Tuesday, April 25, 2006

(Another) ‘Goldin’ Opportunity

As a long-time fan and friend of Anne Dee Goldin, the third generation furrier, I was sorry to hear the news (not long after the fall/winter 2006 collections), that she had made the decision to close shop. I have known her for decades, first working with her at Goldin Feldman, where she learned the business from her late, legendary father, Fred, and later, at her eponymous firm. She was a welcome, much needed, modern vision and voice within the fur market and because it was the innovative use of furs that practically ‘defined’ the upcoming season, this was right up her alley. She also stored my furs.

And since the cold weather is history (well, sort of), and my furs need to find a proper home for the coming warm weather months (a nice, cold, inviting environment), this situation also left me with another dilemma: where should my furs temporarily ‘live’? Well, good news for others facing the same dilemma. Anne Dee has just formed a partnership with Central Fur Storage Co., (141 Lanza Avenue, Bldg. 31, Garfield, NJ), which she considers to be “the best place to store your furs”. The premiere full service storage specialists boast state of the art vaults, superior cleaning equipment, skilled workrooms (which can come into play should you want to remodel that fur coat or fur jacket, add a fur sleeve to your trusty trench a la Derek Lam or Christopher Bailey for Burberry, or put a fur ‘skirt’ on a tweed coat), and their own efficient and courteous courier service. The company will now be called Goldin Central. For more information, call 212 239 0512.

In the mailed announcement, Ms. Goldin begins with the promising exclamation, “I figured it out!” I, for one, am glad she has.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Yin and Yang of the Beauty Business

On Thursday, April 20, I attended a highly informative beauty event hosted by Fashion Group International and sponsored by The Elle Group, Estee Lauder, and International Flavors & Fragrances: a networking reception and luncheon held at the New York Hilton, called, ‘Beauty’s New Balance- Science and Nature’. The examination and discussion of the “ever-changing world of beauty”, the “yin and yang” of the business (in this case, the yin signifies the natural, organic, and holistic side, and the yang signifies the high tech, scientific approach), and the ongoing relationship between dermatologists and the cosmetic industry was pondered and brought to life by the highly qualified, recognizable group of experts that took to the stage after the wonderful meal was served.

Moderated by Carol A. Smith, Senior Vice President, Elle Group Publishing Director, the panel included Joseph Gubernick, Chief Marketing Officer, Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.; Howard Kreitzman, Vice President, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Bloomingdale’s; Betsy Schmatz, EVP Creative & Technical Innovations, Beauty Avenues- Div. Limited Brands; Lauren Thaman, Global Director, P&G Beauty Science, Procter & Gamble; and Stephane Wilmet, General Manager, SkinCeuticals, L’Oreal USA.

After a quick trend overview (Elle Magazine’s Global Beauty Report, “What Women Really Want”), Carol made a few brief comments and observations, noting that from her experience, “women want it all and are willing to pay for it”, “they shop everywhere”, and “the consumer who buys hi tech wants immediate results while those who buy organic products want to feel as if they’re taking care of themselves”. She also jokingly likened walking the aisles of the cosmetic department in Bloomingdales to being in a hospital, thanks to all the dermatologist- based skin care lines. She then introduced the panel and asked questions of each.

What were some highlights and best quotes?

Joseph Gubernick: “We all want to live long enough to LIVE LONG ENOUGH, and look and feel good at the same time”.

“There are a lot of cheaters out there- people calling something organic when it isn’t organic…therefore I just don’t like the word”. “There is nothing more high tech than nature, it’s the ultimate Einstein.”

(On the trends towards dermatologists launching their own skin care lines) “The media has created this ‘expert’ panel of doctors. It began as a marketing tool which was supported by the media but then doctors discovered there was a business in this, and that they could sell products in their offices and in stores. They learned that they could be ‘product people’. But doctors are no more expert than we are, in fact, they’re LESS expert. We are teaching the doctors the business.”

Betsey Schmatz: “There was a major change in what consumer’s want after 9/11”

Howard Kreitzman: “Consumers are highly knowledgeable and educated and driven by a culture of demonstrable results.”

