Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Adrienne’s ‘Bright’ Ideas

Upon entering Adrienne Landau’s light filled sprawling 8th Avenue showroom to view her ready to wear and home fall 2007 collections, a hot pink feathered hat displayed on a statue of Buddha greeted me as I entered, and I was immediately struck by the abundant and surprising use of color all around. This couldn’t have been more welcome given the positively beautiful spring like day which automatically made hot pink seem more appealing than wintry dark brown or black.

Hanging from racks and displayed on tables placed all around the sprawling, sun filled loft were fur coats, jackets, scarves, cuffs, hats, sporty hooded vests, as well as non fur items, many of which were literally transformed from the predictable and ordinary by virtue of their eye popping shades. In addition to red (which was all over the recent runways), there were hits of decidedly 80’s acid brights like emerald green (Adrienne’s personal favorite), fuchsia, bright blue, and canary yellow.

And though Adrienne was quick to observe that “it’s all about color this season”, this was not the only message. She also told me that “it’s all about Global Warming”. Yes, we had some frigid days this past year, but in general, it was pretty darn warm (not exactly to a furrier’s delight). And let’s face it, women don’t need big bulky, cumbersome furs any longer: they need lightweight, versatile, pieces that travel well and can be layered as one desires according to needs and temperature.

The fur veteran and pioneering innovator (Adrienne got involved with accessories and fur pieces long before anyone else) sees to it that she changes and evolves with the times, and always keeps her customer’s needs in mind. And so in addition to offering that customer the option of perking up their dark and somber wardrobes with colorful pieces, she has also made her furs as lightweight as can be (truly weightless actually) and has concentrated on smaller pieces.

Adrienne Landau wearing the white Mongolian lamb scarf

In addition to her new fur hoods, Adrienne is enamored with a fur scarf which has pockets and can be worn in many ways (belt it and it becomes a vest). The hot pink fox version was arresting for sure, and in white Mongolian lamb, it is the epitome of sporty ‘Aspen Chic’. I can easily imagine either one worn for day or night, over a floor length gown for a glamorous black tie event.

Another idea AL has up her sleeves this time is transforming furs so that they look like something else. And so fox resembles sable, rabbit looks like vintage mink, Rex Rabbit appears to be chinchilla and mink looks like broadtail. Taking the hotter than hot shiny patent look, Adrienne used a high quality synthetic vinyl in black, red, and white to fashion a belted short trench coat with a leopard printed (what else?) lining.

And speaking of leopard, that all time favorite, what would an Adrienne Landau collection be without leopard? There was an entire group done in leopard printed furs and standouts include a sporty ¾ length leopard printed mink trench coat and another short coat made from leopard printed goat which was trimmed with Rex Rabbit and coyote and lined in menswear inspired herringbone wool. It could ostensibly be worn on either side (talk about chic).

As for the home collection, a group of amazing fur rugs were spread around the vast wood floors so that all could see, and my favorite was made from three shades of Australian shearling inlaid to resemble a glorious arabesque pattern.

By the way, Adrienne told me she is collaborating with famed interior designer Charlotte Moss on a small group of pieces for her exclusive new jewel like shop, 20 east 64th street. (She was sworn to secrecy as to what the items will be - but stay tuned). The preview party is tonight (for more information contact HL Group, tel: 212 529- 5533, ext 228).

And for more information on the Adrienne Landau collection, contact Nicole Abbatemarco, head of Public Relations, (

-Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Filling In The ‘Gap’...

Gap Design Edition White Shirt and scarf by Doo.Ri

Although, based on reports of the bare racks at 12 Manhattan Gap stores around town, the title should really be, “Emptying the Gap”.

Within 24 hours of 9 Gap Design Editions white shirts and shirtdresses ($68- $88) hitting the stores, (a brilliant partnership forged between the Gap, the CFDA, and Vogue Fashion Fund), all the small sizes (and then some) baring the labels of Doo.Ri, Rodarte, and Thakoon, were completely sold out. In fact, only the very large sizes are still available (if that).

Following on the heels of H&M’s past customer feeding frenzies thanks to their collaborations with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Viktor & Rolf, the Gap insured that there would be only a limited number of those white shirts made available and as you know, there is nothing like scarcity to get the customer’s juices flowing.

