Thursday, July 28, 2005

‘Diamond’ Girl



Since one can argue that precious diamonds resemble ice, viewing diamonds can be a very cooling pastime and that certainly was the case on what has turned out to be the hottest day in memory. It was with great pleasure that I visited the 5th avenue showroom of Rosiblu Jewelers on Wednesday, July 27th, to preview both their fall/holiday 2005 fine jewelry collection as well as their collaboration with Vera Wang (who launched her first collection with them for spring 2004).


Vintage inspired ring and bracelet

Ms. Wang, fresh from her CFDA Award for Woman’s Wear Designer of the Year, is known for her offhanded, modern approach to luxury, and she has integrated all of these elements within her various design efforts. Her latest collection for Rosiblu (a colorful, feminine and light mix of diamonds, semiprecious stones, feathers, and 18 karat gold) is marked by mixing its youthful verve, with an obvious respect for the classics of the past, as well as a slight nod to the vintage estate pieces like those which belonged to her elegant and well dressed mother.


Diamond and black feathered brooch

In addition to its broad range of styles and colors, it is also notable for its lower price points (the price range is from about $500 to approximately $300,000). Standouts include several one of a kind rings that are between 5 and 8 karats (including one that is a red diamond), an unusual diamond brooch which is comprised of four flexible pieces - each of which are approximately $21,000, an elongated diamond and black feathered brooch, and a bold statement making gold dome and diamante ring and matching bracelet.

Intricate settings and the whimsical use of colored stones (including colored diamonds) are not the only signatures. In much the same way that within ready to wear, it’s become all about interesting and inventive mixes, this trend has found its way into the fine jewelry arena. This is not only evident within Vera’s jewelry designs, but in the fact that Vera is intent on getting her customers to experiment and mix metals and mix stones.


-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, July 25, 2005

Rand M Productions Closes Shop

Just got the word on Saturday night that Rand M Productions has closed up shop. Rand is now affiliated with Phoenix Event Productions. Add this to the list of other recently shuttered shops - Norma Quinto PR, Celeste Miller PR, Muse PR - and the business is really suffering.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

‘Rock’ Star



About one year ago, on July 13th to be exact, I devoted a column to Marjorie Mortensen, a very interesting woman with a fascinating background, who can be found religiously every Sunday at the indoor/outdoor Greenflea Market located at Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th streets (she has a booth inside the school building and is there from 10 am to 6 pm).

Marjorie originally caught my eye with her wonderfully stocked tables filled with a hard to resist assortment of necklaces, beads, bracelets, watches, gigantic pin on flowers, and of course pins, which I took note of last time since they were THE story last year. By the way, despite reports to the contrary, pins still have their place and STILL look good (Anna Sui used brooches and pins in addition to everything else, when she accessorized her fall/winter 2005 collection shown last February).

On a recent trip back to the flea market, I was not disappointed. I immediately gravitated to Marjorie’s eye catching, statement making and enormous cocktail rings which are made of Cubic Zirconia and set in either sterling silver or rhodium. They are available in small or large sizes (priced from $24 to $35), square or rectangular shapes -- some are faceted -- and come in an assortment of colored stones (lavender, topaz, pink, and peridot). My hands down favorite was the clear diamond like version.

Speaking of good buys other than boots, loafers have taken center stage as the footwear of choice for fall. But not the flat penny loafer from spring/summer but a mod inspired, high heeled version with a round toe which would look good with pants or skirts. Miuccia Prada and Nicolas Guesquiere are just a few highly influential designers who accessorized their collections with incarnations of a high heeled yet sturdy loafer.

One of the best ‘steals’ is Gap’s (www.gap.com) patent leather penny loafer which will be coming into their stores later on this week and are now available online. Available in duck green, very berry, sunshine, and camel (the chicest of the all), it features a stacked wooden heel and round toe and is a mere $54.

Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Firstview Photographers Found Not Guilty in Paris Criminal Court

Firstview.com the largest and best known fashion photo site on the web has been in a legal battle with the French fashion establishment for over two years. Jointly owned by photographers Don Ashby and Marcio Madeira, Firstview photographers shoot all of the top fashion shows from Paris, Milan, London, New York, and other fashion capitals for such clients as Style.com, Ralph Lauren, Prada as well as for the Firstview.com. The site provides a searchable database of thousands of current and past seasons' runway images for its paying subscribers and provides free access to all users to past seasons' collections.

