Tuesday, November 25, 2008

36th Annual International Emmy Awards

Judith Light in a Nicole Miller dress (All photos: Randy Brooke)

Last night at the Hilton in Manhattan were held the 36th Annual International Emmy Awards. On the red carpet there was a display of different nationalities as well as different fashion designers.

A flurry of guests and celebrities were seen arriving, lending smiles and a gracious air to the photographs and reporters gathered for the occasion. Chaired by Ms Elizabeth Murdoch, Chief Executive and Chairman of the Shine Group, the event was held from an other celebrity-clad event across the street, the premiere of the movie Australia. As a result, 54th street was abuzz with fans, celebrities, police force, etc....

Present were Marcus Schekenberg, Heather Tom, Tamara Tunie, Sam Waterston, John Waters, host Roger Bart, Elaine Chao, Dann Florek, Willie Garson, Malu Mader, Michaela McManus, Kerry O'Maley, Linus Roache, Andrea Roth....

Ms. Luci Cohu wearing Ben De Lisi

One of the winners from last night is Miss Lucy Cohu, a British actress. Best known for her role in the movie "Becoming Jane" and for her career on television, Ms. Cohu was wearing a beautiful black sequined dress by the British designer Ben De Lisi. She won the best actress award for her role in Forgiven, a gritty drama about a suburban housewife who reports her husband for sexually abusing their daughter but later decides to rebuild their lives together.

All the men present were dapper and great looking with either tuxedos or jacket and pants. Overall, black dominated, as usual as is for men, with a touch of grey here and there as seen on the handsome and immensely talented Paul Blackthorne (he is a claimed actor as well as a photographer). As for Lance Reddick, the actor sported a camel colored leather half coat and a dark, elegant and distinguished as usual.

Judith Light, who has captivated audiences worldwide with the TV series "Who's the boss" and who is currently seen on the hit ABC series "Ugly Betty" was all glamour, charm and distinction in a long and satiny gray Nicole Miller dress with an assorted vest.

Cecilia Suarez

Up and coming actress Cecilia Suarez was wearing a very short and unidentified black and red plaid dress cinched with a black belt.

Brenda Asnicar, an Argentine actress nominated for "Patito Feo, la historia mas linda" (Ugly Duckling) was wearing a sweet and graceful pink dress that enhanced her petite and graceful figure. The dress is a design of the Argentine designer Veronica de la Canal.

Kelly Rutherford

Kelly Rutherford, best known for her long running role in Melrose Place, walked the red carpet in a beautiful Catherine Malandrino off-the-shoulder black dress.

Touches of Max Azria were seen here and there in elegant and original outfits here and there. New designers were spotted like Mauzi by Eve (from Germany).

That night saw the first ever victory for Jordan and Argentine. The United Kingdom won 7 Emmys, making it the clear winner of the evening. While across the street... Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston were getting raves and hoorays from bystanders cheering them.

-Muriel Geny-Triffaut

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

‘Spring’ Ahead

Yesterday, I attended Fashion Group International’s (www.fgi.org) comprehensive Spring/Summer 2009 Collections overview. Held at the Time & Life Building, it was sponsored by Cotton, Inc. and MAC Cosmetics. There were 5 scheduled showings, but the midday hour was (and always is) my preferred time slot, as it features a lively and informative panel discussion which follows the audio visual presentation (spearheaded as always, by Marylou Luther, FGI’s fabulous Creative Director).

The “best eyes in the business” (the words used by FGI President Margaret Hayes, in her welcoming address) who not only edited the trend report along with Ms. Luther, but served as committee members and panelists this time around, were Linda Dresner, President, Linda Dresner, Inc.; Sally Singer, Fashion News & Features Director, Vogue; Stephanie Solomon, Vice President & Fashion Director, Bloomingdale’s; Amy Synnott, Beauty Director, InStyle; and Sandra Wilson, Accessories Fashion Director, Neiman Marcus. Special Guest Moderator was the always entertaining and irreverent Simon Doonan, Creative Director, Barneys (whom Ms. Hayes referred to as our “most joyous host”).

It was hardly surprising that the focus this season, was not only on the “really beautiful clothes”, ‘must have’ accessories, and hard to resist beauty offerings, that graced recent international runways, but the way in which the economy and the financial crises has changed everything. Indeed, it’s been impossible to discuss fashion (from any vantage point) and not allude to the difficult times we are all facing….a fact of life that is hitting the retail sector harder perhaps, than any other (though the magazine world is certainly feeling the pinch as well).

