Monday, February 28, 2005

The 77th Academy Awards: Fish‘tails’ (and other stories)

What was black, blue, and ‘fishy’all over? There were no great surprises (for me anyway) during last night’s 77th Academy Awards telecast. New host, Chris Rock, known for his quick tongue, acerbic wit, and impromptu jabs, did not get himself thrown off the stage with anything he said (though unfortunately, he was not really too funny either); all those who took home the little gold man (in the major categories certainly) were the ones who had been favored all along; AND in terms of fashion, as I had predicted, many of Hollywood’s (and New York’s) most style conscious stars avoided predictable florals, patterns, brights and pastels, and went dark (echoing fashion’s newfound somber mood) in their embrace of black, blue, (and combinations thereof).


The other notable thread throughout the evening was the sighting of all those torso fitting fishtail hemmed dresses (which gave the wearers the look of a mermaid), and where breathing and walking seemed to be optional -- if not completely impossible (like Renee Zellweger in her Herrera red satin strapless gown -- she practically could not walk up on stage to give out her award), and Kim Porter (P. Diddy’s gal pal) in Zac Posen’s cadet blue strapless mermaid gown. It should be noted that Zac Posen (P. Diddy’s business partner) is one designer known for his love of torso fitting dramatic dresses.

Joining the blackout were Beyonce Knowles in a black velvet strapless gown with dramatic train in the back, accessorized with huge diamond chandelier earrings; Drew Barrymore; Julia Roberts; Annette Bening; Scarlett Johansson in black satin corseted Roland Mouret (another star who was seemingly unable to breathe); and the always chic Vanessa Paradis (Johnny Depp’s girlfriend) in Chanel’s black chiffon gown with long black chiffon scarf around her neck.

Stars who mixed black and blue (AND fishtail hems) were Salma Hayek in Prada’s fishtail hemmed navy satin v neck gown with black bead trim, and Virginia Madsen in Versace Couture dark blue satin fishtail gown with black tulle overlay. But for me, the star who really shined (without all the bling or the boobs), was ‘BILLION Dollar Baby’ Hilary Swank in her Guy Laroche very covered up long sleeved draped jersey long navy dress with the surprise of a dangerously low cut out back. With her hair pulled back in a chic bun, small earrings, she was a class act.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, February 25, 2005

Red And Black

You know there’s a change underfoot when some of the world’s most influential designers choose something in black to open their runway shows. In New York, Francisco Costa sent an unadorned short black strapless dress worn with black ankle strap shoes and bare legs down his Calvin Klein runway; Narciso Rodriguez selected an abbreviated black wool bolero worn over an egg shaped knee length dress (again- accessorized with bare legs and black ankle tied shoes); Marc Jacobs opted for a simply chic black belted wool coat worn over a dark gray skirt (with a longer hem) and a black and gray patterned scarf. In Milan, Alessandra Facchinetti’s Gucci looked fairly ‘Gucci’ even without Tom, thanks to its blackout mode (or was that deep dark navy? Well, regardless, it looked like black)), starting with the first passage a form-fitting belted above the knee coat with high sculpted collar; and Miuccia Prada put her first model in a plain black wool slip dress hemmed in black lace, accessorized with simple black platform pumps and a no nonsense black handbag. Even Christian Lacroix, a man known for his love for riotous color and pattern, went with a simple black knee length dress worn with black boots, to open his Emilio Pucci show in Milan. If EVER there was a label synonymous with glorious color and prints, it is Emilio Pucci. Boy, is nothing sacred these days?

It will be interesting to see how this major fashion ‘trend’ (well it’s hardly a trend) will be interpreted and translated on the Red Carpet this Sunday night, when the stars turn out for the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. For the past several seasons now, (if not several years) all the fashion pros and pundits who review and report on the Oscar fashion, have predicted that since everyone is so ‘bored’ with boring black, the major celebrities will all be wearing color. But by now it seems the tables have turned and quite frankly, it is saturated color or saccharin sweet pastels that we are all collectively bored with and seem so, well, clichéd.

Certainly, from the look of recent runways, the major designers of the world have rediscovered and rekindled their love affair with NOIR, so I suppose that to be really plugged in, well dressed and ‘of the moment’ may, by definition, signal a return to black. I for one, have always loved the way Nicole Kidman looks when she chooses arrestingly simple black as opposed to some of the major fashion mistakes she’s made when trying too hard (who could forget that awful gold Gucci ‘flapper’ number she wore last year?) Stay tuned.

- Marilyn Kirschner

New York Fashion Broadband Video Report

Our latest broadband video report is all about Marc Jacobs. Our videos are the only regularly scheduled video report covering New York fashion on the web. It is written and reported by Marilyn Kirschner. If you have the Real Player installed on your computer and have broadband access click here to start the report.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Anna's Darker Side:

The folks at www.fashionweekdaily.com must need glasses. In their Tuesday, February 22 ‘Discuss’ column, under the heading “Will Anna W. wear Prada next season?” they noted, “Vogue’s top chien is well known for not wearing black, but she may have to rethink that decree if she wants to don Miuccia’s goosebump inducing Fall 05 line. Carine Roitfeld, Grace Coddington, and V’s Cecilia Dean will be pleased that black is back; stay tuned to see if Anna gets in touch with her dark side”.

You must be kidding. Where have you guys been? I have seen Anna at high profile events uncharacteristically clad in all black for months now. I first spotted her at the Roberto Cavalli sponsored “Wild: Fashion Untamed” press preview at the Met’s Costume Institute back in December, donning none other than Miuccia Prada’s chicly tailored black broadtail coat, worn over a black dress and black suede knee high boots (apparently the same outfit she wore that evening for the dinner and gala). And during Fashion Week, at Tuleh’s Sunday night show to be exact, she wore the same coat (or a similar version anyway) again, a vision in black. Obviously, the editor-in-chief of Vogue knows what one of the most influential designers is planning for the coming season. It even prompted me to speculate that this would be the case, and it was.

Black has long been the fashion world’s most favorite color, but has been somewhat out of favor (if not maligned) in recent seasons, if not years (thanks in large part to Miuccia’s hefty power). Suzie Menkes even wrote an article awhile back, about this backlash against black and the newfound embrace for saturated color, as seen on front row fixtures. She observed that while black had been the uniform of choice for the chic, the tables had turned and now to embrace color was to considered hip, cool, imaginative, and well dressed. Ah, but that was then and this is now. With her fall 2005 collection just shown in Milan, Miuccia has once again waved her magic wand and decreed black is back subtlety, restraint are the order of the day, banishing tricky accessories, needless ornamentation, over the top patterns, and saturated color from her runway and heralding a new era. It is a no brainer that the fashion flock (who are hungry to return to their favorite hue and were waiting for this moment) will follow suit, and you can bet this will be HUGE on runways for the next season - or two or three. Expect a veritable blackout.

- by Marilyn Kirschner
Grade Point Average
Part II: New York Fashion Week


The highs and lows of Fashion Week … the story continues. – Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg E-mail

A+: “Getting whisked backstage at Marc Jacobs. It was a really great scene. Amazing people. Lots of champagne. A really great party right there and it was nice to be able to wait backstage. But, I didn’t see the show from there. I slipped out to my seat and watched the show front of house.
D-: A heel broke my first day. I was wearing a pair of vintage Marni’s; it wasn’t their fault. But, I have an extra pair of shoes at work all the time, so I can take advantage of that, always.” -- Irini Arakas, Fashion Writer, Vogue

A+: “I loved Sandoval. They did three, small exclusive presentations for buyers and editors at The Bryant Park Hotel. Really, really beautiful clothes presented in a very simple way. I don’t really take advantage of all the things going on around the tents because when I come to the shows from my office, which is way downtown, I’m rushing in and rushing out. I blaze in and just try to get to my seat.
F: The full-on body crush that always happens at Baby Phat was certainly one of the worst things during the week. There are always so many people who are happy to be there but they’re not industry people. When you’re waiting to get into a show where there’s more of a fashion crowd, everyone knows you’re doing your job; we’re all working really hard. However, when you go to a show where there are a lot of non-fashion people, I feel like people just start pushing and shoving and you start to really get nervous.