Three Firstview photographers were first arrested on March 13th 2003 after the Chanel show and charged with "counterfeit by distribution or representation of intellectual property in violation of copyright for acts committed from March 6-March 10 2003" in Paris at the fashion shows. According to the State of France's original complaint that led to subsequent arrest (and two days in jail) of photographers Don Ashby, Marcio Madeira and freelance photographer Olivier Claisse, the three had no authorization from designers to sell photographs from the fashion shows. According to French laws, all rights of such pictures belong to the designers, and not exclusively to the photographers as in the US laws.

Francoise Benhamou, the head of judicial affairs and intellectual property at the French Fashion Federation, said at the time that an "illicit traffic" of photographs for profit upset the federation and some of its largest members". Didier Grumbach, head of the federation, explained in an interview to French radio "Europe 1" that the problem was the selling of the pictures, not the journalistic process itself. "They (Firstview photographers) claim to be working for the Vogue site, and then they sell the pictures on their own pirate site" (Firstview.com), he said.

A similar complaint was filled two years earlier against the site, but after the judicial process, the US authorities refused to arrest the owners. French authorities therefore waited for their presence on the French soil.

On June 17, 2005 after several years of litigation the French Criminal Court found all three Firstview photographers innocent of all criminal charges brought against them by the State of France acting for members of the French Fashion Federation. The court found that the Firstview photographers shared with the designers intellectual property rights over the use of the said photographs and Firstview photographers (and all other photographers shooting the shows) had a right without prior authorization from the fashion houses to benefit by reselling images that are -- again -- the shared creative property of both the photographer and the designer.

The Court's decision is important in that it gives photographers in Paris for the first time equal rights with designers over the use of photographs taken at the shows. However, most photographers seeking official credentials and badges from Chambre Syndicale, the main governing body of French fashion, are still required to sign agreements that essentially take publication and resale rights out of the hands of the photographer. But Firstview photographers do not sign any agreements with Chambre Syndicale and they instead go directly to each fashion house for permission to shoot their show.

The case is on appeal...

-Ernest Schmatolla

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What's Black and White and 'Red' All Over?

I have a feeling there will be a few embarrassed copy editors and proof readers at the Old Gray Lady. In today's Metro Section of The New York Times, where they have a column, 'Tomorrow in The Times', under the heading 'Thursday Styles', they promise two stories: 'The Ups and Downs of Daryl K' by Eric Wilson, and a review of the 'spring 2006 haute couture collections of Chanel, Dior, Armani, Gaultier, Givenchy, Valentino and Lacroix' by Cathy Horyn.

Hmmmm, what's wrong with this picture? Well, the couture shows that just ended were for fall 2005!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Coat ‘tales’*

(*not just because every coat has a story but because coats ARE the story)

Run for ‘cover’! Within the world of fashion, it has become increasingly more about the top layer than anything else it seems. Not only are furs and feathers big news (year round, which is even bigger news), but the entire range and category of coats (tweed coats, trench coats, maxi coats, mini coats, raincoats, evening coats, cape coats), has become the focus of attention by designers and customers alike. During Fashion Week, they have emerged as the true stars on the runways where the truly amazing versions steal the limelight away from the models who wear them.

This scenario played out most recently in Paris where the fall/winter 2005 couture shows just came to a close. While dresses, suits, and especially elaborate evening wear are all given their due, designers seem to go all out with their coats- whether classic and tailored (like Jean Paul Gaultier’s fur trimmed redingote) or gloriously ethnic, beaded, and ornamental (like Lacroix’s imaginative incarnations).

I have always believed in collecting a wardrobe of coats and I am not alone. There is a good reason why coats are so popular and beloved. Not only do they provide protection against the elements (rain, cold, wind) but they serve as the final finishing touch. Simply put, they can be counted on whenever time is of the essence and you need to reach for that one major item to pull it all together. You can throw a coat over the simplest thing (from a little black dress to your favorite pair of jeans) and you look instantly pulled together. Coats can hide a multitude of ‘sins’ as well: you can throw one over your pjs or nightgown first thing in the morning and rush out the door to walk your dog or go to the store for a carton of milk without getting formally dressed!

