Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscars 2008: 'The Last Word'

Who were the big winners and sinners at the fashion Olympics otherwise known as the Academy Awards? How did Jon Stewart do? What the hell was Ryan Seacrest thinking?

Read the definitive 'Last Word' on the subject by our entertainment editor Diane Clehane. Her entertaining and at times irreverent look at the awards is a highly personal take on what is going on through the eyes of this verteran insider.

Click here to read report

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More Magazine 40+ Model Search

Grand Prize Winner Chung Winstanley (photo: Thomas Kletecka)

On Wednesday, February 20th at Cipriani on 42nd Street, 10 finalists,
representing seven states across the country and chosen from over
14,000 entries, participated in the eighth-annual, nationwide
More/ Wilhelmina 40+ Model Search final countdown and selection.

After being so very nicely treated to hors d'oeuvres and drinks, all
served by an impeccably styled staff, courtesy of the ever-great
Cipriani, guests and press sat down to watch the final runway show.

This event was important in the sense that it graced and embraced all
women over 40 years of age, an age group all too often ignored by the
industry, yet a very powerful force in what helps the fashion industry
thrive altogether.

The ten contenders represented all that makes America's ethnic and
geographic diversity: from Shanah Luhmann to Joyce Larkin, they
radiated confidence, poise and a true and liberating sense of knowing
who they are. In a world where changes are ever so fast paced, and
where youth is privileged over anything else, these ten women
represent intelligence, elegance, refinement and accomplishment, along
with many other traits only acquired through years and a fulfilling

The equally beautiful women who walked down the runway twice sported
a day dress at first and then an evening gown. All were designed by
talented fashion designer Heidi Weisel. The dresses were very pretty
and a great fit for each and every women on the catwalk tonight. I
especially liked the gown worn by Lani Ridenhour, the woman who, in my
opinion, should have been the winner: everything about her is a
statement about how beautiful a woman over 40 can be.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges including Editor-in-Chief of More, Lesley Jane Seymour; More Beauty and Fashion Director Lois Joy Johnson; designer Heidi Weisel; Wilhelmina chairman Dieter Esch; Wilhelmina agents Gina Barone and Ginni Conquest; celebrity make-up artist Sandy Linter and hair stylist Mitch Barry.

The lady who won the prize is Chung Winstanley from Short Hills, N.J.
A bravo to her and the 9 other ladies who gave us such a nice glance
at how age can make a woman even more beautiful then when in her
youth. Or as Shanah Luhmann's mother repeatedly told her : "Inner
beauty must be polished before outer beauty can shine."

-Muriel Triffaut

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

FIT Annual Symposium
Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15, 2008, 9am-5pm
Fashion Institute of Technology
Haft Auditorium, Seventh Avenue at 27 Street
Marvin Feldman Center (C Building), 2nd floor

In conjunction with a major exhibition on Madame Grès, The FIT annual fashion symposium will focus on the theme of great designers. Pre-registration deadline is March 1, 2008

Download: Registration Form (pdf)
For more information or to RSVP, call 212 217 4585 or email museuminfo@fitnyc.edu.

List of Speakers:

Andrew Bolton is curator at The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His recent exhibitions include Poiret: King of Fashion and AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion.

Boudicca is the London-based design duo of Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby. Named after the English warrior queen, Boudicca designs both couture and ready-to-wear.

Hamish Bowles is European editor-at-large for Vogue and editor-in-chief of Vogue Living. His latest publications include contributions to Carolina Herrera: Portrait of a Fashion Icon and Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People.

Maria Cornejo was the recipient of the 2006 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award. The Zero + Maria Cornejo collection is presented biannually during New York Fashion Week, and in Milan and Paris.

Kaat Debo is artistic director of the Mode Museum in Antwerp, where she has conceived numerous exhibitions and publications. She recently became editor-inchief of A Magazine.

Caroline Evans is professor of fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Her recent books are Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity and Deathliness and the co-authored The London Look: Fashion from Street to Catwalk.

Linda Fargo is senior vice president and women’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman. She is also a member of the Couture Council Advisory Committee.

Michael Fink is vice president and women’s fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue. He is a member of the Couture Council Advisory Committee, Fashion Group International, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Jessica Glasscock is a writer, college instructor, and independent curator. She is currently curating a retrospective on Stephen Sprouse at Deitch Projects. She is the author of Striptease: From Gaslight to Spotlight.

Pamela Golbin is curator-in-chief at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile of the Palais du Louvre. Her most recent exhibition, a Balenciaga retrospective, opened July 2006. She is author of Twentieth Century Fashion Since World War II and Balenciaga Paris.

Timothy Long is curator of costume at the Chicago History Museum. His most recent exhibition, Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum, was co-curated with Dr. Valerie Steele.

Patricia Mears is deputy director of The Museum at FIT and author of Madame Grès: Sphinx of Fashion.

Clare Sauro is assistant curator of accessories at The Museum at FIT, where she co-curated Dutch at the Edge of Design: Fashion and Textiles from The Netherlands.

Valerie Steele is director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT. She is also editor-in-chief of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture.

Anna Sui designs exuberantly original clothes, which are sold in 30 countries around the world. Often inspired by rock and roll, her runway shows have been a highlight of New York Fashion Week since 1991.

Isabel Toledo is one of fashion’s true innovators. She received the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in 2005, among other honors. She will be the subject of a major retrospective at The Museum at FIT in 2009.

2 days $75
1 day $50

FREE to ALL students and FIT faculty and staff.
The symposium is free to all students, and FIT faculty and staff. A copy of your school ID must be submitted with the registration form. “Great Designers” is free to all students thanks to a Coby Foundation grant.

