Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oscar 2007: The Last Word - by Diane Clehane

"Wake me when it’s over. Oh, wait a minute – it is. Boy, is it ever."

So says our entertainment editor Diane Clehane who spent the last few days leading up to and including Oscar night out in LA to file a special report for us.

<<<<<Click here for the full report>>>>>>

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscars a ‘Yawn’

I have to say that I thought the 79th Academy Awards were a lumbering ‘snooze’ which felt more like Amateur Hour, than an iconic awards show. I am a big fan of Ellen Degeneres but I didn’t find her to be particularly funny, and felt that her brand of low keyed, self deprecating humor did not work its magic for this long awaited evening. She was not at the top of her game and was far more effective when she did the honors for the Grammy Awards and the Emmy Awards.

And speaking about not living up to the hype, larger than life Andre Leon Talley, appearing for the first time as Fashion Commentator for ABC’s pre Oscar segment, is living proof that simply having MAJOR fashion credentials, not to mention a well documented knowledge of fashion and fashion history, does NOT a commentator make. Word of advice; keep your day job, Andre! (And you too Ellen).

ALT seemed very nervous, stiff and uncomfortable (which is completely understandable), but the result was that he was far too effusive and ‘obvious’ in his praising of designing best friends Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Manolo Blahnik, and Karl Lagerfeld. And the Will Smiths are positively adorable and talented, but to label them “Hollywood’s First Family”????? Really.

And sorry Andre, but I disagreed with you about Kirsten Dunst’s mousey gray Chanel gown with its unflattering and matronly neckline and feathered hem. And more importantly, I thought that March Vogue cover girl and Academy Award winning actress, Jennifer Hudson, (who ALT has taken under his wings), looked far better when she opted for a covered up, soft, empire waist, Vera Wang gown for the Golden Globes. The Oscar de la Renta dress and jacket she chose to wear last night was very sci-fi looking and out of character for Oscar. (I agreed with The New York Times’ Eric Wilson (“Red Carpet Recycling: Who Said Knockoff?”) who described the metallic python bolero jacket as appearing to have been designed “to protect her from the prying ears of invading space aliens.” At least she was smart enough to leave off the jacket when she took to the stage to accept her gold statue.

As for the fashion overall, I never really understand dressing for these Red Carpet events and always yearn to see more individuality and modern thinking being applied. I think most times, the women look like carbon copies of one another (only the color of the long bare gown seems to change) and what you normally get is akin to ‘prom night’ (accept that the floral corsages have been substituted by millions of dollars in borrowed gems).

While beautiful Penelope Cruz looked like a true movie star in her flesh toned voluminous gown, Jada Pinkett Smith shined in her gold toned form fitting Herrera (which she jokingly said made her resemble the gold statue), and Reese Witherspoon looked great (and natural) with her long blonde hair worn straight, which was offset by the romantic black strapless Olivier Theyskens confection, I’ve seen Cate Blanchett look better and ditto for Nicole Kidman who still stood out in her red gown with unwieldy bow at the neck. (Even though it resembled Charlize Theron’s Dior ‘debacle’ from the past, it’s still hard to make Nicole look bad no matter what she wears).

And I didn’t particularly like Best Actress winner Helen Mirren’s rather aging and lifeless Christian Lacroix. (When she took the stage with her bag in tow, I couldn’t help but think ‘The Queen’ has really rubbed off on this actress. (Queen Elizabeth never goes anyplace without a proper bag). Talk about life imitating art. And after seeing pictures of Meryl Streep (yikes…that necklace…those shoes)…all I can say is that it’s a good thing she didn’t have to get up on stage to accept an award for Best Actress. The Devil may wear Prada…but what the devil were you thinking Meryl? (Though she gets ‘points’ for admittedly not using a stylist).

Quite frankly, in terms of the evening, one can say the best WAS saved for last: Martin Scorcese finally picked up his long overdue Best Director Award, and the talented Forrest Whitaker’s heartfelt acceptance speech for Best Actor was itself worthy of an Academy Award.

- Marilyn Kirschner

(More coverage of the Oscars by our entertainment editor Diane Clehane reporting directly from the event later on today.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

New York Fashion Swag

New York's Fall 2007 Fashion Week saw the return of Mercedes-Benz as the title sponsor, 77 shows in the tents, and some of the coldest weather that the city has experienced in recent memory. As the fashionistas converged upon Bryant Park, the mercury dipped well below the freezing point. Many of us found ourselves spending much of our time between the shows in the tents, only venturing out when absolutely necessary. Seating was frequently in short supply, and more than once someone could be found napping on the rug near one of the Mercedes-Benz display cars.

The Heart Truth booth

The sponsors did their best to provide TLC to the members of the fashion press. Complementary coat check was provided by Chambord to relieve us of all our winter layers. The Heart Truth booth offered cups of hot tea and soothing foot massages. Caffeine was plentiful in all forms with lattes in the 'wichcraft Café, espresso (and delicious biscotti) at DHL, and cappuccino at MAC. In the evening, the Moet and Chandon lounge kept the champagne flowing and the Lotus Bar was always a mob scene.

Cingular awarded one lucky winner, each day, with one of their BlackJack phones, and offered a free, do it yourself Bling Kit to decorate your cell phone. On Thursday morning, MAC representatives, clad in Barbie pink, distributed chic black tubes, chock full of products, from their new Barbie make-up line.

Lycra Denim Lounge

The Lycra Denim Lounge invited us to meet designers Jeff Rudes of J Brand and Mik Serfontaine of Serfontaine, and preview jeans made with the new Xfit Lycra denim. I took home a pair of each brand and I can honestly say that both pairs have a fantastic fit. The fabric stretches n all directions (360 degree flexibility) and is so soft and comfortable that it doesn't feel like denim at all. The J Brand jeans are in a beautiful deep blue color and the Serfontaine's are an equally flattering dark blue/black.

Just when you have stocked your closets with skinny jeans, get ready for new styles for fall. According to Jeff Rudes, "flares, including the wide leg palazzos, are already selling briskly." Mik Serfontaine said waistlines continue to go higher. He sent me off with a classic straight leg pair and a reminder that the best way to keep your jeans looking like new is to have them organically dry-cleaned.

The Daily Suite

The Daily Suite was in operation once again, offering two days of pampering spa treatments, cocktails, and hors d'oeuvres. Located in the new Night Hotel, the two-story suite was comfortably furnished and buzzing with activity. Those who were lucky enough to book an appointment for a manicure or massage could also help themselves to a selection of products from the very popular Foot Petals line. There was also an opportunity to sample a new fragrance from Bond No. 9 called Bryant Park. A goody bag filled with these items and offerings from other sponsors was presented to guests at the end of their visit.

Sears suite

Sears and K Mart took over two suites in the Bryant Park Hotel to allow editors to preview their fall clothing and accessories lines (Route 66, Jaclyn Smith, and Lands End, to name a few) while enjoying refreshments (cappuccino, chocolate dipped fruit and more biscotti).

K Mart suite

After touring the suites, I was told that I would be receiving a set of closet organizers as a parting gift. This should come in handy to store all the bags, T-shirts, and other items that I have collected during Fashion Week.

-Rhonda Erb with photos by Aexander and Isabelle Erb

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

'Carine'ing Into the Future

Once again, Bill Cunningham proves that he has not only the best 'eye' in the business, but that is adept at predicting the future. His 'On The Street' column in The New York Times this past Sunday, "The Future Arrives From Paris", was not filled with dozens of images from the recent New York Fashion Week, and contained only two paragraphs of copy. But its brevity was highly effective.

Using only three blown up pictures of just one woman, French Vogue editor-in-chief, Carine Roitfeld, clad in her enviably amazing Azzedine Alaia shearling lined shimmering black patent leather coat, it said it all. In a sea of woman (and men) trying to fight the cold fashionably, clad in a mix of bulky down jackets, 'grandma' worthy vintage furs, pedestrian cloth coats, and oft times comical headwear (the furs hats were often so tall and so big, they made it impossible to see over them while seated in a show - and many of these hat wearing attendees refused to remove their hats even while seated inside), Ms. Roitfeld truly stood out.

