Friday, February 24, 2006

A Million Bits & Pieces: Part 2
Reported by Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

The Greatest Show On Earth Is Over. But, not without all of the delicious controversy, beautiful corpses, and the like, that make Fashion Week so interesting and so much fun. Here, the real talk from the Industry Intelligentsia that separates itself from mere gossip; the real views that distance what’s seen on the runway; i.e., the important, behind-the-scenes chat that really counts, all told exclusively to lookonline.

Hamish Bowles, European Editor-At-Large, Vogue
Talk: Planting flowers at The Blow’s, Fashion’s Parallel Universe, Maverick Marc

“I’m getting on a plane after the Lagerfeld show to go back to England. I’m going to spend a long weekend in the countryside planting lily’s and iris in the garden to brace myself for the London shows. It’s a place I go to all the time; a beautiful Jacobean farmhouse on Isabella and Detmar Blow’s estate in The Cotswalds.”

“What intrigues me this season is that there have been two parallel schools of thought and universes; this very lady-like kind of Late Fifties/Early 60’s couture, referential clothes, and then there are other designers, such as Narciso and Proenza Shouler; Donna even a little bit, who are using other visions of the future to create something kind of geometric. I think it has been interesting.”

“I also think that a lot of the younger designers have done wonderful things. I loved Cloak for menswear, was a great, very accomplished show. Also Derek Lamb. But, for me, Proenza was just a stand out show. Marc is always interesting; because he’s sort of maverick in a way. He’s a maverick spirit, and he has his own vision; it’s not trend oriented and leads the trend.”

“As for whether women will wear his clothes the way in which they were shown on the runway, I think that he absolutely has a customer that will wear the clothes the way he showed them. But, he also has customers that will disassemble the pieces and put them together in their own way. He’s cornered the market in very stylish women who have fashion ideas of their own, so I’m sure they’d want to do that.”

Robert Burke, Luxury Retail Consultant, Robert Burke Associates, Former Senior Vice President/Fashion Director, Bergdorf Goodman
Talk: Mary J’s Surprise at Malandrino, Same Old, Same Old, New Biz, Who’s the next Kal

“I think we were all reeling just now because of Catherine Malandrino’s show, which was a presentation at Roseland. We’re reeling in a good way, because the models came out on this sort of revolving wedding-cake thing, and then un-known to anyone, Mary J Blige jumped out from back stage and started singing. And, no-one knew it was going to happen, so that was a particularly good, fun moment.Andre looked particularly excited when Mary came out on stage. He was doing everything short of dancing during the show.”

“It was remarkable how many camera crews were at the front of the house, as well as at the back of the house across the board, all pushing. Even though there weren’t all that many celebrities around this season, it seemed like the same Nicole Ritchie and Lindsay Lohan. I think that fashion is getting more and coverage from the average person.”

“I resigned from Bergdorf two months ago to start a luxury consulting business, and I based it on feeling that there were not many places for young designers or brands to go to get direction from a retail perspective. But, I’ll also be working with financial institutions who retain me that are looking at buying brands, and multi-brand retailers. I’ll also be working with Bergdorf; they’ve put me on retainer for a year.”

“When you ask who’s the next Kal, I don’t know if there could ever be a next Kal, necessarily, but I think now more than ever, stores need strong fashion directors. There’s more product than ever before, and there’s the fear that stores could get a lot of sameness or homoginization.”

“To answer your question of whether I’d pick up the phone when Bloomingdale’s calls, I’d pick up the phone when anyone calls.”

Simon Doonan, Creative Director, Barney’s
Talk: What FW really is, Shows in real time

“I don’t know; Fashion Week has become so completely incomprehensible, but it’s sort of fun. Fashion is supposed to reflect the culture, so if the whole fashion landscape is completely incomprehensible, that’s because culture is. There’s 400 million shows, 200 million people trying to get into them and they don’t really know why, 470 thousand people who’ve lost sight of the fact that this is really just a trade show, 80 billion celebrities trying to get into the shows, when it’s all just a trade show. So, I’m wondering if every one really does stop with Fashion Week. Or, do they also do Accent on Design, Car Shows? Why not go to all of them? Why simply pick Fashion?”

“What’s happened is more and more and more the brouhaha around Fashion Week is occurring at the wrong time. It needs to happen when the clothes hit the stores. All of this hoopla; one does question the function of it. As a retailer, I think it has no function, because as a retailer, the moment of truth is when the clothes actually get on the back of the consumer in the fitting room. The moment of truth is when the designer designs the stuff, and when the consumer actually gets it on her back, and shells out her hard-earned money for it. And, those are the two moments of truth. Everything else is just a big, dry hump. Like everyone running around being fabulous; it’s like what?”

David Wolfe, Creative Director, Doneger Group
Talk: The Real Reason Behind FW, Over-Hyped Shows, NY as Premature Ejaculation to Europe, The 25% Solution

“Fashion Week has been interesting because it has continually commented on what is happening in our society. There is a big movement towards conservative clothes for some people, and then, there are the others, who dress the way they always do as a protest against this way of change. I think that doors are closing, I think that women are walking back into the kitchen; all this overt femininity is scaring me to death.”

“You’re asking me about which shows I think are over-hyped. Just about every show was over-hyped. Anna Sui and Carolina Herrera were over-hyped. I think that only one show lived up to European standards, and that was Narciso Rodriguez. I feel that New York is the premature ejaculation, and that Europe is the orgasm. I feel that New York does not get the whole message. It gets its inspiration from Europe.”

“As for the celebrity question, New York is all about the media buzz. I mean the press would go to an opening of an envelope, and I am so over the celebrity buzz. The media builds up their pages with these celebrities that they think people are paying attention to, and no one actually is.”

“And, as for who should really be at the shows, well, that would be the 25% of the audience that’s here. They are the ones who should actually be here. Everyone else is hanger-oners, wanna-be stylists, groupies; just people who should not be here.”

Caitlin Lanphear, Senior Market Editor, Harper’s Bazaar
Talk: NY vs. Europe, America as Hollywood, Designer Likes/Dislikes

“New York is different then the Fashion Weeks in say Milan, because New York is more about the celebrity; American editors have become celebrities here; Glenda Bailey is a celebrity. It’s all about who is in the front row. In Europe, it’s more for and about the working press and the buyers.”

“But, America is the land of Hollywood; celebrity culture, which is a huge business. I think that the fashion, film, and music industries are all intertwined, and I don’t think you can separate those industries anymore. Plus, when you look at magazines, we hardly ever put models on the cover. Celebrities sell. Designers want to be affiliated with celebrity.”

“I think that there’s been some good celebrity sighting this week. We are inundated with celebrity now. With all the media coverage, though, of who’s with whom, and who’s in the front row, I believe that people who come to the shows to do their job, have basically become bored. We don’t even notice anymore.”

“When you ask me about the shows I’ve liked, I really liked Proenza Shouler; they are really talented guys, such attention to detail. Then, there’s Anna Sui; I mean, how could you not love Anna Sui. She does what she does; so much fun, such a fun, rock-chick, and she does it so well. We love and respect her for that.”

“But, when you ask me about the disappointing shows I’ve seen, I have to tell you that I’m very new to the market here; only two weeks into my job at Bazaar. But, I always think that we should judge a designer on themselves, so I want to give everyone a fair chance. I will tell you more next season.”

Constance White, Style Director, Ebay; Fashion Journalist, Chicago Tribune
Talk: FW Reality Check

“It’s been a great season in terms of lots of saleable, commercial clothing women are going to love; they’re going to want to buy it and wear it. It’s also been a much stronger season for women in terms of comfortable clothing; not too frothy. There are some great, very strong directions right now, but they’re more concentrated than last season, when, for spring, there were so many different directions designers took, and it was a bit hard to boil everything down.”

“The l940’s is a big influence. Menswear is major, but the statement is interpreted in several different ways, which is wonderful for women. Less important, but what will also be significant is military, along with representations of the l950’s, 60’s.”

“We’re still seeing dresses, such as cocktail and baby doll silhouettes, but not as much as we thought. We expected dresses to be so strong this season; retailers said it, but designers said no. Instead, we’ve seen pants and skirts. And, what woman wouldn’t want to have that great little jacket, skirt, or a terrific pair of pants in her closet.”

Agnes Cammock, Contributing Editor, Instyle
Talk: Where are the Fireworks, Celebrities-Gone but not Forgotten, In Love With Calvin

“Fashion week, hasn’t been totally dull this season, but it hasn’t been exactly fireworks. Where there usually was high energy with the celebrities and all kinds of crazy stuff going on, this season that quotient is not here. And, I don’t like that. I know people complain about the celebrities being here, but that makes shows exciting. It’s what makes a show a show. I’m not sure why there are so few celebrities here this season. I guess you could say that it is Award Season. But, it is always Award Season. I just don’t understand. However, we’re not done with celebrities. They will be back.”

“As for the fashion we’re seeing, I like all the Balenciaga style jackets, embellished sleeves, all the layers; so very interesting; the crop jackets with the longer shirts. I loved Calvin’s show. If I had the money, I’d wear all of his clothes.”

“I feel like Francesco is on a roll. Last season was wonderful, and I wondered if he could top himself, and this season, he has. I loved all the layers. I loved the geometric patterns and cutouts. The wraps and big sleeves and ties were just beautiful. Basically, he went with black, and with black you think somber, but everything was sort of artsy, and I love that. Basically, everyone I’ve talked to loved it.”

“I liked Zac Posen. I think that he’s also starting to evolve the collection, but, we’ve been having a debate about the show in general.”

Paul Cavacco, Allure
Talk: Dazed & Confused

“Well, I came to The Tents at 9:00AM today, to see a show. It turns out that the show was only three blocks from my house, so I had to go all the way back. By the time I got there, I missed the show. Then, I rushed through lunch because I thought Vera Wang was at 1PM. I ran down to The Tents, and I was all by myself again, because the show wasn’t starting until 2PM. So, there have been some difficulties. But, in the end, I saw Vera’s show. I loved it.”

Steve Eichner, Staff Photographer, WWD
Talk: The End of Photo Rage; Celebrities In Absentia

“You’re asking me about the worst thing that’s happened so far this week, and I have to say that actually not a lot bad has happened, because there’s a new system of giving passes to photographers that limits the amount of photographers that are allowed on the runways. So, there are a lot less fights now.”

