Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The ‘ACE’ in Spades

Last night approximately 680 strong, including some of the biggest stars in the worlds of fashion and entertainment (actually, aren’t they one in the same these days?) converged on Cipriani 42nd street to celebrate the 10th Annual ACE (Accessories Council Excellence) Awards, first created in 1996. According to their website, www.accessoriescouncil.org, the Ace Awards were created in 1996 as a way to “pay homage to those individuals and groups that have made great strides in raising the awareness of the accessories industry. The purpose of the awards is to celebrate those who have had a positive impact on accessory consumption during the prior year.”

To mark the popular, and sold out event and to emphasize the star power which connects the worlds of fashion, accessories, and entertainment, “Access Hollywood’s” statuesque Nancy O’Dell (ironically, ‘access’ is part of ‘accessories’), wearing a jade green long strapless gown, served as emcee of the evening, and stars like Zoe Cassavetes, Naomi Watts, and Jane Krakowski (the latter of which were both wearing short dresses, a continuing theme for evening), mingled with fashion stars such as Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Glenda Bailey, Narcisco Rodriguez, Zac Posen, Reed Krakoff, Nina Garcia. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another ‘star’: Tinsley Mortimer, the socialite/ handbag designer/professional ‘poseur’ who the paparazzi can’t seem to get enough of. Tinsley has gotten her poses down perfectly at this moment in time, and she wowed the photogs dressed in a pale gold lurex short dress, black tights, black pumps, and carrying a metallic clutch bag from her Samantha Thavasa by Tinsley Mortimer line.

Of course, what nobody counted on was that PETA protesters would be out in front of Cipriani in an attempt to dampen the festivities. Greeting the guests who had to stand on a long line to check in (security was tight due to the ‘star power’) were a small and vocal group of protesters, holding signs bearing slogans like, “Animals are not accessories”, “Cruel, selfish, mean, wicked, shallow” shouting things like, “Cruelty should never be rewarded”, and insulting all fur wears. Even though it was unseasonably warm, that hardly stopped a number of guests from wearing fur. And like In Style’s Cindy Weber Cleary (who came in a long gown and small fur cape), those who wore fur chose little pieces.

Jennifer Lopez (who was there with hubby Marc Anthony to receive the ACE Award), literally (and unsurprisingly) caused a paparazzi feeding frenzy when she arrived, wearing a slightly bubble hemmed short ivory strapless dress which she ‘accessorized’ with pearl drop earrings, an enormous ring, an ivory satin wrist bag, and sky high lace covered stiletto heels, which showed off her well toned bare legs. (When you’re J Lo you don’t really need to accessorize to make a statement but of course, the evening was all about accessories after all). Tom Ford, who ‘accessorized’ his tuxedo with a natty black and white checked scarf also had to be escorted in past the photographer’s gallery, by publicist Paul Wilmot (Paul Wilmot Communications handled the press for the event).

Other honorees were Silvia Fendi for Fendi, ‘Brand of the Year’; Coach, in its 65th year in business, ‘Fashion Innovator’; “O”, The Oprah Magazine, ‘Magazine of the Year’ (and on her November cover, Oprah is bedecked in earrings, bracelets, a long beaded necklace, and a watch, as if to drive the point home); stylist to the stars Rachel Zoe, fresh from her Fashion Group International Fashion Oracle Award just days ago (which was also held at Cipriani 42nd street), received her ‘Fashion Influencer’ Award; Bergdorf Goodman was honored with ‘Retailer of the Year’; Solstice Sunglass Boutique was bestowed ‘Specialty Store of the Year’; and Suzy Menkes, who made the trip from London (recovering from a broken toe), to pick up her ‘Marylou Luther Journalism Award’ and turning a cane into a striking accessory fit for the occasion.

