Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscars 2009 Report

Oscars 2009: 'The Last Word'

Our Entertainment editor Diane Clehane, a consummate insider who contributes to People Magazine, Variety, TV Guide among others, once again gives us her "inside take" on the Oscars. Her report is a very informed and a bit snarky take on what goes on "behind the seams" at the event -- so don't miss it! Click here for full article

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Ralphs

Ralph Rucci Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

I decided to start with what I saw last, not first, not only because it seems everyone else is reversing orders these days (though who really cares about ‘everyone else’?), and because I didn’t feel like ‘saving the best for last.’

Chado Ralph Rucci is always one of the most long awaited shows of the week for me (and I’m not the only one who shares that opinion). Not only because it symbolizes the close of the New York Collections, but because you know you are in for a rare treat. I always wait in anticipation to see what this master craftsman and couturier has up his ‘sleeves’. And as it turns out, one can say that literally, since the sleeves of jackets held a “special place” in this collection, and were an area of much interest, focus and experimentation. (According to the program notes, in many cases, sleeves, for both day and evening wear, in a variety of fabrics including fur, cashmere and satin duchesse, began at the center back of a fitted torso and then “undulated forward and outward, creating a spiral effect around the arm to form a pronounced curve”.)

But there was something else that was obviously on RR’s mind, other than sleeves- SEX. Not only was this one of Ralph’s most modern, simplified (well, as simple as it can be for such a tireless creator and perfectionist), stripped down, and perfectly executed collections, it was one of his most body conscious, and pretty darn sexy at that. It oozed sex, but relying on the hint and suggestion of nudity, it was not in a vulgar obvious way, but in a refined and elegant way), as exemplified by the black and white zebra shrug shown over a black velvet jumpsuit whose bodice looked sheer but had a strategically placed self ‘pattern’ mimicking the zebra stripe; the black double faced wool crepe on nude silk tulle foundation jacket which had a seductive spider web effect; the black feathered floor length ‘cage’ shown over a caviar beaded jumpsuit, which had the look of an insanely luxurious nightgown. And then there were the pieces given names like, ‘silk tulle fetish jacket’, and the ‘sable and silk tulle fetish coat (to me the ‘fetish’ pattern was somewhat box like and resembled a shadow plaid). When I went backstage to congratulate Ralph after the show (me and hundreds others)….I couldn’t resist making my observations known and asked him if he had sex on his mind. He smiled a wicked smile and answered, “Constantly!”

Ralph Rucci Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

In addition to the sleeves and the sex, other themes that stood out were the lean black wool jersey jumpsuits (one actually began the show and others were perfect ‘foundations’ beneath something else); the textured rainwear, quilted to resemble reptile skin (how chic are those?); the quilted and slashed black nylon balmacaan, bordered with black patent leather; the tulle insets on jackets and coats in double faced cashmere; the leather embroidery and leather braiding; the chinchillas and sables; and of course, the dramatic and signature silk gazar, chiffon, and organza gowns printed with screens from Ralph’s own paintings and blown up photographs of 7th Century Khmer statuary. One word of caution: they look amazing on the beautiful young models who wore them on the runway, but I would stay away from them if your face in any way resembles that of the statues. Sleek, sexy, over the knee boots (leather, suede, alligator) by Vanessa Noel, architecturally shaped bags by Leonello Borghi, fingerless leather gloves by Samantha Storto, and cool Lucite (or plastic) ‘headbands’ which had the effect of a sporty and sexy ski goggle (all of which were made expressly for Chado Ralph Rucci), were the only accessories shown. By the way, this was the first time a middle aisle was eliminated at the Tent in Bryant Park, opening up the runway but giving the presentation a different look and feel, and making the venue seem a little less intimate and personal.

Ralph Lauren Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

Ralph Lauren held his two back to back shows at the Skylight Studio yesterday morning. While he began the show with a group in black (a short black cocktail dress, several long black gowns, a long black beaded skirt, double face wool sweater and wrap jacket), these evening pieces were not representative of what was to follow. Nor did they set the mood for a collection whose strong points were its decidedly vintage flavor, predominantly monochromatic, tonal neutral color palette with an emphasis on browns, beiges, and especially winter white (it was here where fabric mixes, including the use of Mongolian lamb, was especially effective), or one that capitalized on Ralph's strengths when it comes to mixing metaphors: masculine and feminine, old and new, soft and hard, day and evening, tough and delicate. And in a season of tweeds, well. RL almost ‘owns’ them so it’s not surprising that he focused on herringbone and Donegal tweeds, offhandedly putting them together to create something a bit more personal, eclectic, and unexpected (that eccentric glamour ‘thing’ that has been seen on so many other runways hit just the right chord here as well).