“What used to happen before the new pass system, is that the photographers on the rafters would race down every time a celebrity would come in, and there’d be 1,000 photographers all in one space at one time, doing anything and everything to get that picture. It was pure chaos; a major crush. Now, there’s a barrier; like a rope, by the rafters, so that if you’re shooting the runway, you can’t run down to shoot celebrities without that pass.”

“Obviously, I am here to shoot celebrities, but this week, there haven’t been any big-name celebrities to speak of. But, the new barrier system is great because by limiting the amount of photographers, things are much more sane and organized.”

“As for the reason for the lack of celebrities at the shows, I think it could be the Super Bowl, The Grammy’s, but whatever it is, you know that from season to season there are either a lot of celebrities or very few. Also, I think that a big part of the celebrities not being here is the fact that they know about the way those millions of photographers who are here will act in the most aggressive ways, to get the picture. It just became a hassle for the celebrities to come to the shows. Even though they got a lot of exposure being here, the whole thing became a bad scene.”

Christopher Blumquist, Sportswear International
Talk: FW On The Down Low

“Fashion week has been quite low key; very little drama and hassles, its odd. I think that last season, with all the celebrities and so forth, every one bitched their heads off about that, so maybe that’s why many of the celebrities aren’t here. But, do I care why they’re not here? Not really. I’m just glad that they aren’t.”
As for the shows I liked or didn’t like, well, while there is nothing that I loathed, there are only a few designers I adored; loved, loved, loved, such as John Varvatos and Cloak. Also, while I wouldn’t say the season has been lackluster, we obviously do go through up’s and down’s each season. I’m not saying this is a down season, but I hope things get on the way up next time around.”

“As for going to parties, I haven’t. I have been going home and taking care of myself like a good boy. I went grocery shopping after Heatherette, and ran into Debbie Harry. So, yeah, the week’s been pretty low key.”

Patrick McDonald, Paper
Talk: Dishing Heatherette, Kenneth Cole’s Badgley Mischka inspiration, Grammy’s vs. FW

“Heatherette was full of dish. I thought it was strange that Patricia Field sat second row, because you know that Patricia launched Ritchie out by putting one of his “Carrie” shirts in Sex and the City, Also, Marc Jacobs was in the front row (with a companion who had the initials, “MJ” shaved into his buzz cut) checking everything out. Then, there was Kenneth Cole at Badgley Mischka. All you had to do was look at him to know that in his mind he was sketching what came down that runway.”

“Overall, the week’s been pretty mellow, but I like mellow. I like the lack of celebrities; no frenzy, We are back to what Fashion Week should be; Socialites are fine; editors, fashionistas, fashion-related people. Celebrities were using the show to promote themselves, and it was really taking away from the clothes, and even the designers. Occasionally, if there are celebrities at the shows because they’re close to a designer and they’re here to support that designer, OK, well, that’s great.”

“I think the big celebrity crush didn’t happen because of The Grammy’s. All of the Press Agents had to weigh between The Grammy’s in L.A and Fashion Week in New York, and the Press Agents probably opted for The Grammy’s because its their job to try and get their celebrities the most coverage and attention as possible, which is what that kind of event does.”

Cindy Jones, Publisher, Editor,
Talk: FW Haves-And-Have Not’s

“We’re a one-year-old, fashion newsletter, and we always have trouble getting tickets for certain, name designer shows. J. Mendel is very difficult. I’ve tried for three seasons to get an invitation and each time, the PR people have denied me; probably because they’re not familiar with my business. So, now, I’m turned off.”
“But, I have received quite a few invites to new, young designer shows, and so, I guess it depends on the size of the show, and how hot the designer is, whether or not we’re going to receive that invite.

I think it also depends on whether or not a particular designer has their own list, because they’re more likely to pass the list on to the PR company. The PR companies, with their own lists, are more apt to only invite the big name magazines, such as Instyle, Bazaar, or Vogue, for example, so that they can get that kind of press for their designers. But, for someone new, like myself, it is hard to get tickets to everything you want to see. It makes me feel unimportant and small, and it shouldn’t be that way. The smaller magazines, websites, etc. should certainly be included, whenever possible. But, that’s not usually the case.”

“What really irks me is when I don’t have an invite for a particular show that I believe is suited for my site’s audience, and then I see people who get invited, but aren’t in the business, or only come for the entertainment value or to get free things. That’s not fair.”

Irina Pantaeva, Runway Model
Talk: Fun at Aloft, Guesting is nice; Hilfiger Boys Rock

“One of the most fun things was being backstage in the W Hotels’ Aloft Lounge. For every collection, they’re doing different themes, encouraging you to be a designer yourself. They’re constantly coming up with different, fun things to do in the Lounge.”

“I ended up designing bikinis, which they brought in from Brazil, with all kinds of stones. You had to be creative enough to accessorize these bikinis.”

“My husband and I are here to support our friends, Vivienne Tam, Anna Sui, Badgley Mischka. I’m not walking this season; it’s nice just to be a guest.” “One of the highlights of the week happened last night we went to Don Hill’s, where our friends, Tommy, Andrew and Michael Hilfiger, were onstage rock-and-rolling. Michael H is a designer; he does these cool jeans. He’s also a great singer. Tommy and Andy got up out of their seats and jumped on stage, where they played guitars with Michael and his band.”

Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg,
Talk: More Bits & Pieces, Nice to be Nice, Men Behaving Badly, Snitty, Snitty Bloch, Bloch

“No one is busier during FW than 7th on Sixth/IMG fashion staffers, especially those hard-working types such as Fern Mallis, Executive Director, 7th on Sixth; VP, IMG; Production Manager, Christina Neault; PR Director, Zach Eichman; and Media Relations Manager, Andrew Freesmeier.”

“But, when this reporter asked for something special for her LIM Fashion Event Planning students, who made a field trip to The Tents, the group went way above and beyond the call to make the trip way more than just a little bit unique, interesting and memorable. A very special thank you to Andrew, who gave the students an all-access, VIP tour around The Tents, from front-to-back-of-house; Q&A session included.”

Interesting tips from Anonymous Editors … “Two guys – one, a well-known Fashion Director for a major Fifth Avenue retailer; the other, a well-read Features Editor for a major NY daily newspaper -- sitting front row at the Manuel show, laughing out loud and making fun of the clothes on the runway. The whole scene was un-cool, because if you accept an invitation for something, and you show up, the polite thing to do is to simply accept what’s going on in a graceful way, even if you don’t like or relate to what you see.”

“Phillip Bloch in the WE booth, loudly bellyaching to anyone who’d listen about how angry he is with WE; going on and on about how he feels that the network is not promoting his involvement with their new show, “Style Me With Rachel Hunter”.

“‘She’s in all of the photographs and her name is everywhere. I’m not mentioned anywhere, and I’m the only one who makes the show good.’”

“Obviously wanting to be courteous to Bloch, one of the girls working the WE booth said, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way, but the show is called “Style Me With Rachel Hunter”.’”

“That was all Bloch had to hear. Storming out, he yelled, ‘didn’t you hear what I just said? There are no photographs of me and no credits anywhere. I’m very angry with WE. I am not going to take a picture in your booth and I will not take a tote bag!’”


Monday, February 20, 2006

Part 1: A Million Bits & Pieces

New York Fashion Week … Let Us Count The Ways … The Myriad of Designers, Models, Publicists & Press Agents, Editors, Stylists, Photographers, Celebrities, Hangers-On, Parties, Champagne, and of course, all the Swag. But, the main appeal of the Week is getting an exclusive, one-of-a-kind handle on a million juicy tidbits, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with the collections on the runway. Here, straight from the very up-front-and-personal mouths of A-List Industry Insiders, the comments you won’t read anywhere else.

– by Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Stan Williams, Fashion and Grooming Director, Maxim Magazine
Talk: Donatella’s Mad Bash, Where Menswear is Right Now, Taking Over Tommy

“The craziest thing was at the Versace party, where celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Nicholas Cage, Halle Berry, and that little starlet, teeny bopper who’s dating the guy from Good Charlotte; Hilary Duff, I think, were all corralled upstairs in this little, special VIP area, so that the guests inside could take pictures. The paparazzi were held outside. So, here’s this huge VIP crowd; so star-struck that they were taking pictures as fast as they could with their cell-phone cameras. But the strange thing was that while all of this was going on, the celebrities weren’t talking to the guests at all. I don’t know if they were told not to talk to the press, because I was so far in the back, but the whole thing really showed off the power of Donatella.”

“As for the New York men’s shows in general, things are slow, slow and sad. I don’t think there’s very much fun happening on the fashion schedule this time around. There’s no energy because most major people show in Milan. We’re also missing the small, young designers because so many of them can’t afford the costs of doing a show. This group needs to be embraced. Somehow the men’s industry needs to get together, and say, “Maybe we don’t need these big tents to do a show. Maybe we need smaller venues. Maybe we need some kind of cooperation that helps us show young designer lines, so that the press and buyers can come and see what these people are offering. We need something different”.

“But, we did have people like John Bartlett showing again in New York, and it was very exciting to see him back on the runway; he did make a major improvement from last year. John Varvatos’ apparel looked better then ever. I liked Butler because it was unique and told a post-punk story. All the models were in glamorous make up; they were punked-out in this sort of jail theme at The Bowery Ballroom. The show was one of the most inspired, over-the-top, fun events I’ve seen this season.”

“Interesting that Tommy is not showing this year, but I think this has a lot to do with what’s happening within his company, which is in the process of a sale. There have been massive layoffs; nobody (inside/outside the company) knows exactly what’s happening with Apex. But, I think that Apex, which is a European company, is going to take the brand to a higher end, and that things will eventually go back to the business that Tommy had before, which was more specialty store oriented. And, that’s interesting because in general, I think that the department store business for men is dead. Very few men shop at department stores these days. They’re shopping in the smaller boutique shops. They’re shopping online.

Or, their girlfriends, wives shop for them. The younger guys are shopping at stores such as Abercrombie, because being there is like going to a party. And, these kids don’t really care what they buy; they just buy what’s there, because it’s the name and the environment that draws them in. But, when you talk about men who have money to shop, you’re talking about guys who are going to more specialty places. For example, when I’m shopping, I typically don’t do glamorous adventures any more. When you work in the industry for a long time, you want to keep your shopping experiences simple and kind of loose. I like shopping in Barney’s, because the store is always interesting and ever-changing.”

