Sunday, December 14, 2008


Anna Bayle giving homage to fashion’s legendary icon, Yves St. Laurent (Photo:

Beijing, December 6, 2008

Vogue China invited an international coterie of guests to celebrate their third year of its existence. The iconic magazine flew in celebrities from all around the world to give salute to an iconic city - Beijing and an iconic year for China – 2008, in light of the recent success of the Beijing Olympics. Vogue Icons was also a celebration of Vogue magazine’s 116-year old legacy. The glamorous night of icons and icon makers was held at the Park Hyatt Ballroom. The impressive guest list was a cross-section of East and West, fashion and film, society and celebrity.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Vivienne Tam walk the red carpet with Chinese model Du Juan / Kate Moss (Photo:

The red carpet featured the president of CondeNast Asia - James Woolhouse, Chinese actress Maggie Cheung, Japanese soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata, Nina Ricci’s artistic director Olivier Theyskens, movie director Oliver Stone, supermodels headed by Kate Moss, Du Juan, Jessica Stam, Sasha Pivovarova. Even global icons Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse donned the glamour in Chinese-inspired outfits designed by Vivienne Tam.

Black and silver with red and pink bouquets was the setting for Vogue Icons gala dinner

The multi-media program for the evening was an exercise in celebrating the past with the present. The first part defined the iconic status of Vogue magazine with its 116 years of existence. French film actress Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkins of the ‘Birkins bag’ fame took to the stage to talk about what makes an icon. Then Candy Pratts Price, editor-in-chief of presented an award to Kate Moss for her 20 years in fashion. After which, Angelica Cheung, editorial director of Vogue China, applauded the work of Mario Sorrenti, the fashion photographer as an icon maker and China’s very own supermodel, Du Juan. Anna Bayle, the first Asian supermodel, paid homage to one of the greatest fashion icons, legendary Yves St. Laurent. The audience remembered the fashion master’s artistry in reverent silence while they watched curtained screens spanning the length of the ballroom drop from the ceiling, playing images of Monsieur St. Laurent at work in his atelier.

Maggie Cheung, Clemens Lee (GM of Audi) and Angelica Cheung (Vogue Editorial Editor)

Roland Mouret, London based designer, introduced Jennifer Woo of Lane Crawford. The Lane Crawford brand is known to bring international fashion to China. Philip Lim, a new generation Chinese designer, talked about his first Vogue moment. Olivier Theyskens, artistic director of Nina Ricci, introduced China’s beloved icon, film actress Maggie Chung, known for her role in "In The Mood For Love". The dinner came to a satisfying halt after model-actress, Milla Jovovich showed another one of her talents by regaling the glamorous crowd with two songs. After which all the guests were transported to a celebration after-party at the Legation Quarters which was the site of the old American Embassy beside the Tiananmen Square.

Elaborate Chocolate Dessert for Vogue Icon Dinner

The lavish fashion event, organized by Melvin Chua of the Ink Pak Communication Group, was a feat that can rival any gala fete in the Western world. In collaboration with Vogue personnel, Chua orchestrated a 4-day affair of festivities for the international guests. There were limousined tours to the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall and various museums and silk markets in the heart of Beijing. There were dinners at the exclusive China Club and Aman Resort at the Summer Palace.

If the elaborate and elegant Vogue Icons fete is any indication of what China can offer to the international fashion scene after the spectacular and unmatched Beijing Olympics, then we better brace ourselves for what is yet to come. China is on route in the Silk Road of fashion.

-Anna Bayle
(Anna is's contributing beauty editor)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Left: Halston Evening dress Light blue silk jersey 1972-73, USA Right: Chloe (Karl Lagerfeld) Evening dress Off-white cotton knit, white silk chiffon Circa 1977, France

Just as “The Lookonline” commits itself completely to fashion, The Museum at FIT is the only museum in NYC solely dedicated to the art of fashion. Under the direction of Dr. Valerie Steele (chief curator) and the support of the Couture Council, FIT continually brings us creative and informative exhibits that are impeccably displayed and well thought out. Their newest show entitled “Seduction” opened yesterday and will be on display through June 16, 2009.