Also, with all of the celebrities and the entourages and the hangers-on, that’s certainly why some of the bigger shows end up starting so late. We end up waiting for Beyonce to get to Marc Jacobs and personally, for me in my job, I don’t need to wait for that. But, I end up waiting for that because I need to see Marc Jacobs. But, it’s one of those things that I think is unavoidable at this point, unlike back in the ‘80’s (as I’m told) when the shows were mostly about the editors and buyers. And, things weren’t flashy at all. While I do think the celebrity factor and that approach adds more cachet to the industry in general, I also think that as an editor who’s trying to see the clothes, it’s hard. I don’t think we should go back to the way things were in the 80’s; it’s just one of those things you deal with.” -- Aya Kanai, Fashion Market Editor, Nylon


B+: “The Daily talking about my beauty mark. That was fine. I was surprised and kind of caught off guard, though. I didn’t know who I told that to. I wasn’t asked and I didn’t know it was going into The Daily. It was nice, though.
A+: Pat Field’s party was fabulous. Because it was Rocawear, there was a mix of all those kind of rappers with Pat Field’s drag queens and all that crowd. You know what, it really worked. It really was uplifting and fun; something different and I loved it.” -- Patrick McDonald, Highbrow column, Paper

F: “The Baby Phat Show; it was all about riots and craziness; there were ambulances and fire trucks everywhere. No one in my department even ended up getting in. They kept everyone outside for over an hour and a half. You know that the pieces that are always in her collection and that you see in the show aren’t always necessarily wearable pieces and sometimes aren’t produced. So I think for her, more than anything, all of the craziness that her fashion show generates is a little bit of a show in and of itself. By inviting 1,500 people to an arena that only holds around 500, it causes publicity. MTV is their criteria and so it was a little disappointing not to get in because we use her clothes all the time and it is a fun show to see.
B+: I met a lot of interesting people. Fashion Week’s always such a fun event; always a great time. I’ve been doing it for about five years. Aside from Heatherette and Baby Phat, everything’s been pretty tame and civilized. I did get knocked over by a few photographers, trying to get to Usher, Paris and Tinkerbelle.” – Allison Lang, Fashion Stylist, MTV2

F: “Getting trampled by the bodyguards and the paparazzi when Beyonce Knowles was leaving Oscar. I was coming back towards the lobby, talking to Linda Welles from Allure, and the photographers and Beyonce’s big, muscular bodyguards came running towards me, all trying to get to her. I got pushed into the chairs with half of my body over the chairs, to the point where some of the Citadel guards came over and said, ‘are you OK?’ And, the worst thing about it was that I was pushed into those chairs by those people and they just went on by; not one person said, ‘I’m sorry’. I mean, she’s not all that important; she’s not Diana Ross. If it was Diana Ross, I would have been proud to fall on the floor and bleed for her. But, not for Beyonce.

I think all of the celebrity photographers causing such a frenzy at the shows has gotten slightly out of hand. On a serious note, we’re in danger of people really getting hurt. I know that for myself and other people I’ve spoken to in and around the tents, we’re not going to some of the shows because if it means we’re waiting and waiting for someone such as Renee Zellwigger to show up, that show is going to be late and they’re going to be sitting there in a hot environment. They’d rather stay out in the lobby and drink. It’s just an added drama that we don’t need anymore. If you’re that important, stay at home and get a video of the shows you want to see.

I do think, though, that Fashion Week is still geared and edged toward the industry but all of the celebrities at the shows point more to the insecurities of the designer in question. For example, if you need 50 celebrities in your front row, that means that you have some doubt about your collection; that you need to create a dust storm to transfer the attention from your collection onto your front row. If the collection is any good, you’ll have the industry sitting in the front row; the Joan Kaners, the Constance Whites, the Anna Wintours, the Mary Lou Luthers, et al. The collection speaks for itself; the excellence speaks for itself.

A+: The congenial sense of people making an effort to get along. I’ve noticed a lessening on the bitchiness and with the exception of some of the front of house girls at the tables, of course, whose lifelong dream it is to be important and they’re not, there’s a nicer attitude going on from the people we see every season at the shows. These are the professionals who come to the shows every day and they’re tired and they just want to do their jobs. They don’t want the added drama and so no one is creating any. I wouldn’t say it’s been a kinder and gentler Fashion Week but people just don’t need the nonsense and they’re just taking care of business. They’re simply making a conscious decision not to create drama where it doesn’t exist.” -- Phillip Johnson, Features Editor, Lucire

D: “The worst thing that happened to me during the week was when I was shooting backstage at Betsey Johnson and I got sandwiched between two TV cameras that almost knocked me out when Carmen Electra walked in. But, I got my shot of Carmen, so I was happy about that. But, almost getting knocked out and having a couple of bruises was the worst thing. As for all of the Fashion Week craziness and running around as a celebrity photographer, it’s fun but it’s not my main thing. But, we’ve got to do our work. We’ve got to get everything that our editors ask us to do and so we go out and we do our job everyday. We can’t say no to anything. If we stand out in the cold for four hours, we stand out in the cold for four hours.” -- Matt Szwajkos, Photographer, Getty Images

F: “When I was driving to the shows and there was a huge fire; trucks everywhere and I had to get out of that situation right away. I had to take an illegal turn and a cop pulled me over and gave me a huge ticket without understanding that every car that was turning, was turning like me; trying to avoid the fire. That was my worst experience.

Also, there was a show that I cannot name that was so unbelievably horrible that it just made me want to throw up. But, there was nothing that I could do, so I just tried to avoid the client backstage.

A+: I really loved Ralph Lauren. It was one of my best experiences. It was so chic; old and new and proper and luxurious and simple and sophisticated and just the perfect collection to shoot and to wear and buy. -- Dan Lecca, Photographer


A+: “The best experience I had all week was going to the Timex dinner because Timex takes good care of its regional reporters. The dinner, which has been going on for around twelve years during Fashion Week, was held at Barbutto, on Sunday, right after Diane Von Furstenberg. The good thing about the dinner is that it’s a really nice perk and it’s a nice way for the regionals to get together and compare notes. We’re a group that’s sometimes shut out of things taking place during Fashion Week. We don’t really matter, and yet, we’re the people who are writing the stories every single day, every single week, about fashion. And, a lot of times, the attention is given to the magazines; the glossy magazines and to the really big newspapers, and it’s the regionals who are out there doing the job every single day.

I mean, we’re the ones who are bringing the fashion news to – and I don’t want to say Middle America, even though obviously some of the regional papers are Middle America – but our readers, who are general interest readers, are really actually concerned about fashion. They follow all this red carpet stuff. They follow designers. They follow celebrities who are wearing couture and it was a refreshing sort of thing to see that some companies are actually concerned about what the regional press is writing and what they think. And some of the regionals aren’t really regional papers in that sense; they’re huge newspapers, such as The Houston Chronicle, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution and The Denver Post. These are big papers who are bringing fashion news to regular readers.

F-: I’m going to compare the worst experience I had to last season, and here’s the story. Sometimes you drop off people’s mailing lists and the PR people don’t know who you are. For example, I went to the Silhouette booth at the tents and even though they’d just sent me an email inviting me to come by, have a look at the new collection and get a pair of sunglasses, I went over there and they said, ‘well, you’re not on our list. We’re not going to give you these.’ So, even though I’m hysterical laughing about it now, it was like, well, you know, ‘boo to Silhouette that they don’t know who you are even though they sent you the email.’ It is kind of funny, but these things happen all the time. It happened last season and even though I saw them as a sponsor this time, I didn’t even bother going over there because I thought they’d probably turn me away again. But, it’s funny things like this that make Fashion Week what it is. You kind of have to chuckle about it.” -- Greg Morago, The Hartford Current

A: “I had a wonderful seat at the Tuleh show and I enjoyed it very much. I thought it was a beautiful collection; lots of fun.
F: The Marc Jacobs show was the show that required that people have enormous patience because of the amount of time that you had to put into the show. It was over and above what should be called for, I would say. When you ask me about what I think about the fact that no one actually walked out, I think what it indicates is that he has an enormous amount of devotees who believe so strongly in his creativity. And, rightly so; I think he’s very creative; very. But, yes, I was surprised that perhaps some people didn’t leave. -- Margaret Hayes, President, Fashion Group International

A+: “Well, the one I’m looking forward to most actually is the Ralph Rucci show. I’ve really been waiting for this because I think he’s really in a category all his own. He’s an amazing artist of fashion and I feel like a slow learner that I’ve just discovered him relatively recently and I’ve become a total convert.