Fortunately I hit the Gap at 59th and Lexington yesterday (where business was brisk though not exactly frenetic before noon). Having determined that it’s mathematically impossible to have too many white shirts (especially when they’re “reinvented” as described) and without trying anything on (selecting only size small and one extra small), I quickly selected a Doo.Ri Chung ¾ sleeved long blouse with v neck and extra attached scarf (to tie as you like…an idea that certainly appealed to me, a crisp Thakoon pin tucked and lantern sleeved blouse with attached tie the collar, and two very sweet and cool looking Rodarte designs (a cut in sleeved trapeze top with gathered neckline and a scoop neck tank style top decorated with tiny bows both of which I decided would come in handy on those ‘dog days’ of August).

In fact, I decided that after these versatile purchases, I’m pretty much set for summer; I could easily see myself pairing any of these tops with my favorite capris, Bermudas, white jeans, or skirts, plus they could easily go from day to evening. (And by the way, all the styles were great looking in person in terms of both quality and design. The Doo.Ri Claire McCardell inspired shirtdress was appealing on many levels but I decided to go with smaller pieces…separates if you will).

When I called the store today to see if there was a size small in something I had purchased in extra small, I was told by the store manager that there were no small sizes in ANY of the styles left and only very large sizes were available. In fact, this was the case in all the shops around town.

And when I checked out Gap online,, the same held true, even though yesterday morning, all sizes and all styles were available. (This is because the designer shirts were not being sold in stores across the country, so the customer who could not shop in New York had no choice but to buy online).

While I think it’s safe to say that prior to this week, the names Doo.Ri Chung, Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte, and Thakoon Panichgul would not have been recognized by too many people outside the insular world of fashion, I would venture to say that this is about to change. Oh, and how could I forget to mention…if you have your heart set on something which is now unavailable, all you have to do is click on to EBay, and you will assuredly find all the styles available (at a price of course but c’est la vie!)

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Poiret: King of Fashion" at Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute to Celebrate Paul Poiret, Visionary Artist-Couturier of Early 20th Century

Woman’s Party Costume Label: PAUL POIRET-a Paris-December 1913

Gala Benefit May 7 with Honorary Chair François-Henri Pinault and Co-Chairs Cate Blanchett, Nicolas Ghesquière, and Anna Wintour
Exhibition dates: May 9 – August 5, 2007
Exhibition location: Special exhibition galleries, first floor

Press preview: Monday, May 7, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Contact:
Nancy Aronson Chilton 212-570-3951

Paul Poiret – who at the height of his career in pre-World War I France was the undisputed "King of Fashion" and whose sweeping vision led to a new silhouette that liberated women from the corset and introduced the shocking colors and exotic references of the Ballets Russes to the haute couture – will be celebrated with a landmark exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 9 through August 5, 2007. He has not been the focus of a major museum exhibition in more than 30 years.

"The historic significance and influence of Poiret's work is breathtaking, and felt in fashion to the present day," said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute. "Poiret pioneered a seductive modernity based on woman's self-confident femininity, and envisioned a 'total lifestyle' that extended from how she dressed and what fragrance she wore to how she decorated her home – an approach reflected in the strategies of many of today's fashion houses." Presented in a series of tableaux, the garments on view will highlight the multiple facets of Poiret's astonishing inventiveness – including the beauty of his draped, unstructured fabrics and his fascination with the Ballets Russes, the Wiener Werkstätte, Orientalism and the 1001 Nights – and will be complemented by paintings, illustrations, furniture and examples of the decorative arts that explicate his expansive artistic vision. At the core of the exhibition will be a grouping of the stunning creations the Metropolitan acquired in the much-heralded 2005 auction of clothing from Poiret's estate.

The exhibition is made possible by Balenciaga.
Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.

(Press release from Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Monday, April 16, 2007

‘Label’ Suit

Am I the only one who noticed a faux pas in Friday’s Page Six of The New York Post? In Richard Johnson's absence (it is stated he is "on vacation"), the widely popular column is being edited by Paula Froelich with contributions from Bill Hoffman and Corynne Steindler. In the column headed, "Sightings", there was a blurb, "Italian designer Ralph Rucci, Dame Celia Lipton Farris and Town & Country publisher Pamela Fiori at the Palm Beach Historical Society soiree at Neiman Marcus Palm Beach". I had a knee jerk reaction to labeling Ralph Rucci an "Italian designer". The celebrated couturier is an American born (Philly to be exact) resident of New York who shows in both New York and Paris, and has a Soho atelier. His lineage may be proudly Italian, but to call him an 'Italian designer' is akin to beginning a sentence, "Jewish designer Ralph Lauren".