I know that when I first saw her, she immediately caught my eye, and I had the same impression of how modern she looked. The impeccible cut of the coat, sculptural collar, the way it seemed to be like protective armor, the length, the fact that the fur was hidden, and the way she accessorized it seemed to mirror many of the fur trimmed or fur lined black shiny patent coats being shown on the runway. Only hers was so much better. And looking at images from collections in London and Milan (such as the just shown Burberry line), many designers are using black high gloss patent for outerwear, and making the coat feel like protective armor.

Of course, having said all that...one of the reasons Carine was able to go hatless, wear a fitted coat, perfectly accessorized with black opaque tights, and do without an oversized, unwieldly bag, was that she is lucky enough to have a car and driver at her disposal (which was pictured in the background.) No metrocards and toting your life around in a bag from morning 'til night for this woman.

--Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

March of Innocents

A feature article that discusses the changing role of models on the New York fashion runways. It is written by Anna Bayle, a former supermodel of the 1980's and early 1990's.
Click to read the report: http://www.lookonline.com/marchofinnocents.html

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

New York Fall 2007 Video Reports

Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg, editor lookonline.com, interviews EBay Style director and fashion journalist Constance White. They discuss the controversy over "too skinny models", and the major influence celebrities and socialites have over the fashion media and designers during fashion week.

This is the first in a series of video interviews conducted by Adrienne. To play the video click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBSM7CmrXjg

Video Photographer: Alexander Erb

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Notes from Bernadine Morris...

Donna Karan/DKNY

Donna Karan New York - photo by Randy Brooke

In her DKNY collection, Donna Karan"s clothes were all young and swingy. For her regular collection shown a few days later, her clothes were mainly calf length or longer. They often had wide open necklines and the models all wore snugly fitted caps, usually black They fitted like turbans. Long and lean and quite sophisticated was the effect.

Predictably, black was dominant but there were some combinations like black with purple or green or royal blue. Would this long, skiny line dominate or would women prefer the short swingy DKNY look? It will be interesting to see if women are ready for long, skinny and sophisticated. Marc Jacobs seems to think so. But it's a far cry from blue jean and flip-flops.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren - photo Randy Brooke

Never mind being known as a brand. Ralph Lauren has become an icon. His clothes are always distinguished whether they are Western in style or formal. But this time he has outdone himself. He has introduced a fresh shape, often in coats, that is lively, young and flattering. It gives his collection a certain verve and a cohesion.

Basically it is a neatly fitted silhouette that whooshes out into fullness a few inches below the waist. It looks easy to wear as well as comfortable. It"s not the collection"s only theme, for there are also hand knit sweater jackets, suede jackets and dresses in the same fitted and full shape. But the fitted and full coats are so attractive and beautifully done that they give the clothes a special look. It is sure to give the Lauren clothes a special look this season.

He hasn"t forgotten about long evening dresses. They are usually black (velvet, satin and organza) and are long, svelte and imposing. They add to the special quality of the collection.

Ralph Rucci

Ralph Rucci Couture - photo by Ernest Schmatolla

Perhaps the most exciting thing of the week of showings was the reception given Chado Ralph Rucci. A standing ovation, no less. It was worth it. For these are the best clothes shown anywhere in the world. The craftsmanship is meticulous. It can't be duplicated, even in the French couture. It is extraordinary that these clothes are produced in this country, with their basic simplicity, and elaborate working of fabrics. It is dressmaking of the highest art. We are fortunate to have these clothes in this country. It gives a special glow to New York's fashion week.
You can’t win ‘em all!

I was so looking forward to seeing Isabel Toledo’s first effort for Anne Klein on Friday. I thought it was a symbolic day to unveil the collection since the last day of shows has traditionally been THE day iconic American designers (Donna, Ralph, Ralph) have shown their lines, officially marking the end of New York Fashion Week. And after all, Anne Klein (in its heyday), was one of the most revered American sportswear houses. I was always a fan of the label, from the time Coty Award winner Anne Klein herself made it THE name to wear in the 70’s (winning fans with her impeccable tailoring and unapologetically American style), then afterwards, when Donna and Louis took over. I was their editor at Harper’s Bazaar. For me, the name Anne Klein has always conjured up the best of American Sportswear. When I heard Isabel Toledo, a talented designer with a highly individual aesthetic, was hired as the head designer, I thought it was an interesting, though albeit offbeat ‘marriage’. But hey, sometimes those pairings work better than those that seem obvious.

There was a lot of buzz surrounding the ‘debut’ and pre-show sketches plus one photo of a mismatched plaid coat and pant ensemble, looked promising. I also loved how Isabel referred to the collection: “couture-haberdashery” (how chic), talking about a clean powerful and modern silhouette. Her program notes called the line “a tribute to the dramatic sophistication, beauty and timelessness that Anne Klein always exuded…”

Unfortunately, the show was somewhat disappointing. Of the 43 pieces shown, too many were just okay but nothing special, and a few were puzzling in their shapelessness and fussiness (neither of which have anything to do with the Anne Klein philosophy or legacy). Only a few really ‘registered’ Anne Klein: the mismatched camel and brown plaid coat and pant outfit I already mentioned (too bad this group was not expanded), a chocolate brown stadium coat with a hood, an indigo cropped ‘chubby’ sweater, and two beautifully shaped red coats: one, a red wide wale corduroy coatdress and a red faille maxi coat worn over black gown that closed the show. Most pieces were accessorized with appropriately sporty visor caps and a low or high heeled lace up ghillie.

But where were the wonderful hacking jackets and blazers that Anne Klein was known for? (There was once an Anne Klein perfume called, ‘Blazer’ because this article of clothing was so associated with the brand). Where was the tailleur? This would have been a perfect time to rework some of those items and make them new again. What Isabel needed to do for a launch like this, was to ‘hit’ editors and retailers over the head, with a strong message and strong image. Alas, the line was not much about her own point of view, and it was not much about Anne Klein’s. And the inconvenient far west location (26th and 12th) which is far away from public transportation didn’t help. Neither did the strange lumbering soundtrack. I hope she uses this to regroup and focus; she certainly has the fashion world routing for her.

Dennis Basso Fall 2007 Collection - photo Isabelle Erb

I was also looking forward to Dennis Basso’s ready to wear debut. His fur collections have been great in the past few years, looking more and more modern and ‘with it’. But while Dennis says he was inspired by the “young, sophisticated, modern woman who wants interesting, exciting fashion that translates into her busy life”, I can’t really picture any of his socialite friends running around town in many of the over designed and overworked furs or thigh grazing tiered organza skirts he proposed. There were some perfectly nice and simple short black boucle dress and jumpers but do we really need staples like that from Dennis Basso? The line was completely out of sync considering the trend towards more subtle restraint and luxe sportif. The club remix soundtrack didn’t help the cause either.

The Child Magazine Fashion Show, dubbed, “A Trip around the world” was a delight and provided an entertaining and upbeat interlude. It had tired and jaded show goers smiling and clapping which is saying a lot on Friday, the last day of shows. Adorable kids, some with celebrity parents like Ming Lee Simmons and Awoki Lee Simmons, (daughters of Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons) and Justin Combs, (son of P.Diddy) modeled the newest looks for Fall and Winter 2007 from some of the most prestigious children’s wear companies. What was scary was how poised the kids were and how much attitude they had. Not to mention how the styles that were shown, were so similar to grownup fashion and especially, the way they mimicked many of the same things I just saw on the runways this past week. In addition, I was seated next to Fern Mallis who confirmed the good news: New York Fashion Week will be held at the Bryant Park Tents for at least for the next few years. Now, that’s something to smile about.

Costello Tagliapietra showed right before Ralph Rucci at the Tents for the first time, which was convenient considering they have traditionally used the Altman Building on west 18th street. The collection was short (26 pieces), sweet, well edited and to the point and the ‘Jersey Boys’ (Jeffrey and Robert), known for their chicly draped jersey dresses, even got the big guns from Vogue (Anna, Andre, etc.) to come and sit row and center. (Of course, Anna has long been a supporter). In addition to a variety of signature jersey dresses (mainly knee length) featuring cowls, folds, pleated details, gathers, done primarily in gray, brick, blue, ink, purple, and red, there were other sweaters, pants, and several 7/8 length coats with asymmetrically hemmed skirts, (one standout was in red and was trimmed with Swarovski crystal).

