Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The ‘SAGGING’ Awards

While every magazine’s ‘Big Fall Issue’ seems to have the EXACT same ads and the EXACT same editorial stories (you know the drill by now: layers, leggings, military, capes, black, tough chic, platforms, egg shaped coats, knitwear, boots and booties, etc.) “T”, The New York Times Women’s Fashion Fall 2006 edition, “Indie Darling”, was indeed “indie” and managed to distance itself from the pack by virtue of several things. Not the least of which was their clever word play on the very costly (what else is new?) medieval, coat of armor trend which they dubbed, ("Spendalot"), fashion individualist Lynn Yaeger's always witty and personal observations (“Age Appropriate?”), this time focusing on the ‘pitfalls’ of wearing vintage over a 'certain' age. (Though I must say I took issue with her surprising point of view, and on a personal level, can think of many label and non label vintage items in my closet (and in other collectors’ closets) that are far from moldy, oldie, and dusty, and qualify as highly modern, up to the minute, and forever chic. Is there anything more modern than Bonnie Cashin?)

And of course, nobody but The New York Times could boast a picture of Elizabeth Saltzman in her exhibitionistic, early Vogue, Pre-Vanity Fair years (the mid 80’s), club hopping at Area with date in tow, wearing nothing more than a see thru plastic ‘dress’ over a white lace bra, panties, garter belt, and stockings, (“Culture Club” by Glenn O’Brien). Though to be honest, I don’t know what was more shocking - the picture or the fact that she sort of pulled it off and managed to look somewhat elegant, rather than vulgar, and had the amazing the body to do so I might add.

And speaking of the fall and seasonal trends (layers, capes, fur trim, egg shaped coats, leggings, and skinny jeans, military and medieval),the one place you are guaranteed to NEVER see trends du jour materialize is on the red carpet. And that was certainly the case this past Sunday night when we were all ‘treated’ to an early pre-Labor Day Emmy Award ceremony telecast from Los Angeles. We all know that with few exceptions, the only thing that really changes within this genre from season to season, year to year, is the color and fabric of that typical floor length, form fitting, plunge front glamour gown that is more often than not chosen by stylists to grace the bodies of their high paid, high profile celebrity clients.

Regardless of the mutterings by fashion (‘experts’?) who excitedly proclaimed that plum is the ‘new black’ based on the sighting of so many plum, purple, and aubergine-hued dresses, what I saw was yet another sea of boring, predictable, prom worthy gowns (including some that were downright awful and some that tried too hard), upswept dos and sagging boobs (yup!); so much so that the Emmy Awards could have been called the ‘Sag Awards’. I really don’t get it. Don’t these women believe in wearing bras? Don’t their high paid stylists have eyes? Don’t these stars look in the mirror?

Interesting (or maybe not), the worst offender in this category was Melissa Rivers, Joan’s daughter. This was one evening where Joan (in black lace) actually looked younger than her sidekick offspring who chose a pale, bias cut satin gown with cowl back, cowl sides, and unfortunately for her, cowl front. The end result (or the front result) was that she appeared to have two watermelons down to her waist. Not only was it highly unflattering; it was aging.

But speaking of Melissa and Co,I did agree with them on one of their best dressed picks of the night, Sandra Oh, who chose a romantic vivid blue Vera Wang gown whose neckline was accessorized with masses of necklaces in different metals. The result was charmingly individual and appeared to be hand picked by Ms. Oh as opposed to her stylist. I also applauded any woman who dared to be different, such as Kelly Macdonald, who won for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a mini-series or movie’, and who chose a knee length flapper-esque dress for the occasion.

Other ‘winners’ on the style front were Julia Louis-Dreyfus in chic and elegant black and white Narciso Rodriguez and Megan Mullaly in long sleeved navy silk Badgley Mischka with deep v neckline. Speaking of which, I never understand why more women don’t opt for covering up rather than choosing those tired, ditsy stoles over their bare top gowns. Not only are these stoles rather cumbersome and awkward, they are terribly aging, as illustrated by Blythe Danner, a good looking woman over a ‘certain’ age, who took the stage to accept her Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. Of course, going a different route and covering up does not always guarantee good results. While presenter Candace Bergen gets high marks for trying to break the mold in her Ralph Lauren white cotton blouse, turquoise mermaid hemmed skirt, Navajo Indian turquoise and silver belt combo, unfortunately, she resembled a stuffed derma when she took the stage.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Publisher's note: And speaking of Elizabeth Saltzman, I will never forget the day she walked into a Jennifer George fashion show wearing waist high rubberized wading boots and suspenders. At the time, she was one of those high profile New York editors promoting the "Grunge" look to designers like Marc Jacobs. And who can forget Marc's last "Grunge" show for Perry Ellis which was such a disaster it closed the women's line. Elizabeth has come a long way since her days of dancing on top of tables, now she is a conservative matron with a dream job at Vanity Fair. Just what does a 'Fashion and Style Director at Large' do? One thing for sure, if Anna Wintour ever does decide to retire, Elizabeth has positioned herself nicely to be next in line for the job - and that is no accident. Just ask her Mum.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Love & War: The Weaponized Woman

Opening Reception of Exhibition
The Museum at FIT, Friday,
September 8th, 2006 7-9PM
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street.