Payment Methods
Check or money order: Please make check or money order payable to The Museum at FIT. Register by mail or in person at the address below.
Walk-in hours are Monday-Friday, 10 am-5 pm.
The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue at 27 Street, Room E301
New York City 10001-5992

Credit Card: American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted.
Mail the registration form to the address above or fax to 212 217.4531.

Scholarship Opportunities
A limited number of scholarships are available for those who cannot attend “Great Designers” without financial support. Those interested in applying should submit their requests by March 1, 2008, to the Museum at FIT

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fashion Week Spotlight: Lycra

A model at the Lycra event in a look by Natori. Photo by Alexander Erb.

Every season at Bryant Park there is one place in the tents where fashionistas can go between shows to get away from the hectic pace of fashion week, even if only for a few minutes. This February, during ‘Mercedes Benz Fashion Week’ in New York, the Lycra Brand Bra-sserie served as that little oasis where the fashion flock could get away from it all and grab a cappuccino and croissant. The French themed Cafè derived its name from that mainstay of the intimate apparel industry, the bra, which celebrated its hundredth anniversary in 2007. The Lycra fiber brand showcased its integral role in the development of intimate apparel in this, its fifth season as a sponsor at fashion week.

Since intimate apparel is literally the foundation of fashion, it seems like a natural subject for a Bryant Park showcase, but in reality this was actually the first time that it has been featured under the tents. In addition to the Bra-sserie Cafè, which featured displays of contemporary lingerie by companies such as La Perla and Victoria’s Secet, there was also a “Foundation of Fashion” exhibit, located in the lobby area, which highlighted important trends in the intimate apparel industry.

During Fashion Week, Invista, the parent company of the Lycra brand, launched a new global marketing campaign for the Lycra fiber entitled “Some Cothes Love You Back.” The campaign seeks to emphasize the ways in which Lyrca makes clothing fit better and feel more comfortable. According to Invista’s Linda Kearns, the focus of the new campaign is not just about the ways in which Lycra makes clothes hug the body, but also the ways that Lycra garments move with the body. We take Lycra for granted in lingerie and hosiery, and more recently in jeans and sweaters, but in fact, the fiber only dates back to 1959.

On Wednesday night during Fashion Week, the Lycra brand hosted a press event, which took place in the Bra-sserie and the lobby area of the tent. The evening began with a book signing by Cheree Berry, author of Hurrah for the Bra, a pop-up book highlighting the history of the bra. The guests enjoyed champagne, hors-oeuvres, and informal modeling of intimate apparel by brands such as Natori and La Perla. As the models strolled through the lobby in their designer lingerie, it seemed that almost every man in attendance had a camera at the ready to snap souvenir photos.

Bruce Rowley flanked by two models. Photo by Alexander Erb

The event concluded with remarks by Bruce Rowley, Invista Global Brand Communications Director. Guests received a deluxe gift bag emblazoned with the “Some Clothes Love You Back” slogan. Inside were products by Spanx, Flexees, Boots, Le Mystere, Wacoal, Natori, Chantelle, and others.

- Rhonda Erb

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Day 8: Reviews & Notes

Ralph’s Reality ‘Check’

(Photos: Fernanda Calfat)

And I mean that literally. One ongoing theme at Ralph Lauren’s fall collection, shown downtown yesterday morning at two back to back presentations (9 a.m was for the retailers and 10 a.m was for members of the press), was the use of bold, graphic buffalo checks and oversized hunting plaids (red/black, green/black, ivory/black) which were sometimes mixed together in different sizes and scales. Other signature and familiar Ralph- isms include handsome border stripe blanket coats; sculpted day dresses, molded jackets, skirts, and pants in very dark charcoal cashmere herringbone; leopard prints (used for clothing, accessories, or as small accents); black velvet tuxedos; graphic patterned fair isle sweaters; the use of bold color; and the idea of day for night and night for day (a constant theme touched upon by RL that was exemplified by his offhanded combination of a red and black cashmere plaid shirt and black tulle embroidered and feathered knee length skirt or the red and black wool blanket coat paired with metallic beaded dress).

Although, there was positively no mistaking the all out evening glamour of Ralph’s body hugging languid velvet gowns (some in high intensity colors); and a finale of requisite entrance making red carpet worthy heavily embroidered dresses and gowns (the most beautiful of all was the purple velvet gown leg o mutton sleeves, high bateau neckline, cut out back, which was embroidered all over the front with bronze beads, a smattering of iridescent purple beads and black feathers).

Almost nobody does ‘commercial’ quite like Ralph, and his daywear and sportswear, is always beautifully fabricated and impeccably cut (whether lean suiting jackets with peplums or more architectural outerwear versions), but somehow, the collection just seemed a bit too obvious and predictable, and lacked the surprise of experimentation or risk taking. And while the lean pants and sculptural jackets looked great, as did the dramatic coats, a number of suits, which featured longer length circle skirts, seemed strangely old fashioned and not especially modern, made all the more so since they were accessorized with the overly stylized hats decorated with elongated pheasant feathers (similar to those shown on the runway of Carolina Herrera just 5 days before). I guess one could consider feathers (which can double as a weapon and could easily poke an innocent bystander’s eyes out) as one of the season’s big trends.