Ralph Lauren Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

As such, the collection could have been called, Ralph’s Greatest Hits, which is not a bad thing, filled as it was with smart tailleur, perfectly tailored jackets, vests, well cut trousers, lean jodhpurs, great coats (standouts were the brown wool and cashmere patchwork coats), hand knit cashmeres, beautiful vintage silk organza blouses, vintage velvet separates, shearlings, languid charmeuse and georgette beaded gowns. Among my favorite looks were the brown wool cashmere patchwork coat shown over a lovat tweed vest, brown cashmere and wool fairisle sweater, and tan cavalry twill pants, and a similar version ‘thrown’ over a languid honey charmeuse beaded gown; the fur collared brown Donegal windowpane tweed vest, brown Donegal cashmere sweater, honey silk voile blouse, and tan cavalry twill pant; the lovat elongated Donegal cardigan worn with a honey silk charmeuse beaded short ‘flapper-esque’ dress; the cream Mongolian shearling jacket, antique cream cashmere hand knit sweater, vintage cram silk organza blouse, and winter white velvet pant

By the way, I thought I would thank all the guys from Citadel Security, headed up by Ty Yorio, for doing their jobs in the most professional way and never losing their cool (read our interview with Ty Yorio). And I’d like to thank McDonalds, who certainly advanced their ‘cause’ and upped their profile, with the little coffee café, McCafe, set up at the Bryant Park Tents. Not only were all the employees gracious and considerate, (smiling and greeting you upon entering, asking what you wanted, making you feel comfortable, etc.), but there was usually a place to sit, and the coffee (espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolate) custom made to order, were great -- and better yet, they were free!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, February 20, 2009

Color My World

Isaac Mizrahi Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

What’s there not to like about a collection entitled, 'Smile: Fall 2009’? Where the clothes are broken up into three groups: De Nile, Lucky Charms, and Nuts + Bolts; where blanket coats are given names like ‘Blankie’ and ‘Horse Blankie’; where a pea jacket in oversized proportions sporting extra large gold buttons is labeled ‘Extra Happy Peacoat’; where exuberantly patterned, colorful knitwear is called ‘Fuzzy’ and ‘Cozy’; where tartan plaid dresses, skirts, and pants (in a few cases beaded), are entitled ‘Plaid Therapy’, ‘Multiclan’, and ‘Butterscotch Lozenge’; and where shimmering silver coats, (that quite frankly, look exactly like Reynolds’ Wrap), are actually called ‘Wreynold’s Wrap’ and ‘Silver Foil’? Welcome to the exuberant, joyful, madcap world of Isaac Mizrahi who returned to the tents (the New York Public Library to be exact) to stage his upbeat 40 piece Isaac Mizrahi New York collection which had everybody smiling on the way out. Who needs Prozac or Valium when you can have Isaac Mizrahi?

Isaac Mizrahi Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

To all those sad, dour looking people seated in the front row (who never crack a smile, who take themselves, everyone else, and fashion, oh so seriously): put that in your pipe and smoke it. Simply put, Isaac really ‘nailed’ it. The quick tempoed presentation was pure Isaac all the way. From the eccentric, whimsical, and unexpected touches (like using open toed flip flops to accessorize winter clothes, or turning ladylike suede and leather satchels into hats), one never knows what to expect from Isaac, accept of course the unexpected. That and a tweaking of the classics, the playing with color and proportion, and an irreverent and intelligent sense of humor that thankfully, is never at the expense of the customer.

Calvin Klein Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

As absent as black was from the fall 2009 Isaac Mizrahi runway (there were a couple of black dresses but they were few and far between), that is how completely filled with black Francisco Costa’s Calvin Klein collection, presented yesterday afternoon at two back-to-back showings. In fact, out of the 35 pieces, there was only a mere handful that were not noir: dresses and coats in ivory/black degrade painted velvet or crackle paillete; a coat in ivory/black crackle printed shearling; a dress in ivory/black crackle paillette embroidered lace and a few laser cut velvet or slim mesh geometric velvet appliquéd evening dresses in sulphite (chartreuse) and juniper (a darker green). And it made quite a powerful, strong statement.