And ironically upon reflection, what occurred to me was that I was hard pressed to think of another designer who would be as difficult to define by his lineage (or country of birth) as Ralph. As an avid world traveler and global aesthete, one who not only paints and sculpts but whose artistic and architectural collections routinely meld and pay homage to different cultures, he defines the term ‘citizen of the world’.

Speaking of labels…this Sunday was “T”, The New York Times’ Style Magazine’s Spring 2007 Beauty issue, which was called, “Budding Beauty”. Though it’s labeled as a beauty issue, it is yet another curious yet admittedly entertaining and informative hybrid filled not only with columns devoted to new trends in lip and nail color, how to deal with that trip to a hair salon, spa trends, and aging, but covers all areas of style: fashion, shopping, accessories, people.

And talk about from going from the sublime to the ridiculous… it’s all about shock value and the element of surprise. In addition to pretty people, fabulous jewels, and arresting photography, there is Josh Patner’s engaging back page story, “Celebrity Endorsement: How to be 96 and look like Kitty Carlisle Hart” in which she admits her lifelong love affair with Nivea; you can find out everything about feet that you wanted to know, “Pedicure Junction” tells you why feet smell if you care to know, and who are the most famous foot fetishists in history; as well as which new fragrances may work as aphrodisiacs.

In “Dirty Tricks”, Chandler Burr announced with obvious surprise, that Agent Provocateur does not smell like “unwashed panties” (his words not mine) but rather, “crushed raspberries and black plums on hot skin”, L’Autre smells like “piles of spices simmering in the hot African sun, dirt on the street, and a hint of body odor” (yum????), Rese 31 will remind you of a “hit of armpit from a hot young woman”, or “something you smell between your sheets”.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, April 13, 2007

“Play it Again, Sam”

Sam Edelman Fall 2007 Collection

Unless you’re living under a rock…you know that ballet slippers have been THE hot shoe for several seasons now and show no signs of fading. Of course, like almost everything else that’s chic and classic, they are hardly new, having been around for decades. A recent subject of Bill Cunningham’s ‘On the Street’ portfolio, (where he labeled the popular, comfy and stylish flat as the “first spring trend” to emerge this season), the fashion historian traced their roots some 50 years back to Capezio, the original.

Today, they abound in every possible incarnation, can be seen on women of all ages, from infants to 90 year olds, and are available at every price level. In fact, this is one category of shoes where price is not only NOT an indicator of how great they are, but quite the opposite; some of the very best styles are not the most costly.

Jeweled ballet flats

To wit: decades ago, I must have bought almost every one of Sam & Libby’s Chanel inspired cap toe ballet flats at Bloomingdales, priced at about $35 (give or take --It's years ago so I can’t remember exactly). They were available in a dizzying assortment of colors and fabrics and in my opinion, they not only looked as good if not better than Chanel, but were actually more comfortable and far more durable. And yes, I still have them and wear them and they look brand new

Fall 2007 Collection

Interestingly, my attachment to the brand was sort of personal -- I knew ‘half’ of the label (Libby). When I first met Libby, she was not Mrs. Sam Edelman, but Libby Bianchi, a pretty and talented young fashion assistant at Harper’s Bazaar. Our paths have not crossed since those Bazaar days but when I heard that the company I knew as Sam & Libby was now Sam Edelman, and saw fall 2007 samples of her just launched (and divine) children’s line at the recent Children’s Club at the Javits Center (sized for 2 to 6 year olds, it features the company’s signature chunky gold hardware and Mod inspired buckles and is truly a mini sized version of their grown up collection), I wanted to find out more (how they got started, what the difference is between Sam & Libby and Sam Edelman, etc.)

Fall 2007 Children's Collection

In Libby’s own words: “In 1983, Sam and I got on a plane on April fool’s day to San Francisco to put Esprit in the footwear business…We created the most important junior shoe business for 5 years – up to 55 million dollar business. We left to create Sam and Libby in 1987 shipping the first shoes in 1988. From the first collection, the “ballet” was discovered and the rest was history. We advertised the Sam & Libby brand as shoes for the thirty something couple that had other things to spend their money on, such as houses, home improvement, a second car and all the things from education and clothes for the kids…”

Fall 2007 Collection

“We sold 7 million pairs of ballets, and millions of many other styles….but most people remember the ballet. Most women tell me they grew up wearing the ballet in every color”. (Yup, I’m one of them!)

