Monday, November 27, 2006

The Godfather of Fashion Websites



Lookonline Celebrates 12 Years+ On-line

Lookonline.com is the longest running on-line fashion publication in the world. Before there was Hypermode.com, FashionInternet.com, NYstyle.com, Fashionmall.com, Elle.com, hairnet.com, Hintmag.com and even Fashion.net, there was us. We have not always garnered the attention, funding or notoriety of some other of these fashion sites, but those in our industry, who have followed Lookonline's development over the years, know we helped pioneer the use of the Internet in providing real-time coverage of fashion events, regularly scheduled video reports, fashion blogs (DFR: Daily Fashion Report has been in blog format for almost 5 years), market reports, editorial cartoons and original runway and event photography long before there were sites like Style.com or Fashionweekdaily.

Since our official launch was on December 1, 1994 as a BBS dial-up service (does anyone even remember what a BBS service is or was?), the Lookonline has been on-line "officially" for 12 years. However, we were already a BBS service by subscription in early 1993 (our first subscriber was Harper's Bazaar), and it was not until March of 1995 did we began a website (hosted under another domain name) in addition to our BBS site. Later in 1995, we discontinued our BBS service and concentrated on developing our website using our own domain name 'lookonline'.

For the record, our official launch was as a party/benefit called "CyberTaste" for the "Charge Against Hunger" program from American Express and Share Our Strength on December 1, 1994 (see above copy of invitation) The event was held at Sony Plaza at 550 Madison Avenue in New York. Over 850 members of the public and a small group of press (WWD did not show up) attended the opening that featured 13 chefs from top New York Restaurants serving their signature dishes; a designer auction, wine tasting, desserts, and a live 20 man Jazz orchestra. According to officials at Sony, it was one of the largest, if not the largest event ever held to this day at the Sony Plaza's Atrium. (Rhonda Erb put the whole event together for us). Major sponsors for the event included American Express, Food & Wine Magazine, Tourneau, Romana Sambuca, Coca Cola Bottling Company of NY, Georgette Klinger, Colorite, and Sony Plaza.

Does anyone besides our company remember the event? Twelve years on-line is like a century in the development of the Internet. It was a struggle during the early years to gain recognition, much less respect for our site. I can still remember the days when fashion designers and publicists would look at me in disbelief, if they looked at me at all, when I talked about the importance of fashion websites. I was like the invisible man. I would be running around among them, but no one really knew or cared about fashion websites or, for that matter, even the Internet . Well, as the song says: "the times they are a changing", the Internet is now a force to be reckoned with, and fashion sites and blogs number in the many hundreds.

I want to personally thank our many contributors who, over the past 12 years, have helped our site continue to grow. First and foremost my editor-in-chief, Marilyn Kirschner, whose fashion expertise and determination has set the tone for our editorial coverage; and senior editor Bernadine Morris, who lent her name and guiding hand. Also special mention goes to Randy Brooke, an exceptional photographer who was always there when we needed him; and Diane Clehane for providing us with first class coverage of major fashion and entertainment events. Also special thanks goes to Susan Sommers for her timely suggestions, Adrienne Weinfield-Berg and Rhonda Erb, both good friends of lookonline, whose special assignment reporting gave our editorial greater depth; and Grace Mirabella for hosting our first three 'Master of Fashion Video Interviews'.

And finally, I want to thank my wife Deborah Brumfield for putting up with me all these years. Without her help and support the lookonline would not exist today.

-Ernest Schmatolla, publisher

Saturday, November 25, 2006


"Authentic personal style comes from understanding our bodies, recognizing the demands of our particular lifestyle, mining our experiences, and finding what we really like." — Randolph Duke

The fashion designer Randolph Duke has written a book that is "A Guide to Dressing from the Inside Out" published by Random House and forwarded by his long time friend and associate Sandra Graham. Randy is a remarkably talented designer whose name can be included on the same A-List of couture inspired American designers as Geoffrey Beene, Ralph Rucci and Yeohlee. (I have known Randy for over 20 years and I photographed a number of his shows as his house photographer.)

Randolph Duke has designed swimwear for Anne Cole and Gottex; served as design director for Henri Bendel; revived the iconic Halston label; created a couture collection that has been worn by Angelina Jolie, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez, and many other celebrities; and he currently sells his collection also called 'The Look' on The Home Shopping Network

The Look is a guide to help women find their own personal style, and offers tips including: identifiying your body type, how to maximize your positive features (and downplay the less desirable ones), and how to use your existing clothing and accessories to freshen up your look.