Calvin Klein Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

It was a study in black and a textbook case of how many things a designer can do with black to keep it from being dull and make it look interesting, thanks to innovative, sculptural cuts and the texture mixes and surface interest inherent in the amazing fabrication (black wool/silk jacquard, mohair jacquard, stretch silk crepe, crochet, hammered cashmere, embroidered wool, mosaic embroidered techno jersey, washed crystal bonded wool, felted wool, laser cut wool and silk, etc). The recurring theme was asymmetry (one shouldered or one sleeved dresses, uneven lapels), and there were cutaway or curved crescent hemlines, panels, and flaps which found their way on jackets and coats. Though dresses were cut close to the body, there was a noticeably elongated, eased up proportion. This was most notable in Mr. Costa’s terrific strong shouldered jackets which feature uneven, dropped notched lapels, roomier armholes, often buttoning low at the hip to further attenuate the proportion. Worn with a knee length panel pencil skirt, a crescent hem skirt, or especially, the fuller, cropped drawstring waist trouser, they formed the basis for a new suit. The outerwear was also stellar, including the contour detail pea coats, and painted velvet or crackle print shearing coats. There were no accessories shown on the runway, save for the black hair bands (the models wore their hair pulled back in loose chignons), and of course, the footwear (a high heeled open heel short boot, a Mary Jane pump, and an open heeled sandal in a variety of fabrics).

Brian Reyes Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

I loved Brian Reyes’s chic and sophisticated, nature inspired (stone quarries from around the world to be exact) 31 piece collection. From the innovative cuts, exacting attention to detail, strong tailoring, angular trench coats, to his beautiful cocktail dresses and evening gowns, it had a singular vision and a point of view. But it was his way with prints (very subtle as if lifted from nature) that really stood out. Particularly, the unique marbleized print that found its way onto several draped dresses and gowns. It was beautifully accessorized with knockout pieces by Roxanne Assoulin for Brian Reyes, and Manolo Blahnik’s towering heels, which unfortunately, proved to be impossible to walk in. At the beginning, one model almost fell and wound up taking the shoes off; by the finale, all the models were walking barefoot.

In the meanwhile, I realized I forgot to mention something yesterday, when I was talking about muses and inspirations. Noticeably absent from the tents this season was Shail Upadhya, the Nepalese gentleman who has in previous years, religiously shown up during Fashion Week, wearing head to toe outlandish, graphic, and eye popping ensembles of his own design. They ran the gamut from acid brights, oversized florals, and bold awning stripes, to graffiti like prints, or recolored camouflage (sometimes mixed together). Serious fashion insiders might have waved him off as just an eccentric attention seeker, but he was photographed all the time and became somewhat of a ‘celebrity’ in these past few years. Well, from the look of things on the runways (bright colors, bold pattern mixes, eccentric headwear), he was way ahead of his time. Even Narciso Rodriguez showed a graphic black and white camouflage ensemble in his most recent fall 2009 runway show). Who’s laughing now?

-Marilyn Kirschner

Zac Posen

Zac Posen Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to appreciate Zac Posen’s creativity and perhaps I’ve even become a slight fan of the very young and very well connected designer. I believe it takes time to establish ones identity and to find ones niche in the world of fashion, and Zac has been getting closer and closer. That said; I was quite looking forward to his show last night. I knew I was in for something grandiose when I entered the tent and noticed a curious, large black cover stretched down the center of the venue. I walked past Anna Wintour, Hal Rubenstein and Hamish Bowles. Just as I turned to take my seat I saw Sandra Bernhard, Rachel Bilson (The O.C.) and Claire Danes sitting upfront, smiling for Patrick McMullan and Bill Cunningham. Across the way, I spotted Suzy Menkes, Glenda Bailey, Linda Fargo and Andre Leon Talley (difficult to miss, bedazzled in rhinestones!). “Miss J.” Alexander posed for the cameras in the aisle next to me when suddenly, a mad frenzy of flash bulbs attacked (the likes of which I’d never seen). Apparently, Nicole Richie is a celebrity with whom we’re still interested?? Or better yet, Nicole Richie is still a celebrity?