It was great fun being a model for a night in the Yeohlee show. I won’t give up my day job, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t scary. It was actually fun because it was people that I knew working there too. The other models were people such as Roxanne Lowitt, the photographer; Patricia Meers, so that was great.

A:-: I honestly haven’t had any terrible experiences this week, just a certain amount of frustration because I have my own exhibition (Glamour: Fashion, Film, Fantasy) that’s opening right after Fashion Week ends. And, that has meant that I’ve been running back and forth from the fashion shows to my job at the office and sometimes I feel like I can’t run fast enough and I’ve missed a few shows I would have liked to have seen because I’ve been so busy.

I also missed the Proenza Schouler show because I was in Yeohlee, and I really regret that. The still pictures look great and I’ve heard such good things about it. Oh, and another fun show I did get to was Boudicca. I loved the Boudicca show; the kids from England. I think they’re quite original and the clothes look so different than a lot of what we’re seeing this week. They’re very young. They’re very sincere. I don’t put that much value on sincerity per se, it’s just that once in awhile, you’ll meet people who are both talented and deeply sincere about what they’re doing and it’s just nice.” --
Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator, The Museum at FIT


F: “My biggest gripe is when only the front row (or maybe the first two or three rows) get the goody bags, the special, little gifts, the after-party invites, etc. How rude. What’s more, it’s totally un-cool, both on the part of the PR people involved and the designer doing the show. Now I know I’m not the only editor who notices this growing practice. But, I also wonder if anyone involved with this so-called ‘exclusivity factor’ ever thinks about that poor little intern or assistant or market editor, sitting in the nose bleed section this season and where they might be sitting next time around. Plus, why should only the best seats in the house signify entitlement? I always thought that these primo seats were all about giving the most important editors and buyers the best look at the clothes as they paraded down the runway, so that they could be written about and bought for stores. That’s the kind of hype I’ve always been used to at the shows. I really never thought about these seats signifying which celebrity gets the most stuff at a given show.

Well, this season, I think I’ve figured it out and here’s what I’ve come up with. Since there were so many celebrities (well known and who the hell are you, anyway) at this season’s shows (sitting in the choice seats) it probably stands to reason that the bags and the party invites might have been meant way more for them than the editors and buyers. Maybe, just maybe, it’s now become much more important for a celebrity (big name or otherwise) to actually receive and use what’s in that goody bag, as well as attend that particular designer’s party than the fashion industry pros who actually attend and cover the shows; i.e., work for a living. Sorry if I sound like Andy Rooney here; simply trying to make what I think is a very legitimate point.

A+: A great big shout out to the very nice PR people at Glamour, especially Amy Peck, who couldn’t have been more gracious when I rang up and requested an invite to the mag’s ‘Tea & Touchups’ event at The Royalton”. – Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg, contributing editor, lookonline.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Grade Point Average: New York Fashion Week

by Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg, contributing editor of lookonline.com

Sure, Fashion Week’s a blast. And, sure, everybody adores going to the shows, the parties, hobnobbing at the tents, all the freebies, the gossip, et al. But, for us, the favorite thing is getting the real, privé … from the front row and beyond … on the good, the bad and the ugly of what really went down during the week. Here, the grades that go from A to F.

“Everyone runs to our booth at the tents first thing in the morning to get our gorgeous pink totebags. The bags are so desirable that we usually run out of them by noon every day and we don’t get any more to give out until 9AM the following day. People always think that we’re lying to them when we tell them that we have no more bags to give out; they think that we really do have some and that we just want to give them a hard time

. You have no idea how many people come to the booth and demand that we give them the display bags, which we absolutely cannot do. We had one editor who gave us a very hard time when she wanted a bag after we’d run out for that day. We told her that the only bags we had were the ones right in front of her eyes and that these were our display bags. We also told her that we’d be happy to give her a bag the following day. She became irate, raised her hand, and said, ‘well, unless you give me a bag right now, I’m ready to give you some more bags right under your eyes!’ Obviously, she didn’t get a bag and she’s no longer allowed in our booth.” —Amelia Zieran Brown, WE Booth

“I think that the story of what’s going on at the shows is about the buildup of animosity between professional fashion people and celebrities. A lot of those professional fashion people have been semi-injured by the crush of photographers trying to get that one shot, both inside and outside the tents. For example, Suzi Menkes of The International herald Tribune, was severely shoved and pushed and fell into another editor at Oscar de la Renta’s show. It’s reached the point where celebrities are really causing major problems, and many of these celebrities are so minor that you wouldn’t even know who they are.

With this being said, I think that there needs to be a much better situation in the way celebrities and the photographers who run after them at the shows are handled. I read that right before one of the major shows, Beyonce had been asked to go to the end of the runway and let the photographers shoot her and then have her sit down quietly. Maybe if all of the celebrities did this, it would be safer for everyone’s well being.

On the up side, we’re seeing growth and strength in the young designer arena. Names such as Jeffrey Chow and Richard Chai might not be known by everyone right this minute, but they’re well on their way.” – Mary Lou Luther, International Fashion Syndicate

“What bothered me most (and probably 2,000 other people) during the week was the long, long, long wait at Marc Jacobs. It was an hour and a half in an unbelievably hot room with no announcement why. People were stamping their feet, hissing and booing at 10:30 at night for a show that was supposed to have started hours before. Also, there was the fiasco at the over-filled Baby Phat show with many, many key editors such as Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley being turned away at the door. Everyone was talking about that. I am giving an A+ to the Kohler Hat Box Toilets. They’re beautiful. Don’t you want one in your house? It used to be that everyone had to use those Porta Potties and by the end of the day or maybe before the end of the day, they’d be rather funky. This season, though, the rest areas are like what you’d see in an exclusive boutique hotel; clean, bright and spotless all the time.” – Sylvia Rubin, Fashion Editor, The San Francisco Chronicle

“The same old problems with finding your seat or finding your seat and there’s someone already sitting there. Seat stealing is really getting out of hand. Then there was the backstage fistfight between photographers at Baby Phat. Kimora was late getting there and it turned into one huge free for all. It’s tough getting an interview when there are 5,000 other people around, all trying for the same thing, and there’s no one in authority to even it all out.” Lauren Ezersky

“The worst thing were the waits and I must say that the longest wait happened at our friend, Marc Jacobs. I’m going on the record as saying that it was really terrible. He should be too professional at this point than to keep us waiting that long. If he’s not ready with the collection, he should have his show later in the week. But, do I know if that was the real reason? All I can say is someone said that they were delivering the clothes as we were sitting there, but you hear that every time. It’s OK to be late once. It’s OK to be late twice. But, every time consistently and for that long period of time? That was my tenth show that day. I had dinner that night, so I had a little break in between. But most people hadn’t had a break; they hadn’t had dinner and they were anxious to go out and have something to eat and get home, get to bed to come back and do it again the next day. And, I believe that most professional people who are doing the shows think the way I do. They’re not going to the afterparties; they haven’t the time. This is a business.