“We sold Sam & Libby in 1996 and retired…” “We came out of retirement officially three years ago in January 2004 to create Sam Edelman. Our customer is from the ages of 25 and up. Our shoes are fashion right but don’t cost as much as some of the other fashion right companies…we are gearing for our shoes always to cost around $100…some less…some more all depending on the materials.”

It sounds like a good premise to me, and based on the variety of styles for fall 2007 which not only include numerous takes on the ballerina flat but mod inspired boots, pumps, wedges, all with a decidedly retro/modern, hip and classic vibe, it’s sure to be successful.

For more information, contact 212-245-7993

-Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

“A (Design) Marriage Made in Heaven”

Ever since our favorite (not to mention most entertaining and exuberant) ‘bi-polar’ designer Isaac Mizrahi launched his ‘Hi/Low’ collection for Target, countless similarly inspired collaborations (marriages made in ‘design’ heaven so to speak) have followed. ‘Targeting’ their audience…Luella Bartley, Behnaz Sarafpour, and most recently Proenza Shouler have created capsule collections for the budget minded chain. And it’s not just Target that’s gotten into the act.

Norma Kamali, known for (among other things) her sweats in the 80’s, teamed up with Everlast to put her stamp on a contemporary sportswear line for the athletic wear giant; Vivienne Westwood, Thakoon Panichgul, and Sophia Kokosalaki produced three distinct limited edition capsule collections for the Nine West Footwear Corporation last year; Laura Poretsky for Abaete and Lela Rose have worked in collaboration with Payless Shoes; Nanette Lepore (known for her girlie eclectic collections) spiced up Keds’ traditional canvas slip ons by covering them with a leopard print; H&M brilliantly enlisted the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Viktor & Rolf (Madonna doesn’t count since she is NOT a fashion designer but a self promoting entertainer without any particular designing skills) to create signature capsule collections selling at a fraction of the price of their ready-to-wear lines would sell for; and Roland Mouret teamed up with the Gap for a small dress collection about one year ago.

Speaking of the Gap, recent news that a youthful trio of undeniably talented and celebrated ‘newcomers’ (Doo.Ri Chung, Kate and Laura Mulleavy for Rodarte, Thakoon Panichgul) will put their unmistakable stamps on that iconic “I can’t live without” wardrobe staple, The Great White Shirt, is wonderful news. The limited edition collection that will debut on April 17th (with retail prices from $68 to $88) at 100 larger Gap stores, is dubbed Gap Design Editions. In addition to the white shirts, there promises to be a “Claire McCardell inspired shirtdress” courtesy Doo.Ri.

Forgetting tricks and trends, and those sparsely needed entrance making dresses or gowns, at the end of the day, what most women need, crave, and rely upon are timeless, forever wardrobe staples and basics that are not boring or dull. Making them not only affordable but enlisting highly influential world class design names (many with world wide brand recognition) to reinvent and reinterpret them so as to make them even more appealing, is where it’s at from my point of view.

By the way, speaking of wardrobe staples, the Gap, and Doo.Ri Chung, the celebrated and award winning designer is probably as well known for her beautiful trench coats (she does them each season) as she is for her draped jerseys. Since coats and trench coats are such a major category these days, how great it would be for her to design a small group of trench coats (featuring her signature trademark details) for the popular chain. Maybe three or four styles available in white, khaki, and black; all to retail under $130. (H&M was selling Viktor & Rolf’s fabulous trenchcoat for $129 after all!)

This has got me thinking (or dreaming) about other possibilities that could await us: ‘marriages’ of the most high- end with the most low- end (wouldn’t that be the most satisfying pairings of all?) Admittedly, some of these are more probable than others. Alright, so perhaps none are really probable, but forgive me if I indulge my fantasies a bit.

Hermes for L.L. Bean: a line of sturdy canvas bags constructed like the iconic Hermes Kelly or Birkin, at L.L.Bean's boating tote prices.

Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, and Roger Vivier for Payless: (I don't think there's a shoe at Payless that costs more than about $35…need I say more?) Azzedine Alaia for Levi Strauss or the Gap:for Levi Strauss or the Gap: a line of incredibly constructed denim jackets, coats, dresses, skirts, and pants featuring AA's signature curved seams and amazing construction but at popular prices.

Marc Jacobs for Old Navy: A collection of classic but saucy sportswear staples with the Marc Jacobs touch at Old Navy prices.

Ric Owens for Banana Republic: Nobody does shearling quite like Ric…but having Banana Republic (or Weatherproof for that matter) produce the dreamy deconstructed pieces would enable more of us to enjoy them.

Balenciaga for J.Crew: Looking back over Nicolas Guesquiere's decidedly 'preppy' crested jackets, fitted striped shirts, and tan cotton chino low- waisted jodphurs for fall 2007, got me thinking… what better company to translate them for the masses than preppy collegiate J.Crew? Or Brooks Brothers for that matter. Of course, Guesquiere's latest creations also recalled Ralph Lauren and looked like glamorized versions of what RL is currently selling in his Rugby shops…Perhaps Ralph could have Nicolas as a 'guest designer' for one season, and produce an affordable line of great jackets, shirts, and pants.

Chanel for Kmart: A limited edition of signature Chanel boucle and tweed jackets priced for the masses (what am I talking about? That's already been done….and then some!)

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, April 06, 2007

Stan’s the Man

Yesterday I attended Fashion Group International’s noontime Audio Visual Fall 2007 Ready-to-Wear Presentation held at FIT’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre.

Under the guidance of Marylou Luther (FGI’s venerable Creative Director), it was (as always) a comprehensive look back at the runways with the objective of looking ahead and projecting what will most likely make it from the runway to reality. As the organization’s President, Margaret Hayes stated in her introductory remarks, their objective is to hone in on “what will sell” and “what consumers will ultimately buy”.

And from the look of things, retailers should have a lot to rejoice about since based on what was shown in the slide presentation, the emphasis for next fall is on decidedly “wearable” (dare I say, ‘commercial’) clothes and “the new propriety” (say hello to fashion’s “new lady”). This is something the customer hasn’t seen in awhile and something that has been missing from the racks and shelves of the stores.

Of course, there are always two sides to the coin and other big ‘trends’ which were singled out are “oh savage” (as seen in all the long-hair furs); “the new waistland” (a renewed focus on the waist and a plethora of belts being offered); “the cloth of creativity” (fabric that has been “designed by designers”); “knitwear” (jerseys, cardigans, twinsets, boyfriend styles, etc.); “fabric manipulation” (as exemplified by Ralph Rucci’s ability to “transform the face of fabrics”); “shine” (gold, silver, pewter, bronze, gunmetal); accessories (gloves, belts, frame bags, clutches, lace up oxfords, platform pumps, gloves, belts, boots and booties, headwear, dark legwear, Art Deco references in jewelry); hair and makeup (while kissable red lips are the hallmark of the season, there was also the minimalist clean bare face; and while in New York hair was mainly pulled away from the face into twisted buns and chignons, in Europe, it was all about long hair worn down (thanks to hair extensions).

To sum up the Fashion Group Committee’s ‘Best Bets’ (those items most likely to make it from the runway to reality): The New Propriety, Color, Outerwear, Knitwear, The Jacket, Fabric Innovation, Fur, The Glove, The Belt, Patent, Shine, The Shoe, The Bag, Legwear.

When the first portion of the presentation was over, it was time for the panel discussion to begin and Marylou Luther introduced the panel which was comprised of Ken Downing, Fashion Director, Neiman Marcus; Stephanie Solomon, Fashion Director, Bloomingdales; Ed Burstell, SVP & GMM, Bergdorf Goodman, and Tim Blanks, Host Fashion File on CBC Newsworld (who was unable to attend at the last moment so Marylou ‘sat’ in for him).

She then introduced the moderator, Stan Herman, former CFDA President, soon to be author, and multi-tasking designer, observing that as the designer of uniforms for McDonalds, FedEx, Jet Blue, etc., “more people wear his clothes than any other designer’s”). The ever entertaining and engaging Herman wasted no time asking the retailers how they “dive into all this diversion” and make sense of it for their customer.

KD: “We talk to our customers. I’m always thinking of her closet.” He also admitted that his blog, recently added to the Neiman Marcus home page (boy, everybody blogs there days don’t they?), enables him to personally sustain that ongoing conversation, and added that many customers actually ask him for specific items online.

