in the wild and ever-changing world of Special Events.

Wrapped around a course-load total of 127 hours (which can easily be completed in less than two years, part-time) the program features short, interactive classes that focus on the planning, coordination and implementation of all phases of promotion-related events and the best ways to promote and publicize to a specific target audience.

What you’ll get … No matter if you choose a smattering of these affordable, in-depth classes or the complete program, you’ll have the chance to work at your own pace. Choose from small, personalized classes that offer detailed training in key industry topics such as Charity and Bridal Events, Glittering Galas and Unforgettable Launch Parties; Pitching Winning Press Kits; Budgets You and Your Client can Live With; Producing Fabulous Goodie Bags, Portfolio Preparation and Presentation; Best of the Best Music for Fashion Shows and Events; and Everything You Need to Know about Runway and Trade Shows (from front to back of house).

All classes within the certificate program are taught by seasoned industry pros with an eye on passing their first-hand knowledge, expertise and skills to the next-up group of PR and Special Events superstars.

For more information or to request a complete package on Fashion Events Planning, as well as other professional certificate programs available, contact Joan Volpe, managing coordinator, The Center for Professional Studies at FIT, 212-217-8701,

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mixed Messages, Continued...

Talk about mixed messages...I know it's 'all about' the mix these days, but what about the mixed messages emanating from The New York Times? Once again, one hand does not seem to know what the other is doing at The New York Times (or perhaps such contrasts are precisely the point). In my column yesterday, which was about Cathy Horyn’s article on the ‘trend’ away from tricky, eclectic, eccentric dressing and a return to the fitted suit, I omitted the most important thing - the irony of it all. Just two days prior, another article in the paper, on fashion and style, celebrated those exact elements.

In his article on the front page of the Sunday ‘Style’ section, (“Paris Is Entitled to Sniff”, March 13th), Guy Trebay acknowledged the amazing fashion sense of the Parisians which is predicated on eclectic, eccentric, highly individual, experimental put togethers.

But conversely, in Ms. Horyn's column yesterday, Bergdorf Goodman’s Robert Burke was quoted as saying “there has been so much emphasis on individual style and eclecticism, and I think designers and customers are getting tired of the fur stole, the brooch, and so on. A simple tailored suits looks refreshing”. By the way, in Guy Trebay’s article, Robert Burke was one of those who applauded the French saying, “The plates have shifted, and Paris is the place right now, no question.”

On Sunday, Mr. Trebay waxed poetic about the refreshingly individual style recently on display in the City of Lights during the Paris Collections, which he credited largely to “a new style, one that plays the game of high-low dressing with assurance, that treats couture clothes like T-shirts and street fashion like couture.” He also noted that, (contrary to say, the Upper East Side of New York, where a very static, “stultified” if you will, clonish sort of uniform is de rigueur- or as Elle’s Anne Slowey put it, “uptight Uptown chic”), in Paris “the populace itself shows signs of having been liberated from the tyranny of stultifying bourgeois chic”.

Cathy Horyn's column was an homage to a symbol of 'bourgeois chic'- the suit. And if you think about it, what could be more potentially 'stultifyingly' bourgeois or uptight than a suit, unless of course, it’s put together with the “highly individual style and eclecticism” that Mr. Burke alluded to as being so overdone, or perhaps aided by the welcome addition of some of those “full boho skirts, easy proportions and eclectic little fur shrugs” that Ms. Horyn is now seemingly tired of?

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mixed Signals:

Boy, no wonder the customer is confused these days. I agree with most of Cathy Horyn's observations ("Take a Breath, Let It Out: The Fit's Slim for Fall", Tuesday, March 15th), about the appealing return to classic tailoring in the form of the jacket (and suit). But, that said, all this inferring that certain things are 'in' or 'out' just further confuse the already confused customer who has come to fear - or has just learned to accept - that as soon as she purchases something, it will no longer be relevant in about 6 months (or less), and she will be out there searching for the next big thing (whatever that may be).

And the quote from Bergdorf Goodman's Robert Burke, "There has been so much emphasis on individual style and eclecticism, and I think designers and customers are gettting tired of the fur stole, the brooch and so on. A simple tailored suit looks refreshing" sends the wrong signals and doesn't help either. Why does one have to chose between a beautifully simple suit AND individual eclecticism? Why must the two elements be mutually exclusive? Can't they happily co-exist? The idea is be able to integrate all those wonderful things you own and love (and have collected), into your existing wardrobe.