The book also features photos of real women of various body types, from slender supermodel Cheryl Tiegs to curvy fashion writer Merle Ginsberg. It makes a great holiday gift. To purchase a copy of the book click here

-Ernest Schmatolla

Friday, November 17, 2006

Valentino's 'Rock & Rose' Party


Valentino talking with Carlos Souza at far left.

Valentino threw a party Thursday night to celebrate the launch of his latest perfume, 'Rock & Rose'. This is the designer's second women’s perfume after Valentino, and it will launch on Monday, November 20, nationwide.

The party was held at the 52nd floor of 7WTC. The guest list included Christina Aguillera, Pink, Christy Turlington and a coterie of rockers and roses. Hollywood, Fashion, Society and Art were present: Mary-Kate Olsen (actress), Zac Posen (designer), Ivanka Trump, Tinsley Mortimer (socialite), Andrew Saffir, Daniel Benedict, and Vito Schnabel.

The huge party space had a fabulous view, sometimes obstructed by intermittent fog and rain. Large 12 foot long planters with hundreds of pink and red roses, Valentino colors, placed in the middle of several areas broke the starkness of the venue.

A flank of waiters, carrying trays of pink and red cocktails, lined the netted rose entrance. The party was definitely catered to the American audience as the fare was All-American. Carlos Souza, Public Relations Director of Valentino,interjects, “It’s all about hot dogs and hamburgers!”

The party hosted by Nadine Johnson Public Relations, was tongue-in-cheek; one woman in a janitorial service uniform moved amongst the crowd with Valentino’s fragrance. There was music from DJ Lola Schnabel, followed by a live performance by a band called the ‘Hysterics’ and then more music from DJ Marc Ronson to top off the evening that ended at around 1:00 a.m.

I must admit, for me, it is a strange mix, rock and roses – Valentino and rock; even more so, when you mix Valentino (master of elegance and opulence) and the American fare of hotdogs and hamburgers.

But, no matter where you put Valentino, his name always smells like a rose.

-Anna Bayle

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Isaac Mizrahi Couture Collection


'Isaac thinks pink dress'

Tuesday, November 14, Isaac Mizrahi presented Spring Collection 2006 Part II, his latest woman's Couture Collection at 475 Tenth Avenue. Part I was presented in May of this year.

The collection, which came in 2 parts: couture and semi-couture, was shown by appointment only, to an exclusive set of fashion editors and buyers, at his studio -- the same studio where his TV show 'Isaac' is filmed. Present during the morning were: Anna Wintour of Vogue, Glenda Bailey of Harper's Bazaar, Amy Astley of Teen Vogue, Stefano Tonchi of The New York Times Magazine, Hal Rubenstein and Freddie Leiba of In-Style, and an old friend, Ellen Saltzman.


Isaac making his presentation to the editors

In an era where major designers re-invent themselves to meet the changing fashion times, Isaac Mizrahi is the leader of the pack. Here is a very talented designer who survived his changing fashion fortunes by crossing over to film and television and back. His unique brazenness is stamped on everything he does including this couture collection.


First issue of Isaac Mizrahi's new magazine

Only Isaac Mizrahi, who acts independently of what other designers do, can go from mass to couture (from Target to Bergdorf). He will dance to his own tune and get away with it. 'There are no rules', he represents in the first issue of his own style magazine, Isaac's Style Book. The magazine is available on his website, isaacsstylebook.com

He believes in revamping his best sellers, like the potato sack pants; taking them further, by adding details, using beautiful fabrics, to make it a couture garment (to make it that "One woman, one occasion dress") - special garments that will make the woman feel confident and different.


Green cocktail dress from the semi-couture collection

The jewels in the semi-couture collection (priced from $1200-5000) are the green cocktail dress and 'Isaac thinks pink' dress; from the 4 piece couture collection (priced from $10000-12000) is a lilac bell-sleeved dress, worn with a petticoat with chenille dots. The collection is sold at Bergdorf Goodman.

The atmosphere was fresh, fun and informal at the showing. "Who knows? I am sure I am going to do another fashion show", spills the passionate Isaac Mizrahi, in a video interview.

We look forward to it, because American fashion needs mavericks.