Ralph Rucci Couture - photo Ernest Schmatolla

Even before the Chado Ralph Rucci show began, you could just sense the luxury all around The Tent at Bryant Park, where so many shows were staged during the long Fashion Week. Certainly, it was made to feel like no other show venue and that was even before the first amazingly constructed outfit walked down the runway. After all, Ralph’s customers and fans are some of the wealthiest women in the world (‘The Billionaire’s Club’), and when they arrived to see his latest tour de force, some were not only dressed to the nines in evening dresses, high heels, jewels, furs, feathers, and feathers (Amy Fine Collins seemed to wearing them all), but the smell of Joy Perfume (the “costliest fragrance in the world”) wafted through the air.

To say that Ralph has had an amazing last year is an understatement (and well deserved I might add). He was recently celebrated his 25th anniversary in business, was honored by the Couture Council of FIT with their first ever “Artistry in Fashion Award”, and a major retrospective of his work “The Art of Weightlessness” was mounted at the Museum at FIT last month.

Ralph Rucci couture - photo Ernest Schmatolla

The fall ready-to-wear collection and the spring 2007 haute couture, shown back to back as usual, were testament to his amazing workmanship and dressmaking skills. While he cited Louise Nevelson as his inspiration this season, the references were subtle, if not vague, finding their way onto several dresses jackets and gowns in the form of curving shapes that mimicked the sculptor’s collages. But regardless of current inspirations, these collections, like all his others, are always more about the designer’s lifelong connection with art, architecture and his inner challenge to reach perfection in cut and execution. His work is always an evolution of what has followed, rather than a complete change or about face.

Ralph Rucci Couture - photo Ernest Schmatolla

In addition to some of the most beautiful and deceivingly simple jersey dresses given surface interest through ‘bas relief’ overstitching (brilliant!), there was a decidedly ‘sporty’ vibe throughout, but again, nothing new since comfort and practicality are always balanced with the luxury. And so, an oversized copper satin parka was lavishly lined with golden sable and a cinnabar satin pantsuit with an elongated jacket over narrow pants, was given pronounced cargo pockets (a great place to stuff your millions!). A fluffy white Mongolian lamb jacket was striated with chocolate brown and the thinnest white lamb imaginable was faced in white satin, fashioned into a knee length coat, and given a drawstring waist. A beautifully fitted jacket (cut like an elegant hacking jacket with a back belt) was made out of alligator printed velvet.

Ralph Rucci Couture - photo Ernest Schmatolla

For evening, Ralph used macramé to trim a black strapless hammered satin gown. Haute Couture, like ready-to-wear, was very textural and all about fabric mixes. A silk raincoat was braided in white, tan, brown leather and a tulle jacket and dress were re-embroidered with raffia. One of the most beautiful of the Nevelson inspired pieces was worn by Alek Wek: a white ‘collage’ strapless gown which had tiny pearl straps which gracefully fell off the shoulder. And I can’t leave out something else, Ralph’s father (beaming like the proud dad he must be) was there to see the glorious show. It’s obvious where Ralph gets his wonderful smile from.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, February 09, 2007

Viva La Difference!

Thank goodness designers are NOT on the same wavelength and are not ALL doing the same exact thing. (How dull that would be?) Even though there are times when it seems that way (what with all the furs, fur trims, fur hats, hand knits, short dresses and boots, black opaque satin Wolford tights, etc.).

The way I see it, (and the way retailers love to see it too) there’s room for many voices and many interpretations. When I view collections from a personal point of view, I tend to see them in terms of which particular niche they could conceivably fit in my life. Who wants an entire wardrobe of just one thing not matter how much you love it? It’s up to the customer to figure out what her individual needs are; which things best suit her look, her needs, her lifestyle, her age, her body type, her mood. In the final analysis, it’s all about having a sense of what’s appropriate.

Without a doubt this has turned out to be a major fur season (both off the runway and on)…it’s as if the designers showing fur were praying to the heavens above, for severely cold weather to create the perfect frigid environment in which to show their pelts. Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for because they got it in spades. And one designer who has been on the forefront of changing the perception and image of fur, treating it as any other luxurious fabric is Gilles Mendel. And he did not disappoint this season. He said he wanted to “create a sportier feeling” and "break all the classic rules". To achieve this end he mixed lame with wool, patent with chiffon, mixed ‘savage’ furs (like nutria and fisher) with precious ones (like sable, mink, and chinchilla).

He worked fur with fabric (black and white tweed or black wool) and he worked fur with fur (or furs). He showed what is turning out to be the ‘coat of the season’, turning up in one form or another on many runways- a shiny black patent belted coat. He quilted grey broadtail and tailored it into a coat, to which he added a massive silver fox hood. And massive fox hoods were unexpectedly added to several dreamy, floating evening gowns including a black pleated silk chiffon and satin beauty which had a black fox hood and were belted with a black satin obi trench belt. By the way, satin obi trench belts were used throughout, evening on gowns, to create a defined waist.

Of the 54 looks that came down the runway at Badgley Mischka, at least half were day time, or at least mixed day and night. Certainly a far cry from seasons ago when the popular and dashing duo, (Mark Badgley and James Mischka) known for dressing socialites, celebrities, and stars on the red carpet, showed only cocktail and evening clothes. Well, that was then and this is now and they have evolved with the times and moved on. The 2007 fall collection, which included items from Badgley Mischka Platinum Sportswear, Badgley Mischka Platinum Evening, Badgley Mischka Couture, Badgley Mischka Furs, was all about a sporty, toned down approach to luxury. The models' hair was pulled back into a slightly messed up chignons and they were fresh faced and minimally accessorized. It was polished and elegant. Skirts were short and paired with boots or high heels; pants were both generously cut and menswear inspired, or streetwise and skinny. Menswear fabrics like chocolate glen plaid, coffee tweed, and smoke tweed were offset with chocolate Persian lamb, mink, and fox.

For evening, the colors were primarily black, worked against jewel tones: amethyst, navy, hematite, platinum, anthracite, smoke gunmetal, and gold. A short sold shift had an overlay of net (overlays were a pervasive theme), and the group of long gracefully floating empire waist gowns in georgette and satin were trimmed generously with sprays of silver crystal embroidery resembling liquid molten silver or featured jewel encrusted necklaces or bodices.

Vera Wang’s poetic, romanticized and beautifully executed fall vision, was very ‘Vera’ in its juxtapositions and its downplay of overt luxury. Never one to go the traditional route, she has always been one to mix day and night, hard and soft, masculine and feminine. The fall collection was all about “throwaway elegance” (the way she herself dresses) and indeed it was opulent and deconstructed at the same time. Vera said she was inspired by 20th century Russia and the survival of its people, and to this end, she offhandedly mixed military uniforms, primitive shapes, and opulent decorations which played out in a typically somber, mousey color palette (brown, black, khaki, forest green, olive, charcoal, navy, and gold). There was no color except for a red babushka shown with a jeweled evening dress. (Vera used oversized babushkas to cover the heads of many of the models).

It was opulent and deconstructed at the same time. Vintage inspired Russian insignia military buckles were added to distressed leather and crocodile belts; taffeta fencing jackets had padded peplum linings to add to the shape. Jeweled medallions were affixed to heavy brown leather boots. The amount of layering was dizzying, and it was an obvious attempt to create the proper look and mood. It was beautiful with some amazingly tailored and constructed pieces. But having said that, the overall effect was rather self conscious and contrived, and it’s hard to imagine anyone over the age of 20, who is not 6 feet tall and 105 pounds really pulling this off. (By the way, there were many sleeves tunics and dresses and one model’s arms were visibly thin enough to quality as borderline anorexic).