The extensive and comprehensive audio visual presentation, narrated by Marylou Luther (who has an amazing way the words and never fails to inject a bit of humor into her prose), began with the rhetorical question: “So how do you dress for the global economic convulsions that seem certain to continue into 2009? Do you want to look standard and poor? Or fortunate 500?”

At the end, she didn’t just itemize the committee’s selections of “those items most likely to sell” (an ongoing feature at this event) but added 4 words “in these cautionary times”: ‘Short’ (from above the knee to mini); ‘Mergers and Acquisitions’ (designers’ unexpected couplings); ‘Foreign Currencies’ (ethnic touches); ‘Hidden Assets’ (re-evaluation of the bra); Net Earnings (transparency); ‘Liquidity’ (shine through sequins, crystals, golden lames, metallics); ‘Leading Indicators’ (geometry is the new fashion math); ‘Futures’ (designers, such as Pierre Cardin, are registering fashion’s future tense); ‘Material Things’ (rumpled, crumpled, wrinkled, crinkled fabrics make news this season); ‘The Manipulators’ (the designer as sculptor); ‘In the Black - and White’ (because graphics look so good, black and white follows); ‘Glamour Stocks’ (some of the most beautiful evening clothes are ‘fringe benefited’); ‘Keep your Pants On’ (jumpsuits and the new cropped pants pegged to the ankles look new this season); ‘Change of A-Dress’ (the sport dress, the shirtdress, the polo dress, and ‘twofers’ abounded this time around); ‘Jackets and Coats’ (oversized boyfriend jackets, sleeveless jackets, trenches, and colored coats are good investments now and forever); ‘Added Values’ (platforms are big shoe news, python is the skin of the season, colored shoes look especially great with no color clothes, and shapely heels make a statement; if you have assets, put your cash in hobos and totes…if you’re strapped for cash get a shoulder strap…in the clutch…get a clutch); ‘Face Value’ (choice is the beauty secret of the season).

At the end of the audio visual presentation, Simon Doonan and the panelists took their place on the stage and Simon wasted no time playfully ‘grilling’ the experts. Simon immediately asked Stephanie Solomon if “price would trump trend”, and her response was unequivocal: “Nothing will ever trump trends at Bloomingdales. Our customers won’t shy away from trends but they will shop competitively”. He then commented that whenever he hears someone saying “I’m shopping in my closet”, it is “horrifying to me…it’s a deranged, grotesque idea”. (While that is THE smart way to go at the moment, as far as I’m concerned, I can certainly understand why this is a ‘horrifying’ notion to any retailer worth his/her salt).

Mr. Doonan then asked Linda Dresner what she can do, as a retailer, to make this practice obsolete.
LD: “It’s important to offer ‘eye candy’, hard to resist items, but our selections must also be functional; wearability is important.”

He then addressed Sandra Wilson, offering that accessories have indeed become a ‘major’ category, especially within these last few years. He asked her which items she thought were the most important this season.
SW: “Aggressive looking shoes with straps”, which are taking over from the “shoe bootie for fall”.

SD: “What about ‘porno’ heels?”
SW: “I think women like a high heel. They make you feel beautiful and sexy”. As for jewelry, “it’s all about bold jewelry, ‘mixed media’, but no one specific trend.”
“I used to say, “If you see it 2 blocks away, it’s fine”. Now I say, “If you see if 4 blocks away, it’s better.”

SD: “What about beauty trends?”
AS: “Lipstick sales have skyrocketed up 40% this past year, especially sales of red lipstick. It’s all about putting on a happy face. Michael Kors used red lips on his spring runway, for the first time in 20 years.”

SD: “How are fashion magazines dealing with the financial crunch?”
SS: “We have been increasingly focused on price even before the market crash. We were in Paris when the stock market collapsed. Our philosophy at Vogue is “Don’t buy less- buy better!” We want designers to bear in mind price but we want them to keep value high. As editors, we have to offer all prices.”

SD: “What in your estimation is a really great trend, and what is horrible and useless?”
SS: “Harem pants are awful, not cool, but I love a sharp shouldered jacket. I bought one in Paris and it changed my attitude..it’s empowering and confident”.

LD: “I love jackets as well, plus sleeveless and ¾ coats. I also love ethnic again (but just a touch), and I love black, and black and white. I hate very aggressive, over decorated shoes”.

SW: “I hate tribal headware but I love large scaled jewelry (necklaces, earrings, an armload of bangles the way Marc Jacobs did it a Louis Vuitton).

AS: “I hate two extremes: no makeup as it was shown at Marni, which I refer to as the ‘depression face’, and I hate overdone makeup, which was shown at Louis Vuitton. I like a happy medium the way Diane Von Furstenberg did it with a smoky eye and pale pink lips.