Matt Jones, ID Magazine
Talk: FW MIA

“My niece was born on my 30th birthday, which meant that I did not have to go to any shows because I went and visited her.”

Chioma Nnadi, Fader
Talk: Looking For Mr. Lee

“I’d been trying to track down this stylist, Mr. Lee, whom I’d heard about, but never actually met. He has a really great look; he goes around wearing a ski mask, or goggles, and he does this with all the shows. But, he never has his picture taken. I wanted to track him down because I wanted him to model or style for us, even though I’d never seen his book. In the end, I finally tracked him down. When he took off the ski mask, he actually is pretty cute, so that’s the craziest thing. And, yes, he is going to model for us.”

Tanika White, Fashion Writer, Baltimore Sun
Talk: What Regional Editors Really Want, Love/Hate PR People, Celebrity -- Less Is More, Don’t Forget The “Working Poor”.

”I’m a member of what is called the Regional Press, people from dailies or weeklies in cities such as New Jersey or Detroit. We’re in New York doing our fashion coverage, and as such, I think we are the real bottom line. Our readers look to us to see what is going on, and so when we show up to a show, and some hanger on has stolen a seat, or people have changed seat, we get annoyed. I know that a lot of the better publicists, such as James LaForce or Allison Brod who are really great to the working poor, try not to let that happen. KCD tends to be good, although they are so big, sometimes I deal with people who know who I am and do their best to accommodate me, vs. other times when I deal with KCD people who may say to me, “who are you? You’re not Anna Wintour, so …”. On that note, I think that Michael Kors’ PR people are very nose-in-the-air.”

“I’ve noticed this season that there hasn’t been such a craze for celebrities as there’s been in seasons past, and I’m hoping this is so because fashion designers and manufacturers have realized who is really important here -- the buyers and the industry insiders, and that celebrities are not their life blood. I do not know if that’s the case, but I hope that’s the case, because I think that would make a big difference in how the shows are run. For example, when Jennifer Lopez came to Marc Jacobs’ show one season, and then Beyonce the next season, and they had all the body-guards, and it was hard for everyone else to really see the clothes, and there was all the waiting time for those celebrities to even show up and get to their seats.”

“So, for me, it was all about, “Hi, I need to write about this.” Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez are going to get stuff sent to them free anyway. I need to see, so that I can write and let my readers know what to wear. I need to tell my readers about what’s good or what’s bad. That’s what I’m here and working for. I don’t need a front row seat, but I need to be able to see and do my job.”

“However, when you address the celebrities being at the shows, you understand it to a fault, because, unfortunately we live in a society where people are more concerned with what celebrities are doing; what they’re wearing, who they’re with, that sort of thing. It used to be the models, but that’s sort of over with now. It’s all about the celebrities. But, I do think it gets to be a little ridiculous when celebrities are at a show, and there is pushing and shoving and screaming and yelling, and the industry people who show up to do their job get the shaft.”

”As for the whole front row situation, I think that there should be a better way for celebrities to see the collections. Maybe there should be private viewings where a designer can get themselves and the collection into a little car service and drive over to the celebrity’s home.” “Let’s face it, celebrities do draw buzz, and even at some of the smaller shows, I find myself saying , “it’s so sad that there are no celebrities here.” But, then I immediately think, “it’s OK, because now everyone can concentrate on the clothes. So, while few celebrities showed up at Carlos Mehle, and none came to Nannette Lepore, that was fine, because everyone who attended these shows, really got to see some of the best clothes out there, which in the final analysis, is why we’re really coming to the shows in the first place.”

A larger show, which draws lots of celebrities, but doesn’t necessarily forget industry people is Heatherette; always a fun-filled, jam-packed great party. But, here’s the thing; the thing that separates Heatherette from all the other designers and shows that do the celebrity worship thing. And, that is, when you’re front of house or back-stage, you’re treated like a star. Richie and Trevor always say “thank you for coming; we’re so glad you’re here”. There are kisses and hugs for everybody.” "So I do not mind if the drag queens or the guys from ‘Queer Eye’ sit in the front row; there were people over people sitting on other people’s laps at this show, and nobody cared. The whole event poked fun at itself and that’s the thing.

On the other hand, it’s the designers who take themselves and their celebrity following so seriously, and expect to be treated like royalty; well, that’s just annoying.” I think that seeing new lines at show rooms where we are right now (Kate and Jack Spade’s Breakfast Bash) is a nice, informal, relaxed way. You can see everything up close, there are nice people who can help us, and there’s no attitude, The runway shows are for show, but certainly, smaller venues, such as this, are important, too. We need more.”

Samantha Smith, Fashion Reporter, Raleigh News and Observer, North Carolina
Talk: Fun With Invites & Reality Show Girls

“When I Got the Kai Millia invitation, it was sealed together with a wax seal, and my nephew thought it was a piece of candy, and tried to eat it. At one show, I met Esther Nash, an interesting, young girl, who specializes in going to Reality Dating shows.”

Mickey Boardman, Paper Magazine
Talk: Where’s Jenna, Backstage at Heatherette: Porn Stars and Janice Dickinson’s Vagina, Loving MJ all over, Give Me Some Relax Time

“Scandal? Don’t really think so. Heatherette. Wacky as always. Jenna Jameson was supposed to be in the show, and then she wasn’t. I don’t know if that is controversy or not. The craziest thing I saw was backstage after the Heatherette show in the W lounge. Jenna Jameson was there; so was Allen Cumming and Janice Dickinson, And Janice Dickinson was running amuck and flirting with Allen Cumming, and his boyfriend was there. The boyfriend was jokingly getting jealous, and Janice was saying, “don’t be jealous; I mean a vagina is just an inverted penis, although this one has teeth,” as she pointed to her vagina. I was very scared of her. I think she was being just whatever she always is. I don’t know exactly what that means, but she was a little bit scary. I have to say that was my controversy of the week.”

“On the other side, I worshiped the Marc Jacobs show, which was completely, completely amazing, because it was so different then American fashion in the way that it wasn’t really American fashion at all. I mean all week you sort of saw all this pretty stuff, and it was nice, pretty; like that. People will sell it; it’s flattering for women. But, Marc’s show was just fantasy. I felt like I was a voyeur, watching women going on a trip, and they’d just put on all the clothes they had in their closets. Everything on the runway was sort of high fashion Hermes hobo, and I just loved it.”

“ I saw Marc Jacobs last night at the Heatherette Show, and I just drooled all over him.. Heatherette was like being at a night club. Marc Jacobs was Europe come to New York. I think Marc will always show in New York; although he could take this kind of show to Europe; he goes to Europe for Louis Vuitton. But, I think there will always be something about him that is American so he will always be in New York.”

“It’s nice to relax at Kate’s where we are now; it’s so casual and easy. I hate the schlepping around everywhere during this week. I do not have a car service at my disposal, so there is a lot of getting around and bringing around, and you know the long hours and the overlapping of everything. I really feel that this season there are way too many things constantly overlapping. You just can’t so everything. You need a few windows in there somewhere.”

Amelia Zirin-Brown, The WE Booth
Talk: Tote Exclusive, Yes, Virginia, There Are Editors With Manners During FW, Show Your Bloomers & Get A Bag

“This season, as always, we are giving out tote bags, but on a much more limited basis than before. We have six hundred bags to give out each day, and we give them out only in the morning. People will come and hunt us down for these totes, but I would have to say that everyone we’re seeing this season is more well mannered than in seasons past. You were here last season when people (the majority of whom are editors; the ones I recognize from season to season because I always notice their badges, and they come into the booth to relax and hang-out) were screaming and scratching to get a bag. I think that this season, people have their manners on in a much better way. Maybe one reason for this is because we’re not doing the evening give-away’s any longer, so there’s no drinking going on, which can result in fights or rudeness from people – mostly women – coming into the booth with their arms outstretched, demanding more than one bag, or saying they didn’t get a bag, even though we know that they already did. And, that’s not fun.”

“But what is fun is when right after the Heatherette show this season, some of the large, super-fabulous drag queens with the big hair and the big boob came into the booth and said, “what I have to do to get a bag”?. One opened up his pants and showed me his fancy bloomers. For that, I gave him a bag.”

Philip Johnson , Features Editor, Lucire
Talk: Show Insanity Continues, Pregnancy at Baby Phat, The Fighting Italians, Front Row Madness Goes On, Who Really Belongs at FW

“Heatherette and Baby Phat, which are usually over-the-top and crazy, just weren’t as insane this season. But, even though Baby Phat showed at The Tents for the first time this season, which made everyone think that the scene would be cooler and more in control than last season’s show, well, we were all wrong. The atmosphere was totally out of control; overly chaotic. I saw four pregnant women in danger of being trampled. When I saw that going on, I had to ask myself, “if you’re pregnant, and you’re going to come to Baby Phat, with all the drama involved; why on earth would you put yourself in that situation”?.

“There were huge fights going on among the Italian Photographers in the photo pit, with security running down to separate them. Unfortunately, there were fights all over the place, especially when it came to seating. I think the problem was that too many people who had seat assignments came late, and then found other people already sitting in their seats. So, those latecomers became extremely offended; they didn’t want to give up the battle. There was a lot of yelling and screaming; too much “what are you doing in my seat?” – going on.

Generally speaking, I have seen a lot less people who are hanging around for the sake of just hanging around. I have seen a lot more people that deserve to be here, purely for the sake of doing their job. And, that’s a very good thing.”

Friday, February 17, 2006

Fashion Editorial Cartoons:

Cartoon by Jim Hunt on Tina Brown and Talk Magazine

Over the past 8 years or so, has produced a group of cartoons lampooning a number of well known fashion industry leaders, celebrities, organizations and feature editors. Beginning next month, we are planning on doing a new series of cartoons. You can look forward to some pointed jabs and gentle jests to others in our industry who may be in need of a little "attitude adjustment".

