Friday, March 31, 2006

Doyle New York Auction of Vintage Couture, Textiles and Accessories

Cover of Catalogue

On Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at 10am, Doyle New York will hold an auction of Couture, Textiles and Accessories representing the vitality of international historical fashion spanning two centuries. Offering an extensive selection of dresses, suits and ensembles, the sale will also include important costume jewelry, handbags and accessories, as well as American, European and Asian textiles. The public is invited to the exhibition on view from Saturday, April 8 through Monday, April 10. Doyle is located at 175 East 87th Street in Manhattan.

Mainbocher Black Silk Satin Cocktail Dress
American, early 1950s

Early rare European highlights include a blue silk 1926 ombre fringe dress from Chanel (for similar see the Costume Institute’s tautly edited ‘Chanel’ p.187) and a significant Jeanne Lanvin early 1920’s Robe de Style in embroidered black silk taffeta, a version of which is in the Kyoto Costume Institute. The Post War years are well represented, with a focus on Chicago-born Mainbocher, the first American to open a successful couture salon in Paris in 1930 and best known for the wedding gown he designed for Wallis Simpson on her marriage to the Duke of Windsor. A collection of his designs for a single client from the rarified wilds of Long Island's North Shore are being auctioned on behalf of the Grenville Baker's Boys and Girls Club, each reveal the symbiosis of couturier and client with Mainbocher's restraint breaking out into a sumptuous range of pinks, her favorite color.

Lacroix Carnivale Inspired Two Piece Gown
French, Summer 1993

In addition there is European couture from Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Valentino, Chanel and Lacroix among others, American classicism is illustrated with Trigere, Galanos and Beene, the latter with a selection of early 1960s Beene designs – so Mod, so contemporary – each of which makes us ponder the common creative thread as compared to his later work – parity of line? The spirited 60s include a sinuous Ossie Clark python coat, the wit of fashion is exemplified by Lagerfeld day dress applique with a sequined Chanel bag, Galliano's newspaper print gloves with a recipe for a 'Couture Cocktail', Schiaparelli's ‘Watch Watch’ among others, Miyake's silver foiled shirt dress from 1998, and Prada's passementerie conclude the century.

Costume jewelry includes Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, Miriam Haskell and Amourelle, the range designed by Frank Hess after he left Haskell, and a collection of Coppola e Toppo who are to costume jewelry as Pucci is to fashion, unmistakable lively 1960s Italian design. Textiles include rare examples of the work of Angelo Testa, a product of the Chicago Bauhaus school, as well as Asian and American pieces. In addition to a colorful array of Hermes Kelly and Birkin bags, a selection of fine Gucci is offered.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at 10am

Saturday, April 8, 10am - 5pm
Sunday, April 9, Noon - 5pm
Monday, April 10, 10am - 4pm

Doyle New York, 175 East 87th Street, New York, NY 10128

To have your couture, costume jewelry, textiles and accessories evaluated for possible consignment in the Couture, Textiles and Accessories auction, please contact:

Clair Watson
Director, Couture Department
Tel: 212-427-4141, ext. 603

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cheap Thrill

Gap’s striped wedge espadrille

Who amongst us does not love a bargain? This is especially true lately, since prices for designer (and even non designer) items have become more and more mind numbingly surreal. But of course, we all know that there are many ways to beat the high price of fashion and one need not spend a fortune in order to look great.

Right now, with spring in the air, and the knowledge that warm weather is finally approaching, is a perfect time to start thinking about those great essentials that will take you through the spring and summer (or through the year for that matter). I’ve admittedly had ‘uniforms’ on my mind as of late, and it’s worth noting that spring and summer is the best time to stock up on distinctive basics - those items that never let you down, pack well, travel brilliantly, work from day to night, in town or country (or at the beach). I’ve recently come across several great finds that fit that bill and are under $50!

Since falling in love with a black and white Isaac Mizrahi for Target oversized tote from years back (which I still get compliments on when I carry), I’ve constantly been on the lookout for additions and I’m always checking out I recently found the perfect carry all: Isaac’s $49.99 clear plastic oversized tote with black trim. It’s a chic and mod take on the classic L.L. Bean boating tote, but far better. Measuring a whopping 23 X 16 X 8, it’s water and tear resistant (which makes it perfect for traveling or for the beach), comes with a detachable black luggage tag and shoulder strap, is lined in Isaac’s signature hot pink, and has a small pink zippered bag that can also be attached inside.

And speaking of plastic, Isaac took the large tulip that graced a clear plastic shower curtain, and emblazoned it on the front of a simple charcoal gray sleeveless sheath dress, also available on I know that the knee length cotton and spandex zip back number, which sells for $24.99, will be the perfect solution on a hot muggy day. And if you’re always looking for a simple long sleeved cotton shirt in white, or black (and who isn’t), check out Isaac’s $19.99 woven poplin numbers.