Zang Toi

(Photo: Nicholas Roberts)

Coincidentally, an All American country lodge theme (as exemplified by graphic plaids, checks, patterned knits) was touched upon by Zang Toi later in the day. But of course, Zang’s Adirondack Mountain romp (for both men and women) was a bit more…shall I say, over the top, glamorous, and not exactly for shrinking violets. These are clothes for women who demand to be noticed. Let’s face it, there is nothing too subtle about a floor length quilted snow white a line toggle coat featuring an oversized white Mongolian lamb hood, a floor length black cashmere peak lapel a-line coat graphically outlined in natural mink, a forest green wool tweed plaid trench with a forest mink collar and lapel worn with matching pants, a black, red, and white beaded American Indian turtleneck blouse worn with a red silk satin organza ball skirt, or a white empire waist full skirted evening gown with a turtleneck bib entirely encrusted with silver beads (the Portrait of an Adirondack Star finale). Oh, and by the way, the word must have been out that Zang’s collection was lavished with real fur, since PETA protesters were camped outside the Bryant Park Tents making their disapproval known.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Calvin Klein

(Photos: Scott Gries)

Francisco Costa is the man to watch. He is succeeding in bringing back the glamour, charm and widespread appeal that made Calvin Klein a household name in the fashion business for over three decades. After Mr. Klein's retirement Mr. Costa, his chosen successor, offered several respectable collections. But none seem as pertinent as his most recent. Following an established designer can be a tricky thing, but Mr. Costa seems ready for the challenge. Karl Lagerfeld did it with Chanel, but other successes have been difficult. Halston and Bill Blass are two collections geared for revival this season. Both have received mixed reviews, but Mr. Costa received almost unequivical praise.

He did it by emphasizing fine tailoring, once a forte of Mr. Klein, who frequently had the most most popular style of the season in his collection. And before he went on to specialize in sportswear, Klein was known for his coats and suits. That is Mr. Costa's specialty. Even his dresses are neatly tailored.

It is rarity this seson when most designers feel that splashy prints, often florals, large doses of glitter and complicated drapery are what women want. Mr. Costa has favored simplicity. It may be the answer.

The one exception is his evening dresses, which do not stray too far from his norm. They are were pleated from bodice to long hem. The pleats are narrow at the top, wider through the skirt. They move easily and gracefully and are a change from snug wrapped dresses. which are seen everywhere.

-Bernadine Morris

Donna Karan

(Photos: Fernanda Calfat)

Donna Karan has produced two collections, both different. DKNY is young and bouncy. The one called 'Collection' is more sophisticated. Both have a fresh look. Her sophisticated collection focuses on what she calls the "bathrobe" dress. It is not made for going to the shower. The skirt is elaborately gathered and draped. The fabrics are luxurious. It is more appropriate for cocktail pazrties where everyone dresses up or even red carpet events. There are many bare backs, strong colors and feathered details. It is not a bashful collection.

Even the short dresses have an elaborate festive feeling; many are accompanied by related jackets or coats. High waisted effects and tiered coats are part of the intricate dressmaking techniques.

Chiffon and jersey are some of the sexy fabrics that reveal the body. The designer speaks of "the moody seduction of urban opulence" in cities like Venice, Paris, Budapest and New York. She clearly has a world view.

- Bernadine Morris

Friday, February 08, 2008

Day 7: Reviews & Notes

Zac Posen

(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

It was Thursday evening at the Bryant Park tents and that means the night belonged to the spectacle that is the Zac Posen fashion show. Guests began lining up more than an hour before the eight o’clock event , (each one clutching a black cardboard invitation) ,eagerly awaiting the presentation of Posen’s Fall/Winter 2008 collection. The show attracts a wide ranging crowd, from teenagers all the way to more venerable fashion aficionados.

As the throngs made their way into the Tent, in a mini stampede of sorts, the scene became fraught with activity. Photographers, some more agitated than others, jockeyed for positions and the runway was filled with VIP’s, paparazzi, and the glare of cameras flashing. More than a few arguments could be heard over seating assignments.

(Photos: Scott Wintrow)

Some of fashion’s heaviest hitters (Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Suzy Menkes, and Carine Roitfeld) lined the runway, as the show got under way. The first pieces were tuxedo inspired dresses and separates in black and white, some with red accents or sequins. There were several French inspired looks; the aptly named French lace tops and a suit worn with several strands of beads that appeared to be a nod to Chanel. The knee length ruffle dresses, in soft feminine colors, with their full skirts were reminiscent of French can can skirts. Posen drew inspiration from British menswear as well, in the form of his Prince of Wales schoolboy suit and schoolgirl jacket and skirt.

The highlight of a Zac Posen show is always his gowns, and this one was no exception. These gowns were the stuff of fairytales, most with voluminous full skirts, that would have made Scarlett O’Hara jealous. The colors ranged from framboise and dove grey to deepest navy and black.

The models walked gingerly throughout the show on high platform shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood. This posed a problem as the last model, Karen Elson, came down the runway in the pale grey “dove gown”. She tripped and fell and had to be helped to her feet by another model heading in the opposite direction. Ms. Elson handled the situation with considerable aplomb, posing at the end of the runway for photographers and returning arm in arm with Mr. Posen for the finale.

- Rhonda Erb

Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca Taylor's runway show at the Promenade on Thursday February 7th
was a fine exercise of rigor and expressive creativity subtly
combined, resulting in a collection full of colors and very well
defined lines.

The show started with an alluring ensemble of a grey melton jacket
paired with a black dress full of blossoming flowers: the tone was
set. The 28 designs shown were predominantly in a grey and black color
palette, with flowers almost everywhere.

Miss Taylor has been perfecting her craft and expanded her talent
since she showed her first runway collection in 1999. Today's show was
evidence of her flair for giving women with the appropriate body type
a truly feminine side while sharpening the overall design with
rigorously designed and tailored jackets and coats.

The affluence of the floral motif was proof that Rebecca Taylor is
going nowhere without creating designs that speak of the feminine
essence and its delicate side. As seen in her collections of the past,
the clothes indicated the creator's predilection for a flowing , lofty
style. The designer likes to pair the delicate dresses, blouses and
skirts with very structured pieces that are sharp, yet an
easy-to-the-eye contrast with the flowing designs of her tiered and
layered dresses.

The whole collection had a decidedly victorian flavor opposed with
very modern pieces such as a leopard cardigan. It made for an odd
combination that may be what Miss Taylor's followers enjoy wearing.