Some of our past subjects included Tina Brown, Anna Wintour, Fern Mallis, Cathy Horyn, Cher and Donald Trump. Here are links to some of our favorite cartoons: "They'll Have What I am Having!"; "Your Papers Please!"; "Cathy Horyn Accepting Award" "Startups Are Not For kids"; "Talking Head"; "The Blonde Stops Here"; "How She Stopped Worrying and Loved the Bomb"; "Cher Accepting her CFDA Award"; and "Loose Talk Sinks Ships"

The cartoons were penned by Jim Hunt or Peter Paul Porges and inspired by Ernest Schmatolla, publisher of

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hats off to Philippe

Center: Dr.Valerie Steele & Philippe Model

Spring does not officially begin until March 20th, and the Frederick Law Olmsted Luncheon held at Central Park Conservatory Garden, an annual rite of spring and among other things -- one darn good excuse to dress up and don a fabulous hat -- is not until May 3rd. But spring was in the air, and it felt as if those days were just a little bit closer Wednesday at Doubles Club, where Philippe Model was the guest of honor at a lovely luncheon and presentation of his made to order millinery, sponsored by the Couture Council of the Museum of F.I.T., hosted by Dr. Valerie Steele. And of course, his exuberant and colorfully flower decorated hats which resembled a glorious garden (very much like the vast Central Park Conservancy) provided the perfect centerpiece. The beautifully clad guests (many in hats), who came to enjoy cocktails and a perfect lunch of shrimp salad and dessert, had the chance to chat with the designer, get close up to the hats, and afterwards, place orders.

Not surprisingly, the upcoming FLO Awards Luncheon, which has become a true fashion spectacle and one that rivals England’s Ascot, was on many of the attendee’s minds and it was certainly on the mind of Philippe. He admitted that though this was a quick trip and he would be going back to Paris in two days (he loves New York and called the two cities, “complimentary”), he would definitely be returning in May, when he will attend this high profile and popular event. It’s evident that he will find some of the thousand guests with his beautiful creations perched on their heads.

Philippe Model is a legend. He’s been in business for over 25 years (creating hats, shoes, and accessories), and began collaborating in the 80’s with design legends like Mugler, Montana, Dior, and Jean Paul Gaultier. The French born creator may have had no formal training for his craft but he has traveled extensively and as he noted, “fashion is natural in France”. He has one shop, located in Paris (33, Place du Marche, St. Honore) where hats range from about $700 to $1200 (but they can go much higher and much lower he said, because they are made to order). And his customers (“all ages” and “from French Aristocrats to rock stars like Madonna”), are not all wealthy women. He confided that he has been known to give hats to fashion loving, hat wearing customers who may not be able to afford them.

Known for his love of color, he himself was clad in colorfully mis-matched plaids and checks (the shirt was from Polo Ralph Lauren in Paris), and he painstakingly hand dyes, over dyes, and paints everything himself.

During the informal Q & A between Dr. Steele and Mr. Model, who sat on stools before the assembled guests, Dr. Steele described his hats as “elegant and flattering” and the designer noted that he sees them as “soft architecture” and “expressive”. Most importantly, he “wants the beauty of the lady to show” and “never wants to make her look ridiculous”. The way he sees it, “hats are so natural – like a pair of eyes” and he doesn’t view them as “special” but “an expression of a certain way of life” (he observed that “in America, hats are for function. In Europe, they’re for no reason”).

When asked why the British wear hats more than any other group of people, he said it was because of “royalty and social obligations.” As far as what the most common mistakes women make with hats? The master said “they must be open minded and practice.”

At the end, Dr Steele asked for 3 volunteers who would be willing to come up and try hats on so that Philippe could demonstrate how different women – with different face shapes and hairstyles- could wear hats. Among the volunteers who enjoyed partaking in the exuberant fashion ‘experiment’ was Valerie Steele. It was certainly a wonderful way to spend a winter afternoon.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New York Magazine's Fashion Review Scorecard is a Hit

Once again, New York Magazine has been providing a useful summary of reviews of the shows calling it the "Collective wisdom about the Fall 2006 New York shows" by the major online fashion press and selected blogs. A brief summary of each review is posted and then linked from the Scorecard to the full review. British Vogue, The Daily, WWD,, New York Post, The New York Times, Paperblog, The International Herald Tribune and make up most of the selected reviews.

Click here to go to Fashion Review Scorecard.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Editorial: "Fashion Blogs Are New?"

It seems fashion has discovered blogs. WWD says blogs are the latest trend in fashion editorial and Constance White of eBay proclaims: ""The impact [blogs are] having is the idea that the whole population is taking control and ownership of fashion." Hmmmm, does she really believe that?'s main news page --you are viewing it the DFR Daily Fashion Report -- is configured as a blog (using ProBlogger software) for the last 4 years. Just look to the left on this page and you will see our posts archived and linked since February 2nd, 2002.

We continually find it amazing the selective memory some writers have in this industry. And however immodest this might sound, is not only the longest running fashion site on the web but, in fact, is the pioneer fashion site in the use of the blogging format.

Not that anyone cares. Just wanted to set the record straight.

-Ernest Schmatolla
"The Magnificent Four"

(Click on image to see the full column)

Four of our favorite "fashionistas" photographed by Bill Cunningham during New York fashion week for his column On The Street in this Sunday's Styles section of The New York Times. From left to right: Our own Marilyn Kirschner, Rosemary Ponzo, Patrick McDonald, and Lauren Ezersky. And in fact, Marilyn appears a second time in the same column.

And speaking of Bill Cunningham, we have a wonderful and extensive video interview with Bill done for our 'Masters of Fashion' video series. Bill is much more than a photographer, he is a true fashion historian. Click here to go to the interview.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Notes from Bernadine Morris

Bernadine was for 30 years the senior fashion writer for The New York Times. Look for her "Ten Best Looks of the Season" trend report right here next week.

New York shows came to a brilliant conclusion Friday night by having Chado Ralph Rucci present the last collection. It had all the glamour of the best French couture shows. The workmanship was unbelievable. Even the atmosphere in the hall was restrained, appreciative. It was a handsome gesture and it gave the New York showings a grand finale.

There were other good things in the week-long presentation. Michael Vollbracht showed he was ready to take over the Bill Blass collection. Michael Kors proved that sportswear was still a workable and necessary field. Diane von Furstenberg indicated there was more in her repertory than the wrap dress she had based her success in decades ago, "She called her collection Working Girl and wrote somewhat charmingly that she always wanted to live a man' s life." Ralph Lauren defended his preference for casual clothes with a tribute to "a modern shooting party" and Donna Karan opened up some of her dresses with loose backs that seemed comfortable and sophisticated.

No, the season wasn't a total loss, but it took Mr.Rucci to put fashion on its highest plane.
New York Fashion Week: Final Day

‘Holey’ Moley

You know those moth eaten sweaters, jackets, and coats that you spend a fortune on, taking them to the tailor to have them re weaved? Or having decided they’re not worth salvaging, (and heaven forbid, you can’t be seen wearing something with holes in it, after all) you give away to Goodwill? Well, it’s time to rethink, because having holes in your sweaters is “a good thing”. Trend setting French Vogue Editress Carine Roitfeld, in New York this past week to cover the collections, was also the guest of honor at Barneys at a party to fete her recent collaboration with the knitwear company, Lutz & Patmos, having designed a sweater that purposely looks as if it’s falling apart and “destroyed”. And last night, when Karl Lagerfeld unveiled his new Karl Lagerfeld line officially ending New York Fashion Week (leave it to Karl to have the last word) one of his statements was the knitted holey scarf, holey collar, and holey cuff that accessorized the 61 piece predominantly black (brown, and gray) collection of menswear and womenswear that could best be described as ‘streetwise, gritty urban chic’.

The key element here (as it was at Marc Jacobs) is the use of inventive layering to give attitude and infuse a feeling of function and practicality to luxurious wardrobe staples (wide legged trousers, skirts, waistcoats, trench coats, pea jackets, pea coats, blazers, knitwear) with a decided menswear feeling with touches of military, in a wide range of proportions, lengths, shapes, and silhouettes. It was all about the mix (day and night, boy meets girl, hard and soft…even pieces from Karl’s more expensive Paris based Karl Lagerfeld Collection were mixed in) and creative styling courtesy of Melanie Ward, the Harper’s Bazaar editor who is a long time friend and collaborator of Helmut Lang’s.

It was speculated that the new Karl Lagerfeld line would in fact have traces of Helmut, and it did in its urbane vibe, dark and neutral color palette, and ‘ready for anything’ aesthetic. Nothing looked too delicate or too pretty, and chunky heeled black leather boots - and thick tights (in addition to ribbed legwarmers) were used on almost every outfit - even the somewhat ethereal evening dresses in pink copper, that had a worn in wrinkled look (as if they had been put in the washing machine and then the dryer). Of course, it must be pointed out that Karl Lagerfeld is never seen wearing anything but the most starched and crisp shirts and tailored jackets. And by the way, the show, which started precisely on time, lasted only about 15 minutes, thanks to the models coming out a breakneck speed (just like the way Karl talks).

(Ralph Rucci Fall 2006 Collection: Black wattau-back jersey and mesh gown- photos Ernest Schmatolla)

Ralph Rucci showed his always stellar collection of fall 2006 ready to wear and highlights from Spring 2006 haute couture, at the Bryant Park Tents right before Karl, and the two could not be more different (sort of like going from the sublime to the ridiculous - but it’s up to you to decide which is which….). Of course, that’s like trying to compare apples and oranges, it’s unfair to compare, and one really has nothing to do with the other.

Ralph Rucci Fall 2006 Collection: Black jersey dress with mesh insets

There is room for many voices, many visions, and points of view. Certainly, Ralph’s vision is not one of a gritty urban chic but of a civilized, timeless artistic aesthetic that is not predicated on ins and outs, or trends du jour. What keeps going through my mind as I look at the collections, which their renewed interest in volume, architecture, proportion, masterful cut, construction, draping, pleating, and dressmaking, is that Ralph ‘owns’ that world - these are the very things that have defined his work from the very beginning.

Ralph Rucci Fall 2006 Collection: Perforated leather & marble chiffon gown

One attends a Ralph Rucci show knowing basically, what one will find (not that there are no surprises mind you...because there always are). But certain elements are always there - with changes from season to season, of course. But it’s more of an evolution. If I had to single out standouts this time, I would have to point to the black lambskin tortoise jacket (it was actually textured to resemble tortoise shell) worn with black pants and a knitted bargain sable scarf; the knee length trench coat in a ‘camouflage’ pattern worn with matching narrow pants;

Ralph Rucci Fall 2006 Collection: Tortoise silk velvet coat

the amazing bargain sable ankle length a line coat which had a cane leather ‘cage’ over it; the knee length black jersey dress with mesh insets; the black jersey and gazar dress decorated on top with oversized duchesse satin disks; the black ‘watteau’ back jersey and mesh gown that boasted a long skinny sleeved very sheer top, (artfully, graphically and strategically covered up) and a dramatically draped in back. It’s to Ralph’s credit that so often, his most dramatic pieces are the ones that are seemingly the most ‘subtle’. That’s because there is nothing ‘subtle’ about the artistic vision and craftsmanship.

