Thursday, October 30, 2008

Masters of Fashion Interview: Exhibition Designer Charles B. Froom

The newest interview in our ongoing series of profiles on the best and the brightest individuals in New York fashion. Click here for the article by Stacy Lomman.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stars in the Front Row

(All photos: Isabelle Erb )

The Thurgood Marshall College fund celebrated African-American Leadership in the Fashion Industry with the 3rd Annual Front Row Awards and fashion show on Saturday night. The capacity crowd, that filled the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, included students who had participated in the programs of the scholarship organization, which was established in 1987.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Tamara Tunie

The Mistress of Ceremonies for the event was actress Tamara Tunie, a television veteran who currently appears on the series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She kicked off the evening by taking a turn on the catwalk in a slinky, brown dress by designer B. Michael. Tunie kept the crowd entertained until the night’s first presenter, actress Janine Green-Doh, whose arrival had been delayed by traffic, made her way to the stage. Green-Doh presented the Fashion Icon Award to makeup artist, Ross Burton, who is best known as the National Artistic Director for Lancome. As he held his trophy, a bronze bust of Thurgood Marshall, Burton described his work as “creating transformation and change with a makeup brush.”

Supermodel and “Modelpreneur”, Beverly Johnson, accepted her award from Deborah Gregory, author of the Cheetah Girls novel series. Johnson recalled the day that Wilhelmina herself, of Wilhelmina models, called to tell her that she had gotten the famous Vogue Magazine cover.

Tyson Beckford and Bethann Hardison

Bethann Hardison, who has represented Tyson Beckford since 1992, said that she had no clue that he would become the star that he is today. She remembered the early days of his career, when he would arrive for “go sees” and occasionally be told not to take the elevator because he had been mistaken for a messenger. After Hardison presented his reward, Beckford told the audience not to “let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve what you want.”

Design by Tracy Reese

Celebrity hairstylist, Oscar James, received his Fashion Icon Award form Vanessa Williams, of the hit television series, Ugly Betty. Williams joked that James has “weaved his way into notoriety” and that she was the only one of his clients in attendance because he loved her the most. James has also styled the tresses of Tyra Banks, Iman, Beyonce, and Halle Berry, to name a few.

Other Fashion Icon Award recipients included noted photographer Keith Major and full figured specialty retailer Ashley Stewart Stores. The 'Breaking Barriers Award' went to fashion entrepreneur Audrey Smaltz.

Johnny Vincent, Welcome To My Paradise

The second half of the evening was comprised of the much anticipated fashion show. The collections of no less than 13 designers were presented, including Trophy Husband by Linwood, Johnny Vincent, Lafayette 148 New York, Sean John, Tracy Reese, Stephen Burrows, Douglas Says…, Kevan Hall, Sixxfoota, Miguel Antoinne, Thurgood 1954, Steven Cutting, and Xiomara. Standout looks from the runway show featured the sexy swimwear of Johnny Vincent, Tracy Reese’s floral day dresses, and the “Trophy Husbands” in Linwood’s tribal dress.

-Rhonda Erb

Friday, October 24, 2008

A ‘Design’ for Living (“Recession? What recession?!”)

Anna Wintour & Karl Lagerfeld at FGI's 'Night of Stars' awards gala dinner

Fall is officially in full swing and the social calendar just got a little busier: just consider all the high profile events that took place this past week (talk about ‘black tie gridlock). Needless to say, many of the same faces showed up at some or all of them (thank goodness for town cars and limos).

The American Ballet Theatre held its fall 2008 Opening Night Gala; Tiffany & Co. celebrated the publication of “Tiffany Style” by John Loring; Van Cleef & Arpels feted the release of “Charms”; The Whitney Museum of American Art held it’s 2008 Gala & Studio Party; Karl Lagerfeld threw an “epic bash” (in the words of Fashion Week Daily) to celebrate the opening of “ MOBILE ART: CHANEL Contemporary Art Container” in Central Park; and on Thursday evening, there was not just one, but two simultaneous events honoring ‘stars’ in the world of fashion, art, entertainment, retail, architecture, and design. Forget about the limo - one could have used a helicopter to get from one to the other in time. Of course, there’s always the subway, far more fitting for these recession times (and talk about great design!).