“I believe that everything we sell at Bloomingdales works!”

“There are two important factors which contribute to making that sale at retail: 1- the demand created by the marketing agency, 2- the person behind the counter who interacts with the customer (the personal touch).”

Lauren Thaman: (regarding skin care) “There is a “coming together of natural products and spirituality- a desire for realness” (which is mirrored by the popularity and influx of all the reality TV shows), a desire for simplicity and to simplify, and a trend towards the homegrown and for natural products that are high tech”.

“In the future, we can look for changes in consumer habits which reflect the realization that not all natural things are good for you.”

Stephane Wilmet: “Every 7 seconds someone turns 50… 50 is the new 30!”.

“As a society, we are embracing technology; we’re selling solutions to people.”

“Dermatology is not a science, it’s an art. The expertise is not in ONE dermatologist but in dermatology.”

Oh, and I almost forgot the best part: the generous goody bag which awaited each guest at the table. It was filled with enough beauty products (anti aging skin lotions, hair conditioners, body creams, etc. from Estee Lauder, Olay, Clairol, SkinCeuticals, and Bigelow Apothecaries, to take me through the summer and hope

Marilyn Kirschner
The Great American (Fashion) Mouth-Off

Blah blah blah blah…or should I say, blog blog blog? The blog is an enabler, a leveler, and a wonderful provider of equal opportunity. It enables those with credentials, expertise, training, and intelligence, who actually have something to say, AND those with no (or few) credentials and NOTHING (or not very much) to say, equal opportunity to mouth off, share information, get things off their chest, or rant and rave (or all of the above).

The dictionary definition of a blog (short for Web Log) is “a website of your own where you enter information ordered by date. It can also be called an online diary or online journal that is shared with others online”. And because blogs can be easily, quickly, and inexpensively set up and maintained by almost anyone with an Internet connection, they have indeed become a true phenomenon in the last 5 or 6 years (although the first blog can be dated back to the early 90’s, they didn’t really take off until the late nineties reaching full steam in 2000). There are blogs covering every imaginable subject and appealing to every possible interest group, and yes of course, that includes fashion.

Some blogs have at their core the high minded purpose of disseminating information and being informative. Others are more frivolous, self-serving and self-indulgent. Many are a little of both. Fashion blogs can basically be divided into two groups - those that are sponsored by a reputable, well established magazine or newspaper, and written by the person who is also its well respected and well known fashion writer, and those that are the brainchild of style obsessed young fashion addicts and/or shopaholics who are not necessarily professional writers or fashion pros at all, and whose ‘day jobs’ may not even be fashion related. But they sure know their stuff however marginally, and appeal to be plugged in. This group pours over fashion magazines and websites, they keep abreast of what’s going on within the fashion world- and they know the players (the star fashion models, star fashion designers, star editors, and fashion obsessed celebs). They could probably tell you what Anna Wintour ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they most probably have certain runway shows memorized.

It’s all about their youthful candor and enthusiasm. Blogs that fall into this category include iamfashion.blogspot.com, powered by two 20 somethings who go by the names Harrods Girl and Barneys Girl (their favorite stores within their respective cities). They so named their blog because as they put it, “We wanted the name of our site to actually mean something. Back then, we were in love with Chanel's classical elegance style and decided to name our site from a phase out of a quote Coco Chanel said: 'I don't do fashion, I am fashion.' Sweet! And how can one dislike a fashion blog that reminds you “You have a much better life if you wear impressive clothes” (a Vivienne Westwood quote that is written on their homepage).

They claim it all started because they felt frustrated “that there were no simple websites telling me what was going to be in fashion. I was trying to search for a site that was made for normal people by normal people, (by that we mean us of course.) I used to search on Yahoo, but that was completely useless of course. I know a lot of people probably had the same problem as I did, so I thought, why not set up a site for people to get fashion insight? Then Barneys Girl and I talked about it (for over a year,) and finally decided to do it”.