After my eyes finally adjusted and I stopped seeing large spots, I watched the black cover being drawn back to reveal five Steinway & Sons pianos -- another live performance at a show. This time, rather than a rock band, we were treated to a concert by “The 5 Browns,” a brothers and sisters group of virtuosos that played at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. The pianos set the stage for what I assumed would be an elegant and sophisticated collection. I skimmed through the show notes and anticipated opulence when I read descriptions such as -- golden optic lace; silver metallic jacquard; jeweled rose mink and floral coat; scarlet chiffon Valentine gown. Yes, the collection was definitely opulent but, excessive as well. Many looks were too busy or contrived. Dresses were laden with fabric in the form of cascading ruffles, cowls, crumb catchers, layers, folds, gathers and gores. That’s not to say that the precocious Mr. Posen didn’t have some stunners glide down the catwalk. No question, Zac is a talented designer. His draping and tailoring are superior but, I craved something more scaled back and refined.

“The collection draws on turn-of-the-century romanticism mixed with the heightened feminine silhouettes of the 1940’s.” This quote is a portion of Zac’s introduction to his Fall 2009 Collection. While I saw his vision so clearly in some pieces, I completely lost it in many others. 80’s silhouettes and “Dynasty” dresses seemed to veer off the theme. Zac placed emphasis on the shoulder both with size (which has been getting more padded over the past couple seasons), and with sleeve treatment. He seemed to focus equally on collars (as have other designers) – they stood high and were stacked with ruffles.

Several key designers showed clean, pure brights and a lot of black this week, while Zac Posen seemed to march to the beat of his own drummer. He offered mostly soft, muted, dusty tones which he brightened up with gold and silver metallic. Approximately half way through, he introduced shades of violet and scarlet as well as a fair amount mixing and matching of ditsy floral prints. Zac chose fabrics rich in texture and shine and I appreciated the textiles so much, I forgave the overburdened silhouettes. I preferred ensembles such as; the sleek, grey wool trousers paired with a fitted jacket that looked fresh with a narrow shawl collar, slightly padded shoulders and blouson sleeves; the antique gold jacquard liberty gown; the gingersnap plaid trench coat. Actually, the backgammon pattern mink coat was quite visually interesting as well.

The forty-four looks in the collection were definitely a labor of love – the workmanship was exquisite and the fabric research must have been intensive. As I stated already, Mr. Posen showcased some gorgeous pieces but, overall this wasn’t one of my favorite collections this week.
-Stacy Lomman


Ports Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

Ports Fall 2009 show was held at Bryant Park at the Promenade on February 19th. This time, Tia Cibani's creations speak of India in all its splendor and glory at the time of the Mughal Dynasty.

All 36 designs were perfectly evocative of luxurious times with sumptuous fabrics paired with details seldom used anymore in the industry. With a very well written and descriptive press release, I took time to learn a lot about the infinite details put together to come with rich and elaborate clothes. From intricate patters bearing metal bullion thread to horn and polished glass buttons, the whole collection is a vibrant rendering of Ms Cibani's inspiration, namely a legendary empress of Persian descent named Nur Jahan.

For daytime, the clothes were mostly constructed with wool gabardine, wool crepes, hardy twills, custom printed chiffons and crisp organdi. The colors were muted at times with coats that framed the silhouette with impeccable and masculine tailoring. The designer seems to have enjoyed alternating between tight fitting designs that rather demand a great line, and the strict and unincumbered masculine outline. Vibrantly dyed fabrics were the stars of the show, an infusion of color here and there with fitted bodices or flowing shapes.

I didn't care much for the salwar ( harem) trousers, that, in my opinion were not tailored in a way to flatter the woman's body. And some dresses seemed to be wearable only by someone sporting a size 0. A hard feat in an industry where the average woman's size is a 14.

In an ironic twist, my favorite piece is "Danielle", which consists of a Damask bolero, a dhotti black skirt and a salwar (harem) trouser with a black cap and black scarf. The pairing of accessories and clothing elements made for a very sophisticated yet edgy and modern look.

The evening wear was composed of rich gold and lames, sequins and flourishing adornments just about everywhere. A beautiful piece worthy of many compliments is "Anastasia", a delicately patterned blouse with an extraordinary azalea colored velvet sharara trouser.. The blouse frames the upper body with a hint of color and pattern on an otherwise delicate fabric, and the trouser seems amazingly easy to wear with all their lushness and vibrancy; not many women would not look beautiful in this ensemble

While the runaway show was taking place, in the background was the music provided by the live band Red Baraat which consists of five band members, including its founder Sunny Jain playing the traditional Indian Dhol. The music was joyous and lively, a perfect backdrop for all this display of grandeur, art, culture and very well executed design.