Cynthia Rowley is apparently feeling ‘blue’ these days (not that she has much to be depressed about based on her upbeat collection of signature dresses, blouses, tunics, and coats). Her morning show, held at the Bryant Park Tents, called ‘The Blue Room’ was an homage to the “hubris of Yves Klein in thinking that he could invent a new shade of blue.” And of the 36 pieces (which primarily consisted of trapeze, tent shaped, pleated short dresses, a- line coats and tunics, and skinny pants paired with pretty, soft blouses), there were very few that were not done in some shade of blue - often the different shades were mixed together in one outfit. Cynthia even accessorized with blue leather tall boots on a chunky heels.

In addition, the audience was treated to the musical accompaniment of the New Amsterdam Boys Choir which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Composed of boys aged 9-18 from local East Harlem public schools, in addition to music students from Central Park East 1, (all who wore bright blue ties with their navy blue blazers) they were onstage to provide the musical accompaniment to the show. (Three songs from Cynthia’s favorite playlist which they recomposed. It was a wonderful way to begin the last day of shows.)

Douglas Hannant was scheduled to show at Gotham Hall (as printed on the invitation), but the venue was switched to a 7th floor hall at the Manhattan Center on west 34th street. It was poorly lit, making it hard to see much of anything- including one’s seat, and many seats were empty, enabling those in the back rows to move down. (On a Friday afternoon, the last day of shows, people generally have work to catch up on, stories to file, etc.) But many of Douglas’s loyal fans and customers (the sable clad social set) and furrier Dennis Basso, were on hand to see the black/white tweed suit and dress, the nifty chocolate brown shearling motorcycle worn with tweed skirt, the billowy black chiffon poets blouse and black sequined trouser skirt, and the graceful, ethereal black pleated chiffon picot detailed dress, which were the standouts of the collection.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, February 10, 2006

New York Fashion Week: Day 7

Gilles Mendel had the misfortune of scheduling his J. Mendel show at 10AM at the Bryant Park Tents, and I say ‘misfortune’, because at 9AM, the editors’ darlings, Proenza Shouler, presented THEIR collection all the way across town and downtown at Milk Studios…So, needless to say, the show not only started late, but there were plenty of empty seats to fill in at the last moment. However, because Gilles is such a favorite with the social set (and so adorable), uptown swells like Renee Rockefeller and Lauren DuPont, were there front row center to get a look at what they will be buying (or is it, ‘borrowing’) come next fall. Gilles admitted to having been inspired by the effortless chic of Faye Dunaway's Bonnie Parker and to that end, pants were used with many of the pieces to impart a feeling of luxe sportif. There were some noteworthy broadtails, lavish fox trimmed hems- on coats and cocktail dresses; and there were of course, some exceptional evening gowns (newest are the simple yet dramatic dove gray pleated beauties). But for sheer brilliance, considering we’re ensconced in a season of major knitwear, nothing can beat Gilles’ inventive take on this season’s ‘most wanted’….a belted ¾ length white knitted mink Aran cardigan which was shown over a white tuxedo blouse and a slightly longer dove grey chiffon pleated skirt.

Wolfgang Joop’s earthy, relaxed collection for Wunderkind was marked by the use of traditional menswear fabrics, layering, and interesting juxtapositions. Working in a palette of typically fall colors (browns, beiges, tans, grays, and black), some of the noteworthy pieces were the brown tweed relaxed coat shown with matching cap with earflaps; the distressed brown leather belted and slouchy coat; the brown fur ‘sweater vest’ and matching hat, layered over an oatmeal Donegal tweed long slouchy blazer and matching pant; the narrow shouldered belted brown herringbone coat with inverted pleat in back and matching cap with earflaps; and the tucked and pleated leopard print chiffon gown with voluminous skirt and balloon hem shown under a flyaway short Donegal tweed cape with antique brown small collar.

Pamela Roland, who is known for her tailored pantsuits, and especially her special occasion wear that ranges from cocktail dresses to floor length gowns, was inspired by the color palette in the landscape paintings of John Singer Sargeant (shades ranging from copper and moss green to dark ruby and jewel toned blue). With a following that includes such celebrities as Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Garner, and Nicolette Sheridan, it’s a cinch she will be represented on the red carpet at the upcoming Academy Awards. And even though it is her formal gowns (which are predictably beautiful) that will most likely find their way down the red carpet, if I were a stylist, I would try to convince one of my chic and elegant clients to forego the frou and the predictable and instead go with the chicest outfit in the fall lineup - the white chiffon long sleeved blouse with beaded center that resembled a tie, worn with the skinny floor length jet black crepe tuxedo skirt.

Vera Wang is obviously spending a lot of time walking around museums as of late. Her spring collection, for which she won the CFDA award for women’s wear designer of the year, was inspired by last summer’s Matisse exhibit at the Met. And for fall 2006, she cites Rothko’s moody color palette, the 50’s, and the movie, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” as the basis for her collection. Unfortunately, it didn’t have quite the poetic beauty or impact of last season, and some of the pieces looked a bit too complicated and artsy.

That said, there were nifty ideas and some notable pieces - beautifully cut and constructed outwear (I especially liked the navy wool felt pea coat), new takes on the skirt suit (Vera, like Doo-ri, feminized traditional menswear fabrics); the pairing of elongated color block merino sweaters over charmeuse and georgette slip dresses or Rothko colored pieces. Just a note, I also liked her vintage inspired mink jackets and boleros which were done in interesting shapes and silhouettes (even though I just said I was bored with furs. Go figure!) They looked like something one has inherited, collected, or worn for years, as opposed to being brand new, yet they didn’t look like they were salvaged from the local thrift store.

Last night we all got to see a newly restrained and pared down Zac Posen. Gone are the frills, the frou, the prints, the bright colors, and the homage to old Hollywood that always forms the basis of his collections (though ‘new’ Hollywood, as represented by Uma Thurman, was front row center). In fact, if you didn’t know whose show you were sitting at, you would not have known it was Zac. The colors were stripped down to a palette of dark (almost black) navy, ivory, pale silver, and black, and the overall silhouette was sharp, linear, close to the body, and short. Volume was hardly anywhere to be found (expect for a few full skirted, short dresses) and the evening finale.

Cropped, narrow pants (in black) were shown with almost all the short coats (some belted) and fitted jackets that were very narrow through the shoulder and featured pinched, pagoda like shoulders. He offered several takes on the white shirt/black (or navy) pant combination, and ended with two dramatic evening gowns with skirts so voluminous, they probably had more fabric in them than was used in all the other pieces combined.

Jason Wu, a former Narciso Rodriguez intern showed at the Tents right after Zac and given his resume, it seemed like it could have been interesting. Unfortunately, what came out on the runway looked like a rehash of Narcisco’s greatest hits….but poorly done.

=Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New York Fashion Week: Day 6

Making his ‘Marc’

Marc Jacobs has done it year after his controversial fall 2005 collection, and years after his controversial ‘Grunge’ collection, he finds himself once again in the limelight and the center of attention - although this time, he’s more the subject of praise than of controversy. Whether or not you thought it was brilliant, flattering, completely wearable, etc., and whether or not you considered it to be ‘Grunge Part 2’, most fashion insiders felt that his Monday night show was a bright spot in a rather uneven and uninspiring week. I completely agree with Cathy Horyn that there are a lot of women who like to dress the way Marc proposed (eclectically layered in clothing that might best be described as practical, versatile, comfortable ‘urban armor’). Marc’s vision is reality based, not based on some sort of dream- like world he thinks- or wishes- his customer inhabits, and the clothing he proposed, AND the way it was put together, was all about reality- the reality of modern life. If it is ‘grunge’, than I say, ‘grunge’ is the ‘new glamour’.

Other shows:

Love it or hate him or hate him - Marc not only pushes buttons, but HE THINKS OUT OF THE BOX, coming up with new solutions to old favorites…It is true that there is nothing really new under the sun, it’s all been done before…it’s the way things are moved around and put together in a new and fresh way that makes the difference. Sadly, this is something that is apparently lost on Michael Kors, who seems to be designing on ‘pilot’ and whose work has become rather robotic and formulaic at this point. Today’s women’s and men’s collection, inspired by “Love Stories”- a mix of Ali MacGraw Chic (how many times has he referenced HER?), The Graduate, and Gatsby was puzzling to say the least. When the first outfits came out (almost floor sweeping duffle coat and striped sweater dress with elongated scarf and knitted cap in muted navy and cordovan, I said to myself, ‘Grunge!’ But flutter sleeves, sable cape, ivory cashmere sweater trimmed with Mongolian lamb…nope, not grunge at all. It might have been better if it were a major statement in just one thing. The schizophrenic collection just did not work. Actually, the men’s portion, which was much more defined, looked better.

There’s nothing wrong with taking your repertoire of greatest hits - and classics - (which is what has always been a hallmark of a Michael Kors collection) and using them as a jumping off point (the navy/white tie-dye melton pea coat was an interesting idea - too bad he didn’t have more items like that). But unless you give it a new point of view, what you are left with is a collection that resembles a bridge line. Michael’s program notes spoke of “haberdashery paisleys and foulards with a modern edge…” Designers love using the word ‘modern’ to describe what they do - it’s a word that has lost its meaning within the world of fashion because it’s been so over used. And it’s also a term that is subjective. But merely labeling something as ‘modern’ doesn’t make it so. Modern is as modern does.

And modern does describe Richard Chai’s thoughtful, beautifully cut, and architecturally based collection that is all about being comfy and cozy this season. The designer wants to envelop you in the cocooning warmth and protective coziness of a black double face cashmere turtleneck wrap coat or the beautiful black double face cashmere portrait collar flare coat with an ivory cashmere gauze bias turtleneck that had a bib effect. He effectively used black opaque tights and white patent shoes as did Narciso Rodriguez the day before and it’s a very effective way to lighten up black and add some punch.