It is lighthearted, fun, and filled with examples and suggestions of how to look stylish and up to the minute (with the help of well selected visuals which they readily admit are not originals but were ‘lifted’ from other websites which they credit so that they are not sued). The duo may take fashion seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. The two students, who share a similar addiction to shopping and reading about fashion in magazines and on websites, are very knowledgeable about the scene. Their spring summer 2006 ‘edition’ not only talks about the best summer dresses they’ve found in their shopping expeditions, but they also critique the fall/winter 2006 shows in London and Milan, using runway images to illustrate.

Another such blog which is still in its formative stages, is www.coutorture.net which bills itself as “an online fashion community” and was conceived by Julie Fredrickson, its editor-in-chief who also writes for fashionwiredaily.com, and Philip Leif Bjerknes. Their ambitious mission is to give “fashion lovers news, commentary, and community in one convenient location. Integrating old media, fashion blogs, online magazines, and exclusive new media rich content, all while promoting a live forum of feedback and active participation, Coutorture is the new destination for online fashion.” You can click on the following categories: ‘news, opinion, insight, products, advice, sales, podcasts and video, search, partners, help” and I was amused by the unselfconscious self mockery of Julie’s column “Before the Glamour” which chronicled her clothing choices for the Prada “Waist Down” party, which she video taped for the site.

Blogs that fall into the category of being hosted by established media include http://www.newyorkmetro.com/fashion/blog/ which successfully and regularly dishes the dirt, reports on trends, seasonal must haves, firings and hirings, comings and goings within the fashion world during the market week periods. And then there is the occasional blog written by The Washington Post staff writer Robin Givhan blog.washingtonpost.com/fashion/ who illustrates perfectly why not all writers or all blogs are created equal. The talented, smart, articulate, observant, and highly entertaining Givhan was in fact just awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism (“distinguished criticism, in print or in print and online”). According to The New York Times, Tuesday, April 18, 2006, “Ms. Givhan, 41 was honored for her biting observations in essays that blend fashion criticism with political commentary. She has applied the same degree of stylistic scrutiny to officials from the Bush and Clinton administrations as she does to designers in Paris and Milan.” Perfect examples are the 5 columns that had been submitted for consideration for the award, which were subsequently posted on The Washington Post website, and worth reading if you did not have the opportunity. My favorite is “Dick Cheney, Dressing Down - Parka, Ski Cap at Odds with Solemnity of Auschwitz Ceremony”, January 27 (see article) which exemplifies her credentials and talent (and way with words).

It’s an honor to be sure, especially when you take into account that fashion journalism is oft considered to be an oxymoron, not to be taken truly seriously, and when you factor in that nobody within fashion has been bestowed this honor since the category was created in 1970, according to www.fashionweekdaily.com.

What sets Robin’s criticism apart from others is her highly identifiable signature style that is insightful, ‘right on the money’, witty, and often very funny (I constantly find myself chucking at her wonderful descriptions). That and the fact that she is obviously not going after the jugular with the purpose of being mean or nasty (or to just have something negative to talk about). There is always a far more high minded purpose and intent. And she writes exactly the way that she speaks - you can hear the perfect grammar and annunciation. Robin not only writes her columns for The Washington Post, but during the past fall/winter 2006 renway shows she began writing a fashion blog (more like a personal diary) which was consistent with the tone of her hard copy but which allowed her to be perhaps a bit more personal, gossipy, ‘cheeky’ and dare I say, frivolous. (Well, after all, this is the high minded and legendary Washington Post we’re talking about, not The New York Post. It’s the paper of record that first broke the Watergate affair). You go girl!

-Marilyn Kirschner<

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

‘Miuccia’ do About Nothing

Well, it’s not exactly about ‘nothing’ but ‘something’, and the ‘something’ happens to be skirts. But not just any skirts ... I’m talking about a well-edited museum quality selection of 100 Miuccia Prada skirts, culled from about 30 collections, dating back to 1988 that are part of a traveling installation, “Waist Down: Skirts by Miuccia Prada”. (So, why you ask, didn’t I entitle this, “Skirting the Issue”? Oh, c’mon, that’s too obvious and predictable, isn’t it? And actually, Style.com and WWD beat me to it).