One thing was obvious after having seen the whole runway collection:
despite her innate ability to channel all that is feminine throughout
her designs, Miss Taylor's creative expression is limited to the women
who can wear her clothes, and only a certain type can, without looking
too frilly and ornate to an excess.

-Muriel Triffaut

Custo Barcelona

How to describe an extraordinary and unique exercise of fashion design?

No numbered listing of the clothes at Custo Barcelona's Fall 2008
Runway show on Thursday February 7th. Simply a piece of paper
explaining that Custo Barcelona's vision for Fall 2008 is one that is
" a mix of the past, present and future".

The show was unlike any other....vibrant and lush colors abounded,
unusual and incomparably textured fabrics as well, perfectly done
tailoring, unique et intricate details.... Custo Barcelona's runway
collection was a fascinating and prodigious procession of clothes that
had too many qualities to be listed. With 67 designs for women and 16
for men, brothers Custo and David Dalmau made this Thursday evening
one of enchantment that left many in the audience amazed by the
presentation. The brothers always prove an exceptional talent for
creating clothes that give out an undeniable sense of magic.

The men's clothes resonated with a gentrified and city oriented dandy
style. They were the result of many influences, past, present, and
future brought together at once.

With the women's clothes, Custo Barcelona created - or is it
recreated?- the past with pieces such as a long velvet coat printed
with large scale leaves and a fur collar, a nostalgic ode to the
colorful seventies. An other design showed a very deliberate and
structured 80s style with a one button jacket paired with a
close-to-the-body leather skirt. The present was purposefully
expressed with all the hues and types of fabrics seen all over during
Fashion Week: metallic fabrics, velvet, appliques, plum, silver....
Everything was brilliantly displayed with uncommon designs and styles
that only this creative team could have imagined. As for the future,
it resonated strongly with breathtaking clothes made of very unusually
textured fabrics.

All the clothes were a precise exercise of highly refined and
detailed tailoring as is always the case with Custo Barcelona.
Of course, not everyone can wear Custo Barcelona. It is a most daring
and risk taking option to wear the creations. It clearly targets a
worldly and up-to-date modern environment and state of mind with a
streak for strong and numerous cultural echoes. But for those who can
and will, reward comes in the way of how unique and beautiful they can
make one feel and look.

-Muriel Triffaut

Reem Acra

(Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Reem Acra, the designer who is probably best known for her sumptuous bridal collections and evening wear, is a favorite with brides and celebrities. Ms. Acra believes in using luxurious fabrics, in rich colors, and she pays meticulous attention to detail. This was apparent in her Fall 2008 collection which was filled with romantic clothes that epitomized her philosophy.

(Photo: Frazer Harrison)

My favorite pieces were the jewel-toned dresses, both long and short, that were elegantly draped on the bodice, and skirts, giving them a Grecian feel. Also notable were the metallic seperates and bright gold prints, as well as the peep toe shoes worn by the models. Fabrics included silk charmeuse, taffeta, and chiffon in colors of blue, aubergine, mustard, and forest green. Ms. Acra’s gowns were particularly beautiful, especially the tulle embroidered strapless in deep red and the silk sequin gown in antique gold.

Reem Acra invited her guests to be carried away to her mysterious and indefinable world. I, for one, enjoyed the trip.

Rhonda Erb

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Day 6: Reviews & Notes

Michael Kors

(Photos by Mark Mainz)

Michael Kors first made a name for himself as a sportswear designer, not only in the United States where sportswear was dominant, but also in Europe, where it had no special cachet. But for a while sportswear or the casual look had a run in Paris too.

Kors didn't stop developing, however, and the news this season is that he has gone far beyond the sweaters, jackets, blouses, pants and vests that once were his signature. There are now soft and lively flower prints, many arresting (but not flashy) colors and, best of all sequin, dresses. It is a well rounded collection.

The dresses are a high note. Though there is no lack of spangles in many collections today. The Kors styles are simple, mainly shifts, with cape-back collars and other unobtrusive details for interest. The hand that made his sportswear wearable but not fussy continues its work with dressy clothes. So there are no big, swathing skirts or elaborate draped effects. It is possible to dress, for evening without resorting to complex designs that are difficult to wear and often look unruly.

One of the prettiest is a lemon-colored shift that glows like sunshine. But there are more familiar all black styles as well. The beige styles from his sportswear days have not vanished, but they are paired with purple flower prints, for instance. And jackets are embellihed with fur accents, such as stoles or collars. Muted shades like olive and smoke also appear along with the lilac and purple tones.

What is especially impressive is that a sportswear designer has been able to transfer his technique to dressy clothes without losing his skill for making designs that do not envelope the wearer in elaborate dressmaking details. His sequin sheaths are as calm and satisfying looking as his cashmere cardigans.

-Bernadine Morris

Anna Sui

(Photos by Frazer Harrison)

Anna Sui is to the fashion world what tropical fruits are for the
Northern hemisphere: unusual for many, full of colors and flavor for
all, "something different". Not everyone likes tropical fruits. But
they give out a sense of warmth and needed energy, no matter how
dreary the day might be.

With no less than 54 designs, Anna Sui showed once again her amazing
gift for creating clothes that are a jolt of intensity and vibrancy in
an otherwise subdued palette of colors and textures as seen throughout
the course of Fashion Week Fall 2008 . No other designer matched the
refined and exquisite explosion of colors she gave the audience
viewing her Fall collection: it was all an amazing display of
creativity. Miss Sui's constant quest for deep cultural knowledge has
led her to give us today a presentation of a folk inspired collection
that works perfectly with her love for vintage clothing and a keen
sense for trendsetting that makes her always ahead of times, one that
many in the fashion world look at for direction.