SS: “We have a trend driven customer and this move away from girlie to the dressed up look of a woman (for fall 2007) will be grabbed up by her”.

EB: At Bergdorf, it’s about finding the right edit; finding restraint.”

Stan then quickly related the questions and discussion back to the slide presentation with its emphasis on the new propriety and wearability, the continuing importance of accessories (bags, gloves, shoes, belts), and the renewed interest in color.

When he looked around and commented that everyone on the panel was wearing black even though color was the message of the trend report and slide presentation, and touted as the Next Big Thing, Stephanie said, “I think women, even New Yorkers, will embrace color this season” but agreed with Ed Burstell that customers will most likely get their bright hits of color from accessories. Everyone also agreed that another quick and easy way to get that all important shot of color is by wearing bright red (or pink) lipstick.

They were all on common ground about the resurgence of the long glove this season (Ken exclaimed that “they finish everything”) since there are so many capes and so many fall coats have short or ¾ sleeves (or are sleeveless) -- at which point Stan recounted that he designed “the first Aris Isotoner glove…and they fired me and got Anne Klein to do the rest: the story of my life!” (Who knew?)

Another point of agreement: the importance of the matte, lacquered leg. And though Stan couldn’t help but notice that “women are bigger in the waist than they’ve ever been”, the panelists felt strongly about the focus on the waist and importance of belts in every width and style. As Stephanie sees it, “the focus on the waist is new; we haven’t seen this in a long time what with all the low rise jeans and babydoll dresses”. To prove her point she stood up to show that she accessorized her years ‘old’ black dress with a brand new belt. Ken chimed in, “the wide belt updates everything for this spring”.

As for the customers’ well documented love affair with shoes and bags, Stephanie noted that “the handbag doesn’t have a size” and a woman doesn’t have to fret if she can’t fit into that fabulous “size 2” dress, and Ken exclaimed, “Our customer can’t get enough shoes and bags and I love them for that.”

As for the relationship between the press and retailers…Stan posed the question: “Do you trust the power of the press? There are more new designers now than ever…if they get bad reviews, do you still go to see them?” The answer was a resounding “no”!

KD: “This is a business and we have to find terrific clothes”.

SS: “You have to use your instincts and you have to stick with them. The showroom is where you see the talent…not the runway”.

Stan then noted that he often looks at the shows and asks himself, “What happened to great American sportswear?” He wanted to know if they also felt as though there are too many evening clothes being shown and not enough daywear. Ken disagreed and said that in fact, his customer looks for and needs eveningwear and it’s an important category for the store.

At the end, Stan asked each panelist to list his or her favorite shows of the season in New York, Paris, and Milan. Marylou read Tim’s list: Jil Sander, Alberta Feretti, Marni, Miuccia Prada in Milan, Stefano Pilati for YSL, Galliano, Theyskens, Chanel, Balenciaga, Chanel, Miu Miu in Paris.

KD: “Marc Jacobs, Proenza Shouler, Thakoon, Philip Lim, Doo.Ri, Zac Posen in New York; Jil Sander and 6267 in Milan; Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci, and YSL in Paris.

SS: Marc Jacobs and Zac Posen in New York; Armani and 6267 in Milan; Chanel and Stella McCartney in Paris (for the record, she seemed surprised that she singled out Armani since his collections have not exactly been critically acclaimed for years now).

EB: Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci, Ric Owens, John Galliano, Chanel in Paris; Versace in Milan.

By the way, not everyone in attendance was as enthusiastic as the panel with the idea of the cinched waist or the big belts…When Stan asked the audience if they had any questions or comments, one woman (a fashion industry veteran ‘of a certain age’ shall I say), stood up and made mention of the overwhelming statistics that prove the majority of women ‘out there’ are not only over a certain age, but are WAY over a model size…in fact, they are size 12 and over. So, with that in mind, she challenged the panel who felt strongly that a defined waist and big belts would indeed ‘fly’ or make a big dent in terms of retail. It was hard to argue with her; she certainly has a point.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, April 05, 2007

‘Head’ Case

Nancy Cunard wearing a turban photographed by Cecil Beaton

We all know that hats are an ever growing category of accessories, especially as of late. They are popular with all ages, both sexes, and not just humans, and in addition to keeping us all warm and dry, they add a bit of whimsy and personality to anything they are worn with. And of course, they were all over the runways for fall 2007, showing up in a myriad of statement making incarnations.