And it’s not exactly nothing, but ‘something’, when the woman who is arguably the most influential fashion force on the planet (so influential is she, where Miuccia goes, everyone follows; so much so that I’m afraid that if she said, “Jump off the Brooklyn Bridge!”, many of her loyal fans would do so) makes a rare trip from Milan to New York and is special guest at a party in her honor, as was the case last night. The occasion was the reopening of her experimental Soho flagship (575 Broadway at Prince Street), which was damaged by a five alarm fire on January 21. To mark the event, about 1000 of her ‘nearest and dearest’ (it was most of New York by my estimates and nope - it was hardly an intimate exclusive affair) were invited to revel from 6:30PM and on into the night, take in the Rem Koolhaas (the store’s architect) conceived exhibit which creatively shows off the skirts to their best advantage, try to navigate through the gallery-like store (if you could find a place to walk that is), nibble on raw shrimp, oysters, asparagus with a truffle sauce, sip cream of mushroom soup, and toast the event from an open bar.

It was spirited, crowded, and noisy - both inside and out (there were vocal protesters outside protesting Prada’s use of baby seals, but that certainly didn’t stop the invited guests from the worlds of fashion, art, and society, from entering). And, though many did comply with the evening’s theme (skirts), just as many did not feel compelled to do so (and I’m not just talking about the guys). Miuccia Prada actually selected pants for the evening (no, of course I’m kidding - what do you think she was wearing?) On the fashion end, there was Cathy Hardwick, an avowed fan who nonetheless told me that she would not wear a circle skirt because, as she puts it, she’s too short so she only wears narrow skirts which are “lengthening”; In Style’s Cindy Weber Cleary (in pants), Elle’s Style Director Isabel Dupre in skintight jeans and Chanel backpack, Bergdorf Goodman’s Fashion Director Linda Fargo in a black tunic and pants, Paper Magazine’s Mickey Boardman (in pants), Visi onaire’s Cecelia Dean in a glittery skirt and high heeled sandals, Vogue’s Anna Wintour in a pale frothy Prada skirt ensemble though Andre Leon Talley and Grace Coddington opted for trousers), Ebay’s chic style director Constance White (in a colorful belted trench), FIT’s Dr. Valerie Steele (who did take the theme of the exhibit seriously and wore a decorated circle skirt), and downtown art maven Yvonne Force Villareal (in a black dress). Social fixture and professional platinum blonde poser Tinsley Mortimer (who literally never met a party she didn’t like) dressed in a breezy and bare dress mugged obligingly for the paparazzi.

But the highlight of the fete was not the guest list as much as the artfully arranged skirts which were literally displayed all over the store - in windows, staircases, walls, hung over the bar, suspended from ceilings, and arranged in one enormous elevator (my favorite passage by the way). I almost expected to find them in the powder room as well but, alas, there were none there.

The exhibit, which has already been to Tokyo and Shanghai, and will be on view to the public starting today through May 31, is also proof and living testament to the timelessness of an item, regardless of the current ‘ins’ and ‘outs’, mood, themes, or trends within the fickle world of fashion.

Miuccia is among those designers (like Marc Jacobs), who admittedly go against what they previously did the season before, and one never knows what they will be treated to on the runway - the fashion flock is always kept in suspense up until the last moment. (Case in point, Miuccia’s fall edict is that she is tired of the ladylike and sweet side of things and now wants to see her girls dressed for business in clothing that is more sober and stronger in feeling). But notwithstanding this fact, and the designers’ current fascination with the practicality and comfort of pants, the visually arresting circular skirts that were suspended from ceilings, perched on pedestals, mounted on illuminated mannequins, or exaggeratedly presented in blown-up photographs were decidedly and unapologetically feminine, decorative, joyful, entertaining, and festive. And great timing too because nothing announces the advent of spring better than a rustling skirt.

Regardless of what Miuccia deems to be proper attire for the moment, skirts never lose their appeal and also happen to be the designer’s signature. Along with her beloved coats, skirts not only form the backbone of a Prada collection, but are her uniform of choice (indeed, for most occasions - even the most formal - Miuccia will wear a skirt, a simple shirt or sweater, pulled together with offbeat accessories and high heeled shoes of one kind of another).