A good thing during the week was the Jeffrey Chow show. We bought him last season and we’re buying him again this season. His show was charming; probably one of the best of the week that I’ve seen. Overall, I think the new, young designers are the ones surprising and pleasing us with the direction that they’re going in. And, it’s going to make New York stronger.” -- Joan Kaner, Senior VP, Neiman Marcus

“Not being able to stop at Le Gamine between shows to have my favorite endive salad. Also, not being able to have coffee served at the tents at one point after mid-day and then there’s the problem of having no coffee available anywhere at the tents after 5PM. Are they insane? That’s when people really need a caffeine and sugar shot, so that’s very annoying. But, there’s lots of alcohol at the tents. And, alcohol is a depressant, I want to tell them; it’s not a pick-me-up.

One of the worst things that happened this week and had not happened before is cameramen coming close to killing or sending to the hospital editors and retailers; working members of the fashion industry. At Luca Luca, the paparazzi factor was out of control. Well, from what we all understand (I wasn’t there because I refuse to go anymore), at Baby Phat, I understand was ridiculous. While things were a bit better at Marc Jacobs, I observed that Anna Wintour was forced out of her seat because of all the papazarri who were pushing and shoving and crowding so hard to get a picture of Beyonce and JayZ, who were sitting across the aisle. There were just a million camera guys everywhere and then, to make matters worse, the bodyguards starting pushing and shoving, too. And, they almost pushed Anna out of her seat. They literally got her out of her seat; she had to get up.

I don’t say that paparazzi should be banned from the shows entirely but should be managed by a coalition of the PR from the designers and IMG. And by managed, for instance, perhaps there could be just a certain number of them that are allowed in. Perhaps they’d have to be accredited differently than the regular fashion photographer because they’re not, and that’s new. It never used to be that you had photographers who were in the shows solely to get photos of the celebrity.

It used to be that you had the fashion photographers taking fashion photos and of course being good photographers, they’d say, ‘oh, there’s a celebrity, it’s news, let’s get the shot’. Now, there are the photographers here who come in solely to get photos of the celebrities and they’re the ones who are the most rabid. It’s not helping and it’s terrible; it’s hurting people and making them fearful. I don’t think people are going to stop going to shows such as Marc Jacobs just yet but they have stopped going to Baby Phat, for instance, because of the ridiculous celebrity circus that it’s become. But, then there’s a difference of what’s on those runways.

On the upside, I like that fact that there are more up and coming designers showing under the tents this season. That’s a good thing. I thought that Doori was definitely a standout.” -- Constance White, Style Director, Ebay

“I don’t know if I would qualify it as disgusting, but the thing that disturbs me always about Fashion Week is people like myself and you, who work in the industry, go out and do jobs that expose as many people as we can to our audiences, and then it comes time to get to a show; get an invitation, get a seat, and there’s nothing for us. We work like dogs. And then I get inside. I’m looking at the seats and it’s the friend of Mrs. Smith. I’m not saying they shouldn’t see the shows, but it’s always hard for us who really need to see things, to work, to not have that opportunity sometimes or at least have difficulty. So, that’s the thing that I find the most disturbing.

As for the celebrity photographers around this season, I think that for all the hype, it’s a good kind of advertisement for fashion. It raises the awareness level of the industry. Celebrities are the American royalty so I can appreciate that. Those guys work like crazy dogs, too, and to get that one shot means everything. However, generally speaking, there should be a better comportment to their behavior. Yes, there should be some control; that would be nice. I wish animals didn’t have to suffer when they die for my food. I wish for many things in the world; peace on earth, good will towards man.

Overall, there hasn’t been a lot of conflict and a lot of disturbance during the week, like when PR people or people in your seat give you a hard time or they’re nasty during the week and that’s been fabulous. There was a story I read about Philip Bloch and how some poor unfortunate soul parked their bag on his chair for a minute at one of the shows and how he got enraged and kicked the bag across the aisle. Although I haven’t experienced that kind of behavior, I again wish human beings could treat each other with consideration and understand that we’re all the same red blood, the same hardworking people. Those who do have more don’t necessarily deserve more than others. -- Laurie Schecter, Totally Cool

“I think it’s become really sad when it’s more about which celebrity is wearing the clothes and not about the designer who actually created the clothes. I do think that it’s great for the designers, but it also takes something away from them as well because it’s no longer about the actual design, the construction, the clothes; it’s only about who’s wearing them; who’s in the front row.” -- Edith Shore, Totally Cool


-end

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Condé Nast's Feuds with Geoffrey Beene, Yeohlee, and Ralph Rucci Continues...

Talk about the continuing "dissing" of some of America's most creative fashion designers, the old nastiness and small-minded behavior of some editors at Fairchild and parent company Condé Nast continues unabated. For years, these same editors also carried on a vendetta against Pauline Trigere by refusing to attend her shows and, then, only after her death acknowledged just how important a designer she really was.

As has been reported by Lookonline.com and others, Ralph Rucci was for years ignored by WWD. And only in the last few seasons, with Ralph being invited to show at the French couture shows, and influential industry heavyweights coming to his support (Joan Kaner, Cathy Horyn et al) that WWD finally had no choice but to relent and cover him just to avoid embarrassing themselves. However, while most editors who saw and reviewed Ralph's recent Fall 2005 collection thought it was outstanding, the WWD review was insulting in both tone and substance.

Well, at least WWD talks about Ralph, but little or nothing has been heard about Geoffrey Beene's new designer Einar Holiloekk and Yeohlee. Go over to Style.com and you will notice that these two well-known design houses are not even listed as showing during fashon week.

The feud between Geoffrey Beene and Fairchild goes back for years and has been widely commented upon in the fashion press. One would think after the death of the great designer, Fairchild would put that issue finally to rest. But it appears, Fairchild, like the elephant, has a long, long memory.

Yeohlee, another New York designer of long standing, who recently had a retrospective at F.I.T., also seems invisible to Style.com. What crime Yeohlee may have committed against those fragile egos of Fairchild I do not know. One thing is certain, three great American design houses, who believe that talent alone should speak for itself, continue to be abused, neglected or at best under reported. Once again, as with Pauline Trigere, these same Fairchild editors have put coporate hubris over editorial integrity.

-Ernest Schmatolla

Friday, February 18, 2005

An American Master: Bill Cunningham Video Interview



The 'American Masters of Fashion Video Series', hosted by Editor-in-Chief Marilyn Kirschner, is an exclusive feature production of lookonline.com. Listen and view our extensive video interview with The New York Times photographer and fashion historian Bill Cunningham. Every season we like to highlight this interview we conducted a couple of years ago. It is still a timely and fascinating discussion for anyone interested in the history of American fashion. Click here for video & notes.

Past 'Masters' interviews by Marilyn Kirschner include Ruth Finley, Elsa Klensch and Ralph Rucci. And don't miss the original video interviews hosted and conducted for us by Grace Mirabella with photographer Arthur Elgort and CEO Rose Marie Bravo. All interviews are accessible from our main news page at http://www.lookonline.com/blogger.html

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Olympus Fashion Week - Day Eight:

Talk about saving the best for last…what a fabulous way to wind up Fashion Week!


Geoffrey Beene Fall 2005 Collection

The spirit of Geoffrey Beene is alive and well and living on West 57th Street. This morning marked the first formal presentation of Swedish born Einar Holiloekk, who has taken over as head designer for Geoffrey Beene. Held at the company’s chic atelier, the clothes were shown on dress forms (as it had been for the last several years) and it did feel very ‘Beene’- there was absolutely no mistaking which design house you were visiting. No surprise there. The talented Mr. Holiloekk has worked diligently as an assistant at Beene on and off since the 80’s, assuming more and more design responsibility in the past few years. Long before his death, Mr. Beene, his mentor, hand picked him to continue on with the legendary label.


Geoffrey Beene Fall 2005 Collection

While the two may have had completely different personalities, in terms of design, they were apparently very much of the same mind - cut from the same cloth you might say. And when I had a chance to interview Einar for fashionlines.com several months ago click here to read article, he stated in no uncertain terms that he was not planning to change anything (certainly not radically and certainly not anytime in the near future). He made no bones about his desire to keep things at the status quo. So, how did that translate today? Well, it was not surprising to see zippers as a major statement- decorating jackets and evening gowns (such as the fabulously molded abbreviated black leather jacket made out of the softest, thinnest, most supple skin one could imagine, and the side zippered red wool jersey draped narrow gown with an arresting back, which began literally as a zipper on a dress form and went on from there).