One of my most favorite purchases on is the Luella Bartley black and white striped cotton shirt with matching skinny tie ($24.99). Given the unbeatable combination of black and white, the punch of graphic stripes, and the recent love affair with menswear, this shirt has it all. Unfortunately, they are now out of stock online though you may be lucky to find it on sale in one of the Target stores!

What’s black and white and pink all over? Speaking of black, white, stripes, AND pink, another great find is Gap’s striped wedge espadrille ( for $29.50. On a 2 ½ inch platform, it’s available in several color combinations (yellow and white, green and white, pink and white), but the one that caught my eye was in black and white with a hot pink tie.

Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, March 24, 2006

Chelsea Girl Vintage Opens New Store

A new sister store called Chelsea Girl Couture will open its doors this weekend, March 25-26 for two days of preview shopping. April 1 will mark the store's official opening. Prices range from $100 for cotton dresses to $700 for designer and turn-of-the-century lace pieces.

Shoppers of Chelsea Girl Couture will find garments by many covetable designers, including Yves St. Laurent, Missoni and Pucci among others. As owner Elisa Casas explains, "A Chelsea Girl was a fashion-forward girl who was into the latest music and fashions in London's Chelsea district in the 1960s. She had no inhibitions and taking chances was a way of life for her (think Twiggy, Marianne Faithful, Jane Birken). But she also had an innocent side. I've tried to evoke that attitude in the shop, which will feature ethereal floral dresses, lacey blouses, chiffon gowns and mod touches. While most vintage stores stock a mixed bag...a little of this, a little of that...CGC will have a very distinct look. You won't think "retro" when you see our very modern collection."

Anyone who loves vintage knows Chelsea Girl, a shop popular for its eclectic array of clothing and accessories spanning the 1920s through the 1970s. Since its establishment in 1993, Chelsea Girl has attracted many designers and fashion-forward celebrities including Julia Roberts, Hilary Swank, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Mandy Moore, Demi Moore, Kirsten Dunst, Beyonce, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Deborah Messing, Sheryl Crow, and Britney Spears.

For more information contact:

Elisa Casas or Jennifer Case
Chelsea Girl Couture

Press: Susan Morgenbesser

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ten Best Looks of the New York Fall Season

- by Bernadine Morris, senior editor Bernadine was for thirty years the senior fashion writer of The New York Times. Photos by Randy Brooke.

"It is not likely that many observers will refer to the Olympus Fashion Week for Fall 2006 as an extravagant time. Sober, yes. But as Bill Cunningham, perhaps fashion’s wisest observer has noted, "the clothes are rather ‘wishy washy.’ No big trend? No major development? It does indeed put the fashion week to shame."

Click here for Full Report

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Oscars 2006 Report: The Last Word

Our entertainment editor Diane Clehane spent a week out in LA covering all the events leading up to and including 'Oscar Night' for an exclusive report for us.

Click here to read the article.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscar's Red Carpet

Oscars 2006: Seeing ‘Red’

Nicole Kidman on the red carpet wearing a Balenciaga ivory strapless column dress. (Photo:

It’s not news that the media frenzy surrounding the coverage of the red carpet, (especially the red carpet preceding the Academy Awards, the granddaddy of all awards shows), has completely gotten out of hand at this moment in time. In an article in The New York Post on Saturday, March 4th, “Joan turns tart tongue towards Oscars”, it was noted that Joan and daughter Melissa, “ who virtually invented red carpet fashion criticism and coverage, now are part of the pack of bazillions of reporters elbowing each other for their little assigned inch of space”. As the woman who basically started it all observed “We’re so close together now that it’s literally measured out in inches. One year I wore a Versace ball gown and couldn't fit in my space!". By the way, what did Joan select this time? A steel gray long Michael Vollbracht for Bill Blass strapless gown with feathered bodice which had her joking, “Don’t laugh. Dick Cheney shot 100 birds for my dress”.

Coincidentally, the first of the seemingly endless round of TV shows devoted to covering the red carpet arrivals of the 78th Annual Academy Awards (and just a note: Isaac Mizrahi on ‘E’ promised to be such a good boy he’d have “a halo at the end of the evening” and he made good on his promise- never once groping a star’s breast or asking what kind of underwear she had on beneath her gown) began just hours after Miu Miu, the last runway show held in Paris, formally ended the fall winter 2006 collections. And with the continued hype which surrounds this spectacle, it’s often easy to forget that the Academy Awards is not a fashion happening, but an event which seeks to “honor excellence in movie making” as host Jon Stewart (who I thought was effective and up to the task,) pointed out to the audience.