Aside from providing attendees with a welcome respite from the harsher realities of life, many of these soirees were in celebration and recognition of outstanding ‘design’ in one form or another. (Great design not only makes our lives just a little bit better and easier, if not more beautiful, but it doesn’t come with an ‘expiration date’, which is perfect to keep in mind during these dismal economic times when we are all trying to get the most mileage and longevity from our purchases).

Coincidentally (or not) this past week was also National Design Week, which is sponsored by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (, and was formed as an initiative to “draw national attention to the ways in which design enriches everyday life.”.

The institution’s prestigious National Design Awards, conceived in 1997 and launched in 2000 as a way to honor “the best in American design”, was celebrated last night at an Awards ceremony and dinner held in the Museum’s Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, located on 92nd street and 5th avenue. Ralph Rucci, a designer (and a person) whom I am especially fond of (and who could not be more worthy of the honors bestowed upon him as of late), was the recipient of the 2008 Fashion Design Award, given to “an individual or firm for exceptional and exemplary work in clothing, footwear, or accessories design”.

At the same time, but on the opposite end of the city, stars (with a capital ‘S’) were out in force at Fashion Group International’s 25th annual Night of Stars ( For the first time, the venue was moved from it’s traditional locale, Cipriani 42nd Street to the more spacious Cipriani Wall Street (of ALL times to find oneself smack dab in the middle of the financial capital of the world: the epicenter of the economic conundrum. Talk about ironic!)

The theme of the evening and the “umbrella” for the organization’s ‘silver’ anniversary was “The Alchemists” (which admittedly sounds a bit pharmaceutical). Since I wanted a precise dictionary definition, I ‘Goggled’ it.

Cambridge Dictionary online defines alchemy as, 1-A type of chemistry, especially from about 1100 to 1500, which dealt with trying to find a way to change ordinary metals into gold and with trying to find a medicine which would cure any disease. 2- A process that is so effective that it seems like magic.

Undoubtedly, it was the latter definition that the powers that be at FGI had in mind when choosing the title for the 13 “stellar honorees whose generous spirit and creativity have made a significant impact on design and culture” (In fact, in her introductory address, FGI President, Margaret Hayes defined The Alchemists as those “who are able to transform something common to something special” and promised an “evening of magic”. The word ‘magic’ came up again and again during the course of the night).

‘Superstar’: Donatella Versace

‘Star Honorees’ Fashion: Francisco Costa, Christopher Bailey, Carla & Franca Sozzani, Christian Louboutin

‘Architecture’: Philippe Starck

‘Sustainability”: John Paul DeJoria/Paul Mitchell

“Beauty”: Bobbi Brown

“Corporate Leadership”: Natalie Massenet/Net-a-porter

“Entertainment”: Harvey Weinstein

“Humanitarian”: Bill McComb/Liz Claiborne Foundation

“Fashion Oracle Award”: Harold Koda/the Costume Institute

After a spirited, well attended, and festive cocktail hour, everyone was seated for dinner and the ‘main event’ (the awards ceremony), presided over as usual by the always entertaining, amusing, and irreverent Simon Doonan soon began. Simon kept emphasizing the idea of keeping the speeches short and said that “time is of the essence”. And while many did heed his warning, Karl Lagerfeld, known for his short speeches, admitted he went out of his way to make his introduction to Harold Koda, longer than usual (he succeeded by the way). The ‘award’ for shortest speech goes to Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, who was introduced by Kate Bosworth (hers was an equally short speech).

The best lines, observations, and quotes:

When Marcia Gay Harden introduced John Paul de Joria, she praised the “depth and breath of his philanthropy”…and hailed him as “one of the first to think about sustainability”. Mr. de Joria said “it’s all about sustaining the planet, about thinking of someone other than yourself, and said “you must have passion in life”.

Tim Gunn introduced Harvey Weinstein and said it was his “vision” that was the reason for the success of “Project Runway”. Mr. Weinstein said his wife Georgina Chapman (designer for Marchesa) refers to him as “fashionably challenged” and refuses to let him wear “white socks with anything” but admitted she is his “biggest inspiration”. He ‘humbly’ said he “thought a show about the design process would be great” and among those he thanked, was Anna Wintour who he said “always gave him good advice even when the chips were down”.