Notwithstanding the summer heat waves we’ve been enduring as of late (where it’s hard to imagine putting on anything more than just the thinnest layer over your skin), coats are now on view in all their glory in store windows and on mannequins inside designer departments where they are formally announcing the imminent arrival of fall 2005. And hardly surprising, it’s a veritable black out. As we all know, black as a color story is the biggest news for the coming season, and if a woman is going to spend a large sum of money on a ‘major’ coat, it makes sense to buy one in black since the color instantly renders it expensive, chic, sophisticated, grownup, and timeless, and gives it the look of couture (whether it is or isn’t).

I recently checked out Barneys on Madison Avenue where the windows are decidedly ‘blacked’ out. In one, a series of black suits and dresses from their private collection are juxtaposed against a wonderful couture like black mohair coat from Martin Grant- whose collection they carry on the 5th floor. The style, which is a real beauty, ties with a heavy grosgrain ribbon and has elegantly full sleeves ($1595). The 5th floor also carries Behnaz Sarafpour and several of her fall coats are now on display. My favorite is the seemingly simple and lean black wool mid calf coat ($1865) which is double breasted and trimmed on the bottom with large white tassels, giving it a slightly ethnic feel.

On the 4th floor I found a beautiful fitted princess style mid calf coat by Alexander McQueen in black shearling ($5370) and an unusual heavy black cotton lace knee length coat by Undercover which had black wool sleeves and a thick plush black fur lining ($3380).

On 3 is where you can find Jil Sander (the black cashmere belted trench is chic and understated) as well as Prada, and as always, her coats are sensational. Catching my eye was a black heavy satin high belted mini coat with short puffed sleeves, which is retro inspired yet modern ($2875), and the black cashmere mini toggle coat trimmed with mink ($4235).

And speaking of the wise saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining”, for Chanel Couture, Karl Lagerfeld saw to it that every one of his stellar coats had an equally fabulous lining. Karl made a major statement in black, sending out his group of black coat clad models all at the same time to really drive home the point. And the linings really stole the show. There were pink ribbon linings to match pink ribbon trimmed black gowns and tweed linings to match tweed suits and strapless dresses.

Speaking of silver linings and the joyful color pink….coincidentally, I saw the images of the Chanel couture show on Friday, the day following the terrorist attacks in London. And while I don’t mean to imply that frivolous fashion can remedy such a horrific situation, the sight of Karl’s brilliant flashes of happy and cheerful pink splashed against his beautiful black clothes, certainly put a smile on my face.

By the way, you may not be able to afford a Chanel couture creation, but you can achieve a somewhat similar effect at almost no cost. Simply take yourself to a notion shop like M&J Trimming and buy various shades of pink ribbon in satin, velvet, or grosgrain, in different lengths and widths. You can use them as a belt, as decoration, or to transform that trusty little black dress, or simple black wool coat.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Registration Opens for Olympus Fashion Week:

Press and industry registration for the upcoming OLYMPUS FASHION WEEK has now opened at www.olympusfashionweek.com. The Spring 2006 collections will run from September 9 to 16, 2005 in New York's Bryant Park.

For more information on press and industry registration, please contact:

Andrew M. Freesmeier
Media Relations
7th on Sixth
420 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
tel. 212-774-4381
fax 212-772-0899
afreesmeier@imgworld.com


Other important dates for Olympus Fashion Week:

August 15th - Late registration begins (increased fee)

August 22nd - Final press list circulated to designers

September 3rd - Final date for online registration

September 9th to 16th - Olympus Fashion Week


Important update regarding press and industry registration:

New York, NY, July 12, 2005 - 7th on Sixth, the producers of Olympus Fashion Week in New York, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles and Sunglass Hut Swim Shows Miami presented by LYCRA (R), recently announced they will begin registering buyers, retailers, stylists, and related industry professionals for all of their shows in North America. The new categories are in addition to the print, broadcast, and freelance media that are already being registered. These lists are distributed to participating designers to facilitate their invitations to their individual shows.

"We realized that there are a tremendous number of retailers, buyers and stylists whose needs could be better serviced by 'officially' registering them as part of our Press and Industry List," said Fern Mallis, Executive Director of 7th on Sixth and Vice President of IMG. "Its our hope that by bringing these individuals, and the companies they represent, into the fold we can insure that all of our designers are getting the best attendance possible, and as event organizers we can communicate to all of them more directly with appropriate information, updates and benefits in travel, accommodations and so forth."