Opening night reception for Love & War: The Weaponized Woman a visually stunning and intellectually daring exhibition that takes an unprecedented look at the influence of armor and underwear on contemporary fashion.

Special Symposium:

Saturday September 9
Katie Murphy Amphitheatre
$30, Free to all students, and FIT Faculty and staff

"Modern fashion is often inspired by what might be called the discourse of silk and steel. As designers seek to express both sensuality and power, they draw on two important sources of inspiration: lingerie and armor. This day of lectures will explore historical and contemporary issues of armor and intimate apparel in fashion."

Speakers include: Jeffrey Forgeng, Higgins Armory Museum; Ruel Macaraeg, fashion historian, Tanya Marcuse, photographer; Tricia Rose, professor of American Studies at UC Santa Cruz; Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum of FIT.

Please visit www.fitnyc.edu/museum for detailed speaker, schedule, and registration information or call 212-217-7715.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Party Schedule for New York Fashion Week

The upcoming New York Spring 2007 shows in early September are filled with parties and special store events. Lookonline has a schedule of some of the biggest and best parties going on with time, place and contact information. To access this schedule you must be a subscriber to our premium features areas. This schedule is just one of many reasons you should become a paying supporter of our site. For more information about the benefits of becoming a subscriber go to our membership sign-up page.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Join the ‘Club’ (foot)

Boy, if there was ever a fashion season which has all the makings of disaster, and promises to tempt or bring out the fashion victim lurking in many of us…it is fall 2006. What started out back in February, as freshly appealing and highly interesting, is already beginning to look old and wear thin. And thanks to fashion saturation on countless websites, in magazines and newspapers, the novelty of a new season starts wearing thin months before any of us will even think of donning the new offerings.

I think if I see another picture of Nicolas Guesquiere’s ridiculously unwearable, costume-y high structured hats, flaring plaid minis, and especially, the scarily orthopedic footwear, I will scream. (You’re not actually entertaining the idea of wearing those ugly shoes are you? I mean really! Grounded, practical, and urban is one thing….downright distorted, contorted, and expensive no less- is quite another.)

And while some of Guesquiere’s archival interpretations for fall 2006 looked charming and arresting (in an almost shockingly exaggerated way) when they first turned up on his Paris runway several months ago, only a handful (some coats, the narrow silhouette as seen in his brief jackets, skinny pants) have even a whiff of wearability or real life application for us mere mortals who are not 18 years old, 100 pounds, and 6 feet tall (and rolling in dough I might add).

The folks at The New York Times obviously feel this is a season filled with more than its share of rather difficult to pull off choices (oversized knits, endless layers, scary looking boots and platforms), so much so that they turned their ‘Thursday Styles’ section into a guide or primer of sorts…in an attempt to help the customer sift through the trends (without a stylist)…and come through unscathed.

My advice is simple and easy: experiment all you want; devote a day or two or as long as it takes, and sift through your closets. Try everything on (different combinations, etc), and most importantly, think realistically about your age, your body, your ‘look’, your occupation, your lifestyle, your geography. Make sure you have a good mirror and really take a good hard look at yourself. Be ruthless. If you think you look silly…you probably do. Steer clear of all the ‘runway only’ shoes, boots, and hats. Don’t over- layer unless you are really skinny or have such personal style, that it comes off as natural and effortless. If you have bad legs…don’t even THINK about wearing leggings: opt instead for skinny (or narrow pants) or jeans.

Speaking of which, one trend for fall 2006 that has already caught on, is skinny jeans. They are also perfect for pairing with voluminous capes, coats, couture jackets, and knitwear.

I happen to find them versatile and flattering, and think they work for a range of ages, depending of course, on the shape of one’s body- and legs- AND on the jeans. And with Karl Lagerfeld having proposed high heeled, faded denim over the knee boots with EVERYTHING for his Chanel couture fall/winter 2006 collection (they ultimately had the look of skinny faded jeans worn with high heels), all of a sudden, this ‘bridge and tunnel’ staple looks newly sophisticated, chic, and elegant. And appropriate for day and evening, even black tie.