Philippe Starck told the crowd that he was “always interested in people” which is why he is “good at his work”. “I try to make life better but after 30 years I feel useless and I want to feel more useful”. This explains why he has embraced “democratic design and democratic ecology” (he also kept talking about “toilet brushes” (?) and apologized for his broken English.

Ashley Olsen introduced Francisco Costa and said he taught her that “less is more” and that “simplicity is beautiful”. Francisco spoke of his award as a “team effort” from “a group of people”

Bruce Weber introduced Bobbi Brown and praised her as a “real sweetheart’ who “never complains” and referred to her brand of beauty as preaching “a touch on the face = gel on the heart”. (“That’s the way I’ve always thought it should be”)

Bobbi enthused, “this entire night is about Bruce giving me this award” and then said “Thank God the 70’s are coming back because I LOVE platforms”!

Rose Marie Bravo introduced Natalie Massenet and labeled her “a natural merchant and true entrepreneur with an amazing sense of style” and sung her praises for knowing “online luxury shopping was about to explode”. “She does it all and is one of this businesses’ brightest and best!” Natalie said “thanks to everyone who shops online and keep your computers on!”

Stefano Tonchi referred to Carla Sozzani as “one of the most influential people in the world of fashion” and said, “Carla is a dream herself but that kind of dream that doesn’t disappear in the morning”. “Carla said this award “has meaning to me because it’s in New York and I’m here with my sister”.

Jonathan Newhouse called Franca Sozzani “the Pope of Italian fashion” and observed that, “she found the greatest photographers of our time (like Steven Meisel, Bruce Weber, Steven Klein, Patrick Demarchelier) and “gave the start to major art directors like Fabien Baron”. “Her hope is to tell the truth” and “no one is more highly respected in this industry”. When Ms. Sozzani walked on to the stage, she asked in wonderment, “Are you sure you’re talking about me?”

Karl Lagerfeld joked that “Harold (Koda) is lucky he doesn’t have to work with designers who are around anymore” and told the audience that “the red carpet has distorted everything today”. He said while Harold is “still young, he has an amazing career in fashion”. “He loves, understands, and respects clothes”. “Fashion is about the harmony of beauty and utility”. “He is the future of fashion and will decide what will be remembered later”.

Harold said “looking at the past doesn’t have to calcify you” and he thanked Anna Wintour (among others) for “her support” and what she has done to make the Costume Institute what it is today.

J Lo (who walked on to the stage with Prince) hailed Donatella Versace a “fashion designer and a fashion icon” and said “she is a sweet and wonderful lady who has been nothing but generous to my family”. Donatella said that “Gianni showed me that fashion is magical. It’s been a magical night for me”

Oh, and special praise for Diane Clehane, who once again wrangled the celebs and media. It was a truly memorable night!

-Marilyn Kirschner

“2008 National Design Awards”

(The designer Ralph Rucci center with Martha Stewart on his right)

The design world honored outstanding achievement in all genres last evening at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on East 91st Street. The 2008 National Design Awards (sponsored by Target), recognizes excellence in ten categories, one of them being Fashion Design. Add another feather to Ralph Rucci’s cap as he was this year’s winner, while Zac Posen and Thom Browne were finalists. Previous winners include: Rick Owens- 2007, Maria Cornejo (“Zero”)– 2006, Toledo Studio (Isabel & Rubin)– 2005, Yeohlee Teng– 2004, Tom Ford– 2003. Narciso Rodriguez deserves mentioning as he has been a finalist three times (2007, 2004 & 2003) – whatever happened to “third time’s a charm?”

Due to the wide range of design honorees, the event attracted a very diverse crowd -- not the typical group one sees at all the fashion gatherings. Of course, Ralph Rucci was present as was Zac Posen, Parker Posey, Cathy Horyn, Amy Fine Collins, Rogan Gregory, Margaret Russell and Richard Meier. Presenters included Dennis Hopper, Martha Stewart, John Maeda (RISD President), Padma Lakshmi (Bravo TV), among others. David Stark designed the gala décor situated in a tented space in the Author Ross Terrace and Garden.