Suzy was wearing a cardinal red satin ¾ length coat with short full sleeves, made for her by Nicolas Guesquiere (which was an exact reproduction of an original Balenciaga). She wisely ‘accessorized’ with Prada’s bronze t strap shoes on a curved but sturdy heel, featuring a squarish/round toe (comfortable yet festive). She told me she was thrilled to be given the award and observed, “Accessories are where it’s at now. Who thinks about the clothes? It’s all about the accessories.”

When I asked this outspoken and intelligent veteran what she thought would happen with the scheduling of shows in New York this September, she was quick to voice her disdain of the current schedule. “I hope they start a bit later. I think these collections are getting TOO early (and she emphasized the word, “too”). I don’t understand this business of showing right after Labor Day. Coming to New York at this time (late October), the city looks so fabulous. I really feel seriously that it doesn’t do the New York fashion industry any favors to be showing so early and I think they should really start looking seriously at moving the dates up to where they had been. Isn’t the whole problem with Bryant Park because of the timing of the shows?” While she noted that nothing would probably change as early as September 07, there might be a change at a later time.

In the meantime, when I asked Suzy if she came into town just for her award, she said she also attended Bill Clinton’s 60th birthday celebration/Rolling Stone concert at the Beacon on Sunday.” Which she said was fabulous!

Getting back to accessories, it was not surprising that many invited guests factored the theme of the evening into their choice of dress. Even Marylou Luther, known for her minimalist fashion sense (not to mention her love of black), opted instead for a beautiful green Thea Porter coat accessorized with strands of vintage beads. And many of those who wore black (and they were out in force), used the non color as a perfect foil to make their interesting bags or shoes stand out. Proving that certain accessories never go out of style and always look great, the one woman who really caught my eye was wearing a simple knee length scoop neck black dress and accessorized with masses of long pearls (another ongoing ‘trend’ as of late).

And speaking of accessories, it’s hardly surprising that the ACE award itself, was not your average, run of the mill trophy but a singularly beautiful, and highly collectible accessory. To mark the group’s 10 year milestone, Judith Leiber created a new design: a large and weighty crystal minaudiere that boasts a sterling silver plaque inside.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, October 27, 2006

Starry Starry Night...

As always, the stars were out in force at last night’s Fashion Group International 23rd Annual 'Night of Stars', honoring ‘The Visionaries’, held at Cipriani 42nd Street. Each year it seems the highly anticipated sold out event has as many star honorees as star presenters and this time was no exception. The retail legend, Neiman Marcus Burt Tansky received the Superstar Award and Star Honorees included Carolina Herrera, Yves Saint Laurent’s creative director, Stefano Pilati, Marni’s designer, Consuelo Castiglione, and the popular, charismatic and talented couple Ruben and Isabel Toledo. The Star Honoree, Beauty, was Aerin Lauder, the Star Honoree Journalism was Robin Givhan, and the Star Honoree Architecture was Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The Humanitarian Award was given to Timothy Shriver, and stylist to the stars Rachel Zoe (who seems to be every place you look these days) received the Fashion Oracle Award. Star presenters included Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Mariska Hargitay, and Anne Hathaway.

And since the evening is all (well, almost all) about fashion and style, who’s wearing what is always on everyone’s mind (including mine). No doubt, we are in a period where ‘anything goes’: long is always considered elegant and dramatic, and pants are always a fabulous option (especially when they’re worn by someone tall and beautiful like French journalist Anne-Sophie von Claer of Le Figaro who chose narrow black pants and a simple black top to put under Stefano Pilati for YSL’s white crochet cocoon-like knee length cape from fall 2006).

But what hit me was that it seems the big story is short for evening, including black tie events like FGI’s Annual 'Night of Stars'. Just how short one goes should depend on many factors, including age, body type, shape of legs, and the idea of what is appropriate. But there certainly were a number of young and not so young women wearing extremely short minis, including Elle’s Style Director Isabel Dupre in Stefano Pilati for YSL’s gold sequined mini dress (for the record, with her thin frame and long legs she certainly pulled it off). Stunning model Alek Wek could also ‘pull off’ her metallic red short one-shoulder toga dress.