Having said that, blame it on the inclement weather (you know, that annoyingly fine mist which is symbolic of April and wreaks havoc with one’s hair), or just simply the fact that turbans are the focus of so much attention and are seemingly all over the place these days (featured in magazine ads, blogged and written about, photographed on socialites out on the town), but whatever it is, I must admit I’m sort of taken with the idea of turbans these days; not that I’ve actually worn one (yet, that is).

Hardly surprising since the admittedly retro headgear (the subject of one of my recent Daily Fashion Reports) was Miuccia Prada’s most surprising fashion statement for spring 2007. Though nobody should be surprised by anything Miuccia dregs up from the fashion ‘cemetery’. If anybody can resuscitate something old and retro, and make it look new and young and hip again, it is Miuccia. And more than the specific accessory or piece of clothing she puts her magic spell on, it is the ultimate statement she is making that seems most relevant: “Never say Never”. Whenever you think something is so ‘out’ it could never possibly be ‘in’ again, there it is. And there turbans are again.

Fashion Week Daily called it “Turbania” (March 26, ‘Tracking the trend’) and Eric Wilson wrote a column about the turban in last Thursday’s Style section of The New York Times, taking about the pros and cons of actually wearing one. While I agree they can be tricky and are NOT for everybody (like all other fashion ‘trends’, one must proceed with caution, have a sense of one’s body and style, and take a good long look in the mirror before venturing out), I think they have the ability to look pretty cool in that eccentric Edie Beale kind of way. Or in that Nancy Cunard kind of way.

A fabulously stylized black and white photograph taken of a turban clad Ms. Cunard by Cecil Beaton graced the cover of the Book Review section of The New York Times this past Sunday, accompanying a review of a book written by Lois Gordon, “Nancy Cunard: Muse, Heiress, Political Idealist”. (It sounds intriguing by the way and I intend to read it). Though the picture was dated 1930, it looked timeless and so very ‘now’, the epitome and definition of true style. For me, turbans are not just stylish and chic, but they are part of that whole move towards covering up rather than undressing and baring all. And that includes the head. The way I see it, turbans (which are fabric twisted around the head or around the base of a hat) are another way to wear cloth, another way to add color, texture, pattern, etc.

They represent another choice, another option, and an alternative: whether it is to overcome a bad hair day, camouflage when one has not had time to get to a hair colorist or hair dresser an outfit, or to simply have fun with something novel.

It all goes back to the idea of the ever changing face of beauty (or should I say, the ever changing head of beauty); it’s not just about one way to look great: there are many ways and the good news is that you don’t’ have to fret if you were not blessed with fabulous hair, or if you don’t have the time to primp and pamper yourself, of if your hair is thinning for whatever reason (many women have had to deal with the horrible side effects of chemotherapy, an undeniable fact of life these days).

By the way, this is a perfect time to be dishing about turbans and hats in general…Easter Sunday is upon us (not that the Easter Parade is anything remotely like used to be decades ago), and the Frederick Law Olmsted Award Luncheon held on Wednesday, May 2nd at the Central Park Conservancy (the hat event to beat all hat events), will be celebrating it’s 25th anniversary so it should promise to be even more spectacular this year. It’s an event that many women put a lot of thought into picking out a perfect ‘chapeau’ and quite frankly, I happen to think turbans are a far chicer and more interesting choice than the more obvious and predictable ‘garden’ (pardon the pun) variety large brimmed straw hats trimmed with flowers that so many women opt to wear.

And let’s not forget the highly anticipated upcoming Paul Poiret exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, “Poiret: King of Fashion”, May 9 – August 5th . Paul Poiret was known for his wrapped heads among other things). I think it’s safe to say that many of the lucky female guests attending the celebratory Conde Nast and Balenciaga sponsored gala are already ‘head’ing to the Prada shops around town or scouting vintage shops and websites, to buy their satin turbans which will be the perfectly chic and appropriate accessory for their festive frocks. I also think it’s safe to say Chairwoman Anna Wintour will not be in that head dressed group…she would NEVER think of covering up her trademark bob (which is too bad since it would be rather interesting for her to break out of her expected ‘mold’ sometimes).

-Marilyn Kirschner