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt launched the National Design Awards in 2000 as a project of the White House Millennium Council. The annual Awards program celebrates design in various disciplines and seeks to increase national awareness of design. This year’s category winners are: 1. Fashion Design- Ralph Rucci, 2. Architecture- Tom Kundig (Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen), 3. Interior- Rockwell Group, 4. Landscape- Olin Partnership, 5. Product- Antenna Design, 6. Communication- Scott Stowell (NY based studio “Open”), 7. Design Mind- Michael Bierut (partner in NY based design firm Pentagram), 8. Lifetime Achievement- Charles Harrison (industrial designer at Sears, Roebuck & Co. for thirty years), 9. Corporate Achievement– Google, Inc. 10. People’s Design Award– Stuart Karten Design for the Zon Hearing Aid.

To be considered for a National Design Award, you must be nominated. The nominees are judged by jury in nine categories with the exception of The People’s Design Award winner chosen by general public voting. This year’s jury comprised of eight industry professionals in architecture, graphics, media, web and product design. Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa represented fashion’s voice on the panel.

In 2006, The Cooper-Hewitt Museum launched National Design Week (sponsored by Target), which offers free admission for all museum visitors as well as a series of public programs surrounding the National Design Awards. Saturday, October 25 is the last day to take advantage of the opportunity (the week runs from Oct. 19-25 this year), so get out there and immerse yourself in design!

-Stacy Lomman

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fine Art

Philippe de Montebello

You can debate all you want about whether fashion is art (or vice versa) but whatever your opinion, on Monday morning, I attended two events that mixed the two, both of which were billed as ‘art’ events, and both took place in the vicinity of Central Park.

And talk about long goodbyes (and deservedly so). Philippe de Montebello is set to retire as Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in December ( after a storied 31 year tenure, (he will be replaced by Thomas Campbell). He is not only the longest serving director of the institution, but the longest serving director of any major art museum in the world and, unsurprisingly, many special events have been planned to bid adieu in a grand way, befitting a true legend in the world of art. Back in May, during the morning press conference for the "Superheros" exibit, Anna Wintour observed, "even though the fashion world may not be his world", it nonetheless owes a "huge debt of gratitude" to Philippe, who is "alone among world class museum directors" in that he has had "the vision to acknowledge the role that style, self presentation, and design play in modern culture" and has "executed that vision in a way that has inspired millions to think of fashion as one of our most complex and rich decorative arts". She remarked that within the Costume Institute’s "greatest shows" (which she labeled as "modern and directional while at the same time offering the sweeping historical perspective that is a signature of what this great museum stands for"), and in Philippe’s tenure, he has "given us the freedom to explore the connections between what we wear and how we live".

On Monday morning, there was a press showing of the exhibit, “The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions” (October 24 – February 1, 2009) which is housed on museum’s second floor. While I did not take advantage of the audio tour, I nonetheless enjoyed walking through the galleries, filled with approximately 300 objets of art, sculpture, home furnishings, and fashion, that had been carefully selected and edited by the expert curators to best illustrate the brilliance of Mr. de Montebello.

While there were many pieces that were truly covetable, there were about 7 items on view, which I can honestly say I would not mind having as part of my own personal collection: the spectacular white silk draped Mme Gres evening gown (1965) that had many women oohing and aahing; the floor length kimono style “Paris coat” in dark brown velvet and metallic by Paul Poiret (1919); the large graphic Mark Rothko painting, “White, Red, on Yellow”; the exuberantly colorful “The Young Sailor” by Henri Matisse, 1906; the massive and ornate French armoire by Charles Guillaume Diehl, 1867; the sterling silver “Toilet Set in Original Leather Case”, German, 1743 – 45; and the covetable black and white Jackson Pollock, “#28, 1950”, which was made all the more dramatic since it was displayed against a dark red wall.

By the way, while there, I bumped into Michael Gross, the former fashion critic for The New York Times and contributor to New York Magazine, who is arguably one of America’s most ‘provocative’ non fiction writers (some of his best selling exposes include “Model” and “740 Park”). When I bemusedly observed, “I can’t believe you were once the fashion writer” he laughed and replied, “Yes, can you believe I was once a ‘somebody’?!” Well, considering his prolific body of work and impressive resume, I would certainly label him as a “somebody”, and then some.