There were also designing women in very short dresses of their own design (natch). Behnaz Sarafpour was in short silver sequins and Nanette Lepore wore a short black chiffon dress edged in beads that was also worn by another guest. By the way, Nanette said she loves short so much now, (and going forward for next season), she admitted. “I’m buying all this vintage and I’m chopping it off”. There was also Joanna Mastroianni in a short (but not too short) black dress accessorized with her own marabou hat and ornamental clutch bag. The designer, who I first met in the 80’s when I was her editor at Harper’s Bazaar has evolved from doing primarily special occasion wear and evening wear and is now designing a complete collection of “funky” clothes and accessories from day to evening.

When I asked The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan (clad in an understated elegant black knee length dress by Dries Van Noten), how she arrived at what was obviously an important decision, she laughed and said that actually, “it was quite complicated. I wanted to be appropriate, I didn’t want to wear long, I wanted to be comfortable, and I didn’t want anyone to say anything mean about me the next day in the paper.” I assured her that her wise choice would practically guarantee that.

By the way, while seeing who’s wearing what is always fun, the dinner is always delicious, and the award ceremony is, of course, the highlight and ‘raison d’etre’ of the evening, one of the best parts of the night is the cocktail hour, which gives guests an opportunity to speak with a lot of different people and catch up with old friends they haven’t seen for awhile. I bumped into Meryl Green, who I originally met when we were both young editors at Harper’s Bazaar in the mid 70’s. She is now creative director of www.stylesight.com, a website that she described as “awesome” and a “facilitating mechanism for the design industry” with which to filter and share information.”

Speaking of information, cocktail parties like this are also a way to get a lot of information within a relatively short period of time. For example, it occurred to me after looking at a 2007 calendar that the Jewish High Holy Days will be unusually early next year and, in fact, Rosh Hashanah is the evening of Wednesday, September 12, and Thursday, the 13th (the dates that always coincide with New York Fashion Week for spring). I had been unsuccessful in finding out the schedule since it is early and nobody has been able to confirm the exact dates yet. So, when I spotted James LaForce in the crowd (if anyone would know, it would be James), I asked what he thought would be the scenario. His take was that Fashion Week would most likely start one week earlier than usual (right after Labor Day). As he put it, “In all my years working on shows, I’ve always known the industry to be observant of the holidays and to be careful not to set up the week so that there would be a conflict.”

I also had a lovely conversation with Russell J. Nardozza, Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, of Geoffrey Beene who I had not seen in awhile and who talked about the company’s major reorganization since the death of Geoffrey Beene several years ago. “The focus is on licensing now, since we closed made-to-order in December and we’re not manufacturing any longer” he said. He also told me that the vast Geoffrey Beene archives (about 1500 design pieces) are being meticulously maintained and organized in the West 57th Street atelier that had been used as Geoffrey’s showroom and a location for his shows. The archives, dating from 1963 to 2004 include Einar’s collections in 2005 (he is now designing for Reem Acra) and jewelry which is being sorted through and appraised and entered into a database. “We are not yet sure where this will all find itself”, but he seemed to be enjoying the journey. He also heaped praises on the young woman (a graduate of F.I.T.) who is entrusted with the responsibility of organizing and appraising the archives.

And I chatted with Linda Fargo, the fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman, who was wearing a beautifully designed knee length black dress from Rodarte. I asked her if she thought the talented young women got a ‘bum rap’ with Cathy Horyn’s dismissive, three sentence review in The New York Times this past season. She agreed with me and, in fact, told me, “I still have that review on my desk and I looked at it today, and I really think they got a bum rap not getting the CFDA Award this year”. We have a really nice business with them and we consider them couture, but they are a crossover with who they attract as a clientele. You could put them near Prada or Marni, they are really designers to watch. The craftsmanship is amazing.”

-Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fashion Editorial by Marilyn Kirschner

'Support’ System

You may recall that last week, I complained about never receiving my free Barely There ‘invisible look’ (www.barelythere.com) bra (an inviting offer that was included within the Kenneth Cole large nylon totes given out to registered members of the press during the recent New York Fashion Week).

When I called to place my order, I was given a choice of 4 styles and 4 colors, and was told I’d receive the bra within a few weeks. When that didn’t happen, I followed up but was unsuccessful in reaching someone in the PR department. I was subsequently contacted and given an apology, saying the bra had been sent to my apartment but for some reason, it was sent back.

Well, just yesterday, I not only received the one I originally ordered (a nude underwire), but two extras (a black criss cross strap underwire and a nude strapless with detachable straps). I immediately tried them on and I’m happy to report that my quick impression is that the bras are as “seamless, soft, lightweight, and incredibly smooth” as advertised, feel great against the skin, extremely comfortable and not binding.

Of course, having said that, only time will tell exactly how ‘uplifting’ an experience these undergarments will be.

For press inquiries, please contact: Terri Barnes (terri.barnes@hanesbrands.com) or Jane Clair Jacobi (jane.jacobi@hanesbrands.com.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bravo…Ralph Deserves the Honor!

Ralph Rucci standing in front of his art work.

Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President, Fashion Institute of Technology and The Couture Council of The Museum at F.I.T. hosted a wonderful luncheon reception at Brasserie 8 ½, (9 West 57th Street) yesterday. Sponsored by CIT Group, Inc., the occasion (which was sold out) was to inaugurate the Couture Council’s Award for Artistry of Fashion, and to honor their (very well deserved) first recipient, Ralph Rucci. Arguably, there is no other American designer today who so perfectly embodies the combination of fashion and art.

Mannequins overlooking the dining room area.

As if to illustrate this point, mannequins dressed in several of Ralph’s most recent designs (a mix of fall 2006 couture and spring 2007 ready to wear), both of which were shown last month during New York Fashion Week, were set up in a reception area overlooking the dining room, adding the perfect ambiance. The fashionable crowd (over 200 strong), seated in round tables and cozy banquettes around the decorative room, included celebrated customers, friends, and supporters like Iris Apfel, Tatiana Soroko, Amy Fine Collins, Charlotte Moss, Dr. Valerie Steele, Deeda Blair, Glenda Bailey, Joan Kaner, Casey Ribicoff, James Galanos, Linda Fargo, Ken Downing, and Georgette Mosbacher.

Deeda Blair and James Galanos enjoying lunch.

A cocktail reception was followed by a wonderful three-course lunch consisting of an appetizer (roasted butternut squash, bosc pear and Strophsire blue cheese), main course (jumbo lump crab cakes with artichoke), and dessert (the restaurant’s signature ‘8 1/2’ dessert tasting plate).

Ken Downing Fashion Director of Neiman Marcus

Before Ralph stepped up to receive his Mish New York designed award, Dr. Joyce Brown, Liz Peek (a Couture Council Co-Chair), Charlotte Moss (the famed decorator, author and Luncheon Chair), Jeffrey Peek (Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of CIT Group Inc.), and Dr. Valerie Steele (Chief Curator of The Museum of FIT) addressed the assembled crowd. Dr. Steele referred to “the art of weightlessness” to describe Mr. Rucci’s designs and talked about the couturier’s “highest standards of fashion artistry”, which deemed him the perfect first recipient of this honor.

When the always humble and soft spoken Ralph Rucci took the microphone, (dressed in a perfect dark suit with a splash of festive color via his vibrant pink tie) he spoke of his ongoing love affair with his chosen craft and how through his art, he hopes to “advance himself as a human being”. He thanked his “three levels of teams” giving special mention to Joan Kaner, Glenda Bailey, and last but not least, Vivian VanNatta (about whom he said, “I could not be standing here without Vivian VanNatta.”) He referred to the event in his honor as a “simple but quiet and luxurious lunch”, and I couldn’t help but think that those three words (simple, quiet, luxurious), not only refer to the man but could also describe many of his amazingly conceived and crafted designs.