Modern is also a term I would use to describe CFDA winning designer Derek Lam’s fall collection that was short (short in terms of time and short in terms of lengths), concise, and spoke of the youthful couture movement that many young designers are proponents of - smart, chic, urbane, but not fussy. There was much attention paid to cut, construction, and detail, not to mention proportion and was perfectly accessorized thanks to Wolford hosiery, Christian Louboutin for Derek Lam high heeled boots and pumps, Nancey Chapman jewelry (lots of chains), LaCrasia gloves and Derek Lam’s bags. The sophisticated color palette relied on lots of black (but not so basic black), grey, ivory and khaki, with shots of emerald green, purple, and yellow. Tiny ruffles encircled chiffon shirts, hefty salt and pepper tweeds were used for a-line dresses and coats, some which featured Saga silver fox sleeves, and crinkle chiffon was used to fashion long beautifully draped yet simple gowns (Mme. Gres again!)

Oh, and how can I leave out Derek's inspired take on that tradional tan trenchcoat? His khaki maxi length trench with Saga natural Silver fox cuffs was brilliant (I can envision Anna Wintour owning this beauty).

Peter Som played with weightless volume and as always, had some noteworthy coats, dresses (including a lovely fitted dove gray cocktail dress belted at the waist with full sleeves elbow length sleeves and a large asymmetrical bow at the neck), and separates, but too much of it was bogged down with unnecessary details. And unfortunately for the designer, on the runway, the back split open on two gowns towards the end of the show (not one, but two…not a great sign).

I was looking forward to seeing Ecco Domani winner, Brian Reyes’s show, but I was disappointed in the 29 piece collection held at the Sony studios. While the first number out (an ethereal off white gazar short sleeved pouf dress with short sleeves, that resembled the petals of a flower) was promising, as was the horizontally pleated ivory silk burnout dot short sleeved dress and variations on a belted faille trench (which was fitted in the front and loose in the back), the rest of the show was overly repetitive, there were too many really sheer pieces, and unfortunately, some of the clothes didn’t fit well.

Anna Sui always stays true to her aesthetic- she is not a minimalist and never will be one (her ‘thing’ is ‘more is more’ and she goes for it each season). This time (as it has been many other times), the story is short, sweet, and innocent (Naomi Campbell???!!) with an emphasis on volume (boxy cardigans and jackets over full skirted short dresses or short skirts, plenty of baby doll, tent shaped and empire waist dresses, though Anna counterbalanced with skinny pantsuits featuring elongated jackets. And of course, there was lots of shine (achieved through metallic shot fabrics, graphic sequined trim, and long medallion necklaces).

Anna’s shows are always high energy and upbeat and at the end of the day (and almost at the end of a rather lackluster Fashion Week), having a smile on your face is not such a bad thing.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New York Fashion Week: Day 5

More observations….it occurred to me more than halfway through New York Fashion Week, that many designers must have raided my vintage filled coat closet for inspiration - especially my Bonnie Cashins and Lilli Ann’s from the 50’s with their bracelet length wide sleeves and tent shapes. And while I hate to admit this, I am so ‘over’ little fur capelets especially the ones with satin ribbon ties. In fact, I am also somewhat bored with furs, unless it is something with an incredible cut. Give me a distinctive, gorgeously constructed cloth coat any day (no, I’m not mimicking Richard Nixon’s famous comment about Pat’s “proper Republican cloth coat”). Furs look best to me in small doses - used as a touch, as an accessory (a big fur hat, a bag, or muff) as seen at Marc Jacobs and also on the runway of ‘The Jersey Boys’ Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra who do a collection for Saga Furs, hence finn raccoon hats and muffs accessorized their simple and beautifully crafted draped jersey dresses, and gathered jersey tops shown with menswear trousers. I think this goes hand in hand with the feeling of downplayed luxury which seems so right at the moment, and wanting to be as far away from ostentatious, over the top glam, as possible.

It also occurred to me that this coming fall and winter would be a great time to be pregnant, what with all the high-waisted, empire lined, tent shaped and voluminous coats, sweaters, jackets, and dresses that would fit a family of 4. Just think, there’d be no need to buy maternity clothes. Even if you’re not pregnant, these clothes may make you look like you’re “with child” and that’s not so bad either. If nothing else, it might just get you a seat on a crowded subway at rush hour.

Speaking of pregnant, brand new mom Monique Luillier showed a typically pretty collection this morning that not only had versions of her now famous tufted and gathered cocktail dresses and gowns, beautiful lace blouses, and suits, that are popular with the Uptown social set, but also featured several noteworthy coats, some of which had the cropped wide sleeve that is so popular. But here too, while the gowns were paired with expectedly ‘dressy’ cover-ups in mink or dreamy tulle, I couldn’t help but think that they would have looked far more interesting had they been juxtaposed with something in a thick hand knit instead.

Michael Vollbracht admitted that the late Bill Blass is always in his thoughts and on his mind and certainly, it’s hard to argue that the clear red pieces (that would have looked better without the wide black leather belt that kept showing up), the tailored pinstripe pantsuits (which appear to be more fitted than in past seasons), the plaid taffeta full skirted shirtdress with red cardigan, the group of little black cocktail dresses, embroidered evening coats (which did not need the little fur pieces that were flung across the shoulder), and the crisp white shirt paired with black embroidered cardigan and black and white printed voluminous ballskirt, were not all within the Blass vocabulary.

At Luca Luca, Venus Williams, looking adorable in a tweed jacket and well worn jeans, accompanied by Jane Lauder, the standout item (and something I could easily imagine someone wearing on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, was the finale - a floor sweeping narrow sleeveless black lace gown with an open back and dramatic train.

Charles Nolan is obviously in an upbeat preppy, collegiate kind of mood these days, based on his no nonsense collection of layered and updated wardrobe staples that seemed familiar and comfortable - classics that have gotten us through the years like the shrunken boyfriend blazers, or the navy reefer with silver buttons, or the red melton hunt coat, or the loden suits. These fared better than the group of short cocktail dresses, though the floor length satin evening coats with half belts were pretty. Almost everything was accessorized with a black flat riding boot or delicate kitten heel and the models had long falls to drive home the point about being fresh faced, young, sweet, and innocent.

Since this is turning out to be the season of strong knitwear (by the way, where IS Pierrot when we really need him?) Iisli’s sweet and concise 29 piece collection, which is comprised entirely of chunky hand knit cardigans and cable blazers (my favorite), oversized sweater dresses, and slouchy cardigans, worn with short skirts (some were pleated) layered over ribbed leggings or legging trousers, and accessorized with elongated knit scarves.

--Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New York Fashion Week: Day 4

Marc Jacobs' Show:

Monday evening, an hour and a half later than first scheduled, Marc Jacobs presented his Fall/Winter 2006 collection to a packed house at The New York State Armory. The collection was restrained in its use of colors but displayed why Marc is Marc, a designer who can borrow from the past and still create a collection that is both fresh and innovative.

Mr. Jacobs's latest designs are in keeping with the trends of the season: Paul Poiret and his Orientalistic touches, Madame Gres and her masterfully designed drapes, and Christian Dior with his "New Look" are all prominent influences. He shows great talent in emulating Madame Gres -- she would have been impressed. After all, she was, and still remains, the most outstanding designer to have worked with pleats and drapes.

Highlights of the collection included a knee-length evening dress of different silky colors with a touch of dark red velvet evocative of the Orient. In much of the collection, pleats are so artfully placed that the body is never restricted, but enhanced, the proportion keeping in balance with the nature of the fabric and its eventual restrictions. A putty-colored day coat was a great example of artfully placed pleats and folds that allow a shawl-like pattern to go over the shoulder. Surprising and beautiful was the black and white evening dress with the multiple folds and pleats hanging from every part of the design.

Mr Jacobs gave a nod to his past collections with a brown and beige houndstooth patterned coat. The rest of the collection was a constant flow of new ideas, new ways to wear clothes and accessorize them. The neutral color palette helped identify the mastery of each design. Grays and taupes were prominent but, here and there, colors emerged to remind the public that Marc Jacobs can show incredible talent with just about anything he designs: a richly colored red skirt with applique flowers in the same fabric was definitely a standout.

Marc's collection may not be for everyone. However, he is one of the very few American designers who can be counted upon to bring up new ideas, take chances and point the way to new directions where others less daring will follow.

-reported by Muriel Triffaut

More observations and trends from the ‘frontlines’ …plaids are all over the place (and perfect timing since the upcoming exhibit at the Met’s Costume Institute is ‘Anglomania’ sponsored by Burberry), as are pleats, and if you thought that volume was dead, think again. Menswear touches abound, as do full, pleated and cuffed pants. Vintage inspiration for designers shows no signs of abating. It’s about looking strong and confident this season, not wimpy and delicate. Certain things are passé (and if they’re not, well, they should be)..the notion that one has to suffer for fashion, or suffer in order to look good….I don’t know what could be less chic or less attractive than looking painful and downright uncomfortable in one’s clothes or in one’s shoes.

What looks great to me is ‘cozy, comfy chic’…incorporating elements of practicality, comfort, and luxury. Clothing that not only looks great but feels great. One of the biggest ‘trends’ thus far is paring a chunky hand knit sweater with something unexpected, like a delicate dress or evening gown. The juxtaposition is very modern and very easy to do. Just look in your closet or in your hubbie’s). What else is passé? Looking too glamorous, too put together, too ostentatious and nouveau riche….(well of course, these things have been ‘out’ for awhile…) It’s all about the idea of what is ‘appropriate’. And if you need to be told what is appropriate, well, then you need far more than this website.

As for the shows... I must say I was a bit disappointed with Carolina Herrera’s collection. Sure there were some perfectly nice things, but I was not that crazy about the colorful prints, and in a season where it appears that knitwear, coats, and outerwear of all kinds rule the roost, hers somehow missed the mark. I was also disappointed with Cynthia Steffe’s presentation. Too many wide Bermudas (who wears these anyway?) Too much unrelieved black (unrelieved black usually only works when it is beautifully shaped, constructed, or fabricated). And too many really skimpy pants (do we really need to see every inch of a model’s anatomy? I think not).

And in a season of noteworthy hand knits and 3 dimensional chunky knitwear, Cynthia’s fell a little flat. And please, enough what that annoyingly loud blaring music. Why do designers think they have to turn up the volume and render the audience practically deaf in order to get their attention? For me, the exact opposite happens. I simply want to leave.