Hanii Y and Gene Kei, the duo behind Y & Kei, claimed they were inspired by a “visit to Australia, specifically the patchwork-effect architecture of the Federation Square building in Melbourne” for their fall collection. The 41 piece fall collection concentrated on black, navy, plum, hunter green and grey with hits of red, silver metallic and gunmetal. The mainly cocktail into evening dresses (and separates) was filled with their signature rosettes and origami details, and featured bubble hems, skinny pants, and novel uses of fur (like the black sheared mink knee length coat with short puffed sleeves and the dove grey sheared mink jacket with rosette collar and flyway back). Unsurprisingly, it was the simpler pieces (and some of their coats) that were the most successful: a navy silk jacquard bubble coat; a short sleeved dove grey cotton taffeta over coat shown with a black turtleneck; a pale grey cotton moire collarless coat dress; a charcoal metallic cotton strapless cocktail dress. The dusty pink silk evening gown at the finale was cut with the simplicity of a nightgown.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Other Shows:

Zac Posen

Zac's Black Iris Gown - photo Isabelle Erb

It was the usual packed house on Thursday night as Zac Posen presented his Fall/Winter 2007 collection in the tent at Bryant Park. Photographers overflowed the runway as they rushed to catch a glimpse of celebrity guests including Russell Simmons, Sean Combs, Rachel Bilson, and Giada DeLaurentis. Each seat contained a chic black bag filled with Mac cosmetics and L'Oreal hair products.

Zac's focus for this season was on "architectural tailoring" and "exquisite femininity". To accomplish this he led off the collection with precisely tailored coats, jackets, dresses, and pants, each of which was designed to be contoured to the shape of a woman's body. Almost every look emphasized the waist in some fashion, even his utterly charming, swingy organza dresses. The color palette was predominately black throughout the collection, with the exception of a few pieces in rich dark colors like plum or olive and a standout white sable/goat stole jacket. Zac saved his most ornate flourishes for his evening wear, closing the show with an elaborate, full skirted dress called the Navy/Black Iris Gown.

-Rhonda Erb

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New York Fashion Week - Day 6

Yesterday was a day of designers doing what they do best. Michael Kors was completely in his element with a collection predicated on the idea of ‘Sporty American Luxury’ (what else is new?), which is something he knows a thing or two about. (Didn’t Michael invent the genre?) He may not have ‘reinvented the wheel’ with the rather familiar vocabulary, but so what? What’s wrong with doing what you do best and reworking your biggest hits?

To a quick paced soundtrack, the models (men and women) jaunted energetically down the runway looking sporty, rich, and happy. Members of the ‘jet set’. Everything about the clothes shouted ‘luxe sportif’ from the earthy neutral shades that could best be described as typically fall like, to the gutsy fabrics (tweed, herringbone, wool melton, cashmere. Outerwear shined (no surprise there) and Michael’s coats were stellar. They were all short (meaning above the knee) and ranged from classic pea coats and steamers, to swing shapes. There were also sporty anoraks which were often juxtaposed with something unexpectedly more dressed (like the olive cotton anorak paired with a gold floral bronze metelasse skirt and orange cashmere pullover) for that ‘day for night’ effect.

Pants were shown in a variety of styles: sweatpants, cropped pants, classic trousers, and lavish fur trimmed cuffs, collars, and hems. And speaking of furs, they were a major statement here as in most other runways thus far (with the exception of Narciso Rodriguez and Marc Jacobs). Furs were flying down the runway - fur hats in a variety of shapes and pelts; lavish fur trims on cuffs, collars, and hems; fur vests, abbreviated shrugs, jackets, and coats. There was fox, mink, rabbit, sable, and broadtail. There was a nutria toggle coat, a broadtail swing dress, a paillette fox coat and a crowd pleasing knee length black lacquered cheetah brocade coat. PETA be damned! By the way, if they were to stop by the Tents, they would surely be aghast at all the fur clad guests. In a case of life imitating art, there are as many show goers wearing furs as furs being presented on the runway. (Hey, if you’re not going to wear them this week, with the dipping temperatures, well when? There is still nothing as warm.)

Almost nobody does cashmere like MK (his yarns and weaves are thick and luxe) and cashmere pieces showed up as dresses, cardigans, pullovers, serapes. There were also hefty cable stitch hand knits done in luxuriously voluminous shapes. The bags were statement makers, from large structured satchels with bold gold hardware, to enormous ‘jet set’ metallic duffels. The footwear of choice was a high heel (pump or boot). While the collection was decidedly geared towards daytime (or the mix of day and night), evening wear was not forgotten. There were short paillette and fringed dance dresses in addition to several floor length entrance making gowns: a coffee strapless chiffon, a coffee crystal beaded jersey asymmetrical gown, and a black crystal beaded jersey one shoulder ‘Goddess’ gown. I could easily envision Melania Trump (sitting front row center with ‘The Donald’) wearing any of those to a big gala in New York or Palm Beach.

Peter Som’s nicely done collection was inspired by “the seductive beauty of orchids, mixed with the bold confident strokes of John Singer Sargent paintings”. So it was not surprising to find orchard and petal print t shirts, blouses, shirtdresses, and lame dresses. Like Michael’s, this collection was strongest with regards to the day pieces (though there were several short cocktail numbers and two gowns at the end), and the knitwear looked especially good. especially the cashmere and hand knits (too bad there weren’t more of them).

I especially like the charcoal cashmere short sleeve sweater worn with a paler grey worsted wool narrow pant. There were also some interesting broadtail jackets and coats with great shapes that were embroidered to add another dimension and one black ‘Teflon’ coated trench that was given a boost of color from the fuchsia chiffon shirtdress underneath and chartreuse belt over it. Le Smoking is another genre that was touched upon -- there was a black smoking suit with a while silk and cashmere organdy blouse, and a black and cashmere organdy tuxedo blouse shown with back sateen fitted tuxedo pants.

Vivienne Tam was ambitious to dedicate a collection to Paul Poiret, the genius who is one of her favorite designers and who will be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in the spring, (“Poiret: King of Fashion”, May 9 – August 5). In her program notes she observed that they shared a “passion for delicate details, striking color coordinations and various cultural elements.” Certainly, Poiret was known for his experimentation with Orientalism. For fall, it was her aim to take the classic shapes made famous by Poiret and add her signature details (ribbon embroideries, beading, cut outs).

The 45 piece collection started with a group of cheongsams with slash treatments and dresses (mainly simply cut, narrow columns that just covered the knee) continued to dominate the lineup. Ms. Tam is known for her inventive cuts and one cream wool melton a-line coat with geometric square details down the front was interesting. It was the 6 or 7 pieces that really stood out, including a black heavy satin quilted trench with skeleton embossed in the back shown over a dragon embroidered netting dress and a gold leather hooded jacket paired over a gold leaf dress with copper sequined overlay.

By the way, each seat had a run of show (in red) and a red t shirt tied with a ribbon. Great, I thought….I love red! It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed it’s emblazoned across the chest with “Year of the Pig” in gold letters. Gee, thanks a lot!

You always know what you are going to get with an Anna Sui show. It’s always a colorful, girlie romp, dizzyingly accessorized to the nines and this season was no exception. Winter sports and ski were a reference point and she used active sportswear pieces layered to the max with a myriad of dresses, furs, and hand knits. It had a 60’s vibe (another favorite of the designer). Anna did not abandon the dress and used it as a layering piece in a variety of ways.
There were parka coats and anoraks, knitted cardigans, ski jumpsuits, chunky cable knit sweaters, smock dresses, conversation prints, florals, patchwork furs (courtesy Adrienne Landau), crochet pieces, metallic chiffons, ostrich trims, and brocades. Cozy gray wool tights covered the legs and the footwear was mod inspired and low heeled. The models wore multiple chains and pendants around their necks, and the hats were the stars. There were knitted hats (some with large paillettes) and big fur hats.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New York Fashion Week: Day 5

Michael Vollbracht’s collection for Bill Blass yesterday was by far his best since taking over as head of design for the veritable label. The crowd pleasing show (he even received a standing ovation), was not only upbeat, well edited, and fast paced (it’s obvious that he has listened to critics in the past), but he hit all the right notes and came the closest to evoking the mood and spirit of the late Mr. Blass.

Several outfits were described as ‘Halston-like’ or ‘Norell-like’ and in his program notes, he explained why he is ‘obsessed with the two legends”. As he put it, he “fell in love with his (Norell) sequined mermaids years and years ago when I was a very young designer." And Halston? “because his simple philosophy looks so good in this era of over-designing”. And he continued: “And of course Blass - because it is my job to knock him off”. Michael not only has a sense of humor…but he’s honest.