Precise and intricate accents were found in each of the 54 designs:
flowers, velvet feathers, beaded work on dresses, iridescent fabrics,
multi metallic lame fabrics, refined embroideries, patchwork details,
jacquard, it was all there, a shower of refreshing and colorful
energy.The use of true pigments in the fabrics used made for a display
of colors like never before, even in Anna Sui's previous collections.
"Angelika" showed the beautiful combination of bold teal and
in-your-face-orange, something seldom seen in fashion. The purses
seen were as colorful as the clothes, with long fringes reinforcing
this bohemian-gone-to-town look.

Ultramarine was at its purest expression as were teal, purple, violet
and plum. The richness was to be found in the use of either plain or
burnout velvet (I counted 31 different pieces of clothing made of this
fabric) of the darkest black that helped ground almost every design in
giving out the desired effect that Miss Sui likes the most: a chic
bohemian look with just the right touch of elegance and good taste.
There was no distinct difference to be found between day and evening
wear. The designer leaves it to the wearer to take the bold step to go
out there and blend borders that, after all, have become dated and not
really needed nowadays.

Miss Sui is gifted in the sense that only she seems capable of
creating clothes that, despite their intensity and their richness, are
alluring and make the women who wear them seem uplifted and be an
uplifting sight to others. This time again, the clothes hung perfectly
on each of the models sporting them, a true testament to the fact that
Anna Sui is also a great technician that knows exactly how a design
should be tailored to fit. As a result, the clothes and their lush,
rich mix become living and pulsating frames that surround perfectly
the women wearing them. This was a constant fact through the whole

Today's runway show was like an epiphany, the result of a continuous
and successful growth, the growth of Miss Sui's own creative
expression as well as her success as a fashion designer. She has a
huge number of devoted and exclusive customers/fans, and has succeeded
in becoming a cult brand in a very few number of years. Each season,
her runway show is one of the most anticipated and draws crowds. Anna
Sui's collections are sold in over 30 countries, the proof of an
extraordinary and well deserved success for the girl from Detroit who
launched her brand name in 1980 and who, for years, worked out of her

Seen in the front row were Mr. Russell Simmons (co-founder of the
pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, a founder of Russell Simmons Music
Group, and the creator of the clothing fashion line Phat Farm and the
fragrance label Atman) as well as Ms. Ally Hilfiger, daughter of Tommy
Hilfiger and who was once featured in the MTV reality show Rich Girls.

-Muriel Triffaut

Prada Party

Tuesday night was the screening of “Trembled Blossoms”, an original animated short, was unveiled Tuesday night in a private screening at the Prada Broadway Epicenter, the flagship store. This 4-minute film is an extension of an on going project of fashion designer, Miuccia Prada, in collaboration with architects, filmmakers, designers, and photographers.

In the Spring Summer 2008 Women’s collection that debuted in Milan last September, Miuccia integrated fabric design, a fashion show environment, site specific murals and photographic sets with the fashion show. What started as ink drawings that depict a lush landscape of flowers and nymphs evoking suggestions of Art Nouveau, Liberty, Audrey Beardsley and Heironymus Bosch have become fabric designs, wallpapers and now, an animated short. (A selection of wall papers is currently on display at the Architecture and Design gallery at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.)

This animated short is part of Prada’s commitment to experimental design. For the past 7 years, Miuccia Prada has commissioned temporary, architecture- specific wall papers, environments, short animations and interactive media for Prada Epicenters in New York, Beverly Hills and Tokyo. It is indeed admirable for a fashion designer to touch different forms of media, much like Paul Poiret during his time. Using cutting edge technology, the house of Prada is surely cementing its way into fashion and art history. That, or Prada is going Hollywood!

Great space. Great party. A good mix of people arrived around 10 p.m. to catch several screenings of the film. At 10:30 p.m., CocoRosie performed, while DJ Jeffrey Tonnesen spun music throughout the evening. Actors and actresses mingled with the cool fashion crowd - Angie Harmon, Dylan McDermot, Eric Murciano, Vincent Gallo, Amy Smart, Rose Mcgowan, Ginnifer Goodwin, Eliza Dushku, Paul Dano and Milla Jojovich

-Anna Bayle

R. Scott French

(Photos: Scott Gries)

Menswear designer, R. Scott French gives good fashion for guys. Maybe because French is the kind of man who only writes with a Sanford Uni-Ball Micro Pen (black, of course). The designer also believes that "the perfect color is one that, when looked at by 10 different people will be called 10 different names" and that "floral shirts and tartan plaids are two essentials in the modern man's wardrobe". Well, keeping these thoughts in mind, it is easy to see why French's perfectly stylized clothes, which were shown by a groovy group of "real" models and "model" hopefuls from the Bravo's, "Make Me A Supermodel" and FUSE TV's "The Sauce", made such a statement on Sunday's runway presentation.

Catering to a broad array of well-heeled, upwardly mobile, young (and older, we'd like to think), gentlemen (professional to rockstars), French served up something for everyone. Three separate collections - Richard Harris Felt, Ltd., R. Scott French - had their place and really did the trick,showing everything from well-crafted, classically tailored, haute luxe separates, shirts, suitings and outerwear, straight through to over-the-top groupings, which focused on clothing featuring surprises, such as lots of mismatched color, unque shape, silhouette, patterns and lots and lots of esoteric detailing. Here, eye-popping hues, short, cropped pants, trousers, a sarong or two, wild jackets and toppers and some really cool tuxedo renderings totally hit the mark.