Coincidentally, his next book, due out next year, is entitled “Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum” (which explains why he showed up at the museum event). In the meanwhile, there was a press conference called for 11 am, (Philippe de Montebello and others addressed the assembled crowd), but I had to leave before it started because alas, I had an 11:30 ticket to view the Chanel Mobile Art Exhibit (, which opened to the press on Monday and will open to the public on Wednesday.

The iconic Chanel 2.55 handbag

In deference to those of you who are planning to see it for yourselves in the next two weeks, I don’t want to tell you too much about the approximately 20 minute ‘tour’ through the temporary art installation designed by Zaha Hadid and representing the work of 18 modern artists. Set up in a futuristic space ship like temporary digs, it is housed in Central Park’s Rumsey’s Playground (entrance is on 5 Avenue and 69th street). Let’s just say that is seems more about erotic fantasy, sex (and I mean explicit sex, including graphic, lusty shots of nude women baring ‘all’ while posed in rather suggestive positions) desire, wishes, and the metaphorical symbolism associated with ‘cleaning out one’s bag’ and baring all), than the iconic Chanel 2.55 handbag. But that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since it’s meant to be ‘art’, is centered on a very French point of view, and happens to be the brainchild of that naughty Karl Lagerfeld whose mind is always thinking, conceiving, and concocting.

Quite frankly, the real star is not a portable (luxury) accessory, but living legend Jeanne Moreau, who gives an Oscar worthy ‘performance’ thanks to her amazingly seductive throaty hypnotic voice, lusty French accent, and perfect deliverance. I can attest to the fact that Ms. Moreau, who guides you through the tour, and asks that you robotically follow her orders and heed her directions, would be capable of getting you to do just about anything she asks. And because I certainly don’t want to spoil the surprise ending, all I will say is that if a handwriting and DNA analyst were hired, there would undoubtedly be many red faced high profile fashion insiders. “Be careful what you wish for” is my advice (you will soon know what I mean).

And speaking of the iconic Chanel handbag, with money being so tight these days, there are probably not too many women who are going to spend thousands of dollars on a Chanel handbag (or the limited edition versions, which were conceived in conjunction with the exhibit, with price tags into the 5 figures). But if you take a tip from the recent Chanel spring 2009 runway, you will see that carrying a ‘real’ Chanel bag might not set you back as much as you thought. In fact, it might not cost you a dime. During the course of the runway show, a bag that was made to resemble the iconic Chanel shopping bag appeared as an accessory. While it was done in leather, you can achieve almost the same effect by just popping into a Chanel store, and asking a favorite sales woman for a Chanel shopping bag. In gleaming black laminated paper with Chanel printed in white, it is a dead ringer for the real deal and would nicely do the trick should you crave that Chanel ‘fix’.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reality ‘Check’

Michael by Michael Kors above-the-knee belted coat with matching belt from

It’s hard to ignore the unrelenting news about our current economic disaster. Countless articles in newspapers and segments on local news stations, have been daily reporting on the abruptly changing spending habits of the consumer, and more than a few have reported on the epidemic of rash returns (those who felt guilty about spending money on anything not deemed a ‘necessity’ and quickly went back to return the item).

It is a challenging time to be involved in fashion. But having said that, I always love pointing out (not that I have to since everyone knows this by now) that having personal style, and looking great, is not predicated on spending an arm and a leg (in fact, you needn’t buy anything new if you are creative and think of new ways to wear favorite standbys and move around pieces in your closets). Most often, I use the fashion shows as a point of reference, taking tricks from the runways and applying them to my own pieces (which seems to be all the more pertinent now).

Nordstrom’s 'Coffee Shop’ low belted houndstooth jacket

I have always loved the timeless appeal of black and white, but for many reasons, (which I enumerate in detail in my market report covering the spring 2009 collections, which should be up and running shortly), it seems all the more appealing now. Even the most basic basics can be made distinctive with just a few creative tricks. In addition, black and white always looks smart, intelligent, cool, and of course, works with all those basic black, or basic white pants, leggings, turtlenecks, t’s, shirts, which we all have hanging in our closets. And if you think the severe, pared down color combo can get boring or a bit repetitious, you can always add a punch of color (nothing looks better with black and white than red, chrome yellow, green, royal blue, hot pink, or even chic neutrals like beige, navy, brown, and gray). And sometimes it’s all about a great look-changing accessory.