Geoffrey Beene 2005 Collection

It was also not surprising to find tiny bolero jackets paired with jumpsuits or as part of a skirt suit; the abundant use of menswear fabrics translated into feminine soft shapes (like the gray wool belted dress with gracefully flaring skirt), or the black and white tiny checked gazar wrap jacket belted with an architecturally shaped red patent belt. Outerwear shined as well (my favorite was the chicer than chic water-repellent white silk faille trenchcoat). And of course, there were those bra topped dresses and alluring long graceful gowns (the standout was an empire waist black sequined bra top gown with an ivory satin long skirt cut on the bias -see top photo). The best part is that Einar is not only talented, but also modest, accommodating, and un-pretentious, and would clearly rather stay OUT of the limelight and do what he is happiest doing - design beautiful clothing. A perfect legacy.

In between were standout, strong signature collections of Ralph Lauren (chic, urbane, pared down to black, white, brown, and gray, with nary a Cossack hat and hardly a voluminous skirt in sight) and Donna Karan, who wisely kept her overly artsy side to a minimum and concentrated on wearable, feminine, fitted, sleek, clothes reminiscent of the collection that started it all for her.


Raph Rucci Fall 2005 Collection

However, THE fashion moment of the day and perhaps the week was, well no not Jennifer Lopez, sorry, but Ralph Rucci, who delivered one of the most incredible collections of his career and received a standing ovation before a crowd that included Barbara Walters, Diana Taylor (Mayor Bloomberg’s gal pal), Deeda Blair, Tatiana Soroko, and Casey Ribicoff. While his design philosophy has never changed since the beginning, and he has always shown similar pieces of incredible workmanship, it was somehow more appreciated this evening. Perhaps, after sitting through a week of somewhat uneven shows filled with too much hype and drama, the audience was truly honored to witness the real deal - a perfectly executed, conceived, fabricated day and eveningwear collection for both day and evening.


Raph Rucci Fall 2005 Collection

There was an added treat. Ralph not only showed his fall 2005 ready to wear collection last evening, but his spring haute couture as well, which had been scheduled to be shown in Paris this past January. Just an added observation: because the room temperature in the venue was kept very low (it was almost as cold inside as it was outside), it enabled his fans, guests, and customers to keep their amazing furs (designed by Ralph of course) on throughout the show. One woman was wearing a jaw dropping floor length fur cape (can’t tell you exactly what type of fur but it could have been sable for all I know), some wore his signature sable lined silk de longres coats, and one woman was proudly donning a sable scarf (with a sleeveless top) that appeared to be bigger than she was.


Raph Rucci Fall 2005 Collection

They say you start to lose brain cells with every year- so I guess that explains why I left the Number One Thing I’m completely bored with at this moment off my report yesterday: faux Chanel jackets with tattered trimming, particularly irksome when paired with faded jeans. How formulaic and robotic that is by now! I also thought I would mention a few side benefits of wearing oversized clothes that you may have overlooked: You won’t have to suffer cat whistles as you saunter down the street in front of construction workers AND you will be offered a seat on the bus or subway since you may be mistaken for a ‘woman with child’ (trust me, it’s happened to me in one enormous coat I own that could easily accommodate a family of 4).

I love seeing clothes, and I love all the visual stimuli, but I can’t say I’m sorry to bid adieu to Fashion Week. Though it gets tiring after awhile, the little fashion universe that we all become part of for 8 days starts to become so normal an existence, not to mention all the daily COMPLIMENTARY espresso, coffee, herbal tea, hot chocolate, truffles, cupcakes, magazines, newspapers, candy, make-up, bottled water, and internet access, that having to ACTUALLY dig into my wallet for any of the above items will take a bit of time to get use to.

- by Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, February 11, 2005

Olympus Fashion Week - Day Seven:


First of all, let me just say that I completely agreed with Cathy Horyn’s observation in today’s ‘Fashion’ section, that “the chicest thing to wear this fall will be a cable-knit sweater and a pair of glen plaid trousers. It’s going to be chic because nobody else will have it.” How true. That, in a nutshell, sums up the current state of fashion. By the time a trend (oh, how I hate that word) has become ubiquitous, advertised, editorialized, etc., that’s precisely when you should want avoid it like the plague, unless you don’t mind looking like a fashion victim. Trends come and go at such breakneck speed, one needs to keep ahead of the pack. And Fashion Week is always a perfect opportunity to observe what people are really wearing, and to see what works, and what doesn’t (on the throngs that descend on the Tents and elsewhere), so I couldn’t help but notice how some of the things that looked good on the runways 6 (or 12) months ago, already look old and stale. It’s because, in the end, it is NOT what a woman wears, but rather, HOW she wears it.

The fashion business is a business that wants to sell clothes, but that doesn’t mean the customer should blindly fall pray. Things I’m already bored with: poorly made faux leopard coats, (actually, almost anything in leopard unless it’s really great), fur capelets, fur stoles, stilettos for the daytime (there is nothing worse or funnier than seeing a woman in pain, hunched over, unable to walk in her high high heels), all the new and tacky ‘bags of the moment’ (Dior, Vuitton, Fendi, etc.), new clothes that are made to look like something found in a flea market, fake Puccis (or some of LaCroix’s cartoonish outerwear offerings - vintage Pucci forever!), fringed knitted ponchos (the ones that look they were bought from a street vendor).

By the way, if you really want to know how long, full, or shapeless clothes worn with flat shoes will look on the AVERAGE woman (not Marc Jacobs’ gorgeous creatures who would look good in that proverbial ‘paper bag’), just open your eyes, they are all around and it’s not a pretty sight.

All in all, a rather disappointing morning and afternoon. Jeffrey Chow showed at 9AM and while there were some perfectly nice pieces (always terrific hand knit cashmere cardigans and pullovers, which he is known for), the collection, which he claims was inspired by Fassbinder’s movies in the 20’s, seemed a bit un-modern and contrived (the opposite of what you would expect from one of the new young, up-and-comers).

Next up, the quick, short and well-edited Wunderkind collection, designed by Wolfgang Joop. He may not be blazing new territory, but there were some well tailored pieces including an ivory narrow elongated riding jacket, several nice coats, a sable bolero worn offhandedly with printed chiffon blouse and narrow menswear trousers. The best looks paired masculine and feminine.

Afterwards, society darling Gilles Mendel showed his fall collection for J. Mendel, and I have to say I was really disappointed. The French born Russian descendent, who has put himself on the map with innovative young and hip furs and fur accessories, stated he was inspired by “his youth in Paris” and cited Charlotte Rampling and Romy Schneider as his muses because they “dressed in such easy classic style that always seemed so incredibly cool.” The funny thing was that I would hardly call the collection “classic”. There was too much in the way of see-thru and sheer (chiffon and lace peasant blouses were used throughout), many of the dresses were extremely short, pantsuits were very skimpy (one burgundy velvet in particular was so tight it showed the model’s every curve and line), and many of the coats and jackets just seemed a tad over designed. However, the very first coat out, a pale ivory broadtail with bouillon trim was beautiful, and the most brilliant pieces were the two mink ‘puffer’ coats (one in black, one in white)- which were really mink designed to resemble horizontal down quilting. I was also disappointed with Peter Som’s collection, which seemed a bit old and stuck in somewhat of a time warp. It was not his best effort thus far. (What’s going on with the young kids? Other than Proenza Shouler, they’re really out of that class by now. Having reached cult status, many of the young group just seem to be going through the paces robotically. This season was not their best efforts.