Like Marc Jacobs, Derek Lam did a complete about face from the previous season, but unfortunately with less successful results. Known for his classically based vocabulary predicated on the idea of ease and sporty elegance (not to mention his talent when it comes to outerwear and trench coats), the fall line was puzzlingly routed in the hard edged 80’s with more than a touch of tough chic and Nicolas Guesquiere for spring 2007. But instead of looking modern or futuristic, it looked contrived and very difficult to wear (extremely short skirts some of which were shown with bare legs and given the temperatures outside, they not only looked strange but seemed unbelievable).

Not surprisingly, the best pieces were the simplest - including several day dresses, coats (a white tech sateen trench with anthracite cashmere felt and black and white wool Sherpa lining which was worn inside out; a banker’s grey and light grey felt flannel pea coat), and two simply beautiful gowns that closed the show; one in white and the other in French blue with a hood. Too bad there weren’t more of these.

Doo.Ri has certainly earned the name, “Jersey Girl”. The inventive fall collection, built around her signature fabric (silk jersey), was an evolution and continuation of the award winning designer’s ongoing experimentation with draping, and her love of a curved hemline for tunics, blouses, and dresses. Actually, the dresses and tunics looked one in the same since they were the same length, and she proposed them over skinny pants or thick opaque Wolford tights and a black wedge sole shoe which blended into the stocking so you couldn’t tell where one started and the other began.

Some of the tops featured bra like construction and many featured arrestingly cut out backs and layering. Doo.Ri also continued her love affair with suspenders (using Swarovski crystals to decorate them on an emerald jersey dress). Colors were unusual, interesting, and quite flattering and they all looked great played against black - her basic neutral. There was navy peacock, evergreen, emerald, and Bordeaux. And by the way, you didn’t expect a Doo.Ri collection to be without a trenchcoat did you? Of course not. And in fact, a full black wool trench shown over a silk halter dress with an organza hem, started the show.

Narciso Rodriguez was held on 26th Street right off 11th Avenue (which seemed to be the coldest place on the planet last evening thanks to the wind chill factor hitting the far west reaches of New York). After the paparazzi got their fill of Rachel Weisz, Claire Danes and Jerry Seinfeld, the show finally began (only 40 minutes late which by fashion standards is on time).The collection was a welcome palette cleanser and very signature Narciso. It was also testament to the way in which certain seemingly simple things (a pared down color palette of black, white, ivory, camel, grey, and especially the combination of black and white) can be so powerful. Narciso’s architectural, minimal designs looked especially good after days of fashion shows presenting dizzying (but not necessarily notable) ideas for next fall. His were lean, minimal, chic, and completely wearable with nothing gimmicky or tricky. And it looked pretty darn good. Pared down to white, ivory, camel, black, navy, grey, with a touch of emerald and turquoise (in the form of ski inspired anoraks), there were all the signatures one comes to expect from Narciso. There was hardly an accessory in sight and not one fur was presented.

Pants were very narrow and elongated, the jackets were boxy and hip length, and the coats (which are always the best pieces on the line, especially for fall/winter) came in three lengths…above the knee, slightly below the knee, and ankle length. And the latter were the true standouts and the highlights of the collection. Even though I like short coats for practicality, I must say that the military inspired white and black wool coats with sculpted collars, wide self belts and sweeping hemlines, worn over narrow pants and boots, made the short coats look insignificant. Not to mention that considering the frigid temperatures, seem especially attractive right now!

Just a note: In case you were unaware that designers tend to give away seats to those who have no connection with fashion whatsoever - this is a true story. A friend of mine, a fashion writer, told me she got a standing ticket for a specific designer (I will not name names)…even though she successfully interviewed this person. When she got to the show venue, she happened to look at some of the names on the seats..and found one for a person at a specific nail salon. I guess the designer uses their service quite a bit, but regardless. The nail salon employees should not be given priority over insiders and fashion pros in my opinion.

Another note: I was reading Cathy Horyn’s review of Marc Jacobs in The New York Times today and she ended it with, “If you felt like ditching your layers, it was no accident.” Ironically, this is not the time to ditch layers but to pile them on. It was exactly one year ago that Marc proposed the urban nomad layers (not to mention the oversized fur and knitted hats) for his fall collection and I remember thinking how great it looked and how practical it would be for running around the city in the freezing cold. Well, this week was the perfect time to put those layers into work and it worked for me.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Other Shows:


“Over the Rainbow” was the theme of the Fall 2007 Heatherette fashion show, but that can only begin to describe the crowd-pleasing extravaganza that took place in the tent at Bryant Park on Tuesday night. First there was the scene on the runway as celebrities like Carson Kressley, Alan Cumming, Kelly Rowland, and others made their way to their seats. Accompanying them was a random assortment of characters including someone with an oversized, irridescent, hot pink bouffant and a gentleman who remembered his top hat but forgot his pants.

Then the real show began, everyone was provided with a pair of hot pink 3-D glasses, the better to see acrobats somersaulting on the runway to introduce Traver Rains and Richie Rich’s collection. There was a large rainbow colored scarf draped toga style, and dresses made of blue gingham tiered ruffles and what looked to be foam shaped into a bubble. Other pieces included white glow in the dark t-shirts emblazoned with quotes from the Wizard of Oz and a tasteful one-piece bathing suit in pale pink.

The eagerly anticipated finale featured children in ballet tutus heralding the arrival of Glinda the Good Witch of the North (Amanda Lepore). Finally, Rains and Rich made their appearance escorted down the runway by Kimora Lee Simmons.

I’m sure that I’ve omitted many pertinent details of the Heatherette experience. Lets just say that a good time was had by all and you simply had to be there.

-Rhonda Erb

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hats off to Marc (or should I say, hats on!)

Marc Jacobs waved his magic wand (one hour and 15 minutes past 9) and decreed that it’s time to get back to an elegant refinement. Wave good-bye to leggings, baby dolls, minis, balloon hems, wedges, anything tricky, tacky, and gimmicky. Say hello to longer lengths, fine tailoring, cuffed menswear trousers, ‘boring’ belts (his description, not mine), ‘hand oiled and polished oxfords’ (his description, not mine), trompe l’oeil, cavalry twill, polyester wrap skirts (remember those?), real jewelry, satin shirts, leather gloves, vests, tuxedos, spectators, oxfords, and hats! The propriety of the hat was one of the most notable aspects of the collection. Large fedoras and cloches by the brilliant British milliner, Stephen Jones accessorized every outfit- day and evening. Oh, and wave bye-bye to furs; Marc showed none on his runway yet earlier in the day, we were inundated with pelts in every incarnation.

Before going to the Marc Jacobs show I was trying to guess what he would be unveiling for fall. I pictured in my mind what the complete opposite of last season’s show would be because knowing Marc, the one thing that seemed obvious is that that he would be doing a complete about face from whatever that may be. And since spring was all brash gold and silver dolman sleeved bombers, balloon pants, in your face bling, I would say that the subdued and restrained lineup he sent down the runway, could qualify as just that.

How many other designers could get people out on a freezing cold Monday evening, and nobody would leave even after waiting more than one hour? And how many designers are so revered, respected and influential that no matter what they showed, people would find something valuable and worthwhile, if not fabulous within it? As soon as the curtain opened up on the stage, it revealed a set worthy of a Broadway show. Dozens of models posed aristocratically, against a wall that resembled an elegant estate complete with soaring ceilings and oversized windows and then one by one, slowly and elegantly walked down the runway. Their hair was caught back in long ponytails, their faces almost obscured by the brims of the hats. Accessories included gloves, proper jewelry (pendants, brooches, rings, cuff links), structured bags and large clutches. The color palette was basically dark (navy, gray, black) with touches of clear red and mustard (the later came in the form of gloves). The collection made me want to purge my closet and start all over again. It also made what was presented earlier in the week and earlier in the day seem very passé, overdone, and old fashioned.

And speaking of earlier in the day, Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta undoubtedly have a lot in common: they are both veterans and pros of 7th Avenue known for their impeccable taste and elegant lifestyles; they are both of Spanish descent; they both show traditionally on the same day (Monday), just hours apart; their high priced collections are geared toward the very affluent customer. And neither one exactly tones down the luxury quotient. But yesterday’s showing point to the things that separate the two: Oscar is more successful at using luxury in a more modern way. There was a lot going on with Carolina’s clothes (too much in fact) and often times, the resultant effect was that she seemed to be trying too hard for the sake of experimentation. Who really wears these clothes anyway? Would you see her wearing them? No, actually, Ms. Herrera is very elegant herself, and very low-keyed, preferring elegant classics over fussy fashion statements.