Unfortunately, the one thing a designer, retailer, or a fashion magazine can't do for the customer is to teach her to when, where, and how to wear something. She has to figure it out herself. Most importantly, it's up to the customer to understand the idea of 'appropriate' (what is appropriate for one's age, bodytype, lifestyle, occupation, situation, etc.). There's a time and place for that suit, and a time and place for something more boho, eccentric, folkloric, etc. And by the way, who said the brooch and fur stole is 'out'? (Certainly not Anne Slater whose signature is always a wonderful brooch of some sort). Anna Sui's wonderfully madcap fall runway, which happily looked different from many others owing to her signature pile-on of accessories (chains, belts, AND brooches) further prove that it's not what is worn, but how it is worn that makes the difference.

And of course, I can't forget that not too long ago, in a column that ran during the New York Collections, Ms. Horyn made a wonderful tongue in cheek suggestion of what one might wear in order to avoid looking like everyone else this fall. Well, by definition then, perhaps, if you truly want to stand out, you may want to stay clear of the color black, belted coats, fitted tailored suits and opt for individual eclecticism, that brooch and fur stole.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Absolute Magazine Launch Party

Over 400 well-heeled, well-dressed, and generally well-off folks celebrated the launch issue of Absolute, a monthly magazine focusing on luxury living for the $500,000 plus income set. The event was held in a new multi-million dollar penthouse on the 79th floor at 25 Columbus Circle with fantastic views overlooking Central Park.

The crowd was lively and everyone seemed to know everyone else! For us, it was hard to find a familiar face. But later we did run into Fern Mallis and sidekick Lisa Silhanek, who was looking ever more slim and fit thanks to Dr. Atkins. James LaForce dropped by of LaForce & Stevens and we did say hello to Paul Wilmot of Wilmot Communications whose firm was handling PR for the event.

There was a well stocked bar, but the highlight of the evening, for us anyway, was the serving of a variety of Macallam single malt Scotches including a rare 18 year old cask strength malt that was divine (see photo above). There were far too few canapés, some chocolates, and not much else unless you consider popcorn a meal.

Best comment of the evening: "I spent $4000 for this suit and the buttons keep falling off!" Now I can relate to that...

-Ernest Schmatolla

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The crazy, mixed up world of fashion

What does it say about the current state of fashion when at Emilio Pucci in Milan, a house synonymous with bright, exuberant color and pattern, designer Christian Lacroix saw fit to open his fall/winter 2005 show on a somber note, with a severe and simple black dress and boots (and kept the theme going pretty much throughout)? Or conversely, thatin Paris, Yohji Yamamoto, whose trademark intellectual, somber, black-laden designs, which have seemingly served as a reference point throughout the runways (including that of Marc Jacobs) opened HIS collection with a brilliant fuchsia coat trimmed with large bows, threw in some lacquer red, and even used a colorful swirling patterned chiffon to add relief to the almost all black runway? Or for that matter, at a moment when everyone seems to be in a couture like, romantic, feminine mode, Valentino (Mr. Couture himself) does an about face, concentrating on far more restrained, sporty, and practical daytime clothes with an emphasis on pants? And speaking of Marc Jacobs - that this designer did NOT continue at Louis Vuitton in Paris (which was more of an ode to ‘Parisian Chic’) what he began in New York (namely his flirtation with artsy, exaggerated volume)?

Because Marc Jacobs’s New York show garnered so much attention early on (thanks to its uncharacteristic emphasis on dark, voluminous, long layers with a decidedly intellectual 80’s Japanese vibe), one may have assumed that volume would be THE ‘BIG’ (pardon my pun) story everywhere else (so much so that P. Diddy might even be prompted to change his name back to ‘Puff’ Daddy when September rolls around). Thankfully, that was hardly the case. While volume may have been a strong message at some collections, it was hardly the only message. and in fact, many of the world’s most influential visionaries ignored it entirely. Quite frankly, perhaps the best most modern and appealing clothes (from my point of view), were those that were lean and mean, straight and narrow as an arrow, almost severe, and entirely modern and chic as exemplified by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Nicolas Guesquiere for Balenciaga, Olivier Theyskens, Ralph Lauren.

But once again, this time (as it has increasingly become in seasons past), it is virtually impossible to hitch the season on just ONE word, one trend, and one look. The LACK of one trend is THE TREND. Though one can certainly point to a generalized restraint, sobriety, and low- keyed approach taken by designers who are striving or struggling to define the idea of ‘modern’ or ‘modern glamour’ and are showing their disdain for bourgeois ostentation through far more wearable, commercial designs. And while there may be as many interpretations of ‘modern glamour’ as there are fashion designers, many do seem to be on the same wavelength. For example, Stefano Pilati who has now designed two collections for Yves St. Laurent Rive Gauche told’s Sarah Mower, “I think now we want to be chic, considered, and rigorous. "We want self-respect; and not to show our wealth so much."