SS: “I don’t like droopy pants or jumpsuits but I do like a new shoe in nude or clear which extends the leg. I also love the idea of intuitive dressing (a la Marc Jacobs for his eponymous New York label and for Louis Vuitton in Paris). It’s predicated on something that is personal, a ‘joyous jumble’ that is all about confidentially mixing it all up, rather than a specific reference point. Why play it safe now? This is a good time to have fun.”

All I can say is: touché!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Gilding the Lilly

(All photos Stacy Lomman)

For Lilly Pulitzer (http://lillypulitzer.com), what started as a fruit juice stand in Palm Beach, Florida, became one of the true American classics. But hers was not a rags to riches story, but rather, a ‘riches’ to ‘riches’ story. According to the online biography, "As a young, sassy New York socialite, Lilly Pulitzer moved to Palm Beach as the young bride of Peter Pulitzer, grandson of Pulitzer Prize’s Joseph Pulitzer and owner of several Florida citrus groves.

Enterprising and creative, young Lilly decided to open a juice stand on Via Mizner, just off Worth Avenue in Palm Beach in 1960. With women’s liberation still in its infancy during those days, it was quite literally unheard of for a member of the social set to have a "business," so Lilly’s move was quite novel and revolutionary at the same time.

Needless to say, the business was a big hit, with one minor problem, Lilly’s clothes were usually a mess at the end of the day after squeezing oranges, lemons, limes and pink grapefruits. To solve the pesky problem, Lilly created a dress camouflaging the stains – a comfortable sleeveless shift made of bright, colorful printed cotton in pink, yellow and orange. It was destined to become Lilly’s first "Classic Shift." Pretty soon, Lilly was selling both fruit juice and dresses. When then First Lady Jackie Kennedy, who was an old school chum of Lilly, wore the dress in a feature at Life Magazine, the whole U.S. discovered "Lilly’s." and the rest is history or should I say, ‘her’ story

The 1960s and 1970s became the heyday of the brand with Lilly Pulitzer freestanding stores opening in luxury resorts. In 1984, Lilly retired, and the doors of "Lilly’s" would be closed for the next two decades. In January 1993, the Lilly Pulitzer line was revived, and reintroduced to a whole new generation of devoted fans. Available in 75 signature shops and specialty stores nationwide, "Lilly’s" is continuously gaining back its popularity to rival its heydays."

When a famed iconic American label boasting a rich heritage and celebrated clientele turns 50, you can bet there will be a golden anniversary ‘blowout’ to remember. And when the brand is synonymous with joyous, exuberant colors and patterns, so much the better, especially at a time when there is the feeling of doom and gloom thanks to the current economic disaster (ban the black already!) (Of course, there were many who found themselves in an upbeat mood yesterday, in the aftermath of our historic election and the confirmation that the first African American had in fact been elected as President of the United States).

The Lilly Pulitzer 50th Anniversary Jubilee Kick-Off Party and unveiling of Jubilee Retrospective, benefitting CARE, was held last evening at the Parsons New School for Design on 13th street and 5th Avenue. In fact, that little sliver of the city was ‘turned’ into Palm Beach for a couple of hours.

Hosted by Lilly Pulitzer, Parsons The New School of Design, Dean Tim Marshall, and Parsons Board of Governors including Sheila C. Johnson, the event was attended by a throng of loyal Lilly Pulitzer fans (including celebrated New York social fixtures such as Somers and Jonathan Farkas, Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman, Alexandra Lebenthal, Carol Mack, Hillary Dick, Cynthia and Dan Lufkin, Jeffrey Chow, Pamela Fiori, Debbie Bancroft, designers Jeffrey Banks, Adrienne Vittadini, Steven Stolman, Michelle Smith (Milly), and more.) And while there were a few who ‘stubbornly’ dressed in chic urban black, unsurprisingly, many more paid homage by wearing their festive Palm Beach Lillies (and that includes the guys). Actually, it was often hard to tell the guests from the dress forms scattered throughout the large space, which were bedecked in designs spanning the past 50 years.

The open bars were overflowing with Pink (what else?) by Yellowglen Champagne and Hendrick’s Gin, and guests mingled as they took in the gallery like display of signature textiles which were framed like precious works of art, as well as blown up articles and photos from iconic magazines like Life and Look, chronicling the meteoric rise of the company (including the famous one, which I made mention of previously, of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wearing her Lilly shift dress).

To mark the occasion, a limited-edition Lilly-printed Steinway & Sons piano (which was part of the live entertainment) and a limited-edition Lilly-printed Jeep Wrangler (which was parked right outside on 5th Avenue) were designed exclusively for the Jubilee.

-Marilyn Kirschner & Stacy Lomman