Both Oscar and Carolina proposed short (knee length) for day and made a case for texture mixes, and showed a lot of furs. One reason why Oscar was more successful in keeping things modern, youthful, and realistic (well, sort of anyway) is that he was able to infuse the luxury with a relaxed, natural, and effortless feeling, wisely accessorizing with flat boots to take things down a notch and give the luxury a bit of a streetwise feeling. The models were fresh faced and accessories were kept to a minimum. You don’t need a lot going on when you have stellar coats, cashmere sweaters (many with massive fur trims), hefty tweeds, double wool boucles, astrakhans, and shearlings.

I must admit, it was the daytime portion that really stood out. Maybe because it’s so darn cold, but sleeveless little sheaths don’t really do it to for me at the moment. Perhaps that’s why the three ballgowns at the end looked so inviting…they were accessorized with abbreviate fur shrugs (sable, chinchilla, ermine).

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, February 05, 2007

So Many Shows - So Little Time!

If there was a theme to Bryan Bradley’s 34 piece collection for Tuleh, I certainly couldn’t find it. But perhaps that was precisely the point. It was a somewhat disjointed collection consisting of some nice (and some pretty groovy) pieces, and I can only conclude that this is how Bryan sees his customer’s needs. Bryan is continuing with his experimentation (in terms of techniques, fabrics, cuts), and spans the decades in search of inspiration and references.

By the way, for the first time, instead of showing at the small space within the Bryant Park Tents, the Tuleh show was held in the largest Tent venue, which made for one of the most spacious and comfortable (and civilized) shows thus far. Furrier Dennis Basso was seated in the front row and I thought perhaps his company manufactured the furs for the collection but the program notes credited the furs to Moschos. I saw vestiges of everything from the 40’s to 80’s and the collection ran the gamut from shrunken menswear inspired gray 2 piece pantsuits (so fitted you could practically see every inch of the model), and bias cut printed silk dresses that fell right below the knee, to a hip narrow brocade ¾ coat with fur cuffs worn with a very narrow pant.

There were proper ladylike blouses worn with lean trousers or pencil skirts, a beautifully tailored peplumed black skirt suit, a leg o mutton sleeved fur jacket, and an abstract printed ball skirt complete with train paired with a simple fitted knitted top. There were subtle and innovative furs (like the glen plaid coat knee length coat outlined with mink in a grid pattern), and there were in your face over the top furs (like Cecilia’s lacquer red oversized ‘tabard’ trimmed with black and white fur).

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous (or high and low), Lela Rose used her fall show as the perfect opportunity to introduce her new line of shoes for Payless. 5 new styles (high heels and flats) accessorized the 35 piece collection which was filled with short dresses, skirts (many of which featured curved hemlines), coats, capes, pretty blouses (some in prints and polka dots), skinny brocade trousers, elongated bombers and evening gowns. While the cute shoes will undoubtedly retail for under $25, at the end of the program, in large bold letters, it was noted, “All jewelry in the show provided by Van Cleef & Arpels”. So, you could probably add another three zeros to the 25 right there.

Diane Von Furstenberg’s shows are getting more crowded each season and becoming more of a must see ever since she was nominated as President of the CFDA. Her energetic and upbeat Latin themed fall collection, “La Movida!” (“Look ahead…and don’t turn back…” is how Diane sees it) was testament to the many ways one can design-and wear-a dress. While she proposed some skirts and blouses or skirts and jackets, the majority of the 44 pieces were dresses, most of them short. She showed shift dresses, little black dresses, boldly patterned dresses, printed dresses, cocktail dresses, dresses and cardigans, dresses and coats, flapper dresses, flamenco dance dresses.

Tadashi Shoji’s lineup of cocktail dresses, separates, and gowns, was as he put it, “inspired by an ancient warrior traveling through the snowy enchanted landscape of Eurasia in pursuit of his celestial princess only to find her an illusion”. Unfortunately, the pieces were a bit overworked and so body hugging, it was hard to imagine how the models were able to breathe. And in a few instances, (like the stretch mesh and metal beaded tunic dress), I was reminded of Nicolas Guesquiere’s futuristic warrior collection for spring 2007. So over!

The talented young Erin Fetherston delighted the audience with Zoey Dechanel’s rendition of the Mamas and Papas “Dream a little dream for me” before unveiling her sweet and young collection of short dresses, coats, skirts, pretty blouses, and shorts that were inspired by the sky, the moon, and the stars. She even named some of the pieces, ‘constellation’ blouse, ‘shooting star’ dress, ‘moon’ coat and worked in a palette of black, silver, ivory.

Naeem Khan’s dresses and gowns are beautifully detail oriented and beautifully fabricated. These are not clothes that are trying to be all things to all people- there was no daytime, only evening wear (cocktail, black tie, red carpet). The emphasis was on black and mercury (silver) with hits of jewel tones like sapphire, garnet, smoked topaz, antique gold. Embellishment and jewel encrusting were seen throughout and many halter gowns had their own built in necklaces. A little short sleeved t shirt dresses was covered with jet hand-cut mirrored crystals (just think, you wouldn’t need to carry a compact ….you could see your reflection in the dress). Interestingly, the hands down crowd pleaser, which immediately drew applause, was the very first outfit down the runway: a black silk organza wrap front blouse with full sleeves worn with a short full black silk organza pleated skirt embossed with a patent leather baroque appliqué.

Tracy Reese called her Fall 2007 collection (which is all about ladylike sophisticated glamour), “Belle”. Her color palette of choice could almost be summed up in two words, ‘Ebony and Ivory” though that was not the only story. There was also silver, chocolate brown, navy, and touches of magenta, strawberry, and rose. Her coats and outerwear are always distinctive (this season she loves frock coats, tunic coats, smock coats) as are her blouses (the ladylike bow blouse is going through a revival of sorts). Sleeves get full treatment (literally since puff sleeves look new once again) and are given interest courtesy the variety of lengths and shapes proposed.

Tracy’s clothes are always very ‘girlie girl’ and this season was no exception. Hence, grosgrain pleats decorate a bone short frock coat, and a large bow is affixed to the back of a short ‘Hershey’ structured coat with short full sleeves. But it’s the continual play and juxtaposition of masculine and feminine that makes things interesting, and a combination of the two elements could be found throughout. A silver lame pleated tunic was shown with black ‘tux’ shorts’ a scoop-back shift dress was done in menswear inspired silver tweed; traditional black and bone herringbone was used for an a line jacket and pant.

Talk about mixing things up…Tracy is known for mixing modern with vintage and she did this very successfully. The collection was cohesive and well edited: everything was short (leggy) and accessorized with her own collection of jewelry, handbags (black patent frame bags with gold chains and gold hardware), hats (Patricia Underwood for Tracy Reese). The shoes were great by the way: there were high heeled black patent pumps or a rather mod black patent tall boot with a square heel.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Mixed Bag

A child of the 70’s, Lacoste’s designer, Christophe Lemaire, admitted to having been inspired by the classic films of Eric Rohmer ( ‘Conte d’Automne,’ ‘Conte d’Hiver’, and ‘Pauline a la Plage,’) as well as Claude Sautet’s ‘Cesar et Rosalie’ for fall/winter 2007. The quintessentially French sporty chic collection for both men and women, (which had at its heart, the idea of traditional French weekend escapes) was filled with refreshingly wearable and timelessly appearing pieces. The mainly neutral palette of typically fall shades (the runway was filled with ‘falling leaves’ as if to hone in the point), translated into fairly androgynous skinny jeans, corduroys, well tailored jackets, trench coats, shearlings, cropped pea coats, shawl collared cardigans, and stripes, stripes, and more stripes. It looked appealingly un-fashion-y and real lifelike. The accessory statement consisted of oversized totes, suitcase shaped weekend bags, and great boots which the skinny jeans were tucked into. I especially liked the Bordeaux patent short hooded coat and matching retro cool canvas and patent midcalf boot on a rubber wedge sole.