-Anna Bayle

Lookonline welcomes our newest contributor to the Daily Fashion Report supermodel Anna Bayle. Anna was one of the very top fashion models of the 1980's and early 1990's and she has been called the first Asian supermodel. Anna has just started her own website and blog at annabayle.com And while she has a video with highlights from her brilliant runway career and a gallery of photos by famous photographers, her blog addresses some interesting subjects from "The Model and Her Ego: It Is Not About Me" to a conversation with Jean Jacques Picart about Asians in the modelling world.
Stan’s Sweet ‘16’


Stan Herman

To say last night’s party given by the CFDA and FEDEX to commemorate Stan Herman’s record breaking 16 years as President of the CFDA, was a Who’s Who of fashion (through the years up to the present time), is an understatement. Hundreds of fashion swells congregated at 583 Park Avenue (www.583parkave.com), a refurbished grand church which is now being used for parties and events, to sip champagne and nibble on everything from cheese delicates to grilled shrimp on a skewer, to pay their respects and say thanks to Stan Herman. The crowd that turned out was a testament to the man’s popularity and indeed, in a world that is not normally associated with words like ‘down to earth’, ‘friendly’, ‘unpretentious’, he is a rarity. This is the end of an era for sure. (By the way, the venue is so accommodating and attractive, I couldn’t help but think that it would make a great show venue).

For me, having been in this business for so many years, the party was also like a reunion of sorts, since I saw faces I haven’t seen for years (Betty Ann Grund, a former senior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Ron Leal, a once popular fashion designer who is now “retired”, John Anthony, who is anything but retired and still continues his couture business on 57th Street (and who hardly minces words, saying that in his opinion, the sole purpose of the CFDA should be to “support the designers”).


Past CFDA President Mary McFadden

Seemingly, everyone who was anyone was there. Members of the press (Robin Givhan, Marylou Luther, Glenda Bailey, Teri Agins, W’s Bridget Foley), pr mavens James LaForce of LaForce & Stevens, Owen Davidson of AO Production, Ruth Finley and Deborah Brumfield of Fashion Calendar, Ty Yorio of Citadel Security, IMG's Fern Mallis, and industry legends like Ralph Lauren (one of the first to arrive AND to leave), Stephen Burrows (and posse), Kenneth Richard, Rachel and Robert Danes (with their new baby daughter), Arnold Scaasi, Mary Ann Restivo, Mary McFadden (a past president of the CFDA), Diane Von Furstenberg (the incoming President) mixed and mingled with the ‘new guard’: Ralph Rucci, Vera Wang, Gilles Mendel, Cynthia Rowley, Doo.Ri Chung, Kate and Laura Mulleavy (the sisters who design Rodarte). By the way, the latter two made the trip from their home in California to attend Thursday’s Vogue/CFDA Awards dinner and they told me they are feeling far more confident and coming into their own as they head into the next season. When I asked if they could tell me what they are thinking about for fall (which will be unveiled in February during New York Fashion Week), Laura said they are superstitious so they make it a point of not talking about their future collections.


Robin Givhan of The Washington Post (left)

A little less than 45 minutes into the two and a half hour event, Vera Wang (who is very close to Stan) stepped up to the stage and took the microphone, announcing that she was the one elected to give a little speech. She observed that Stan’s 16 year milestone has to be seen in the context of fashion, and likened it to Dog Years (“that’s a lifetime!” she explained). She thanked her good friend for a “job well done” made possible because of his “lifelong love of fashion”. She talked about his legacy and accomplishments (“promoting American fashion and American designers”, “steering the CFDA towards a more democratic organization which embraced new talent”) and then personalized it. Vera said that “Stan has been a true supporter and friend”. He’s sat through ALL my shows no matter when they were or where they were”.

In conclusion, she said “We look forward to the tenure of Diane Von Furstenberg. Congratulations not only on your birthday but on this enormous achievement. I love you very much.” Then an executive from FEDEX (Stan has been designing the company’s uniforms for the past 25 years) took the stage, thanked Stan and announced that a gift of $100,000 was being donated to the CFDA in Stan’s name.

At which point Diane Von Furstenberg stepped up and asked “Why is FEDEX here? Fed Ex is Everywhere! Where would be without them?” She spoke of Stan’s “loving, caring” nature (“He’s in love with life and that’s why he looks so good”). She recalled how Stan initially got her into the committee to select a president. “When I couldn’t find one, I offered myself”. “I look forward to being President. I hope I can bring it to the next phase. I don’t take it lightly. I will need Stan to watch over me and help me”. She then proceeded to leave the podium but then quickly remembered one important thing -- Stan. She almost forgot to introduce the Man of the Hour!

When Stan stood before the crowd, he was visibly emotional and overwhelmed as he announced that his 102 year old father was there for the occasion (unbelievable; talk about all in the genes). He spoke of his wonderful long lasting relationship with FEDEX for the past 25 years and thanked everyone he’s worked with at the CFDA. He acknowledged, “So many friends from my past are there tonight and hopefully so many will be in my future. I’m not retiring to Boca Raton. Why Would I? It doesn’t’ get any better than this!”