And regardless of the popularity, informality, ease, and practicality that pants or jeans provide, undeniably, there is nothing like a skirt with movement and volume (be it circular, pleated, A-lined, petti-coated, balloon shaped) to really put a gal in the right frame of mind and uplift her spirits (as well as those around her).

-Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Doyle New York Auction Results: Early Chanel Evening Dress Sells for $42,000:

(Press Release) On Tuesday, April 11, 2006, Doyle New York held 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 also included important costume jewelry, handbags and accessories, as well as American, European and Asian textiles.

Highlighting the sale was a blue silk 1926 ombre fringe dress from Chanel that soared past its pre-sale estimate of $5,000-7,000 to reach $42,000. The dress was similar to an example in the Costume Institute’s tautly edited ‘Chanel’ (p.187). Also inspiring competitive bidding was a 1993 Lacroix Carnivale inspired two-piece gown that sold for $10,800, against a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-6,000. Another noteworthy offering was an elegant Fortuny cinnamon silk Delphos tea gown that sold for $7,800. Of more recent vintage were a 1968 Ossie Clark python coat that sold for $3,600 and a 1992 Chanel Couture olive changeante silk dress that sold for $3,600. Property being offered to benefit the Grenville Baker’s Boys and Girls Club included a Mainbocher shredded point d’esprit cocktail dress that sold for $3,300.

Fine accessories included a selection of handbags by Hermes, including a blue roi crocodile Kelly bag that sold for $19,200; a cyclamen ostrich Birkin bag that sold for $16,800; and a tan togo leather Birkin bag that sold also 16,800. Costume jewelry was highlighted by a futuristic 1960s Coppola e Toppo faux rhinestone spray suite comprising a collar and two bracelets that fetched $11,400. Also notable was a 1950s Chanel gilt-metal filigree clasp belt formerly in the collection of Diana Vreeland that achieved $3,600. Textiles included an extravagantly embroidered Chinese altar cloth that sold for $6,000. Among the selection of Louis Vuitton trunks were two handsome wardrobe trunks that sold for $3,900 each.

Fall 2006

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
Email: couture@DoyleNewYork.com

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Party to Commemorate the Life of Oleg Cassini

Last night, at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, over 200 friends and family of the late Oleg Cassini gathered to honor him on what would have been his 93rd birthday. Cocktails and a buffet dinner accompanied a film retrospective of his life and work that was shown throughout the evening.

A number of good friends and business associates took the podium and told personal stories about their relationship with Oleg Cassini. Among the speakers were Donald Trump, Stan Herman (who worked with Oleg Cassini years earlier), Diane Von Furstenberg, Judy Licht, Regis Philbin, and Mrs. Cassini.

This party was originally planned to celebrate his birthday. It became a warm and fitting tribute to a man who was bigger than life. For more information about the life and times of the designer, visit the official website at http://www.olegcassini.com/.

-Ernest Schmatolla

Thursday, April 06, 2006

On ‘Burrow’-ed Time

To say that Stephen Burrows has had QUITE the career is an understatement and his list of accomplishments is impressive to say the least. The trailblazing 61 year old was the first African American to attain international star status as a fashion designer after bursting on the scene in the late 60’s, selling to the O Boutique, a known Warhol hangout which was located across the street from Max's Kansas City. He quickly became known for his revolutionary techniques, joyful designs (which quite frankly, looked like nobody else’s), his inventive use of color (which had never been seen on runways before), his use of body hugging matte jersey and floaty chiffon, and of course, his signature ‘lettuce hems’ and red stitched edging.

Burrows catapulted to fame in 1970 after being introduced to the legendary Geraldine Stutz, president of Henri Bendel, THE hip and exciting shopping Mecca on 57th street, and was offered his very own store within the store, aptly named “Stephen Burrows World”. What a colorful and upbeat world it was.