I really didn’t know what to expect from Maticevski, since I had never attended one of Toni Maticevski’s shows before. But I was pleasantly surprised. The Australian designer’s 35 piece collection was well executed and filled with some interesting ideas (new takes on old ideas actually), in addition to some wonderful bias cut cocktail dresses, beautifully cut jackets, fitted suits with pencil skirts. Colors were predominantly neutral: shades of gray, black, and ivory, which were enlivened with hits of yellow, peach, coral, and lavender; the latter of which came in the form of puffer jackets, padded silk padded ballgowns, evening dresses, and evening coats…there was even a mini puffy cocktail dress. And while puffers are not new, Maticevski gave them new life. And considering the freezing temperatures outside, these pieces looked especially inviting and cool. One in particular, featuring a yellow floor length coat belted over a floor length skirt and worn with a white silk undershirt, looked especially good.

What was up with the Alice Roi show? First, getting inside the venue at Bryant Park was like getting into Fort Knox. We were made to wait in groups to pass through at least three different security check points at which point we had to wait and then we were allowed to the next level. Once inside, the show started almost 40 minutes late. At least reading the show program provided some entertainment (amusing and quirky descriptions such as ‘night sweats’ t shirt, ‘concomitant’ black and cream knit dress, ‘broken thoughts’ calico sweater with black wool ‘infirmary’ blanket skirt, etc.).

And it’s hard to be grumpy while listening to the cool music of Steely Dan which played in the background. But while there were some sweet little dresses (notably a black paneled peter pan collar dress with an a line shape), a perfectly nice black ‘Madeline’ lace and wool short toggle coat paired with mohair leggings, a fuzzy camel shrunken blazer worn with gray sport inspired pants, and some fringe trim separates, the collection was not as cohesive or as well conceived as last season’s.

In the meanwhile…we all know that the fashion off the runway could be as interesting (or more so) than the clothes being presented on the runway. What are people wearing to the shows? Let’s just say that while the week has not really gotten underway yet, from my observations, it’s a complete mixed bag (no surprise there). I have spotted lots of red, especially on Friday, which was National Wear Red Day. The color always stands out in a crowd, that’s for sure. I even saw one woman in a red coat and matching dyed red fur hat. I think she had red hair as well…I have also noticed classic plaids, checks, and tweeds; plus pants, jeans, and leggings tucked into boots in every conceivable form. Vintage inspired furs, from shrugs and stoles to leather and fur coats are an obvious choice for hitting the shows. But the big accessory seems to be the hat, whether in fur or done in a patterned knit. Knitted fur caps with earflaps have been seen on both men and women and considering the cold temperatures on the horizon, undoubtedly, warm and toasty headgear will be de rigueur if one wants to get through the week.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Other Shows:

Alexandre Herchcovitch

I always anticipate something fresh and unique from Alexandre Herchcovitch and his Fall 2007 collection did not disappoint. The designer presented an eclectic mix of soft, lightweight print dresses, jumpsuits, cropped jackets, and even the occasional unconstructed dress or top that reminded one of a garbage bag.

Adorable straw hats accented the outfits, only a few of which appeared to be made of cold weather weight fabrics, like the plaid coat in a winning combination of brown and turquoise. This color theme, along with black, was carried throughout the collection, the rare exception being a floral top or white jacket that was added to the mix.

Once again, with his take on Fall 2007, Alexandre Herchcovitch has proven himself to be full of delightful surprises.

Rock and Republic

Skin tight pants, body hugging dresses, lots of bare skin, gold, silver, and sparkles everywhere. It had to be the Rock and Republic Fall 2007 presentation held Saturday might at Cipriani’s 42nd Street location. There was not a traditional piece of clothing in sight: a pullover sweater was printed with a snake pattern, wrap dresses plunged to the waist, classic black pumps sparkled with crystal accents and the capacity crowd loved every minute of it.

In keeping with this season’s theme, Sexy Beast, the venue was transformed into a dark jungle-like arena as spectators sat on padded bleacher seats and models strutted to a hard driving rock beat. Once again members of the press and invited guests alike were treated to cocktails and hors d’ouevres at what had to be the best runway party in town.

-Rhonda Erb

Saturday, February 03, 2007

“Let’s Hear It for the Boys”

The early part of New York Fashion Week (in other words…Friday) is traditionally dedicated to the boys, with menswear shows taking front stage. Having said that…I really loved John Bartlett’s 10 AM show…(which I guess you can say, has sort of ‘replaced’ Kenneth Cole in terms of filling that early morning time slot on Friday, the first official day of New York Fashion Week). Other parallels and comparisons would be that the press for both has been handled by true pro Deborah Hughes -- but that is pretty much where the similarities end.

Whereas Kenneth Cole had always been a major ‘event’ (in terms of size and ambitious presentation), John’s was not a large scaled show but one that was relatively low keyed, perfect for his low keyed collection. It was not held in the sprawling Tent venue but the more intimate Salon. And it was only menswear; it included no women’s wear at all.

The tightly edited line was a delight from start to finish, ‘signature’, vintage John in terms of its emphasis on intelligent and refined tailoring, its nod to the classics and to the preppy side of things (well, the designer is a Harvard Grad after all). The collection was marked by its streamlined and narrow silhouette, pleasing neutral palette (camel, ivory, forest green, loden, chocolate brown, charcoal gray, black, ivory and a touch of red to enliven it all), and fabulous knitwear, which ‘ruled’. The sweaters (particularly the graphic color blocked turtlenecks) were not only fabulous, but I could see myself wearing them as well. (The color block idea was also translated into some wonderful tailored blazers by the way). John seems to have a ‘thing’ for layering and for cables (there were not only cabled and mini cabled sweaters and vests, but one army green trench coat had cabled epaulets and matching cabled sleeve tabs).

While Duckie Brown is also somewhat ‘classic’ based, Steven Cox and Daniel Silver, the duo behind the label, is a bit more playful, experimental, and irreverent, dubbing their line “The Essential Duckie Brown Fall/Winter 2007 Collection”. The predominantly dark, somber collection of three piece suits, two button jackets, herringbone coats, leather motorcycle jackets, plaid sport jackets, brushed checked shirts, etc. was enlivened with surprise hits of color in the form of accessories: a ‘safety’ orange hand knit hat, jade green wig, mustard gloves, ‘lemoncello’ (chartreuse) sweater. Gauntlets and leather ‘grocery bags’ in black and red were other novel ways they see their guy dressing this fall.

Among ideas explored (to a varying degree of success) were the use of black cashmere leggings, a (rather unflattering) ‘low crotch trouser’, and ‘three arm sweater’. The combination of a traditional sport jacket and an anorak was labeled, “anarkacket”. The duo also found a way to make a common hoodie, evening perfect (if one so desires) by adding white beads in the image of an abstract face. One note, this show had the most comfortable seats thus far. Instead of bleechers or metal seats, the usual Bryant Park Tent fare was replaced with comfy and tall black canvas and wood director’s chairs. So everyone in the audience felt like a director (or captain) for a few minutes.

If you were to tell me that a show which included celebrity models (Paula Zahn, Angela Bassett, Phylicia Rashad, Lauren Hutton, Kim Cattrall, Kimberly Guilfoyle Villency, Helena Christensen, Katharine McPhee, Jane Krakowski among others), walking down a long red runway wearing red eveningwear from design names like Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Narciso Rodriguez, Lyn Devon, and had First Lady Laura Bush sitting in the front row, I would assume it was make for an interesting event. Unfortunately, the Heart Truth Red Dress Collection (with a noble cause at its hard) was a bit lackluster all the same. The red dresses selected were rather ordinary and in a few unfortunate cases, proved unflattering. The hands down highlight and the crowd pleaser (other than energetic Betsey Johnson cavorting down the runway in a red pouf dress of her own design wearing a new platinum bob) was tennis legend Billie Jean King who hammed it up and jaunted down the runway wearing a red pantsuit by Gustavo Cadile accessorized with Adidas sneakers (to the pulsating beat of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ of course).