For her debut at The Museum, curator Colleen Hill (the museums youngest at age 25) takes us on a sensual journey through time covering the past 250 years. I was anxious to ask Ms. Hill what criteria she used to make her selections as I couldn’t imagine the difficulty in narrowing down 250 years into only 70 garments. But, unfortunately she was unable to attend her own premiere. Thankfully, Valerie (Steele) was kind enough to walk me through the exhibition and share with me Colleen’s perspective on the concept she presented to Valerie about a year ago. The process began that long ago and Ms. Hill started her research and the laborious task of reviewing the 50,000 garments in The Museum’s permanent collection!

Left: Irene Cocktail Suit Black velvet, pale pink silk Circa 1950, USA Right: Cristobal Balenciaga Cocktail dress Black lace, black silk, fuchsia silk Circa 1958, France

Seduction is subjective. In other words, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what one person considers seductive may not evoke the same reaction in someone else. This is particularly applicable to fashion. While Colleen chose a fair amount of feminine styles (apparently very much a reflection of her personal taste), that’s not to say something more racy or even raunchy couldn’t be considered seductive as well. In keeping with the theme, one could understand Colleen’s desire to include lingerie. Of course, Valerie supported the idea and said, “I also encouraged lots of shoes!”

Left: Evening slippers Pale blue silk satin, ivory silk, ivory lace Circa 1850, France Right: Evening dress Cream silk taffeta, satin tulle, cording and tassles, black silk ribbon Circa 1865, Scotland

History depicts so distinctly through fashion what was considered seductive during a given period. For example, in modern times we may not consider demurely attired, covered-up bodies to be sexy or risqué but, as Ms. Hill refers to the nineteenth century in her narrative; “The flirtatious swing of a crinoline provided a brief but pleasing glimpse of the ankle and lower calf.” Clearly, seduction is very much linked to the forbidden. I’m reminded of the film “Memoirs of a Geisha” in which the Geisha was told how enticing it was for a man to see a sliver of the inside of her wrist, (should she allow it to be revealed), while pouring tea.

Left: Vivienne Westwood Evening dress Silver leather, silver metallic silk, white chiffon 1988, England Right: Jean Paul Gaultier "Corset" Dress Peach cotton/nylon blend, peach satin Circa 1987, France

Thankfully, we are no longer wearing crinolines or bustles (at least most of us) to enhance our shape but the corset, on the other hand, is timeless and has been utilized, modified and refined since its invention. The corset flattered and whittled the waist into the painfully exaggerated hourglass figure popular in the Victorian Era. McQueen, Westwood and Gaultier are a few current designers who continually draw inspiration from the corset. Fortunately, these styles don’t cause fainting.

Czech designer Sárka Sisková with her dress at right

I love Coleen’s simplistic, to-the-point statement in her narrative; “The proximity of clothing to the body is inherently sensual.” Body conscious apparel doesn’t necessarily need to be tight fitting to be sexy. This concept is perfectly depicted through Czech designer Sárka Sisková’s 2008 evening dress in pink silk chiffon. Apart from the bust, the fabric is draped so that it falls away from the body in soft voluminous folds creating a provocative package. I asked Ms. Sisková (who showed for the first time in NYC this past May at The Museum of Arts & Design), how she got involved with FIT. She responded, “The Museum at FIT is the most fashionable museum in the world!” She contacted Director and Chief Curator, Valerie Steele to ask if she would take a look at her collection and Valerie agreed. Apparently, the meeting resulted in Ms. Sisková’s donation to this exhibition.

Manolo Blahnik Mules White silk brocade, burgundy ostrich feathers 1998, England

Other designers on display (not pictured)include: Azzedine Alaia, Balenciaga (Nicolas Ghesquiere), Calvin Klein (Francisco Costa), Pierre Cardin, Jean Desses, Dolce & Gabbana, Jacques Fath, Galliano (for Dior), Rudi Gernreich, Gucci (Tom Ford), Lanvin (Alber Elbaz), Rick Owens, Jane Regny, Rochas and Arnold Scaasi. There is even a Playboy Bunny costume (ears and all) as well as a few menswear pieces featured (including an ensemble by Ennio Capasa for Costume National Homme). The garments, shoes and accessories are accompanied by photos (one of which is a gift of the Estate of John Rawlings), vintage drawings (such as the black and white Harpers Bazaar sketches from the late 1800’s) and patterned fabric wall hangings. Ms. Hill did a fantastic job on her first show and I look forward to more.