The day ended with Zac Posen’s 8PM show (that started one hour late). In fact, the audience (which included the highly sociable P. Diddy, Zac’s business partner) became so restless and impatient, that at one point, a man sitting all the way in the back screamed out, “c’mon already, the suspense is killing me.” So, was it worth the wait? Well let’s just say that after 7 days of shows, nothing seems worth waiting an hour for, but Zac’s collection was a nice evolution of what he has done before, focusing on his dressed up separates, beautifully cut body defining skirts and dresses with graceful hemlines, uneven hems, and VOLUME. I just had a thought, I wonder if the fattening snacks and beverages (oversized truffles, hot chocolate, crème covered cupcakes) being given out at the Tents were the idea of fashion designers, who want us all to blow up to large proportions, so that we will easily fit into their large clothes this fall.

- byMarilyn Kirschner

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Olympus Fashion Week: Day Six

Michael Kors never disappoints with his upbeat, exuberant men’s and women’s collections, traditionally shown at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, and this time was no exception. (Click here to see entire collection on NY Metro) His ‘All American’ tribute (no, not red, white, and blue but rather, red, white, and black) had nary an ethnic undertone in sight, and while it may not have reinvented the wheel (whatever that is, anyway) was filled with wearable and for the most part, flattering classics that are far from dull. It already seems that the New York Collections can be described as East meets West. And I’m not referring to the East Coast but instead, Eastern Europe. And speaking about a class act the show even began "gulp" on time (almost exactly 10:30 which by fashion standards means, ‘on time’).

One of the fun parts of the shows is seeing how the audience dresses for the occasion. And as if to pay homage to Michael, Helen Lee Shifter chose the designer’s eye-catching (and unusual) short mink jacket from this past spring, done in ombre stripes of blue, which she paired with crisp jeans. It was precisely what Michael’s aesthetic is all about; the idea of relaxed luxe. By the way, as I was leaving the venue, I saw none other than Andre Leon Talley sitting NOT front row center, but back row, aisle. I know he has gone on record saying he prefers not to be in the front row sometimes since it calms him, but this gives new meaning to ‘Far from the maddening crowd.’ Anyway, I asked if he had a good view, and he laughed, “I had a fine view”.

The designing sister act of Kathryn and Lindy Jones (the duo behind Palmer Jones), who were recently awarded Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award in the category of Women’s Apparel, showed a perfectly nice collection of Cinderella (their muse) inspired couture like tailored pieces and eveningwear (many boasting hints of that ‘Russian Roulette’ which seems to be taking over 7th avenue), at the Cellar Bar of the Bryant Park Hotel. It was such a nice change of pace from the Tents, so civilized, yet so convenient, I was surprised that others had not shown there.

Alice Roi took us to the Quaker Meeting house in Gramercy Park. I had forgotten how beautiful and quaint this area is. Her collection was short and sweet that also introduced a brand new fur licensing partnership. Together with Tendler Furs, she conceived of a small group of young and sporty pieces (ranging from vests to skullcaps) that were perfectly in sync with her eclectic, preppy, borrowed from the boys, schoolgirl vision.

Marc Bouwer, known for his sexy Red Carpet creations, took us all to the spanking new Cipriani 23rd street for his collection of signature Hollywood style eveningwear (with a decidedly Bob Mackie kind of feeling) and faux furs (made by Tissavel USA). Some were pretty convincing, I must say. What was strange however, was that furrier Dennis Basso was front row center (air kissing Lizzie Grubman, etc.) so one would have naturally assumed that Marc was going to use the real stuff. Of course, Dennis does a line of faux furs for QVC, so I guess he wanted to check out the competition. Though the event was made to feel like a cocktail party (drinks were served) unfortunately, many (or most) of those high profile ‘dream’ names that were affixed to front row seats, did not show up. (I’m sure it was because of the time and location).

And then there was Anna Sui, always a crowd pleaser, who delighted everybody with her colorful trademark ‘more is more’, pile it on, fun, and energetic clothes and accessories. This time, she tread on familiar territory, part boho, part homage to Coco (but in a very youthful, irreverent, almost campy way). Big (and I mean big) fur hats from Adrienne Landau, knits from James Coviello, Erickson Beamon’s chunky chain necklaces, earrings, and cocktail rings, all added up to a happy interval. The polar opposite of, say, Narciso’s streamlined aesthetic. Speaking of which, remember yesterday, when I said that after Narciso’s show I had the urge to take off all my jewelry? Well, after Anna’s show, I quickly changed my mind!

- by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Olympus Fashion Week: Day Five

Surprise, surprise…..the day belonged to Narciso Rodriguez. It began with John Varvatos’s 10 a.m. overly plodding men’s and women’s collection. A big disappointment considering what a great season this should have been for a man who made his mark with classic tailoring along the lines of Ralph Lauren. While there were some standout leathers and shearlings, (though not enough of them unfortunately), and some nice suits and coats for the guys, there was nothing special, unique, or ‘must have’ about a good deal of it, particularly the women’s collection. And really, do we need a designer to actually show more of those ditsy fringed knitted stoles, when they are not that much different than what you can find at your local street vendor? Also, what is it with that pounding rock soundtrack many designers seem to favor? Do they actually think that they can infuse a dull line with excitement just from playing hip, cool, LOUD music?

Then there was the Bill Blass show, which I’m no longer invited to. (I guess they didn’t like what I had said in the past about Michael Vollbracht’s efforts for the legendary label). But I got to view the collection anyway. Once inside the Tents, the shows are made public since they are televised on a number of large screens in the reception area. Suffice it to say that my opinion has not changed. It is a line desperately seeking a designer with a clear, strong vision and personality. And by the way, the hair and makeup rendered stunners like Carolina Ribiero practically unrecognizable. The models looked as though they had just gotten out of bed! It certainly did not help the clothes.

Marc by Marc Jacobs, shown back at the 26th street Armory again, were his trademark, hip, streetwise self (which means eclectic mixes and offhanded parings brimming with personality and energy). For the most part, the clothes are truly for the young, or young at heart.

Later on, back at the Tents, Nanette Lepore showed a signature collection (which alas, could have been better edited) to a packed audience, which included Paris Hilton sitting front row center. One can easily imagine the heiress wearing much of what was shown on the runway- or was she there to get her wardrobe together for ‘The Simple Life’? In any event, the models seem to have been made up to look just like her (all of them sported ash blonde hair tied loosely into long braids).

Now, getting back to Narciso…(Click here for entire collection from NY Metro) his clear vision was very much on view this evening as he presented his beautiful collection. One nice surprise was seeing funny man Jerry Seinfeld (whose reruns still make me laugh out loud) and his wife Jessica (a well known and avid Narciso fan) sitting in the front row. They took their seats just as the lights dimmed. One of the best parts of what was shown was that it really looked like nobody else thus far. No earth tones, no flat shoes or boots, very little in the way of the extremely full skirt, NO furs, no jewelry, (dangling beads, dangling earrings, etc). Quite frankly, after the show, I had this strange urge to take off all my accessories. Colors were mainly black, white (and the combination thereof), gray, silver, plus unexpected shades of pink, poppy, periwinkle, and pale violet colors that one would expect to see for spring/summer. But to his credit, Narciso is such a master technician and so talented, that the most standout pieces were actually those that were shown in black, like the black double face wool exposed seam coat, white shirt, and dark silver metal skirt.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, February 07, 2005

Olympus Fashion Week: Day Four…

Veterans Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta both presented strong, signature, elegant, and sophisticated collections (with different points of view, thankfully), proving that the young up and comers are not the only crowd pleasers.

For Fall 2005, Ms. Herrera admitted to being inspired by “the women of the 40’s and their elegant approach to daytime”, hence the reliance on fluted and trumpet skirts for movement, lots of classic menswear colors and fabrics (gray, brown, Prince of Wales, tweeds, and herringbones) which were mixed with chiffon and lame, and lots of gold and semi precious stones upping the shine quotient. Of course, there were furs and in fact, the best outfit in the show, and the one that set the tone for what was to follow, just happened to be the very first number out: the charcoal broadtail sleeveless knee length trumpet dress. Simply chic!