-Muriel Geny-Triffaut

Douglas Hannant

Douglas Hannant Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: Isabelle Erb)

Douglas Hannant is a designer who can always be relied on to create impeccably tailored clothes crafted from the finest materials. Yesterday’s gathering for the Fall 2009 fashion show took place at the newly renovated Plaza Hotel. It was attended by the usual “A” list socialites seated side-by-side with the fashion press in the hotel’s Edwardian Room.

In his new collection, the designer pays tribute to the style and elegance of a time gone by. Hairstylist Warren Tricomi styled the models with a sophisticated up-do reminiscent of the late 50’s and early 60’s (think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Make up artist Vincent Longo updated the dramatic heavily lined eye that was so popular at the time, to give the models a clean, fresh look.

One of Hannant’s first offerings was a Double Face Knit Dress in Pistachio and Grey. Its shape was figure flattering and the contrasting colors worked well together. A black and white hounds tooth dress looked very smart and elegant and a burnt orange suede coat, in a color Hannant called Paprika, seemed as though Audrey Hepburn herself might have worn it.

Hannant’s eveningwear is traditionally the icing on the cake of his collection and yesterday’s show was no exception. He showed several glamorous looks in a variety of styles and fabrics. My favorites were the slinky satin gowns that exuded old world elegance and the richly textured Plum Silk Jacquard Strapless Gown.

Guests who attended the show were provided with a gift card to be used in the Plaza’s new retail shops and a black bag containing Vincent Longo cosmetics.

- Rhonda Erb

Daily Bet:

Baby G by Casio

No matter what your life style is, Casio has a watch for you. This Baby G watch is playful, yet slim and stylish. The bright orange color is sure to get you noticed.

Casio BG2000-4 Watch

- Rhonda Erb

Thursday, February 19, 2009

“All Dressed Up and Somewhere To Go”

From left: Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs, John Myhre and Harold Koda

What could be better for an avid fashion and art aficionado (my major in college), than merging both worlds and in the process, feeling as though you have the awesome Metropolitan Museum of Art all to yourself? (well… almost to yourself).

I was extended an invitation to attend an early morning press preview (for The Costume Institute’s upcoming exhibit (May 6 – August 9, 2009) “The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion”,

Underwritten by Marc Jacobs with additional support provided by Conde Nast, this will be accompanied by a gala, (long considered to be ‘The Party of the Year’) to be held on May 4th, with Honorary Chair Marc Jacobs and Co-chairs Kate Moss, Justin Timberlake, and Anna Wintour.

The event was called for 8:30 a.m., with comments by Thomas P. Campbell, Director; Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, The Costume Institute; John Myhre, Creative Consultant; and designer Marc Jacobs) to begin at 8:45 and unsurprisingly, the press conference started precisely on time since the 80 or so invited guests (members of the press including international figures like Suzy Menkes and Hilary Alexander) had to make it to their early morning shows. After coffee and a light breakfast, we were led into the Velez Blanco Patio, where a blown up black and white image of the most famous ‘supermodels’ in the world (Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford) served as a backdrop for those taking the podium. Photographed by Peter Lindbergh for British Vogue, January 1990, the gals were all dressed in Giorgio di Sant’Angelo bodysuits, and across the room, there were 13 dress forms clad in the late designer’s iconic and dramatically draped silk stretch mesh gowns, (Donated by Martin F. Price, they made quite a statement and served as a teaser of what is to come).

Thomas Campbell was introduced by Elyse Topalian and talked about the muses of the fashion world that will be the subject of the exhibit: those models who inspired designers, photographers, and the men and women who wear their work. He thanked Marc Jacobs (whom he called a “creative genius”) and Anna Wintour, for their support of the exhibition.