All attendees went home with a beautiful white bound notebook tied with a chic black and white grosgrain ribbon, featuring several of Ralph’s sketches in the front and back. Before leaving, we were invited to continue the celebration at Bergdorf Goodman, just steps away, where the 4th floor was hosting a Ralph Rucci trunk show. We were also promised champagne, dessert, and a little ‘gift’. Since I was sitting close to the store’s senior vice president, fashion director, Linda Fargo, and I couldn’t’ help but notice her chic oversized black leather YSL satchel sitting on the floor next to her, I was sort of hoping that would be the gift. (Of course I’m kidding…NOT!)

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Warning: Following Fashion May Be Dangerous to Your Health

Eating disorders and shopping disorders are not thought of as abnormal or dangerous by the fashion world, they are provoked, celebrated and revered. Just take a look at recent runways, like that of Nicolas Guesquiere for Balenciaga, who presented his impossibly skinny silhouette for spring 2007 on impossibly skinny models. It is a proven fact that the skinnier the model, the better 'clothes hanger' she will make. That the insular world of fashion is a world unto itself, and within this world what passes as perfectly normal and acceptable is not perceived that way elsewhere, is hardly news.

Being unnaturally skinny is far more 'acceptable' within fashionable circles and in urban meccas than it is, say, in America's heartland or in the South. And while most average folks are just trying to make ends meet and have enough money to pay the rent, pay for their children's education, and put food on the table, the 'fabulous fashion few' (though they seem to be a large group depending where you live and where you go, they are of course, in the minority) are deliberating on which new $2,000 handbag to purchase, which $4,000 coat to buy, and which new pair of Prada platforms (upwards of $500) will do the trick. "Shop Till You Drop", indeed!

Question: When is constant, continual, and never ending shopping, buying, and purchasing, simply a by-product of being a dedicated, faithful, plugged in follower of fashion (or someone who is professionally involved in the world of fashion - i.e. a fashion editor, buyer, pr maven)? Someone who is "out there" and needs to be pulled together to the "nines" at all times. And when is it a sign of something far more serious and dangerous - like having a deep-seated psychological impulse control disorder?

I am constantly grappling with this because, in the same way that there are numerous discussions and articles centered around eating disorders, another fashion related epidemic, compulsive shopping and overspending, is also in the news. In fact, it seems that every other day, I am reading yet another article related to this problem.

The most recent one appeared on October 12 in The Daily News, www.nydailynews.com, “Shopping Till They Drop” by Sheryl Berk, who revealed that according to a Stanford University survey, at least “1 in 20 Americans are so addicted to shopping they could be labeled as having an impulse control disorder.” She went on to quote B.J. Gallagher, author of an upcoming book “Why Don’t I Do the Things I Know Are Good for Me?” who referred to shopping as “a euphoric experience - a high, much like any drug will produce”.

Ms. Berk mentioned specific cases, like one woman living in New York (“the shopping capital of the world”) who admitted she loved to shop, but so much so that she could “barely pay the minimum on her credit card bills and was working a second job hostessing on weekends to supplement her $50,000 a year publishing job just to be able to pay her rent on time”.

Let’s be honest, doesn’t the fashion business by its very nature foster, provoke, and encourage over spending with its “Gotta Have It” and ”Must Have It” and ”Need It Now” mentality? It’s not about what you have, but the "Next Big Thing". (Of course, the "Next Big Thing" right now is tights and leggings, but they are so ubiquitous, I personally cannot even look at them any more. For me, they are the "Next Pass√© Thing".) Therefore, no matter how seasoned and self-disciplined an individual, it’s very easy to fall prey to the seductive and enticing advertisements and editorials that drive fashion retailing with their never ending cycle of seasons and new merchandise. One is made to feel they cannot possibly measure up unless they have whatever is the latest, newest, chicest, grooviest, etc.