In 1973, Stephen was invited (along with Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Halston and Anne Klein), to show his collection with those of French couturiers, on the runway at Versailles. That same year, he received the American Fashion Critics' Annual Coty Award (nabbing it again in 1974 and 1977). In 1982, Bendel was sold, marking the end of an era. But it was hardly the end of the story.

The Newark, New Jersey-born designer ‘disappeared’ for awhile but resurfaced in 2003 at the newly refurbished Henri Bendel, now ensconced on 5th avenue and 55th street, where he was once again backed by the retailer and given his own Stephens Burrows World within the store. At the same time, he began showing his collections in a more high profile manner- in conjunction with New York Fashion Week, receiving praise and recognition from retailers and members of the press. He has even broadened his scope by selling his wares on HSN. The future looks as bright as his designs.

His lifetime achievements will be given formal recognition at the upcoming CFDA Awards on June 5th, when he will receive a Special Tribute by the Board of the Directors, and last evening, the colorful and exuberant world of Stephen Burrows was celebrated at the amphitheatre at FIT (where coincidentally, the award winning designer graduated in 1966). The CFDA sponsored preview screening of a documentary, aptly named “Stephen Burrows World”, by Jenny Granville and Melissa Forteou, chronicled his life and work from the beginning up until the present time, and was followed with a reception.

In the audience were such as Pat Cleveland, Alva Chin, Karen Bjornson (the famed models who marked an era and who were favorites of the designer), Anna Sui, Bethann Hardison, Ruth Finley, Patrick McDonald, Phillip Bloch, and Stan Herman, who officiated and kicked off the proceedings with a little speech he had written for the event. Stan talked of Stephen’s low keyed and humble nature, the way he has always downplayed his enormous talent, and called him a “survivor” (“It ain’t over yet, Stephen”, he chided).

The 60 minute film focused on Stephen’s pure love of design, his rule breaking and revolutionary techniques, his flaunting of tradition and challenging traditional dressmaking mores (“why do stripes HAVE to match?” he questioned the workroom at one point), and the ongoing search for financial backers, all played against 4 recurring themes: the 70’s, Studio 54, summers on Fire Island, the AIDS epidemic, which claimed many of the designers’ friends and collaborators.

There were interviews with Michael Kors and Anna Sui (the latter admitted that in the 70’s, she would go to Bendel to ogle Stephen’s designs, dreaming of someday being able to afford them), Joan Kaner (who was a buyer at Bendel in the 70’s and spoke of Stephen’s unique style saying “everything he did was so original”), FIT’s Valerie Steele (who alluded to his “joy in life”), and the Costume Institute’s Andrew Bolton (who referred to him as the “Kandinsky of fashion” because of his amazing use and sense of color). There were also clips showing Andre Leon Talley in Stephen’s workroom, previewing the collection and offering his opinion.

In the course of the film, there were several things I found out that I didn’t know: 1- that the lettuce edge that has become his signature was initially a ‘mistake’; 2 - that he learned how to sew from his elegant grandmother (who sewed all her own clothes); 3- one reason he ‘disappeared’ for awhile was that his father and brother were both dying of cancer at the same time, and he went home to help his mother care for them; 4- he was quite the little ‘fashionista’ (though he now prefers a uniform of hoodies, baseball caps, and sneakers, a picture of him as a little boy impeccably dressed in a chic duffle coat proved his penchant for style early on); it’s not the business side but the creative side of designing that spurs him on (“I like designing and fabric is my medium” and as he put it, “I hated 7th avenue” (well I guess that one wasn’t a surprise).

All I know is that at the end of the film, I had the sudden urge to forego all the tan and black that has been so pervasive in fashion as of late (and seen on the backs of most fashion insiders) and instead, put together the most vibrant, ‘out there’, and unorthodox colors. Hurray for Stephen!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

‘The Odd Couple’

I don’t really understand why anybody would find it at all surprising that Kimora Lee and Russell Simmons have split. Russell, 48, and Kimora, 30, have been married since 1998 (they met in 1992 during New York Fashion Week), and have apparently been “separated for some time” though they continued to live under the same roof. (Of course, when your roof is over a ‘gazillion’ square foot mansion, it’s kind of easy to be ‘separated’).