Yes, I know- not all jeans are “created equal”: some styles and washes are more ‘age appropriate’ than others. While I found a good, affordable selection (under $60) at the Levi’s stores (www.levis.com), the one thing that constantly irks me is why they have to make these narrow jeans so low-rise. Forgive me, but I just don’t understand the appeal (maybe it’s generational?) In the first place, very few women (of any age) actually look good in jeans that are cut so low that their midriff hangs out over the waistband. And forgetting looks, I don’t understand how anybody could actually find such low risers to be comfortable. Can somebody please explain to me the appeal and advantage of feeling as if you are losing your pants?

But if you are like me, I have some good news for you. A sales rep at the Soho shop (who agreed with me by the way), confessed that the waistlines are on the rise, and in the near future, even the skinny jeans will have waistbands that are natural or even high- waisted. (Hurray!)

Speaking of ‘high and low’ and the new fall season, Diane von Furstenberg, the designing icon and newly elected President of the CFDA was the subject of an article in Newsweek on July 25th (among others of course) where she told A. Christian Jean, that one of her goals is to “make the membership very exciting. It’s all about the members. I want to create a true fraternity and support system for the members. I would like to turn it into a huge, massive, great network.”

Now, one would assume that in order to accommodate this “huge, massive, great, network”, the venue for last night’s cocktail party to honor the new members would be an appropriately large, inviting space. But alas, it was just the opposite. In fact, when we initially contacted Steven Kolb, Executive Director of the CFDA, to request coverage of this event, he politely informed us that there was no room at the time, since, Arnold Scaasi’s approximately $10 million, 12 and a half room Beekman Place duplex apartment (which is for sale) is “much smaller than others who have hosted so the guest list must be very small and tight. At this point we need to accommodate our CFDA members first.”

Well, low and behold, according to www.fashionweekdaily.com, at the last moment, (owing to the large number of requests and rsvp’s), the location was changed to accommodate the growing throng and instead of being held indoors, the party was moved to Sue’s Garden, the building’s “lush backyard space”.

And ironically, DVF was not on hand at her ‘coming out party’…she had planned a summer excursion long before the details of the cocktail party (or her Presidency) were announced. So, I guess they had “room for one more” after all.

-Marilyn Kirschner
Is Brown Really The New Black?

Pictured from left to right are: Ashleigh Verrier, Brian Reyes, Stephanie Schur, Sari Gueron, Sophie Buhai, Lisa Mayock, Alice Ritter, IMG's Fern Mallis, UPS's John Flick and UPS drivers Adam Cash and Richie Avvento. (The remaining designers couldn't make it because they are overseas at the moment.) This photo was taken by Fadi Kheir

Very possibly, because here’s how UPS scored big with the fashion crowd at the “UPS Delivering Fashion’s Future” event on Tuesday night. The recipe for success: Take a balmy summer night. Add 60 Thompson’s fantastic, roof-deck; nibbles and cocktails. Mix in a bevy of young, international designers, hand-picked by a group of industry pros (CFDA, GenArt, magazines, retailers) - to present their collections during September’s NYC Olympus Fashion Week. Serve up to a packed house of VIP editors, hipsters, photographers, IMG Fashion’s Fern Mallis, Zach Eichman, Andrew Freesmeier, Christina Nault and UPS bigwigs. The beefy guys showing off crisp, UPS uniforms, were fun. Also nice to see some of last year’s UPS designers, such as Doo Ri and Tomer.

Designers who made it to the party (10 in total will show in the UPS Hub during FW) were introduced to the crowd by Ms. Mallis and David Abney, president of UPS International. Gifting each young createur with a special Coach-made, messenger bag, all done up in UPS signature “Brown”, Abney said, “UPS is excited to be back under The Tents for the second year, again delivering new faces of fashion to the world’s stage. From New York to New Delhi, UPS is committed to the industry’s global growth, helping fashion houses both large and small turn concepts into collections.”

Well, the party’s over now, and everyone’s wanting to know what surprises the chosen designers have up their sleeves. Alice Ritter, Brian Reyes, Erin Fetherston, Michon Schur (Stephanie Schur), Sabyasachi (Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Sari Gueron, (Alexander Terekhov) Toni Maticevski, Vena Cava (Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai) and Verrier (Ashleigh Verrier) will give us the answers in a few weeks.

– Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Summer Cool...Going Vintaqe Hawaiian!