Speaking of retirement and Florida, Joan Kaner (one of the guests last night) is happily retired and happily going to her home in Sarasota (for the winter months) at the end of the week. She looks forward to it and said it’s in the 80’s and the weather is perfect. Of course I didn’t want to point out that it’s almost that warm here although that is bound to change quickly.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, November 13, 2006

Somewhere Over the ‘Rainbow’


1960's Dresses by Pierre Cardin & Textile by Zandra Rhodes

The relationship between color and fashion is the premise behind “She’s Like a Rainbow: Colors in Fashion” a new exhibit at the Museum of FIT which opened Saturday, November 11, 2006 and runs through May 5th, 2007 (www.fitnyc.edu). The evening event was well attended with over 200 guests sipping cocktails and viewing the exhibition. Some familiar faces in the crowd were Isabel Dupre the Style Director of Elle and Freddy Leiba the fashion stylist.

It was organized by Dr. Valerie Steele, Museum Director, together with Patricia Mears, Research Curator, Fred Dennis, Associate Curator of Costume; Harumi Hotta, Textile Educational Associate, and Clare Sauro. An earlier version of this exhibit was presented at The Rodin Gallery in Seoul, Korea in 2005, in conjunction with the Samsung Art and Design Institute (SADI). Sponsors of the current exhibiton are Elle and Redkin.

There are approximately 250 pieces of clothing, accessories, and textiles, some of which were effectively and artistically used as wall hangings to complement the fashion that date from the 1700’s up to the present. They speak volumes about the ongoing history, symbolism, psychology, and cultural implications inherent in the relationship between color and fashion. The mix of non-label and quite recognizable designer labels also helps back up that old adage (so popular and so relevant in fashion): “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.


Brocade Yellow & Red Suit and Green Dress: Charles James; Red Dress: Galanos; Black Dress: Balenciaga

While the word ‘color’ may conjure up vibrant shades and primary colors, the term also applies to subtle and quiet shades (as in navy, gray, brown, white, or black); all of which were given equal time. And unsurprisingly, at the opening reception held on Friday evening, the majority of those guests in attendance hardly resembled that proverbial “rainbow”, since more often than not, they were clad in fashion’s favorite hue: black. When ‘color’ was seen, it was an accent, or shot of red, often used in combination with black.


Dr. Valerie Steele

This was exemplified by Dr Valerie Steele, who donned a “blood red” matte jersey Comme de Garcons dress paired with a sculptural cropped black bolero by Isabel Toledo. Coincidentally, the designer’s lacquer red long taffeta dress (1994) was the first outfit in the reception room, and for optimum visual effect, (and to illustrate the idea of bold COLOR), it was displayed alongside a parrot green satin Oscar de la Renta coatdress (1984), an orange Courreges short wool crepe dress (1967), and a Dior chrome yellow long silk crepe shirtdress (1971).

Just a note, Dr. Steele may have personally chosen black and red as her attire for the evening, but she admits to being “obsessed with pink” in all its shades (“I think they’re so interesting”).

-Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Week of Celebrations & Awards

It seems everyone is celebrating an ‘anniversary’ of one kind or another these days, and doing so in high style.

last week I attended the ACE Awards (Accessories Excellence Awards) and the sold out, star studded evening, held at Cipriani 42nd street was a testament to the group’s increasingly high profile and the importance of accessories as a major category. It also marked the New York based group’s 10th anniversary.

Even though tin is the present or object traditionally associated with the number 10, you didn’t really think luxury handbag wizard Judith Lieber would resort to this ‘lowly’ material when commissioned to create the brand new Ace Award to commemorate the occasion, did you? What she did turn out (quite an amazing accessory itself) was a weighty and substantial crystal minaudiere with a sterling silver plaque inside which was so covetable, honoree Suzy Menkes had hers snatched from her table when she turned away for a nano second.

But speaking of sterling silver, this metal happens to symbolize the 25th anniversary, which is the magic number for Ralph Rucci, who quite deservedly finds himself in the spotlight and the center of attention as of late. The fashion designer celebrated his 25th year in business with a festive party for about 250 guests in his new sprawling Soho loft on Saturday night. Avowed Ralph supporters and friends who helped mark the occasion, enjoying delicacies provided by Glorious Foods included Joan Kaner (who is getting ready to leave for Sarasota for the winter), Martha Stewart, Bill Dugan, Iris Apfel, Hamish Bowles, Cathy Horyn, and Amy Fine Collins.