Of course, after awhile you come to realize that just because it’s new does not mean it’s improved. And the longer one is in the business, one inevitably wants to bypass the dizzying ins and outs and affect a uniform of sorts. Just take a look at Vogue’s Creative Director, Grace Coddington, about as seasoned a pro as can be, and one who has her look down pat. She favors a uniform of black, black and white, a hit of tan, and that’s pretty much it. She wears simple, well cut clothes (mainly trousers, tailored jackets, easy coats, and crisp white shirts) and she lets her red hair be her ‘mane’ accessory. Not a bad example.

And speaking of compulsive shopping and over spending, the one item of clothing that women always need more of are bras. I am always searching for that 'perfect' bra, the one that does everything. I don’t know if it exists, but I’ll keep looking. Coincidentally, inside the oversized black nylon Kenneth Cole bag filled with ‘goodies’, which was given out to registered members of the press during New York Fashion Week, there was an inviting offer from ‘Barely There’, introducing their ‘Invisible Look’ Bra Collection, and inviting each recipient to receive a free bra.

Needless to say, I happily followed up with someone in the product pr group, and was given a choice of four styles and three colors. I selected one and was told it would be sent out in one week. Well, several weeks have gone by and I have not received my bra. Telephone calls I made to find out the status, have not been returned. I was wondering if anyone else reading this has received their free bra? For me at least, Barely There is not barely here!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ten Best Looks of the Season

Our senior fashion editor Bernadine Morris picks out her ten best looks from the New York Spring 2007 shows. Some of her choices are a real surprise. Click here to access the full report.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fernando Sanchez: A Celebration of a Life

In the beginning there were three: Yves Saint Laurent from Algiers, Karl Lagerfeld from Hamburg and Fernando Sanchez from Brussels. They were students in Paris at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la couture Parisienne. What a class. The year was 1953. What a class.

By the time he was 21, Saint Laurent was designing the collection of Christian Dior. Lagerfeld was working for Pierre Balmain. The Sanchez career was more diverse. First he designed corsets and foundations for the Warner Brothers Corset Company. Then came furs. And finally, negligees for his own company.

But his specialty was people. He would have a tea party on Sunday afternoons in an apartment he kept in Paris where his guests included Yves and his partner, Pierre Berge', Talitha Getty, Loulou de la Falaise, Paloma Picasso and Jack Nicholson. "he always had an adventurous approach to his social life," said his cousin, Jano Herbosch.

So on Thursday, his cousin gave a party for him in his apartment at the Osborne. She didn't call it a memorial service. She said it was "a celebration of life." She had invited 300 people, but suspects far more arrived.

They included Geoffrey Holder, the dancer and choreographer, Grace Mirabella, the former Vogue editor, Elsa Klensch, Stephen Burrows, the designer, Etta Froio of WWD, models like Pat Cleveland, Alva and Carmen. The models all said Sanchez was extremely friendly, talked to them about their lives and made sure they looked their best.

As they left each guest received a booklet with pictures from Sanchez's life, including baby pictures, and some of his favorite sayings:

"Don't give up, don't give in, go ahead on the road to celebrate life." and "The golden rule is to test everything in the light of reason and experience--no matter from where it comes,"

He seems to have enjoyed life.

-Bernadine Morris
‘Clothes’ Call

Ever since the highly publicized ‘Deal of the Century’ was made, Ms. Couric (the highest paid news anchor in history), has had her face plastered all over (on buses, on buildings, smiling up at you from full page newspaper ads), and she has been the subject of countless articles (regarding every facet of her life) and the target of countless media pundits.

While I watched during her tenure on “The Today Show”, it was not so much a factor of being a huge fan, but rather, because I liked the show and the entire ensemble ‘cast’. And I am watching her now. But not because I am seeking out her specific delivery of the sobering daily news (I prefer Brian Williams and Charles Gibson). It’s because, she is a woman (at the top of her field), and as a fashion person, I am curious to see what she is wearing.