Photo: American Textile History Museum Special Exhibition, 'Let’s Go Hawaiian'

The reputation of the Aloha shirt has come a long way over the years. What was once a colorful (if not gaudy) tourist memento has evolved into a prized art form combining fashion, style and nostalgia. Rhonda Erb gives us some historic background about these "upscale t-shirts" and she interviews Nathan Garrett, a New York collector who owns over 300 of these amazing shirts. Click here to read this fun article.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Procter’s ‘Gamble’

Lynn Hirshberg’s, cover story in Sunday’s magazine section of The New York Times, “Fashion’s Victim, or the strange romance of Olivier Theyskens” was interesting but did not necessarily offer any new insights. The recent closing of the house of Rochas by American conglomerate Procter & Gamble just proves the point that the business of high fashion is more a ‘gamble’ now than ever before, and the current climate is more favorable to those designers and companies that are more ‘mass’, more commercial, more vulgar, more common. In other words, for someone with a vision, high principles, talent, and taste, it’s a hard hard world.

Having said that, my thoughts are now geared to the upcoming spring 2007 fashion shows which will kick off with New York Fashion Week in September. And while it’s somewhat early and things might change, I have gotten some leads as to what some of our most talented young designers (those who definitely cannot be described as commercial or mass driven) have in the works as we speak.

According to a very reliable inside source, (exclusive to The Lookonline)…Peter Som and Thakoon are using old images from Balenciaga, or turn of the century garments, to identify design details. Peter Som is relying on a neutral palette, concentrating on beige linen and white chiffon, and the look can almost be described as ‘Pierrot’ (empire waist lines, high necklines, neutral colors and big black buttons). Pleats and volume seem to be quite popular for the bottom.

Peter Som is also continuing his random ruching dress look: bell shaped skirts/corset top foundations with a ruched tulle overlay, tacked down with Givenchy style bows. He is also planning a few sweet chiffon-y baby doll style dresses, focusing on an empire waist and lots of volume in white. Pleats again, even in the neckline.

The team of Proenza Shouler is continuing with complicated seams and style lines. They are also working in a neutral palette, but are going more sporty, using a grey rubberized linen and black nylon (for separate pieces). In the works are a yellow leather pea swing coat, (look for mustard as a new neutral), and a suspender dress, again with really complicated seam lines, style lines and pleating. They seem to be in love with a somewhat jigsaw puzzle way of patternmaking (as seen in their signature corset dresses); it is very triangular in composition.

Of the group, ThaKoon is using the most color. He has a pea green 4 ply silk, as well as a rose taffeta that has white roses (almost upholstery like). His collection is very drapey, pleat-y, but using really soft fabrics. It has a 50s feeling, since Balenciaga and Vionnet have really influenced him, hence, it is a mix of Grecian draping and Balenciaga volume. In general, as compared with the aforementioned, he is going in a direction that is more visionary, softer, less about the patterns and more about feelings. He is thinking more about the ethereal quality of each garment, and less about the overall collection. It’s about unique pieces that make up a whole, instead of 25 pieces that represent a collection.

Stay tuned!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Contours International Lingerie Awards

Photo by Randy Brooke

On Monday night, Contours Magazine & The Intimate Apparel Council, sponsored a dinner, fashion show and awards presentation at the Grand Ballroom, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, NYC. The awards, to honor creativity and design in the lingerie industry, were co-sponsored by Montreal Collections. (Click here to see some of the award winning designs from the runway show.)

Dinner was preceded by a “fashion showcase” presented by CILA awards co-sponsor, the Intimate Apparel Council of America. The show, on a traditional elevated runway, was a pre-cursor to the main event. The CILA Fashion show, featuring the 79 finalists, in 17 categories, was presented by category. The winners are as follows:

Best t-shirt bra: Chantelle and Le Mystere (tie)
Best daywear: Rene Rofe
Best nightwear glamour: Jane Woolrich and Jonquil (tie)
Best nightwear functional: Eberjey
Best robes/loungewear: Jonquil
Best d+: Wacoal
Best fashion: Hanky Panky
Best control/shapewear glamour: Rago
Best control/shapewear functional: Rago
Best technical innovation: Wacoal
Best bridal: Le Caprice de Marie
Best co-ordinate luxury: Claire Pettibone
Best co-ordinate moderate: BB Curves
Best plus size: Goddess
Best seamless: La Cosa
Best maternity: Elle Macpherson
Best spa: Carlton hall

There were over 200 attendees, many from leading intimate apparel companies, who enjoyed the sit down dinner, fashion shows and dancing to a live band. For more information about the awards contact: Linda Farha 1-866-440-4034 or Linda@zenergycom.com.

-Rhonda Erb