Though they have constantly appeared together for charities and social events, have worked together as business partners, and seemed to have been a happy couple with two adorable daughters and a superficially enviable lifestyle, it has also been well documented that the two have different philosophies and different ways to view the world- especially when it comes to the material side of things. That Kimora Lee is the original ‘Material Girl’ is undeniable and her shopping sprees and spending habits are the stuff of legends and folklore. On the other hand, notwithstanding his reputation as a “ladies man”, Russell is known to be more grounded, far more down to earth and homey, and is almost always photographed out and about in street friendly baseball caps and athletic gear.

As reported in WWD, “Despite Split, Simmonses Say Business as Usual”, April 3rd, “from the beginning, Russell and Kimora had their differences”, and according to www.fashionwatch.com/fashionnews, “most people just wondered why it took so long”. The pair appeared to be living separate lives for a very longtime”. But for me, the “Aha” moment when I just knew there was probably trouble brewing in paradise, and the writing was on the wall that this was not a marriage made in heaven, came on the evening of Friday, January 23, 2004, when I watched the 10 pm ABC News program hosted by John Stossel. Included was a segment entitled, “Lies, Myths and Downright Stupidity: John Stossel’s List of Popularly Reported Misconceptions”.

Myth #7 was “Money Can Buy Happiness” and two of the guests who were on board to set the record straight were none other than rapper Reverend Run and his brother hip hop promoter Russell Simmons. This struck me as particularly funny since his wife is known as the ‘reigning Queen of Conspicuous Consumption’ whose core happiness does not come from deep within her soul but from deep within the ‘sole’ of her countless Manolo Blahniks, or at the very least, from within the deep reaches of her huge walk in closets). But Russell knows better and as he admitted to John Stossel, “If I know 15 billionaires, I know 13 unhappy people.” Suffice it to say, the two happy ones he’s referring to are NOT Russell and Kimora Lee.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, April 03, 2006

Editorial: The Incredible Pretentiousness of Being a Golden Blonde

We are not the only ones who got nauseous reading that insipid and downright silly article in this past Sunday's New York Times called "Golden Blondes" written by Jill Gerston. Click here for article. Are we suppose to care about these people? Obviously Ms. Gerston does, but it says more about her than the subject of the article.

And while Gawker.com beat us to the editorial punch, we just cannot let this kind of crap go by unscathed without making some comments of our own. Here are some of the more profound quotes from the article:
"You can't work in fashion in this city and not look good," explained New York blonde Ms. Castellano (an account executive at Ogan Dallal Associates with the golden locks of hair that she spends hundreds of dollars each month to keep up).)

And, according to Jill Gerston, a "New York blonde" is a “polished, pedigreed creature[who] can usually be spotted in her natural habitat, the Upper East Side, dropping off her offspring at the Episcopal School, scrutinizing embroidered 480-thread-count sheets at Pratesi and sipping drinks at La Goulue.”

We are not sure if we should laugh or cry as to what the writer considers "news worthy" but this "epistle" seems little more than a pay back article plugging (sucking up?) some of Jill Gerston's friends, associates, and close editorial sources. Not since the days of the late editor Amy Spindler, has the Times allowed a writer to pander so much to his or her sources. Talk about name dropping (not to mention book titles), Jill has got everyone from Plum Sykes (whose pontifications was referenced 5 times) and Ivanka Trump to Robert Verdi and a gaggle of colorists, socialites, and other well known and well connected fashionistas who are sure to keep Ms. Gerston busy with scores of invites to top parties, free color consultations and cocktail parties from now until Christmas!

The only question posed by this article that has not been answered to our satisfaction is not do blondes have more fun, but to what extent Ms. Gerston's cronyism is being encouraged by the editors of the Style Section of The New York Times. This article is another example of why the phrase "fashion journalism" as practiced by so much of the media -- and particularly The New York Times -- continues to be a oxymoron.

Perhaps we are being too hard on Jill Gerston. A Bernadine Morris she is not. See, we can name drop also.

-Ernest Schmatolla