Which is funny, considering Katie is hardly a fashion icon, style setter, or one who has even portrayed a modicum of personal style throughout her career (though in all fairness, through the years she at least ‘evolved’ and has began to look more contemporary and ‘with it’ thanks to her staff of personal stylists). By her own admission, Katie would probably say she is ‘style challenged’. But since she has taken on a new public persona, much attention has been focused on her public image and I wanted to see how her personal visage and wardrobe would reflect this change.

I was also curious to see how a highly paid team of stylists with an apparently unlimited wardrobe allowance, would sift through all the clothing which is available ‘out there’, and come up with a revolving daily selection (I don’t think Katie has repeated the same outfit once) befitting Ms. Couric’s newfound, much more serious position.

The good news is that based on what I have seen, her staff and advisors have been pretty much ‘spot on’. As a woman news anchor (as in other facets of professional life), there are far more choices available for a woman than for a man (who lives in a ‘unform'). The only thing that may change for him is the color (or fabrication) of the suit, shirt, and pattern of the tie. For a woman, many things have to be taken into consideration and it’s a delicate balancing act to be sure. While she can still chose to affect a man’s uniform (a great pantsuit never goes of out style), she can also assert her femininity and play off her assets…if done properly.

The choices made have to be visual, telegenic, eye catching, and attractive, but at the same time, they must ‘read’ serious, businesslike, authoritative, and most importantly, factor in the notion of what is appropriate. While I don’t love everything, in general, Ms. Couric’s on air wardrobe is more grown up, ‘of the moment’, and has reflected the myriad of options that are now available for women at the top of their game. And so, the ongoing parade of Katie Couric’s sleek, fitted and well tailored jackets (some as part of a matched suit); cuffed trousers or narrow pants; skirts (at the knee or slightly above the knee showing off her well toned gams); crisp white shirts which range from simple and classic to more elaborate and highly detailed; timeless little black dresses; soft, knitted tunic tops (like the lacquer red bateau neck version she wore the other night)…are all testament to the ways in which a woman can now dress for success. Gone are the Today Show’s awkward put togethers, garish colors, and immature prints and patterns. In evidence are primarily neutral hued solids (white, ivory, gray, navy, and black) spiced up with a welcome flash of red here and there. Accessories are kept to a minimum but high heeled shoes are statement making though never off putting.

The bad news (for CBS and Katie) is that thus far, the results have been far from successful. Five weeks after taking over as anchor for the CBS Nightly News, Katie Couric finds herself lagging in third place behind NBC’s “Nightly News” and ABC’s “World News Tonight”. I am apparently one of the dwindling few (and the numbers are dwindling fast), who continue to tune in (though I don’t watch for the entire half hour). I guess after awhile, the fashion show becomes less interesting and more of a distraction. It’s not a matter of style over substance but the other way around. Certainly, within the realm of news broadcasting, there is a case to be made for a sober, non distracting uniform. The bottom line is that the general audience is not interested in the hoopla and publicity..they are clicking on and tuning in to hear the news and not to be treated to an ongoing fashion show.

And speaking of personal style…photojournalist Bill Cunningham has been chronicling the ‘off the runway’ escapades here in New York and in Paris, for decades now and he stands alone with his keen eye, faultless taste, and fashion historian’s knowledge. But he is not the only one with an interest in capturing the look and feel on the street. Scott Schuman, (aka The Sartorialist) is garnering much attention within the fashion world and is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. I first noticed him during New York Fashion Week -- a nattily turned out young man with a camera, energetically running around and asking well dressed show attendees if he could snap their picture.