On a brighter note, I was not disappointed in Oscar de la Renta’s show (which FYI, started 15 minutes after it was called for. Practically unheard of in fashion circles). But beyond the clock, Oscar had the right ingredients, the right mix, and just got it right, hitting all the high notes in his inimitable way. Interestingly, it was not the evening portion that shined (yes, there were pretty dresses and gowns, but we all expect that), but the day part, where Oscar infused luxury with a certain modern youthful vibe, experimented with volume and sleeve proportions (long gloves were called into action to work with all the short sleeved pieces), worked with textural and tactile hand knits and shearlings, and offered many wonderful coats. This is turning out to be another great season for coats by the way and designers have apparently been raiding the vintage stores and archives for their retro/modern shapes.

Betsey Johnson’s upbeat, funky, signature collection was a fun romp. Even the program, (Showbook, ‘Sweet Betsey’…a take of on ‘Playbill’) was novel and creative. Of the 58 pieces, many of which were typically Betsey (young, sexy, flirtatious, and often very short), there some nice coats (including a well cut tan trench and one short bright plaid with looped yarn collar and hem that reminded me of my vintage Lilli Ann…perhaps Betsey has been doing the rounds at the vintage shows as of late, like everyone else), and some noteworthy dresses (like the emerald green chiffon empire waist floor length shirtdress or the purple short balloon hemmed satin strapless with red beaded heart appliqué on the front).

At the end, Betsey came out with a sign that read, ‘Grandma to Be’ and went over to her daughter Lulu, sitting in the front row and who is obviously expecting very shortly. She then did her trademark cartwheel down the runway to the delight of the audience. Way to go, Grandma! Oh, I forgot to mention, on each seat was a small hot pink shopping bag with black ribbon which held some ‘goodies’. Forget the goodies…the bag is so cute and the color is so great. Perfect with all black.

Reem Acra promised to “redefine evening dressing”. Well- that’s some tall order but she did show some perfectly dreamy and ethereal dresses with a very youthful feeling, in primarily neutral shades. Many of the pieces were jewel encrusted, beaded, and embroidered, and many of the gowns boasted high empire waists and very full, floaty skirts. In addition to over the top feminine confections like the embroidered bodysuit with sheer sleeves worn with an amazing floor length hand ruched floret skirt in black, she proposed a black high waisted boiled jersey skirt with twisted tulle overlay worn with a ‘simple’ white paper taffeta shirt, or the nude lace bodysuit paired with a tuxedo trouser trimmed with “mitered galloon detail” .

Child Magazine’s positively irresistible second annual fall children’s fashion show held at the Bryant Park Tents, comprised of 45 top brands in children’s fashion, footwear, and accessories and representing the hottest trends for the upcoming season. I was seated across from Kimora Lee and Russell Simmons (their two little girls modeled Baby Phat Girlz pink tweed capes). And I was also right across the aisle from Lindsay Lohan, whose little sister was in the show. Also in the audience…models, designers, and fashion editors all with their precious little bundles in tow (including Cynthia Rowley and Bill Powers, Frederique, Lucy Sykes and Euan Rellie, Mary Alice Stephenson. Talk about ‘All in the Family’.

While Zang Toi’s show was elegant, civil, and soothing (the lovely background music was a wonderful counterpoint to the craziness of the day and the week), and the collection (for men and women) was an ode to the Upper East Side, he did go a bit overboard in some spots (like pastel antebellum evening gowns) which seemed out of step with the world around us. It was his more restrained, tailored, sporty, and subtle pieces that stood out, like the gray mohair plaid wrap that reverses to silver fox, the black shearling city wrap with utility pockets worn with hip hugging bootleg jeans, and the narrow black wool and cashmere pullover with built in wide diamante bracelets at the wrist worn with menswear grey wool cashmere diagonal twill trousers also sporting a built in diamante belt.

The moment I saw Karl Lagerfeld’s New York-Paris Chanel pre-fsll collection, held in the 57th street store, several months ago, I just knew that during New York Fashion Week, and elsewhere, there would be other designers who would also convincingly layer pants under skirts. Karl said that he wanted to “modernize” the traditional Chanel tweed suit. But what struck me, in addition to being modern, was that it made so much sense - especially with our crazy weather patterns as of late, and with the amount of traveling most of us do. Layering is not only the perfect solution, but it infuses a feeling of cozy, comfy luxury, which looks so right at the moment.

Well, leave it to Marc Jacobs, the last show of the day, and for me, the most satisfying one so far, to do just that. His collection, a study in layering and volume which could easily work for women of all ages depending on how one decides to wear it, was a breath of fresh air, fashion with a capital, ‘F’. Though it was ‘designed’ (it had a decidedly Japanese vibe), and very put together, with its appealingly muted shades, oversized plaids, amazingly chic coats and jackets, inventive combinations, it looked easy, comfortable, and practical and exuded a feeling of laid back luxury, not one that is over the top and ostentatious (which looks so wrong right now). It also looked personal and individual, as if the outfits were created at the last moment, by the inventive wearer, to satisfy her mood of that moment.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, February 06, 2006

New York Fashion Week: Day 3

Designers Hanii Y and Gene Kei, the duo behind Y&Kei (Water the Earth) are obviously in a sophisticated mood this season as evidenced by a collection that was decidedly addressing one’s more dressed up moments (cocktail parties and galas). The duo worked within a pared down and pleasingly classic palette of neutrals (ivory, black, midnight blue, and charcoal gray) enlivened with hits of pale lavender and a golden floral burnout, and what they are proposing for more laid back celebrations would be, say, a pretty blouse, shrunken cropped jacket, or ruffle trimmed cardigan, worn with narrow cigarette pants, one of their pretty knee length cocktail dresses, or perhaps a full skirted trench in a glittery midnight blue. For big time evenings, (or a trip down the red carpet), their solution could easily be one of their floor length draped jersey gowns, specifically, the finale - a breathtaking and crowd pleasing shimmering silver lame Goddess gown with long skinny sleeves, and the surprise of a beautiful deep v neck back. It was simple and unadorned, but highly dramatic.

Twinkle by Wenlan Chia and Tracy Reese presented collections that while completely different in mood and feeling, had one thing in common: strong knitwear (I guess you can call them ‘knit wits’), especially textural, tactile chunky hand knits (a bona fide trend that seems to be appearing this season, in addition to designers playing around with sleeve lengths and shapes; tent and trapeze shaped coats; many of which owe their inspiration to vintage, tent shaped dresses and evening gowns; a plethora of pants - from lean and narrow legging like versions and cigarette pants, to wide legged trouser styles; the pretty blouse and menswear pant combination; more attention to cut, construction, and tailoring and less of a reliance on gimmicks and tricks).

Wenlan, who is known for a certain youthful and playful quirkiness in her proportions and silhouettes, added the surprise of chunky knits, often in a bold geometric patterns, to softer and more fluid pieces, but often the knitwear item was the strongest part of the equation, such as her white chunky knit short sleeved ‘vest’ with a peplum waist, or the banana and black chunky knit cardigan with elbow length sleeves, juxtaposed over a printed silk charmeuse floor length ‘twist back’ gown.

Tracy Reese, who was inspired by the “elegant 40’s” and the concept of modernism in architecture and the decorative arts, went in a far more sophisticated and grown up direction this season, where the notion of “controlled volume” was very much on view. Working in a color palette of rich dark traditionally fall colors- aubergine, mahogany, dark camel, rust, heather, black, and ivory, enlivened with shots of copper and gunmetal, this was a very appealing and wearable collection of pretty blouses, Hepburn style trousers, comfy, cozy knitwear and outerwear (many of the latter featured toggles, wood or horn buttons). While there was eveningwear, it was the day portion (like the charcoal toggle sweater worn with a heather grey tie tunic and mocha leather knee length skirt) that stole the show.

Doo-Ri Chung proves the adage, “the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree” because the former Geoffrey Beene assistant continues to show her formidable talent and a fondness for many of the same staples and signatures that her former mentor was famous for. Such as, an ability to cut and drape, a love of fluid fabrics, a fondness for cropped boleros and shrugs, a desire to make beautiful, elegant, and graceful eveningwear, and this season, a love of menswear (Geoffrey Beene was known for making creative use of menswear fabrics and in fact, he had the ability to turn humble menswear fabrics into something far more alluring.)

This season, in addition to a group of wistfully beautiful tent shaped evening gowns in silk jersey or charmeuse, (often with tulle overlays or crystal embroidery), some of the standouts incorporated a plaid wool melton fabric in surprisingly feminine ways. For example, the plaid melton jacket with very full elbow length sleeves, worn over a wide legged pant… or the plaid wool shrug with face framing sculpted ‘rosettes’ juxtaposed over a floor length silk organza and jersey gown.

Diane Von Furstenberg left her West Village lair (the scene of last season’s fiasco which left several front row editors injured) and showed for the first time at the Bryant Park Tents to a packed and very social crowd including such guests as Diane Sawyer and hubby Mike Nichols. She called the collection ‘Working Girl’ because, as she put it, “I always wanted to be a working girl and live a man’s life….I became one and hope to be one for a long time”. To ‘work’ the theme, the models sauntered down the runway to the beat of Dolly Parton’s famous hit, “9 to 5” as well as Donna Summer’s “She works hard for the money”. Though the 53 piece collection of day and eveningwear started with an updated version of Diane’s iconic wrap dress, featured various takes on the suit and offered dresses that one could easily go to work in (depending on one’s job of course), the surprise were the eye catching and graphic pieces comprised of an oversized black and white houndstooth, paired with a traditional tartan plaid.