Just to give you a few good examples of my most favorite recent purchases: the black and white ‘Ollie’ oxfords from which were on sale over the summer and cost about $18 (and never fail to elicit compliments), and a two toned wide cinch belt I found at the Express ( store at the South Street Seaport, on sale for $11 (wide black elastic with a gleaming white patent buckle). When I tried it on with several black coats, I found it instantly transformed them and added much needed pizzazz. While there, I also discovered a chic back belted pea jacket done in an oversized black and white houndstooth, lined in lipstick red, which is priced at $198. (I never met a check I didn’t like)

Speaking of which, the weather is about to abruptly change and that means it’s time to think about a coat. So, if you are not among those who have sworn off buy anything, but you’re just trying to be frugal, I have some suggestions that won’t set you back more than $225 (and some cases will cost under $100). Aside from the reasonable price and their short (above the knee and higher) versatile lengths, what these coats have in common is that they are all rendered in that always wonderful combination of black and white: more specifically, variations on the classic, timeless houndstooth check.

Target’s belted black and white houndstooth coat

If you click on to, you will find Via Spiga’s houndstooth ‘Carso’ belted coat ($225); a Michael by Michael Kors above the knee belted coat with matching belt ($178.50); and Soia & Kyo’s short belted coat for $183.60. Macy’s ( is offering an exclusive Tommy Hilfiger black and white houndstooth trench for $198, and Nordstrom’s has Coffee Shops’ low belted houndstooth jacket ($98). But for the money, nothing can beat Target’s belted black and white houndstooth coat (which looks similar to Michael’s) which is priced at $59.99.

Some good suggestions for accessories if you want to keep the black and white theme going and want to make it graphic: Target has Merona’s black and white striped and solid black long sleeved cotton turtlenecks ($9.99) which are perfect for layering, and within the new Jonathan Saunders collection, there is a black and white color block sleeveless cotton ‘tuxedo’ blouse which comes with a narrow chrome yellow belt ($24.99). Payless is offering (, a graphic buffalo checked fringed scarf ($12.99), a knitted black and white striped narrow scarf with fringed trim ($9.99), both of which you might want to buy in duplicates to make them a bit more luxurious, and Alice + Olivia’s chic spectator style white canvas messenger bag trimmed with black patent leather ($40).

Believe me, these are just a few suggestions. “Seek and ye shall find!”

-Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

“Geoffrey Beene – An American Fashion Rebel”

The late designer was remembered last evening at the CFDA’s celebration of the publication “Geoffrey Beene – An American Fashion Rebel.” The CFDA book, written by Kim Hastreiter (co-founder and co-editor of PAPER magazine), is published by ASSOULINE Inc. Kim, who was busy all night signing books for a never ending line of buyers said, “Mr. Beene inspired me and hopefully this book will inspire others.” It has been just over four years since Geoffrey Beene’s passing and Ms. Hastreiter’s tribute to the great designer attracted a vast and diverse crowd of his admirers.

The party took place at Diane von Furstenberg’s store on West 14th Street. Among the attendees were; Kim Hastreiter, Mickey Boardman, Diane von Furstenberg, Stan Herman, Yeohlee Teng, Ralph Rucci, Ronaldus Shamask, J. Mendel, Bill Cunningham, Randy Brooke (whose 1992 Beene photo is used for the cover), Carlos Falchi, Joan Vass, Richard Mauro, Ruth Finley, Koos van den Akker, Jeffrey Banks, Yigal Azrouel, Adi, Ange & Gabi (Three as Four).