-Stacy Lomman (article & photos)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Wintry Mix

Alexander Calder's “Jealous Husband” necklace

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of what should be a bustling and festive holiday season and the economy is in a disastrous slump (what an understatement!), but as they say, “The show must go on”. And while several highly anticipated and high profile soirees have been canceled (notably Marc Jacobs’ annual Holiday Costume Party, the Neue Galerie Winter Gala, and the Guggenheim's Young Collectors Council Artist's Ball), this looks to be a week of much activity where the fashion calendar is concerned.

As a fan of Alexander Calder (1898-1976), the American born artist known for his three dimensional mobiles and stables, who revolutionized sculpture, and someone who loves bold sculptural jewelry, I was looking forward to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s, “Calder Jewelry” Press Preview (December 9 – March 1, 2009), held yesterday morning. (FYI…while Karl Lagerfeld staged his traveling ‘Mobile Art’ Exhibit in Central Park several months ago, I would call this the ‘real’ Mobile Art Exhibit).

Alexander Calder brass wire necklace, circa 1940

Dramatically installed and perfectly displayed within the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Gallery, Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, it has the distinction of being the first museum presentation “dedicated solely to Calder’s extensive and inventive jewelry”. The approximately 90 pieces (necklaces, bracelets, brooches, belts, tiaras, hair combs), fashioned from admittedly “unlikely materials that he collected or of small metal objects that he bent, hammered, or chiseled” are all unmistakably Calder and had the ability to literally transform the wearer into a living and breathing “work of art”. For Calder, jewelry was just as important as his paintings and sculptures…they represented yet another art form through which he was able to express himself (this is evident in the fact that in 1929, at one of his earliest exhibitions, he showed jewelry alongside sculptural works and drawings).

Alexander Calder's flower necklace

When I asked the show’s ‘organizer’, Jane Adlin, Associate Curator, Department of 19th Century Modern and Contemporary Art, which piece or pieces were her favorites…she didn’t hesitate to identify them: the four pieces (three necklaces, which include “Jealous Husband” and one bracelet) that are part of the Met’s permanent collection. While there were several items I myself would not ‘mind’ owning, I had to agree with Nancy Chilton, head of press for the Met’s Costume Institute, on her choice of most ‘covetable piece: the brass wire, glass, mirror flower necklace (circa 1940).

While unfortunately, the museum has no plans to reproduce any of the amazing pieces, many of which were made for Alexander Calder’s wife, family members and friends, (some of whom, notably Peggy Guggenheim, were captured in blown up black and white photographs showing them wearing the unique pieces), the museum’s gift shop is offering a line of Modern Geometric Jewelry which is in keeping with the Calder aesthetic. Handcrafted from brass (the artist favored brass, steel, and silver, over gold), the 12 pieces (necklaces and earrings) will sell from about $55 - $495.

Photos of Oscar de la Renta by Slavin Vlasic/Getty Images

A few hours later, and a bit further downtown, (if you want to refer to Park Avenue and 63th street as ‘downtown’), Oscar de la Renta unveiled his Pre-Fall 2009 collection (pre fall is becoming more and more important as evidenced by the fact that more and more designers are staging formal runway shows for the press). Amazingly, the invitation called for 1 pm, and when it was over, I looked at my watch and it was 1:19! Can you imagine that? During Fashion Week, a show called for 1 pm would not even begin until about 1:45!!! But then again, Oscar is such a gentleman and never likes to keep his ladies (or gents) waiting.

While the upbeat, well edited, 53 piece collection was not exactly 3-d in the manner of a Calder sculpture, it was highly textural and tactile. It was also polished, pulled together and accessorized to the hilt (bags, boots, pumps, belts, and hats), yet managed to look hip and modern, owing to the reliance on youthful shapes and proportions. Skirts, coats, and dresses were mostly short (just above the knee or a bit higher) and had movement (controlled fullness), and waists were belted to emphasize the shape.

The predominantly chic neutral palette (gray, black, ivory) was sometimes punched up with hits of color or artistic color blocks, and lurex (black or gold) added shimmer to knits (which were used throughout) and sparkled traditional tweeds.

Actually, tweeds were a major statement, and were offered in a myriad of ways, appearing on everything from jackets, tunics, dresses, and coats, to skirts (both long and short). Sometimes, they turned up in multi colored (black, white, gray) patchwork incarnations. The return of the tweed suit was a welcome surprise and notable examples include the black lurex tweed skirt with white tweed trim shown with a black and ivory 4 ply crepe blouse, and the dark grey lurex tweed jacket and matching narrow maxi skirt, which would be a perfect choice for an evening soiree.