Yeohlee did a complete about face from the way she showed last season (when her venue of choice was an expansive, unfinished, raw space in an office building not far from the Bryant Park Tents). This season, she opted for the chic, elegant, tranquility of a high ceiling’d grand room of the W New York Hotel on Lexington and 49th street. It was an urbane and sophisticated respite from the Tents. Everyone was given a choice of bottled water or Pomegranate/White peach tea which was delicious and more importantly, the clothes that followed were some of Yeohlee’s best, displaying her enormous talent and ability to play with shape, cut, structure, form, simplicity.

For fall 2007, Yeohlee was inspired by the undulating forms and structural genius of Antoni Gaudi (and his “desire to go back to basics” and to create architecture based on the criteria of function”). Yeohlee’s signature and rigorous color palette of gray, black, ivory, taupe, was worked to best advantage in weighty and substantial fabrics like wool felt and wool angora, focusing on the idea of “enveloping” the wearer and creating versatile pieces that can be changed and manipulated by the wearer. This was exemplified by the very first outfit out: a grey stretch wool felt ‘ovoid’ jacket worn with lean and elongated grey stretch wool felt empire trousers and a white cotton ‘femme Mao’ shirt (which appeared throughout). Several coats were extraordinary in their deceiving simplicity: notably the grey stretch wool felt low bustle coat (which had a slightly curved hem), the grey stretch wool felt ellipse coatdress, and a black double face wool angora belted Gaudi coat that was high waisted and featured ivory insets on the side.

Just a note. One of the most heartwarming trends this season is the move by the fashion industry to help speed the downtown recovery process by using spaces in the financial center and near Ground Zero to stage shows and parties. Not only is this making smart use of remarkable often historic spaces or those with incomparable views, like the top of 7 World Trade Center, but it’s the best way to help Lower Manhattan get back on track.

-Marlyn Kirschner
Vionnet Launch Party at Barney's New York

Vionnet window display was brought in to overlook party

Friday night a cocktail party was held in honor of the launch of the new couture collection by design director Sophia Kokosalaki for the house of Vionnet. The founder, Madeleine Vionnet, was famous for re-inventing bias cutting and draping in the 1920s.

Hosted by Julie Gilhart, the fashion director for Barneys, over two hundred guests sipped on Champagne on the second floor salon while viewing the collection that is being offered for sale.

Left: Patricia Mears Center: Valerie Steele Right: Arnaud de Lumen

We spent time chatting with a number of familiar faces including publicist Mary Loving, Mary Lou Luther, FIT Museum director Dr. Valerie Steele and curator Patricia Mears. Others we recognized in the crowd were Mickey Boardman of Paper, Virginia Smith of Vogue, Hamish Bowles of Vogue, Amanda Cutter, and the always conspicuous Simon Doonan.

The UPTOWN and DOWNTOWN of Fashion

In a city where addresses normally dictate lifestyle, the collection week kickoff party venues reflected the many different worlds of fashion. The kick off parties were in full swing both uptown and downtown.


Roger and Mauricio Padilha threw a fun bash all the way downtown, at the Broad Street Ballroom in 41 Broad Street, last Wednesday, January 31, 2007. This twice-a-year party was held to launch Fashion Week and the release of their 8th issue. The party was hosted by Deborah Harry and around 10:00 pm, there was a special performance by Kembra Pfahler & The Karen Black Girls. After that, was a very entertaining and visual performance by The Ones. Paul Alexander of the club classic single, “Walk For Me” was singing with The Ones.

Kembra Pfahler & The Karen Black Girls

The ballroom was packed to the brim. A huge video screen featured the works of artists featured in this issue of Mao Mag. In attendance were Lady Bunny, Amanda Lepore, Patrick McDonald, Julie Fredrikson of Coutorture, Alva Chinn and many more originals.

This 8th issue featured people who constituted a History of Cool: Deborah Harry, Peter Max, Kenneth Jay Lane, Kenny Scharf, Pat Mcgrath, Marisa Berenson, Zac Posen, Lydia Hearst, Brigid Berlin, Jane Forth, Ann Magnuson, Joey Arias, Tseng Kwong Chi, Michael Vollbracht, Devon Aoki, Hamish Bowles, Norma Kamali, Patrick Mcdonald, The Pyramid, Kezia Keeble, Francois Nars, Michael Musto, Brad Kroenig, Andre J, Mae Alexander, Larissa, Caio, and Julie Newmar.

It is a great limited edition issue. If you happen to see MAO MAG being given out at Bryant Park, grab it.

Chris Royer, the famous Halston girl, who now runs a consulting firm, said “The Padilha brothers are the only ones still doing something great for New York pop culture, art and fashion”. It was a fun party because like every successful party…… it is all in the mix.

HARPERS BAZAAR Kick-off party

In contrast, on Feb 1, Thursday, the Harper’s Bazaar kick-off party was held midtown at the Chambers Hotel on 56th Street (the hotel where Alicia Keyes stays) with almost all the men and women wearing suits. It seemed very corporate but everyone was busy talking. It was a buzzing affair, with Glenda Bailey, editor-in-Chief, holding court.


Earlier in the day, Valerie Salembrier, publisher of Harper’s Bazaar was the most eloquent speaker at 3rd annual Anti-Counterfeiting summit held at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 80 Columbus Circle. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was the guest speaker. Executive Director of INTA (International Trademark Association) moderated a panel of speakers involved in the anti-counterfeiting drive.

Miss Salembrier made a plea for help in educating consumers about counterfeit goods. “Counterfeit goods fund child labor, terrorism and drug cartels.” Harpers Bazaar also came up with the slogan, “Fakes are never in fashion” and will be putting in place a dedicated website for increasing public awareness. (fakesareneverinfashion.com)


You couldn’t miss the Mercedes Benz/IMG party downtown as they had a gold Mercedes Benz sportscar at the entrance of at 189 Christie Street, the edge of Chinatown. This party was swinging, as well, but you would have to navigate nooks and crannies of The Box to find your friends. Parties within a party; it was the kind of party one should go to with friends.

I was surprised to see the charming designer, Naeem Khan, who will be showing his collection in 3 days, out late at night. I jokingly commented “Shouldn’t you be working?” and Naeem Khan replies,”That’s because the others are not ready. I am.”

-Anna Bayle

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Calm Before the Storm

Fashion Week is officially 7 days (from Friday to Friday) but the growing trend has been to sneak some showings in prior to the official start. Among them was a “knitwear fantasy” by the quintessentially French Pierre Carrilero (better known as Pierrot), our (certainly MY) favorite ‘knit’ wit who skipped last season showing in New York.

Called “Au Clair de la Lune”, Pierrot was inspired by clowns this season for a signature well edited collection of hand knitted separates, dresses, coats, (grouped in graphic black, white red; shades of gray; confetti like brights). They were presented on performance models who walked down the narrow aisle of the intimate Helen Mills Theater on West 26th Street, and took to the stage against the backdrop of vintage black and white films. Nobody does knits like Pierrot, who is as adept with fitted classic pieces as he is with voluminous, whimsical ones. Almost everything was shown with knitted striped legging and accessorized with a matching knitted hat (there were somewhat conical tall hats and tams with oversized pom poms). By the way, given the downright wintry weather we are coming into, thick, cozy, textural knits seem ever so appealing at the moment.

We were all given our very own knitting starter kit complete with two skeins of burgundy Lion Brand yarn and two red 14 inch Lion Brand knitting needles, which were packaged to show how to knit a scarf (pictured on the back) in one hour. After the show ended, Pierrot took to the stage and invited us to stay and watch “Frenchie the Clown” a 26 minute movie starring who else but Pierrot-- as Frenchie. “Go figure”! (his words not mine).

-Marilyn Kirschner

Other show notes:

Linda Loudermilk

Linda Loudermilk kicked off fashion Week with a collection that was both creative and elegant. Drawing upon nature as an inspiration for her Fall 2007 designs, Loudermilk featured luxurious natural fabrics (hemp satin, organic cotton fur) crafted into playful day and evening wear, including a rainbow one-shoulder silk blouse, a stone gown with trailing icebergs, and a black mad housewife dress in bamboo wool.

The environmental theme extended to the gift-bags: a Loudermilk Jeans organic cotton tank fashioned into a bag filled with eco-friendly goodies.

-Rhonda Erb

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