Overall, these are super clothes for guys from a designer who believes that the "perfect orange is Pantone #021C". Oh and by the way, French's goody bags, which were neatly placed under each guest's seat. were nifty. Set within a perfectly fun khaki green tote bag (which this editor has been carrying around the shows ever since receiving it), the bag shows lots of catchy sewn-on "stickers". Inside, just the right amount of usable "gifts", such as a great music CD, some men's grooming products and coupons for grooming "freebies" from well-known salons around town, and an interesting, new men's magazine, added up to a very nice little "thank you for attending the show" from French to those buyers and editors that made it to the show.

- Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg
Day 5: Reviews & Notes

(Diane Clehane, Lookonline.com Entertainment Editor, talks with IMG's Fern Mallis about life under the tents in a wide ranging interview for mediabistro.com Read it here: http://www.mediabistro.com/articles/cache/a10048.asp )


Photo: Fernanda Calfat

If there could possibly be any show venue worse than the far west 22nd street gallery that has been tapped by Rodarte as their venue of choice for the past few seasons, I’d like to know what it is. In addition to being rather inaccessible to public transportation, which makes getting to and from other shows challenging unless you have a town car or limo (or helicopter) at your disposal, there is only one exit via a precariously steep winding staircase (and a tiny elevator) to take the crowds up and down the second floor (where the presentation takes place). This is not only dangerous and scary (God forbid if there was a fire or some other disaster), but it makes the process of arriving and exiting all the more frustrating and time consuming, especially when you factor in the jam packed show schedule at all ends of town. In addition, I was not the only person who tripped and almost fell flat on my face, thanks to the protruding elongated floor lights which were installed in the floorboards (they were hard to see until it was too late).

Photo: Fernanda Calfat

And who could possible forget this past September, when this beloved space) inconveniently lost their air conditioning on what had to be the hottest day of fashion week (the Saturday when Rodarte presented their spring 2008 collection). By the time everyone left, their clothes were ringing wet with sweat (including all the poor women, bedecked in their exquisite Rodarte finery). I really can’t believe that the Rodarte team cannot find a more suitable space, which has the proper artistic vibe and a modicum of convene niece. And while I’m at it, if any collection could benefit from a descriptive run of show it is this one, especially because of the creative and highly technical aspect of the designs, fabrication, and construction. And because the models came out at such breakneck speed, it was almost impossible for me to take adequate notes. Okay, so I got that off my chest.

Photo: Fernanda Calfat

What I will say is that to their credit, Kate and Laura must have felt passionately about what they showed for spring because fall 2008 was not an about face but very much an evolution of the painterly, airborne, and artistic vision that was presented 5 months ago. While it was not as tough or edgy as spring, it was all about the highly textural artistic explosion of color and pattern, and the idea of deconstruction. There were only a few solid pieces and everything else appeared to be hand painted, airbrushed, tie dyed, dip dyed, ombred, or marbleized using combinations of barely there nudes, petal pinks, sky blues, fiery crimsons, black, white, and gray. The recurring theme was the use of chiffon, tulle, and particularly, a sheer, fragile spider web knitwear (which was sometimes slashed or fringed), which formed the basis for matched and unmatched deconstructed suits and dresses) and was even used for hosiery. There were only a few skinny pants and the emphasis was on a very feminine silhouette --defined waists, mainly short and full skirts, bias cut dresses and ethereal gowns, illusion backs.

Dennis Basso

It was obvious that Tuesday’s entire show schedule would be completely off track since after Rodarte, the fashion flock had to go all the way uptown to the Plaza to view J. Mendel and then back to the Bryant Park Tents for Dennis Basso. What nobody could anticipate was that there would be a medical emergency which would force another half hour wait. The good news is that the gentleman in question, was alright and the show began (though there were plenty of empty seats…perhaps people were still stuck uptown). The 36 piece collection, an homage to the craftsmanship, couture design, and attention to detail that originally put Dennis Basso on the map 25 years ago, began on such a high note wiht an almost impossibly yummy group of coats and jackets mixing cream alligator or broadtail with matching Russian sable in youthful silhouettes; several evening dresses including a cream hand embroidered ostrich feathered dress and a gold silk organza layered gown with embroidered flowers shown beneath a cropped golden alligator vest trimmed with golden Russian sable), it was impossible to expect it would last to the very end. While the show did seem repetitive after a point, one could forgive Dennis….how many times does one get to celebrate a silver anniversary?

Monique Lhuillier

Speaking of well edited….happily, it does seem as though the growing trend is towards shorter runway shows. Designers who can make their point succinctly are always at an advantage. Working in a rich palette of peacock blues, olive greens, blue velvets, and charcoal gray, Monique Lhuillier made her point about a collection of ‘special’ items (“over the top encrusted, jeweled pieces” which “celebrate the female form”, and have “a smoky and loungy flapper feeling with a modern approach” with just 39 outfits. Standouts, which are sure to please her ever growing customer and fan base (which includes celebrities and social fixtures), include the gold embroidered short sleeved blouse worn with a white chiffon knee length embroidered skirt (this was made to resemble fur), the high wasted olive green strapless dress with embroidered bodice and ostrich skirt; the saffron halter gown with ostrich paillete skirt; the gold caviar embroidered dress with leather detail, the gold embroidered v neck sleeveless blouse worn with a knee length black cap sleeved dress with exaggerated bow (a big trend on the runways this past week); a lavishly embroidered and fur trimmed black metallic boucle coat; a long sleeved, knee length, fitted multi colored cabochon embroidered dress which recalled Norman Norell.