And as Miuccia Prada told Guy Trebay, “Beauty in Tatters”, Wednesday 23, “Today, this idea of sparkling beauty is old-fashioned and impossible, kind of retro and out of date. From a creative point of view, I only like the idea of this kind of beauty when somehow it is damaged or destroyed.” Which doesn’t mean of course, that one must forego ornamentation or erase it from one’s vocabulary. Just look at the way Oscar de la Renta managed to imbue his decorated and lavishly ornamental fall collection with a modern, youthful verve epitomized in his use of grommets and nail heads and large coin size discs (one of the best examples was his use of the above on a narrow leather jacket paired with trousers).

It may sound clichéd but it’s true: there truly IS something for everyone, since fall 2005 is highly contradictory, ‘bi polar’, schizophrenic, a study in contrasts, and as a result, there are many options and choices: ‘point/counterpoint’, if you will. Of course, this is right in keeping with the way most of us buy clothes, though it’s not exactly what retailers want to hear since they’re in the business of selling schmattas. Rather than investing in head to toe wardrobes from specific designers each season, customers carefully pick and chose and refresh their existing closets as whim and necessity warrant.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, March 07, 2005

Marilyn Kirschner Featured Again in Bill Cunningham's Column:

Click on image to see enlarged view.

Bill Cunningham has always considered Marilyn one of his fashion muses. Bill has said that Marilyn is one of the few who "really get fashion". Once again, she is included in his past weekend's column in the Sunday New York Times Style section titled "Toasty" -- with not one, but two photos of Marilyn.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Fur ‘tails’ and Other Stories

Anne Dee’s large selection of fur hats.

I visited third generation furrier Anne Dee Goldin (214 West 29th street, 212 239 0512) in her booth at the Fashion Coterie (held at the West Side Piers), a three day event that ended this past Tuesday. Perfect timing, even though we are just weeks away from the official beginning of Spring, and we are already in the month of March, you certainly couldn’t tell it from the weather early this week, as snow covered much of the city. Of course, it is just this kind of unpredictability that can put a smile on the face of any self-respecting furrier. Even though global warming is a well documented trend, and winters have become milder, we are still subjected to cruel, often bitter remnants of the season. And what better way to embrace nature than by wearing fur?

What makes Ms. Goldin’s accessories (fabulous fur hats and scarves), and ready to wear (fur vests, boleros, shrugs, capes, ponchos, sweaters, jackets, and coats) stand out is her understanding and embrace of the past, her retro sensibility (vintage is admittedly a large inspiration). BUT it is all tempered and balanced by a desire to go forward, and keep a light modern touch through pared down clean shapes, sporty touches, and a notable absence of unnecessary embellishment. As she puts it, “this is a designer collection not a fur line” and she proudly explains that she is not carried in fur stores but in designer areas within high end department stores (like Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus).

Her designs are always smart, chic, and classic -- they are not trendy (‘in’ one moment, ‘out’ the next)-- and can be viewed as investments and collectibles to wear and enjoy forever. Colors are mainly neutral and highly flattering (you’re not going to see bright fuchsia or chrome yellow), and even the pieces that are to ‘dye’ for (or should I say, to ‘dye fur’) like her frosted or bleached cherry foxes, lapis or peridot American Raccoon, khaki or hunter ‘micro sheared’ mink, are subtle yet unusual.

Anne Dee’s large selection of hats, from bushy badger to tailored mink, has become a major trademark (its all about “wild heads” as she puts it). Her ‘floppy’ hats, fur trapper styles, and especially, her ‘Davey Crocket’- complete with raccoon tail- is currently one of her favorite pieces (there is even a fur tailed raccoon scarf in the line-up). She had put the finishing touches on these pieces prior to Olympus Fashion Week, but was amused when she saw that when Michael Kors presented his ‘All American’ collection, his version of the fur tailed ‘Davey Crocket’ (produced by Pologeorgis Furs) was ubiquitous on both the guys and gals he sent down the runway. As they say, “Great minds think alike”.

Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Oscar 2005 Special Report: The Final Word

Click here to read report.

A special Oscar 2005 behind the scenes report by our contributing Entertainment Editor Diane Clehane titled "Lets Make a Deal!" Diane asks "Why is it that the more cash the fashion, beauty and jewelry companies throw at the Oscars, the more lackluster the stars look?" Read some of the answers in this very insider and informative article.