Registration is now being accepted for New York's Olympus Fashion Week Spring 2006 collections, September 9th to 16th, at www.olympusfashionweek.com and for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles, October 16th to 20th at www.mercedesbenzfashionweek.com.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Giddyap!

The timeless appeal of classic and elegant riding clothes and all things equestrian cannot be denied nor overlooked. This is exemplified by its perennial popularity within the fickle world of fashion where it always serves as inspiration by world class designers and never goes out of style. Regardless of the vagaries that define ‘in’ and ‘out’, ready to wear and accessories based on the age old sport (perfectly tailored hacking jackets, crisp white shirts with self ties, jodhpurs, handbags decorated with sturdy horse bit hardware, and tall riding boots) always look just right. Just think of decades old images of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on her beloved horse clad in superbly cut tweeds; they are as perfect today as they were years back.

This was also exemplified in the file picture WWD chose to use in their obituary of Nan Kempner which ran in today’s paper. The celebrated socialite and fashion icon, an avowed and unapologetic clothes horse, who passed away on Sunday July 3rd at the age of 78, was pictured wearing a timeless brown tweed jacking jacket, camel cashmere turtleneck, tan breeches, and brown leather tall riding boots- petting her dog- and though she was known for her enviable collection of museum quality couture and designer clothing, the powers that be apparently felt her elegant spirit and essence was captured in this decidedly sporty and rather ‘unfashion-y’ visage.

Of course Hermes is the most legendary label to have long been associated with horses and riding and the fabled luxury house is using art to celebrate this marriage. The artwork of Manhattan- based and Central St. Martin educated Stephen Pusey is on exhibit in the store’s Madison Avenue windows. Pusey is known for his “massive murals combing sharp geometric shapes with charcoal and pencil scribble” according to a June 28th column in www.fashionweekdaily.com, and perhaps the most eye catching of these is his large scale work entitled, ‘Equus’ which is juxtaposed next to the iconic Hermes saddle. The windows will be up through August 22nd, after which they head west to Hermes in Beverly Hills followed by visits to Hermes shops around the country.

Though hardly as old a name as Hermes, Millerton, New York based O’Halloran (www.ohalloranco.com) specializes in all things equestrian. Founded in 1999 by Cathleen Cordova, whose family crest decorates every item, she offers everything from riding apparel, horse blankets, handcrafted jewelry, gifts, home décor, to items for dogs and dog owners.

Back in February 2004, Cathleen attracted attention and got editors looking and talking, when she participated in New York Fashion Week, setting up in an authentic horse trailer right across the street from the Bryant Park Tents. She ‘announced’ her arrival in a hunt like fashion with the help of several men blowing trumpets clad in formal riding habits. And on Saturday, June 11th, she staged “Feelin’ Your Oats”, a formal runway show which fused equestrian with haute couture, under a tent at Excell Farm in Poughquag, New York. The show which also benefited The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation was marked by its variety and the ingenuity of her aesthetic - as seen in the more predictable yet impeccably cut tweed suits (some which featured cutaway jackets and side pleated skirts) and vintage breeches, to less expected beaded evening wear. Though it ended with the requisite ‘Bride’, Cathleen’s vision was not a traditional long white gown but rather a quilted silk hooded wedding dress worn over white leather pants.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, July 04, 2005

‘Beads’of Inspiration



I don’t have to point out to you that accessories are the hot category, particularly anything off beat or ethnic inspired - like beads, which are best when not worn timidly, but piled on exuberantly. They are a quick way to add color and punch or spice up the most simple of summer basics and are available at all price points, all over the city at retail, at thrift and vintage shops, and of course, on the street.



One street vendor in particular, Sangoule Diawara, a young man from Mali, West Africa, caught my eye with his arresting selection of beads including my favorite - jumbo versions of the popular ribbon strung slightly irregularly shaped kukua nut beads from Hawaii (which are light as a feather) and which he sells in black, turquoise, brown, and natural for only $15. He also sells sunglasses, wood toned banana leaf beads (available in two lengths at $12 and $15), bracelets, and assorted drop earrings ($6-$8). Best of all, he can be found religiously on the southeast corner of 14th street and 7th avenue from 12 to 8 Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays from 12:30 to 6.

Marilyn Kirschner