Not quite as restrained as Carolina, Oscar did his ‘thing’ and did it beautifully. He also did it before a packed audience, which included Beyonce Knowles (who caused a paparazzi frenzy as she took her seat just as the lights dimmed). He somehow manages to make couture like clothing look youthful, not stodgy or uptight. On parade were wonderful Ikat print velvet and shearling coats and jackets, (often belted with wide belts), tweeds mixed with chiffon, cashmere sweaters and boiled wool jackets embroidered with amazingly heavy gold coins and nail heads. His tailoring was impeccable, as exemplified by the black broadtail coat that was cut princess style, molding to the body and flaring out at the skirt. By the way, full and longer skirts, a message all over the runways, were very apparent at Oscar, who used them with abandon for day and evening. Evening was a usual mélange of sequins, organza, faille, satin, velvet, tulle and cashmere, and the very last dress out (a strapless gold embroidered tulle gown with an empire waist and very full skirt, had Sarah Jessica Parker’s name written all over it).

Cynthia Steffe, who was sandwiched in between the two, showing at the Tents, had a very strong collection as well. As I mentioned, Padma Lakshmi (aka Mrs. Salman Rushdie) told me that two days in a row, she was wearing something by Steffe, and she was front row center, of course. For fall, Cynthia is inspired by the opulence of Slavic Europe, which translated into volume (the full skirt again!), a regal color palette, lots of velvet, and rich embroideries. As always, Cynthia’s tailored pieces stand out (she always seems to have that 70’s thing going), and this time was not exception- highlights included her strong coats, tuxedo pantsuits, and tweed suits.

Unfortunately, Betsey Johnson’s afternoon show (called, ‘The Bull and Betsey”), did not fare as well as the others. I really wanted to like it, and there were some nice pieces (notably the checked wool belted trenchcoat with teal tulle full skirted dress, the tartan plaid suits, and one wonderful strapless and fitted tartan plaid dress). But in general, it seemed like a mishmash (a fun mishmash, but a mishmash all the same).

Later on, in the early evening, Yeohlee Teng took us a few blocks away from the Tents (like last time), but instead of a gritty hot subway platform, she chose the light, airy, and highly visual International Center of Photography as the venue of choice. For her last few shows, she has been presenting her geometric and architectural designs (that are completely timeless and timely) not on models, but on friends who just happen to be attractive ‘clothes hangers’ nonetheless. Included were Valerie Steele in a black wool flamenco coat, black matte jersey tank and black gabardine skirt; Roxanne Lowit in a white wool ‘baju’, black matte jersey high neck top and black gab slim pants; Constance White, looking amazing in a black lacquered wool gown with a white silk organza 3 square sleeve; and Irina Pantaeva in an ink light ‘saber’ coat, black matte jersey high neck top, and black gabardine slim ankle pants. A nice surprise was the appearance of Broadway legend, Tommy Tune, (no, not modeling, but in the audience).

And then there was the Marc Jacobs show. The start of the show was delayed ONE HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES because two "celebrities" did not have the courtesy of showing up on time. Who are these shows for anyway?

-Marilyn Kirschner

(CLARIFICATION: According to Billy Daly of KCD the Marc Jacobs show was late due to last minute alterations and fittings - NOT celebrities attending the show.)


Olympus Fashion Week - Day Three:


Who says vintage is dead, passé, over? Certainly not Tracy Reese, whose 11 a.m. show at the Tents, was filled, as usual, with her signature vintage inspired pieces. The eclectic mixes and offhanded pairings made it seem less like a runway show and more like the way an artistic, creative, perhaps slightly eccentric vintage collector and fashion lover, would dress. As always, the coats are stellar and highly collectible, and the jackets and skirts were marked by more volume than in past seasons. But perhaps more than anything, the collection is all about color, the unabashed joy of color mixing. It’s obvious that Tracy loves gold, anything gilt or gilded, AND anything that shines.

If Tracy’s show was all about her vintage aesthetic, Catherine Malandrino’s show, held at Gotham Hall, was an homage to her French heritage which has always played a large part in her work. This time, Catherine’s inspiration was La Coupole, (an area in Montparnasse where artists and poets hung out), and more specifically, Colette, the French writer. Catherine’s program notes cited an “eclectic American/French style of dressing”. While it didn’t all work, what really stood out were Catherine’s strong knits- the sumptuous cashmeres, mohair and baby Alpacas, done primarily in pale neutrals (plus lots of white on white) which were translated into exaggerated shapes and voluminous proportions as if to emphasize the texture and drape.

Esteban Cortazar, the VERY young designer who is just barely out of his teens, is showing signs of maturation. His fall/winter collection, shown today at the Tents, while perhaps a little old fashioned, is probably his most grown up, sophisticated, and urbane thus far with very little (or none) of his trademark sexy South Beach tricks on view. Well of course, this being a fall line rather than one for spring/summer, one would expect less skin, less sizzle, and far fewer neon brights. The color palette was very autumnal (a big trend on the runways in general) and the emphasis was on tailoring- tie belted coats, trenches, cropped jackets, fringed knit pieces. Of course, there were a slew of evening dresses as well, many in floral patterns.

Bryan Bradley’s 36 piece Tuleh collection, always short and sweet, was a nice surprise. It was certainly an improvement over last season’s (which was a bit strange) and relied heavily on wonderful mixes of colors (though there was quite a lot of black on black), fabrics, textures, and styles. As usual, coats are Bryan’s strong suit with trenches, duffels, tweeds, either fitted impeccably or slightly eased up and ‘thrown’ over pants, satin shorts, lace dresses, or matelesse and lace skirts, many of which were elongated and given volume through tulle underskirts. By the way, lace -- especially alluring sheer black lace -- was a large part of Bryan’s message. Eclectic, sexy, and young, it looked novel, fresh, and interestingly put together although he went a bit overboard with some of his furs (like the orange fox piece).

Oh, I thought you’d be pleased to know that well into day three, the Kohler sponsored latrines have remained spotless. The crew on hand is constantly cleaning up. Good job!

- by Marilyn Kirschner


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Day 2: ‘All About Padma’

It seems wherever I have gone this week (well, in the two days thus far), there is Padma (as in Padma Lakshmi). The drop dead gorgeous, sexy, Indian born, American educated, young (34 years old), tall, skinny ex-model and ex-host of her very own cooking show on The Food Network, who happens to be married to Salman Rushdie, has caused a paparazzi frenzy at every show she has attended thus far. And understandably so.

It really is kind of hard not to notice her (the actor Richard Dreyfus has gone on record with the observation that she is so beautiful, it is “painful” or something to that effect anyway.) On Friday, the first day of shows, the photographers were literally falling all over themselves taking pictures of her while she was seated front row center at the Project Runway show, clad in a sweet white floral embossed “prairie skirt” designed by Cynthia Steffe, paired with a Balenciaga top, and worn with tall furry boots.

And yesterday (Saturday), she turned up at Alexandre Herchcovitch’s runway show, clad in a short and bare knitted slip dress that was also by Steffe, (which she was practically falling out of), accessorized again with tall furry shearling flat boots and a camel Gucci shearling coat. When she stood up to take a picture of the photographer’s galley with her own digital camera right before the show began, she caused another mini-sensation.

By the way, while I normally adore what Alexandre does, I found this collection of mixed prints, inspired by French Rococo to be a bit strange. However, it was interesting the way it was presented- models came out on the runway accompanied by black clad musicians and singers from divergent backgrounds (there were Hungarian accordion players, Eastern European violinists, Italian opera singers, Spanish drummers, etc.)

I caught up with Padma before Turkish designer Atil Kutoglu’s collection, which was unfortunately, a disappointment for me (colors and shapes were generally unflattering and it all seemed to be either over- or under designed). When I asked if she was covering the shows as an assignment for a magazine, she said that while she was in fact, working for Harper’s Bazaar (stating it was new ‘gig’, and she didn’t even have a title yet), she really wanted to see them for her own edification. For the record, she said that while she is an “equal opportunity” dresser (meaning she wears what she likes), she normally prefers European to American designers.