The results, which can be seen on his own website, www.thesartorialist.blogspot.com as well as on www.style.com, are not only visually arresting, but insightful, and he often adds his own astute and witty observations, which explain to the reader what is what that he found so captivating about his subject. What is also noteworthy is that in London, Milan, and Paris, he didn’t just focus on show attendees and fashion insiders, but turned his camera on anyone who had an individual approach to dressing, including mothers and daughters shopping or strolling, and octogenarians. He is definitely someone to watch.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, October 06, 2006

Anne Klein Names Isabel Toledo Creative Director of the Anne Klein Designer Collection

Her first collection for Anne Klein is slated to debut in fall 2007 and will be sold worldwide at select high-end department stores and specialty boutiques. As Creative Director, Mrs. Toledo will serve as the voice of Anne Klein across all label touch-points, including global product design, advertising, public relations outreach, trunk shows, personal appearances, and the long anticipated return of the runway fashion show

(Press Release: New York, New York – October 6, 2006) – Anne Klein, a division of Jones Apparel Group, Inc., (NYSE:JNY) has appointed Isabel Toledo as the new Creative Director of the Anne Klein Designer Collection. Mrs. Toledo, the owner/designer for Toledo Studios, brings over 20 years of design experience and is regarded as one of today’s most respected and influential designers in the fashion and visual arts arenas.

Peter Boneparth, President and Chief Executive Officer, Jones Apparel Group, Inc. said, “Isabel is one of the most dynamic talents in the industry and we are delighted to welcome her on board. We are confident that this partnership will allow us to significantly expand the value-creation potential of the Anne Klein brand and enable us to reach an even broader cross-section of sophisticated, successful and fashion-savvy women. Anne Klein has performed exceptionally well since we acquired it three years ago, and today is one of Jones Apparel’s power brands. Under Isabel’s creative vision and leadership, we now have a clear path forward to achieve our goal of securing Anne Klein’s rightful place at the forefront of American fashion worldwide.”

For more than 30 years, Anne Klein has been synonymous with American style, single-handedly defining how American sportswear is worn by most women today. Her innovative strategy, which introduced the concept of “mixed and matched” pieces such as constructed jackets, pants and other wardrobe staples, made her company the industry leader for decades. “Anne Klein’s original vision of American sportswear designed to enhance the woman’s body is even more relevant today, and Isabel’s expertise and design aesthetic is in touch with the essence of this brand,” noted Lynne Cote, Chief Executive Officer, Wholesale Sportswear, Suits and Dresses.

Mrs. Toledo’s first collection for Anne Klein is slated to debut in fall 2007 and will be sold worldwide at select high-end department stores and specialty boutiques. As Creative Director, Mrs. Toledo will serve as the voice of Anne Klein across all label touch-points, including global product design, advertising, public relations outreach, trunk shows, personal appearances, and the long anticipated return of the runway fashion show. “Isabel’s fashion influence and keen eye will be a great asset for the evolution of the brand. Her vision will encompass everything from fashion shows to product design, advertising and marketing initiatives,” explained Stacy Lastrina, Executive Vice President Corporate Marketing, Jones Apparel Group.

Isabel Toledo, born in Cuba in 1961, received the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion Design in 2005. She has been described as a “cult figure” by The New York Times; Women’s Wear Daily has called her one of the “100 Designers That Count Around The World”; and Vogue Magazine has named her “An important raw talent.” Isabel has an appreciation of machinery, practicality and comfort while retaining a love for traditional elegance. Narciso Rodriguez recently declared her a “genius” saying in a recent one-on-one interview with Mrs. Toledo, “There are very few designers today that possess the skill, precision, refinement and workmanship you have.” Toledo’s designs have been featured at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Mode Museum in Antwerp, and in solo exhibitions at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help evolve the intelligent fashion philosophy that Anne Klein initiated and I look forward to designing a new generation of future classics”, stated Mrs. Toledo.

For additional information contact:

Linda Louie
The Bromley Group
15 West 26 St. 3 Fl New York, NY 10010
tel: 212.696.1100 ext 32
fax: 212.213.5460