Badgley Mischka

Short beaded, flapper like dresses (one in gold lace with fringe trim and another in silver sequins), an amethyst handpainted organza gown, and an amethyst ikat chiffon gown worn beneath an abbreviated black lamb vest, were some of the highlights at Badgley Mischka, the duo who originally put themselves on the map with their highly coveted evening wear, quickly becoming favorites of the red carpet set. There was a time their collections were entirely eveningwear, but that was then and this is now. Nowadays, their focus is on creating a commercial and well rounded collection with a broader appeal. In fact, out of the 49 pieces presented, just about half was daywear: classic and perfectly nice (if not necessarily out of the ordinary) matched and mismatched suits, fur pieces, leather and suedes, cashmere sweaters, houndstooth pencil skirts, mannish glen plaid trousers. Notable pieces include the abbreviated chocolate broadtail and fox vest shown over a glen plaid trouser and tangerine jersey turtleneck, a blush metallic tweed suit with an evergreen plaid chiffon blouse, an evergreen sueded jacket paired with a bronze lurex oversized houndstooth skirt, a gold washed fox vest and houndstooth pant.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Narciso Rodriquez

Photo: Style.com

Narciso Rodriguez presented a beautiful and very wearable tailored collection. It seems that everyone is inspired by knights’ armor and this collection is no different. However, Mr. Rodriguez’ take is more polished, young, and cut beautifully. This seasoned designer continues to give us clothes that women can walk out in confidently.

Photo: Style.com

Very striking are the dresses with wide shoulder straps crossed in the front and back. These dresses would surely turn some heads. Double faced coats in cashmere and wool are a consistent staple in the collection. For the coats, apart from the basic black and gray, there were novelty shades like citrine, aqua and a stringent ‘safety orange’. The coats are solid “must have’s” for the everyday woman. So is the sexy but understated black cashmere sweater, for the more adventurous. Narciso Rodriguez also showed refinement and mastery of craft when he sent a black silk metal-embroidered dress out on the runway.

“To sell or not to sell’ is always the challenge of every designer when they create a collection. Some of them get carried away with their ideas and are not able to strike the balance of creativity, wearability and sell-ability. Narciso Rodriguez is a mature designer. He has produced a solid collection …and it will, of course, sell.

-Anna Bayle

Elaine Turner

Photo: Alexander Erb
On Tuesday Texas-based handbag designer, Elaine Turner, held her Best little bags in Texas event at her new midtown showroom on Fifth Avenue. Attendees were invited to preview her Spring and Fall 08 collections while enjoying Tex-Mex food and margaritas. Turner is a former apparel designer and fashion merchandiser, who opened her leather goods business in 2000. Her bags are sold in boutiques throughout the country as well as department stores such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom.

Turner is known for her use of exotic embossed leathers as well as pony hair and painted grass cloth. Each bag is finished with the Elaine Turner signature hardware. The handbags are priced in the moderately expensive range.

The clutch bags, which come in both large and small sizes, were particularly appealing, as were the leather satchels which come in a variety of colors. There is also an adorable line of diaper bags, so that new moms can be both chic and practical.

-Rhonda Erb

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Day Four: Reviews & Notes

Carolina Herrera

Carolina Herrera abandoned the artistic musings of spring 2008 for the idyllic life of the well bred countryside (traditionally ‘Ralph’ country although the highly theatrical effect could better be described as ‘Ralph on speed’ and seemed to have been inspired by one of Grace Goddington’s dramatic portfolios for Vogue). She cited “the ease and sophistication of the outdoors” as inspiration for fall 2008 collection but let’s fact it, there was nothing particularly ‘easy’ about the highly visual, stylized fictional costume party of Ms. Herrera’s dream. While it was a bit over the top, it was highly visual and was beautiful to watch, and there were certainly some notable items.

. Rendered in a rich and easy on the eye and ‘typically’ fall like color palette of oatmeal brown, china blue, lemon drop yellow, rust, and browns, the day and evening was purposely mixed up as if to prove the point that in this eccentric fantasy world, where you “grab a riding jacket from the mudroom and pair it over a crinkle chiffon gown for an elegant dinner on the farm”, day and night are all the same. One dresses according to whimsy, mood, and desire.

And so, perfectly cut tweed riding jackets, windowpane coats, capes, and vests (often lavishly fur trimmed or decorated with organza overlays), velvet and jersey riding pants, silk twill and chiffon bird print blouses and dresses, long sleeved jersey gowns trimmed with embroidered feathers, feather trimmed floral jacquard vests worn with gazaar corseted evening skirts, shared the stage in no particular order, and each was similarly accessorized with tall high heeled boots and elegant felt fedoras featuring the longest pheasant feathers I’ve ever seen (they indeed seemed capable of literally poking someone’s eyes out if one got too close). The fantastical hats by the way, were designed expressly for Carolina Herrera by Albertus Swanepoel.

Oscar de la Renta

Photo: Scott Wintrow

While Ms. Herrera played the “Seduced and Abandoned” fashion game (you know…doing an about face from one season to the next in terms of mood and inspiration), Oscar de la Renta stayed the course with the tried and true. His very familiar luxe- sportif fall collection, shown at his new favorite venue, 583 Park Avenue, (with live music this time courtesy the duo Michel Gaubert and Steven Brinke) was undeniably rich and sophisticated, but was imbued with a sporty, youthful and decidedly vintage feeling (colors and patterns were subdued and very fall like, and even the gold was muted and ‘aged’ rather than brash). Wide leather belts defined the waists on sweaters, jackets, and coats from day to evening and many of the day looks were accessorized with a below the knee boot on a shaped, low heel or a dark brown suede stretch boot. All of Oscar’s signatures were there: lavish fur trim, herringbone and vintage tweed jackets, coats, and dresses, unmatched suits, fabric and texture mixes, cashmere tweed hand knit sweaters, the use of his beloved broadtail and swakara, full skirted silk faille cocktail dresses, ikat prints, floral jacquards and leaf prints. But perhaps the most important of all was the almost ubiquitous use of embroidery (which added surface interest and drama) for both day and evening.