By the way, the fashion highlight of the day was hands down- Richard Chai’s beautiful collection, shown at 10 a.m. this morning at the Tents. A relative newcomer who has worked for Marc Jacobs and designed for Tse, he caused quite a buzz last season, and is proving his formidable talent is no fluke, as evidenced by his very sophisticated, well thought out, beautifully designed and executed line. Far less minimalistic than last time, fall was filled with intricate details (peplums, origami insets, quilting, padding, satin contrast) the jackets were fantastic, sweaters were beautiful, skirts (which were generally on the long side, and marked by volume, cartridge pleats, godets, and arc insets) were highly individual, and the coats (often done in thick cotton moleskin with exaggerated cuffs) were terrific. Marked by a relatively neutral color palette of ivory, navy, eggplant, and brown, in Richard’s hand, even a strong color like royal blue -- generally difficult to use -- looked fabulous. He is definitely someone to watch.

One added note, I know the saying goes, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, but still, I found the Olympus Fashion Week bags filled with goodies to be the least interesting thus far. While on the bright side, they are not as heavy as in past seasons making them easier to tote home, one has no choice of color or shape (only one black style is available). C’est la vie!

- Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Olympus Fashion Week: New York Collections for Fall/Winter 2005..Countdown to 7

Day 1:
Is it me, or does Kenneth Cole’s Friday morning show (traditionally the first of the week), just seem to coincide with inclement weather of some sort (rain storms, snow storms, etc.)? Though I was admittedly on the grumpy side yesterday morning, having to appear at a 9 a.m. fashion show (along with the added ‘joy’ of nasty weather), my mood was quickly elevated as soon as Kenneth’s pre-show film that was witty, entertaining, funny, and socially charged was broadcast on the wide screen. In fact, this was one of his funniest to date, and the audience reacted accordingly. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the clothes (men’s and women’s), wonderfully androgynous for the most part, were pretty darn good. No frills, no tricks, just good clothes. Concentrating on what he does best (updated classics with a 70’s feeling, done in a palette of black, charcoal, vicuna, ivory, teal, brown, and cranberry) the surprise was a lineup of graceful and elegant long jersey dresses. Oh, and of course, it didn’t hurt that Kenneth added entertaining icon Harry Belafonte - the truly ageless, epitome of cool, and still fabulous looking to the roster of models. He came out at the end in a sleek black two button suit.

Next up John Barlett’s informal installation of slim, classic, and elegant pieces, sponsored by Swarovski (John used Swarovksi crystals to subtly and artfully add some shine and sparkle to ties and lapels of jackets). John seems to favor gray these days -- half the lineup was done in shades of gray -- sometimes mixed with black and white. The other half was rendered in lighter neutral tones of camel, vicuna, brick, and russet. Almost everything was shown with a motorcycle boot even including the sleek ‘tuxedo’ suits.

‘Knit one, purl two’…Over to the elegant Bar Association of New York, to view Pierrot’s always stellar knits. The nice surprise was the coordinating knitted ensembles. Not only were the wonderful jackets, cardigans, pullovers, capes (both mini and elongated) knitted (primarily in autumnal shades), but in many cases, they were shown with matching bags (clutches and handbags), head-warmers, leg-warmers, gloves, hats, and muffs. Even the models’ hair was ‘knitted’ into very long braids cascading down their backs. And best of all, we were treated to “On-the-Go” knit and crochet totes, provided by the legendary Lion Brand Yarn Company. Now, we can all be our very own Pierrots.

Then it was back to the tents for The Red Dress Collection, promoting ‘The Heart Truth’ (awareness of women and heart disease, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the N.I.H.) Hardly surprising, the audience seemed to be awash in red. First Lady Laura Bush was reportedly attending, and did in fact show up (wearing a deep red pants outfit), accompanied by Oscar de la Renta, just as the lights dimmed. The 26 dresses by designers such as Oscar, Carolina Herrera, Zac Posen, Calvin Klein, Badgley Mischka, Betsey Johnson, Catherine Malandrino, etc., were modeled by bold faced names of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Models included Paula Abdul, Venus Williams, Debi Mazar, Candace Bushnell, Sarah Ferguson, Sheryl Crow, Carmen Dell’Orefice, and Phylicia Rashad.

No question that Richard Tyler is back in true form (literally). His adept hand at precision tailoring was very much apparent in the 46 piece Couture Collection for men and women, which was shown at the Tents. Quite frankly, though there were some long organza and jersey gowns, they were overshadowed by the day clothes: some marvelous suits, amazing jackets, great outerwear, including a group of uniforms he is doing for Delta Airlines. Gift bags provided by Delta included chic and elegant headrests, traveling essentials, AND a receipt for some Delta Airlines sky miles.

Oh, by the way, my vote for ‘The most improved feature of the Tents’: the latrines. Kohler, one of the sponsors of Fashion week, has changed the face of, well, the bathroom scene. Gone are the distasteful, unisex Port-O-Sans. In their place is a room, decorated with fresh flowers, boasting six men’s and women’s rooms (each with three stalls). Inside the spotless brown and white rooms, a long mirror lets you check yourself out before taking your seat, and Kohler’s architecturally attractive white oval shaped potties are accented with handsome sturdy white towels monogrammed with the Kohler insignia. A vast (and much needed) improvement over the facilities of the past. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the coffee servers…Lotus makes a weak and uninspired cup of Joe (though it’s free). I miss Dunkin’ Donuts. A far better and more satisfying drink is Scharffen Berger's rich and very chocolately hot chocolate (they will be at the tents on Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Saks Party for Jhane Barnes & Patrick McMullan Photos:


Jhane Barnes (right)

There was a "big deal" at Saks Fifth Avenue last night with a party celebrating the launch of The Night Life Guide Jhane Barnes Fall 2005 Collection photographed by Patrick McMullan. When we arrived there were TV trucks parked near the store and Mr. McMullan was busy outside the entrance greeting and shooting friends as they came in.


Friends of Patrick at the event.

The crowd was easily over 500 mostly 20 something-year-olds dressed in everything from t-shirts and jeans to a few in evening dresses and suits. It sort of looked like a gathering of the bridge and tunnel kids meeting the Manhattan hipsters. One thing for sure, this was not a fashion crowd. But Mr. McMullan can call a lot of people his friends these days. His star seem to be rising faster than a balloon over Central Park the past year or so and his celebrity status seems now assured.


The model "Carmen"

So who we did see in this crowd that we knew? Hmmm good question; but there are always a few who find there way to most parties. The ubiquitous "Mr. Mickey" the fashion editor of Paper Mag was spotted and the well known model "Carmen" drew lots of attention from the photographers at the event (must say she still looks great). The one person we did not see was Lauren Ezersky. She is usually a fixture at every fashion event, party, launch, or fashion freebie in New York.


Patrick McDonald

And of course no event would be complete with out the presence of that bon vivant, man-about-town and premiere New York dandy Patrick McDonald! Otherwise, there were very few other fashionistas this reviewer recognized. However, we did see the usual group of party crashers and plastic surgeons who have, for years now, appeared at so many events they actually seem to belong!


DJ

Some of the comments from a few of the guests we spoke to were interesting. The "fashion editor" of a college newspaper asked me who was Patrick McMullan and confided she had attended many of the top fashion shows last year just by walking into the events and sitting herself down in the front row. I spoke to a number of other random party goers and asked them who Jhane Barnes was and in response got mostly blank stares. To be honest, I did not know what she looked like either. In fact, I thought Jhane was a man's name. Pretty funny way to spell Jane. I had to ask Patrick to point her out to me.


One of the bars

Best part of the evening was the food. For one of the few times in memory an event this large was catered with some really filling food. The wrapped sandwiches were especially delicious and there were plenty of them. There was a DJ and the bar was well stocked but ran out of white wine half way through the evening. And of course Saks is a great venue for a party. The store is as beautiful as ever...

-Ernest Schmatolla

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

New 'Paris Diary' Update:

Our Paris correspondent Timothy Hagy updates his column 'Paris Diary' for us with a special report from the Paris menswear shows called "The Two Faces of Christian Dior". This column is always a must read. Click here to read the full report.