There were abbreviated motorcycle jackets in red eel skin, black lurex tweed, metallic embroidered black leather, and studded black silk faille, and lean tunics (in tweed or crepe) were shown belted over full trousers. Interestingly, while furs (especially minks and sables) might have been out in force on show attendees (and some of them were pretty fabulous…baby it was cold outside), they were noticeably absent from the runway (except for a white pieced mink cropped motorcycle jacket where the fur was all but ‘disguised’ as fur, and thrown over a black liquid gazar floor length dress). Instead, there was an abundance of feathers, which were no less dramatic, even transformed into short lengths. A blue and black feather embroidered skirt (full and just above the knee), was shown with a gray merino beaded short sleeved sweater, and several short cocktail dresses (a multi colored feather embroidered, a black and white sequined with feather embroidery, and a black silk taffeta and tulle draped dress with feather embroidery), ended the show, replacing the traditionally lavish ball gowns from seasons past. It’s as though Oscar, like other designers, is predicting less of a need for them in the future, thanks to the economic downturn.

Calvin Klein Pre-Fall 2009 Collection (Photo by Randy Brooke)

Like it or not, there is a new reality, thanks to the recession, and there are bound to be new 'rules' where luxury is concerned. While there are no hard and fast rules about dressing for these times, and I am not trying to pass judgement , I will say that there are certain things that rub me the wrong way right now (such as over the top, billowy ballgowns that are larger than some New York apartments). The Prada holiday windows, on 57th and 5th, featuring black nylon 'windbreakers' (with their subtly jeweled collars), worn over languid evening dresses, (instead of a predictable fur, or highly embellished coat), is a perfect example of something that looks right at this moment in time.

Calvin Klein Pre-Fall 2009 Collection (Photo by Randy Brooke)

Continuing on with that thought, the Pre-Fall 2009 Collections, including those of Oscar de la Renta, and especially Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein, who showed yesterday morning, (with its emphasis on cut, shape, and seasonless fabrics,) as well as the Calder Jewelry exhibit, (where the genius, brilliance, and drama relies not on excessive and drunken ‘bling’ but rather, on the inventive, somewhat primitive and tribal, transformation of materials that are not usually associated with luxury), are also perfectly in tune with the new ‘reality’.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Sunday, December 07, 2008

New Exhibition: Seduction: 250 Years of Sexuality in Fashion

On View at The Museum at FIT in New York
December 9, 2008 – June 16, 2009

Seduction is traditionally defined as an act of temptation and enticement, often sexual in nature. Throughout history, men and women have utilized seductive clothing to enhance physical attractiveness, as well as to convey a sense of power and social status. The Museum at FIT presents Seduction, the first chronological survey to explore 250 years of sexuality in fashion.

Featuring at least seventy looks and forty accessories, Seduction examines the complex relationship between seduction and clothing, presenting a visual history of sexuality, moral standards, and social norms – all observed through the prism of fashion. Examples include a black satin Belle Époque corset, red satin Manolo Blahnik stilettos, and a skintight black leather evening gown by John Galliano for Christian Dior.

Press Preview for Seduction, the first exhibition to explore 250 years of sexuality in fashion.

Open to the public December 9, 2008 through June 16, 2009.
Highlights include:
A black satin Belle Epoque corset
A skintight black leather gown by John Galliano for Christian Dior
Red satin Manolo Blahnik stilettos
Shockingly spare flapper dresses
Gorgeously revealing dresses by Gernreich and Halston
An Armani gown covered in a Swarovski crystal designed and named by Armani
A pink chiffon evening dress by Czech designer Sarka Siskova

TIME/PLACE: Tuesday, December 9, 10:00 am - Noon
The Museum at FIT, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street.
WHO: Czech designer Sarka Siskova; Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT; and Colleen Hill, curator of Seduction, will be available for interviews and tours.
CONTACT: Cheri Fein, 212-217-4700 or

Friday, December 05, 2008

Victoria's Secret 2008 Fashion Show

(All photos copyright c 2008 Randy Brooke for

The Victoria's Secret fashion show was once again photographed for us by Randy Brooke. These special exclusive high resolution images photographed using Canon digital cameras are as good, if not better, than any other photos of the show -- on or off the Internet. Do you remember the days, not too many years ago,when it was said that digital imaging would never take the place of film?

Click here for 16 exclusive images from the show.