Tuleh’s Bryan Bradley is certainly serious about presenting a quick, fast paced show. In fact, I think he broke his record last night with a show that could not have lasted more than 15 minutes – if that- from beginning to end. The designer is also serious about, well, his continually evolving serious side, a complete turnaround from what the label ‘Tuleh’ was at its inception with long gone partner Josh Patner. (Remember when they were known for the socialite friendly light and giddy floral coats, dresses, and party frocks). This season, the collection, comprised of 35 pieces, was broken up into passages with names like Vassar Girls, Suitcase Girls, Edie Beale, Tuleh Girls, Fur, Miriam, Wealthy Women, Strangers (The Other), High Rollers, Gala Gowns, and Tuxedos and within this, the best pieces were the serious clothes (40’s inspired suits, coats, furs, cowl back cocktail dresses, and long gowns) that were almost severe in their pared down construction and lack of ornamentation.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Sunday, February 05, 2006

New York Fashion Week: Day 2

Alice Roi was working around the idea of “head to toe volume with touches of innocent romance” and was inspired by Rembrandt’s color tones for her pared down collection (edited down to 37 pieces) held at the Bryant Park Tents on Saturday afternoon. Based primarily on soft, appealing, and always classic neutral shades (pale gray, navy, white, crème, black) which were enlivened with touches of hot pink and turquoise, the hallmarks this time were her wonderful knits, short puffed sleeves, bib details, soft and pretty blouses, skinny pants that resembled leggings, patent details, and jumpers, which were predominant and which she transformed into appealingly lovely cocktail dresses. This was epitomized by the finale, a knee length crème silk crepe tucked floral sequin panel jumper with all over pleats.

Alexandre Herchcovits did practically a complete about face from seasons past (his trademarks are the bright and optimistic colors and patterns) with a collection that was rendered in predominantly black and dark moody shades, and could best be described as ‘fierce’ with its concentration on heavily constructed jackets and coats. Many of these featured exaggeratedly short puffed or leg o mutton sleeves, extended shoulders, and silver hardware (large buttons, zippers, and buckles). He admitted he wanted to reflect the idea of “rebellious luxury, urban aggressiveness, and volume” and said he was thinking of “what would happen if a young Italian Renaissance princess appeared these days, and had the influence of today’s musical trends- mainly rock.” It seemed to be one part warrior princess, one part Victorian, and one part ‘Pollyanna’ with Eastern European overtures and was all about mixing hard and soft, boy meets girl. This was epitomized by the finale- a cropped black heavy wool jacket with a military feel, worn over a graceful, long and fluid sheer chiffon tangerine, green, ivory color block gown.

Brian Wolk & Claude Morais, the duo behind the label Ruffian, called their collection, “American Novel”, a second installment of a trilogy which seeks to explore American fashion through interior and exterior view of our country’s relationship with clothing and the influence of European fashion”. Presented at the very popular and elegant National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, one that has seen more than its share of young couture collections, the 34 piece line was defined by “exquisite tailoring and noble textiles such as silk velvet, silk jacquard crepe de chine, architectural silk wool, and English Menswear.” It was elegant, ladylike, and modern and youthful all at the same time with some wonderful cartridge pleated dresses and blouses, a standout purple and blue Donegal plaid, trapeze dresses, and some beautifully cut minks including a short and very full skirted Garconne coat in saga mahogany mink with an oversized natural fin raccoon collar. Gabardine as the mainstay of the line spruced up with a ginkgo blossom print, the desired effect was one that was modern, relevant and very much in keeping with the American tradition of ready to wear. Our voyage for fall brought us from the American romantic postwar aesthetic of last season into the darkness and decadence of prewar Weimar Berlin.”

The Lacoste collection for men and women, under the guise of Christophe Lemaire, its creative director, continues to bring the iconic label into the 21st century through his mixing the company’s trademark preppy, slightly retro vibe with a street aesthetic and the upbeat, energetic and fast paced show, held at the Bryant Park Tents last night, was no different. Many of the pieces were unisex (expect for the mini dresses and mini skirts which were shown with flat cozy boots). There were a range of styles (lean tennis pullovers layered over polos, shirts and matching ties, quilted parkas and anoraks) and colors ran the gamut from neutral to acid. Often, the high voltage shades were mixed together. Stripes were another theme and showed up in knitwear pieces (I liked the black and white spectator stripe which turned up on a pullover and matching elongated scarf). Hats were the order of the day and ranged from cloches and newsboy caps to sporty baseball style caps.

By the way, one welcome new addition to the Bryant Park Tents this season, is York Peppermint Patties…The company not only dispenses its tiny iconic treats, but within their small booth, they prepare a wonderful mint hot chocolate. As the weather will be getting colder this week, that will certainly come in handy!
Marilyn Kirschner

Saturday, February 04, 2006

New York Fashion Week, Fall 2006

New York Fashion Week officially kicked off on Friday, February 3rd, but the calendar was crowded with several events, parties, openings, and formal shows in the days before. And with the Bryant Park Tents becoming more and more commercial, it seems as though the off site venues (as inconvenient as they may be) will now be providing some of the more interesting and memorable fashion moments. Certainly, it is that whole group of new young designers (the ones that are not yet household names), that everyone will be watching as we wait to see who the next Calvin, Donna, Ralph, will be. One such designer worth watching is Jose Ramon Reyes, the young, talented, Dominican Republic national, who showed his collection vignette style on 21 models, on February 1st at the very elegant National Arts Club in Gramercy Park.

Comprised of Italian and Swiss fabrics, (retailing from about $150 to $2000), his collection epitomizes the idea of young couture - polished yet relaxed, sporty and effortless, and speaks volumes about the designer’s love of unexpectedly mixing elements of sportswear, preppy, and sophisticated (not to mention ‘boy meets girl’, day for night, and high and low). Admittedly inspired by the eclectic look of Margot Tennenbaum, the line is noteworthy for its obvious attention to detail such as pleats and tucks, impeccable tailoring, shape (he manages to deftly balance volume with narrow to make it modern and easy), and construction.

Kenneth Cole as usual, kicked things off on a rainy and mild Friday, February 3rd, moving his show from the usual 10 a.m down one hour to the ungodly 9 a.m. As I arrived at the tents to pick up my schedule, assorted free reads, bottled water and donuts, I realized it was not even 9 a.m. on the first day of shows and my bag already felt as if it weighted two tons. By the way, speaking of the unseasonably warm temperatures, this brings me to my observation of what is shaping up to be the very first bona fide fashion trend at the shows: the stubborn wearing of heavy fur trapper hats regardless of what the thermometer reads, both outside and indoors.

Kenneth is always able to put a smile on even the grumpiest of early morning faces with his usually caustic and funny pre show snippets (this time he addressed three ‘syndromes’- ‘Obsessive, Fabulous Disorder’, ‘Air kissed Challenged’, ‘Cat walkers Anonymous’), and once the show started, the audience was treated to vintage Kenneth, “ modern clothing re-envisioned with a classical aesthetic”. The 47 piece collection featured no nonsense clothes for men and women in a subdued, neutral, typically fall palette, and was strong on tailoring (including some great jackets, shearlings, and wonderful trench coats with a military feel), knitwear, unmatched suits, and a group of knee length asymmetrically draped jersey cocktail dresses a la Mme. Gres in muted shades. Nothing screamed “fashion victim”, nothing looked forced- it was wearable, understandable, relatable, and easy. In the meantime, in the “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” category, the miniscule t shirts left on every seat were emblazoned with the logo, “Fight the F Word, Support the O.F.D. Fund”, which had many guests (who obviously wouldn’t fit into them or want to wear them) wondering out loud who they could give theirs to. As I left the Tents, I did receive one useful freebee (given the warm and wet weather): a small sample of “Tresemme” Extra Hold European Hair Spray.

Henry Jackson, a bi- coastal designer who works in San Francisco and here in New York, presented both his men’s collection (sporty, functional, casual, with a decided Western flavor (‘Brokeback Mountain Chic’), along with American Gambler, a new line of high end men’s and women’s clothes, at the Bryant Park Tents. Wholesaling from $350 to $5,000, and comprised of wool, cashmere and angora sweaters, goat suede skirts and silk velvet evening gowns, the outfits were given names like Poker Player, Day Trader, Daredevil, Explorers, Croupiers, Playboy/Playgirl. Alas, there were too many tricky items (Liberace capes for men) that seemed forced, contrived, and overly designed and unfortunately did not fare as well as his more down home basics.

The Red Dress is the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness and the focus of The Heart Truth (a national awareness campaign that warns women about their risk of heart disease). Friday February 3rd was also National Wear Red Day, and the fourth showing of the Red Dress Collection, fall 2006- a fun and lively crowd-pleaser which partners top designers and music industry icons. The invitation suggested you wear something in red, and seeing all the red outfits, it seemed many took this to heart (pardon the pun), including Stan Herman, who wore a red sweater and red scarf in different shades. The show was almost one hour late, and according to a security guard, the designers were clashing on several aspects of the proceedings. Was this a great fashion moment? Well, no, but it is always a fun, upbeat show, and highly entertaining, with some of the top musical legends wearing red dresses or gowns, accompanied by the soundtrack of one of their signature songs.

This time, the pairings included Lindsay Lohan and Calvin Klein, Nelly Furtado and Betsey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack and Carmen Marc Valvo, Fergie and Daniel Swarovski, Deborah Harry and Donna Karan, Patti Hansen and Nicole Miller (accompanied by the Rolling Stone’s “I can’t get no satisfaction”), Bebe Neuwirth and Narciso Rodriguez, Sheryl Crow and Ralph Lauren (by the way, she was smiling even though it was just announced she split from Lance Armstrong), Eartha Kitt and Kai Milla (she received the biggest round of applause and a standing ovation), Michelle Phillips and Tracy Reese, Leann Rimes and Zac Posen. Last but not least, there was a special performance by the ageless and legendary Elaine Stritch, great legs and all, in a short Charles Nolan, singing, “You gotta have heart” (what else?)

Nicole Miller showed a wonderfully visual and tactile collection that evoked a vintage, ethnic, eclectic feeling but yet remained polished, modern and wearable, and looked like clothing that a woman may have collected, or had a long time, rather than having the appearance of store bought and brand spanking new. Held fittingly at the beautiful, old world elegant New York Yacht Club on west 44th street, the designer claims to have been inspired by Byzantine plates, and the rich muted colors (olive, teal, tobacco, claret) scarf and border prints (which reminded me of Pucci in their graphic nature) were interestingly paired with hefty double face wool, wool herringbone, distressed leather and shearling.

Actually, some of the pieces and put togethers also reminded me a bit of Romeo Gigli in the 80’s. Nicole had some interesting jacket and coat shapes, presented some nifty new takes on the suit, kept silhouettes mainly narrow and at the knee but also played around with volume and proportion, (as well as sleeve lengths) as so many other designers seem to be doing. And best of all, on every seat was an enormous, heavy weight silk twill scarf in a wonderfully oversized mosaic print which even ‘out- Hermes’ Hermes, and is big enough to use as a sarong, halter, or almost anything else.

-Marilyn Kirschner