‘We’ (and by that I mean the media AND the fans) demand so much of our stars (vis a vis their choice of fashion on the red carpet), they cannot possibly live up to the critical scrutiny that follows, and are basically in a no win situation. We want them to be bold, be brave, take chances, give us an eyeful, and not merely be boringly ‘safe’ or tasteful, YET we are the first to criticize and ridicule them when they do. And by nature, when one experiments and takes chances, it doesn’t always work

Alas, by in large, the stars looked predictably and uniformly good, but played it safe and somewhat bland - therefore there were no inventive surprises (for example, not one person showed up wearing one of Nicolas Guesquiere’s amazing skinny brocade pantsuits or of his lighter than air baroque concoctions that were deemed the stars of the season by members of the press. On the other hand, there were also no ‘clinkers’, along the lines of Uma Thurman’s hideous Jean Paul Gaultier concoction that had her looking like a Swiss Miss in the Alps, or in the mode of Bjork’s now famous swan dress from years past, which is still the butt of jokes (especially this time, with Dick Cheney’s recent shooting accident). And perhaps the evening would have been more fun if there was.

Other than Dolly Parton (who is well, just being ‘Dolly’), the biggest faux pas I could find was on Lauren Hutton, who opted for a chic black YSL tuxedo and could have done w ithout the pointless black wrist gloves she wore (which seemed more than ridiculous on a sunny Los Angeles afternoon). And beautiful Charlize Theron was trying too hard and looked a bit overdone in her green satin Dior gown with huge ‘Prom Queen’ bow on the shoulder (she is so naturally stunning, she hardly needs such an overblown statement in order to stand out).

Ultimately, the ones that fared the best were not victims of overblown over the top statements but looked the most ‘natural’ and believable in their grooming, choice of dress, and accessories (regardless of whether or not the latter two were borrowed). This was exemplified by presenter Nicole Kidman, who was a vision of blonde, pale, cool in her Balenciaga ivory strapless column, that seemed to match her skin and her hair, which was blown straight (not piled up in a bun or pulled back). She, like many others, selected Fred Leighton’s amazing yet tasteful diamond jewelry to accessorize. Another good example of someone who did not seem to be trying too hard, is class act and Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon, who almost never gets it wrong. She looked elegant and chic in her ivory beaded Christian Dior Haute Couture vintage gown (1955) reportedly bought at a vintage shop in Paris.

And speaking of class acts, legendary and ageless Lauren Bacall, on stage to introduce a montage of ‘Film Noir’ clips is a wonderful example of a woman who knows what looks good on her and has affected a ‘uniform’ of sorts from which she never wavers. You never see her in frills, ruffles, bows, voluminous ball gowns, or anything other than stark and simple tailleur. Last evening, she wore her signature black tuxedo accessorized with trademark choker, her ash blonde hair perfectly coiffed. The attending make up was natural yet glamorous.

Unsurprisingly, black (basic black done in ‘un-basic’ styles) was the successful choice for more than just a few stars including ravishing and 7 months pregnant Best Supporting Actress winner Rachel Weisz, who wore a long, graceful Narciso Rodriguez that emphasized her womanly curves and her luminous pale skin; Jennifer Aniston, pretty and natural in her ethereal and floaty Rochas with dramatic train; presenter Hilary Swank in form fitting strapless Versace; and well toned Felicity Huffman in plunge front Zac Posen, featuring a skirt that was short in front, longer on the sides.

It seems that if it wasn’t black, it was it’s polar opposite - ivory. Stars that glowed in off white or ivory (in addition to the aforementioned Nicole Kidman) included presenter Uma Thurman in a lingerie inspired chiffon Atelier Versace, Naomi Watts in a 1 shouldered Givenchy, and Diane Kruger in strapless Elie Saab encircled with tiny ruffles.

If there was one surprise, it was that there were no red dresses. They were such a major statement on the recent runways for fall/winter 2006. Although young beauty Keira Knightley, who had all the male hosts going ‘ga ga’, was arresting in her custom designed 1 shouldered Vera Wang deep burgundy taffeta fishtail gown that was fitted through the torso and featured a dramatic train.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New York Fall 2006 Market Report for Members & Press

Our review of New York fashion week for our subscribers reported by Marilyn Kirschner with runway photos by Randy Brooke is now online. If you do not have a user name or password or can't remember it and would like to review the report we are providing a temporary 2 day user name and password combination so you can see what we offer to our paying subscribers.

Members of the fashion press and other interested parties can access our report by entering user name: press and password: preview when the popup box appears by clicking this link.

And look for our special Oscar report on all the fashion related news and gossip surrounding the awards event. This first hand report from our entertainment editor Diane Clehane is one of our most popular annual features. It is the kind of report we promise that you will find as provocative as it is informative.