Photo: Scott Winstrow

In fact, it seemed that there were very few surfaces left unembroidered (even if it was just a subtle trim). Standouts in this category were the black French knot embroidered coat with mink whip stitch trim, the dark gold embroidered shearing coat; the herringbone tweed embroidered skirt shown with a tweed jacket; the tweed dress with embroidered trim; and several embroidered cocktail dresses that featured knee length, full skirts. And for pure drama, nothing could beat the green swakara embroidered jacket shown with an olive leaf print chiffon embroidered top and green silk faille ballroom skirt worn by Agnyess, and the finale…a bronze shearling embroidered vest shown over a pale champagne tulle embroidered gown.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Proenza Schouler

Photo: Scott Gries

How do you top a ‘winner’ collection? Even the great Yves St. Laurent found it challenging to come up with another sunflower collection. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler successfully managed to present a sober and disciplined collection, after their much talked about 2007 Fall-Winter collection.

Proenza Schouler’s Fall 2008 collection was held at the Armory on 643 Park Avenue at 8:00 p.m. on February 4. It was a cavernous venue resembling an airplane hangar with a very long runway. Models had to glide and stride, as if to take off. Since the designers inspiration for this show were paper airplanes, the presentation concept was apropos.

Photo: Scott Gries

The collection was an exercise in constructive layering. The show started strongly with four precious cocktail silk twill dresses in rich, deep colors of marigold, aubergine, emerald and sapphire. They were matched with contrasting colored stockings and shoes. Although the woman’s body is covered, the fall of the folds when a woman is walking intimated or suggested a good figure. All through out the collection were very chic ‘slouch’ pants – below the waist, wide pants, cinched with thin jewel-buckled belts. The signature pant matched with deconstructed jackets made for a very chic silhoutte.

The designers of Proenza Schouler attempted to mix metallic paillette with wool, shearling with wool and silk, embroidered lace with latex. More importantly, the designers mixed romance with modernity with their take on their new shirts with Tudoresque ball sleeves under deconstructed wool coats. This puff ball detail would be in the elbows on some dresses. They also had this season’s trend – the oversized bows, flowing into the jacket folds. These touches of romance in this fashion forward collection showed restraint and an attention to a flattering silhouette.

Present in the front row were Amy Adams, best known for her Academy award nominated performance in the film Junebug and her Golden Globe Award nominated role as Giselle In Enchanted. Brook Shields, Kate Bosworth in a red Proenza Schouler and Dylan McDermot also graced the occasion.

-Anna Bayle

Max Azria

After seeing BCBGMax Azria's show last Friday, I was anticipating
feeling the same excitement tonight with the third collection shown by
the designer. But tonight there was room for disappointment. Not to
mention that once again, people who made it on time had to wait almost
45 minutes, thanks to some celebrities with no sense of time nor
respect for working people.

Most of the models sported clothes of the same color gray. Gray is a
neutral, yes, but used too often with too much luster coming from the
fabric, it can be overwhelming. And it was. As for the rest of the
designs they didn't seem practical enough to make it in the "
real world" nor did they have enough of a creative edge to make a
difference in Fashion Week World.

Details were everywhere and it felt overwhelming to try and
understand which direction the designer was taking when he created
these clothes. Leaves, transparent silk gauze, clenched waists in look
alike half corsets, fur, fur and more fur, oh, and did I write
leaves, leaves, leaves....? The people and media attending the show
had to try and remember all that was being shown. What a head spinner!

Many fur coats and jackets were shown... one can ask the question of
how PC that looked. Nowadays all the alternatives offered to today's
fashion designers should make it possible to avoid such display.

As for the dresses and tops that sported an odd looking leaf worn as
a brooch on the side by the models..... it served no purpose, nor did
it help make the design look any better. Sometimes, MUCH less is MUCH

First model (named Olga) was certainly beautiful, but who can wear a
transparent coat? And there was nothing special to the tailoring to
make any one remember it. And it went on and on.... not many designs
seemed practical enough to really make it on the street. Too many
transparent fabrics used for day wear. I particularly disliked the
jumpsuit. It just didn't look good on the models, and it remains
doubtful it will on the street.

A special note for Georgina, a beautiful charcoal metallic wool skirt
and jacket that was simply beautiful, elegant and practical. It showed
what talent and cleverness can possess Max Azria.

-Muriel Triffaut

John Varvatos

Photo: Isabelle & Alexander Erb

The John Varvatos Autumn/Winter 2008 collection was shown high atop the 7 World Trade Center building in lower Manhattan Monday night. The high-rise location, with its breath-taking views, presented the perfect backdrop for the smartly constructed mix of classic styles with a modern twist.

The Varvatos gentleman is well tailored, with an elongated silhouette. The slim two button jackets "kick out" at the hip and the pants flair just below the knee. Shirts are tapered to fit the body with button down or stand up collars and skinny ties. The look is meant to be reminiscent of a modern Edwardian gentleman.

The colors of the collection are predominantly dark with the occasional pop of color in a red vest or scarf. Fabrics include soft cotton and cashmere, richly textured wool, and Varvatos’ signature supple leather.

-Rhonda Erb

The Blonds

(photo: Isabelle Erb)

Phillipe and David Blond’s Fall 2008 collection was set in the fairy tale versions of New York and Los Angles. Models were dressed as disco fairies, punk goblins, fashion harpies, and a Park Avenue princess. The characters were inspired by the films Wonderwall, starring Jane Birkin and Legend starring Tom Cruise.

There was plenty of sparkle to go around since almost every piece in the collection was encrusted with Swarovski crystals or adorned with sequins. A white silk chiffon evening gown with ostrich detailing was one of the most subdued and wearable pieces. Le Blond Angels were pure fun, dressed in pink, canary yellow, and turquoise sequin jumpers. The final piece, a Blond Diamonds Barbie corset dress with a blue fox Marlene coat ended the show with pure Hollywood glamour.

- Rhonda Erb