The award winning designer moved downtown from his former longtime 7th Avenue showroom about one year ago, but has not presented his collections in this decidedly more ‘lofty’ space located at 536 Broadway, just across the street from Prada. Instead, he’s been ending New York Fashion Week at the Bryant Park Tents.

Quite frankly, the move to Soho, the legendary artist’s Mecca, couldn’t be more suitable and fitting, given that this talented visionary is not only a world class designer and couturier, who is always inspired by sculpture, architecture, and art, but happens to be an accomplished artist himself (with a number of one man shows under his belt). And as if to emphasize this connection, last month he received FIT’s inaugural Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion.

The FIT graduate who is known for his innovative cuts and construction, impeccable craftsmanship, exceptional quality and artistry of design, is being further honored by his alma mater. From January 12th to April 14th, a major exhibition of his work, ‘Ralph Rucci’ will be mounted at The Museum at FIT (www.fitedu.org).

Last night, FIT’s John Reeves Great Hall was the venue for a party hosted by FIT and The Educational Foundation. The raison d’etre? To celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Doneger Group, “the leading source of global market trends and merchandising strategies to the retail and fashion industry” renown for its expert and highly sought after trend and color forecasting services. (These include Doneger Creative, Margit Publications, Tobe, Here & There, in addition to merchandising, consulting and on-line Services).

Diamonds traditionally symbolize 60, and while there may not have been any diamonds given out as party favors, or used in the décor, there was a wonderful (and extensive) buffet with a dizzying assortment of edibles, an open bar, fruit, dessert, coffee and tea. Mingling in the crowd (and I mean, CROWD) were such as Dr. Valerie Steele, Chief Curator of The Museum at FIT, Sue Rolantz from the Tobe Report (Tobe was sold to Doneger in October, 2005), industry legends Gloria Gelfand and Lawrence Leeds, and David Wolfe, the highly visible and well respected creative director of Doneger’s Creative Services.

And just in case you forgot what the evening was all about, some of the walls were dressed with floor to ceiling posters chronicling the Doneger timeline from its inception in 1946 (when Henry Doneger and his partner, Jack Lasersohn formed a resident buying office named Lasersohn-Doneger, located on the 2nd floor of the National Hotel on 7th Avenue and 42nd street) up to the present time, under headings like “Growing through the years”, “Continuing to expand”, "Positioned for the future”.

In another section of the room, floor to ceiling images stared out at you with the headlines, “Do You Remember”? These hard to forget pictures from past decades, were a mix of iconic ad campaigns (for fashion houses, movies, TV shows, sports gear, and automobiles), magazine covers, and included iconic fashion symbols who shaped an era and defined a decade.

So there was Kate Moss holding a Louis Vuitton bag (from a recent campaign); a white pant suited John Travolta from ‘Saturday Night Fever’; Woody Allen and Diane Keaton from ‘Annie Hall’; the four stars of ‘Sex and the City’ clad in little black dresses; Brooke Shields wearing her Calvins (and nothing else) in that famous black and white ad; the famous portrait of the late Princess Diana wearing a black turtleneck sweater; a British Vogue cover from the 90’s featuring supermodels Cindy Crawford, Tatiana Patiz, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell.

There were ads for IPod, Nike, Polo Sport, and of course, Starbucks. Indeed, where would be all be without that jolting cup of java? There was also a large picture of Henry Doneger smack dab in the center. By the way, Henry Doneger Associates is the group’s foundation and all proceeds from the evening (the tickets were $500) will benefit the Henry Doneger Scholarship Fund at FIT.

- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, November 03, 2006

'She's Like A Rainbow' Exhibition



Opening Reception at the Fashion and Textile History Gallery at The Museum at FIT Friday, November 10, 7PM. The third exhibition in the Fashion and Textile History Gallery, explores the history, symbolism, science and psychology of color in fashion. Why is red the color of passion and revolution? Why is blue such a popular color, whereas yellow has so many negative associations? Why is black today's most fashionable color?

This exhibition has been organized by Dr. Valerie Steele, museum director, together with Patricia Mears, research curator, Fred Dennis, associate curator of costume; Harumi Hotta, textile educational associate, and Clare Sauro, assistant curator of accessories. An earlier version of She's Like a Rainbow was presented at The Rodin Gallery in Seoul, Korea in 2005, in conjunction with the Samsung Art and Design Institute (SADI).

For additional information contact: Brenda Pérez, Director of Media Relations (212) 217-7642. RSVP to 212-217-5955.

The exhibition is sponsored by ELLE and Redkin. Additional support provided by members of the Couture Council.