Geoffrey Beene was known for his originality, staying true to himself and not following the rules. The “rebel” emerged when Beene dropped out of medical school as he realized his passion while sketching dresses in his Grey’s Anatomy book. His approach to design was sculptural. Thinking and styling in a three dimensional manner rather than flat, he managed to work with the body in unique, flattering ways. This creative vision coupled with his respect for women (due to his Louisiana gentleman upbringing) produced wearable and memorable clothes. Fabric was the key element as Beene determined design based on drape and color. Graphics and geometry were important and the use of the triangle was a constant, showing up in different techniques and treatments. Beene was never afraid to mix the unexpected and although he was quite serious about his work, he infused a sense of wit and humor into his clothes.

Not only was Geoffrey Beene highly regarded as a designer, he was also revered for his philanthropic nature. All net profits from Geoffrey Beene, LLCC fund the philanthropy which now totals more than $140 million. The lead causes are Cancer (over $100 million to the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center) and Scholarships at the CFDA and YMA. Other causes include Heart Disease, Alzheimer's, Protection of Women and Children (Family Violence Prevention Fund), and Protection of Animals Tom Hutton, (President and CEO of Geoffrey Beene, Inc.) through the Foundation helped fund the establishment of the GEOFFREY BEENE DESIGN SCHOLAR AWARD. And in 2007 a $5 million dollar gift greatly expanded the CFDA's core scholarship program.

Fashion misses Geoffrey Beene, however, his work will continue to inspire, influence, and motivate. He will forever be known as a creative icon and Kim’s book is a fitting homage to his legend.

-Stacy Lomman

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

CFDA New Members Party:

Last evening, the CFDA welcomed 28 new members with a cozy cocktail party hosted by Elie Tahari and his wife Rory. The Tahari’s SoHo space is grand and palatial – a far cry from the park benches Mr. Tahari has admitted to sleeping on some 35 years ago when he first arrived from Israel. The mild weather provided a perfect evening for a rooftop party, and a DJ spinned tunes while guests sipped their drinks and took in the spectacular view. Inside, waiters whisked around the floor offering a cornucopia of hors d’oeuvres and Veuve Clicquot Rose. Many invitees filled up on the mini chicken samoasas, bite sized tuna, tiny Peking duck rolls, caviar, etc., then quickly ran home to watch the debate.

Nonetheless, the soiree drew in an “A-list” crowd including: Diane von Furstenberg (CFDA President), Yeohlee Teng, Arnold Scaasi, John Bartlett, Nicole Miller, Robert Lee Morris, Patrick McMullen, Fern Mallis, Martha Stewart, Carlos Falchi, Joan Vass, Richard Mauro, Teri Agins, Joe Boxer, Koos van den Akker, Charles Nolan, Eric Javits, Janis Savitt, Lisa Marsh, Jesse Randall and Stan Herman (former CFDA President).

Founded in 1962, The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. is a non-profit association consisting of 319 of America’s preeminent fashion and accessory designers. 2008 embraces the following new members: Ron Anderson & David Rees (TENTHOUSANDTHINGS), Michael Bastian, Andrew Buckler, Sophie Buhai & Lisa Mayock (VENA CAVA), Rachel Comey, Philip Crangi, Erica Davies (DEVELOPMENT), Holly Dunlap (HOLLYWOULD), Cheryl Finnegan (VIRGINS, SAINTS, & ANGELS), Dana Foley & Anna Corinna Sellinger (FOLEY + CORINNA), Jenni Kayne, Naeem Khan, Eunice Lee (UNIS), Fiona Kotur Marin (KOTUR), Malia Mills, Sandra Muller (LILA GEMS), Thakoon Panichgul, Robin Renzi (ME&RO), Brian Reyes, Loree Rodkin, Kara Ross, Amy Smilovic (TIBI), Sue Stemp, Scott Sternberg (BAND OF OUTSIDERS), Araks Yeramyan.

What makes this organization so special is the commitment and support given to future and established American designers. Diane von Furstenberg writes in her letter (in the 2007 report), “During my first year as President I have tried to protect the best interest of designers and the American fashion industry. Every decision I have made, and will make in the future, is to support the Membership.” Not only does the CFDA recognize and foster design talent, the council has pioneered ‘The Design Piracy Prohibition Act’ protecting original designs for a period of three years from their registration (with the U.S. Copyright Office). Hopefully, this law will help safeguard designers as well as preserve the apparel industry in the United States. That is certainly a cause worth fighting for.

-Stacy Lomman