Harold Koda then took the podium and discussed how this exhibit will explore the fashion muse through a 50 year period beginning with Christian Dior’s New in 1947 and said the women were primarily editorial models, mainly in American magazines, and referred to the “memorable images from editorial coverage”. He divided the periods as such: 1- 1947, ‘The Golden Years’ exemplified by Dovima, Dorian Leigh, Suzy Parker; 2- The 60’s ‘Youthquake’ (Jean Shrimpton), ‘Exotic’ (Veruschka); 3- 1967 – 1977 (“The most challenging period”. At Vogue, this saw a new athleticized ideal epitomized by Patti Hansen and Lisa Taylor; 4- The 1980’s and the ‘birth’ of the ‘Supermodels’; 5- The 1990’s and “the connection with our sponsor”. Harold Koda was referring to the “ultimate supermodel” Kate Moss who made her debut in that “defining moment”, Marc Jacobs’ groundbreaking ‘Grunge’ Collection for Perry Ellis in 1992; 6- “The Branded Body” (the symbiotic relationship of models in fashion advertising). Mr. Koda also told the crowd that the one thing Marc Jacobs requested about the exhibit was “to make it fun”.

John Myhre got up and described in quick detail about how the exhibit will be laid out, and then Marc Jacobs took the podium, dressed in his new ‘uniform’ of choice: a fitted dark gray cashmere pullover and black kilt. His controversial, love it or hate it fall collection over, he looked relaxed and ready for Paris where he shows Louis Vuitton, yet he seemed a bit nervous as he read from his short and to the point prepared notes.

Though Marc admitted, “I am always inspired by the models that come into our offices”, he wasted no time in identifying the ‘ultimate supermodel’ Kate Moss. “She was the energy that brought the clothes to life”, “she defined a time, a feeling” he said, in reference to that ‘grunge’ collection. In closing, he quoted the late Yves St. Laurent, (who obviously served as a muse of sorts for his recent resort 2009 collection) “A good model can advance fashion by 10 years.”

And speaking of muses and inspiration, it’s hard to forget how much of an inspiration the late Stephen Sprouse has been for Marc, ever since they collaborated together for Louis Vuitton. And most recently, Marc’s use of those 80’s inspired acid brights, had many of us thinking about Sprouse again. (As usual, it got all of us talking, and disagreeing. WWD thought it was brilliant, and others, like The New York Times’ Cathy Horyn, said it was hard to find something to like about it). But whatever your take, the one thing that is obvious, is that color is officially ‘back’.

Michael Kors Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

It’s not exactly a revolutionary observation that color elicits an emotional response and the use of color in fashion can go a long way in curing the blues. They are invariably crowd pleasers and certainly had people clapping at Michael Kors yesterday morning (especially when that neon pink double face cashgora melton coat and matching cashmere tunic came down the runway). Of course, Michael opened the show with a chic black wool satin trench coat followed by a black cashmere reefer and it wasn’t until #8 that he got into color (an acid shredded fox coat and matching cashmere dress. What made his use of color successful, was that there was nothing especially cartoonish about the rather classic, pared down, simplified shapes (no football shoulders here) that were used.

Michael’s 71 piece collection (with nary a long dress, print, or pattern, in sight) made a case for projecting a strong, optimistic, positive image, even if the economy has all of us sitting on pins and needles and feeling down. It was all about the philosophy of “looking good is the best revenge”. The focus this time was on a decidedly dressed up, architectural, structured, sculptural look (down to the sculpted killer heels), with attention paid to cut, tailoring, and the perfection of time worn classics, ‘investment’ pieces: strong coats, great jackets, well cut pants, sculpted suits, draped tuxedos, must have parkas, the perfect white shirt, crystal or gunmetal dresses (some with cowl back), perfectly cut ‘sliced’ sheaths (so what if some of the molded black leather dresses recalled Balenciaga for fall 2008?). These are intended to be ‘keepers’; those ‘go to’ items one can always rely upon, regardless of the vagaries of fashion’s ins and outs.

For Michael, it’s always about the use of luxurious fabrics like stretch cashmere, wool and satin, felted wool and felted wool jersey, stretch gabardine, organza tweed, double face cashgor melton, silk faille, neoprene, plunged leather, and fur. And let’s not forget the accessories: bold silver and gold jewelry, chic clutch bags, oversized glamour frames, sleek belts, oversized fur trapper hats (the bigger and the brighter, the better!)

Richard Chai Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

Following Michael was Richard Chai’s vision for fall: no neon brights here, though there were shots of color and pattern within the predominantly neutral 21 piece collection. The young designer has amassed quite a following (to wit, Vogue’s Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington were seated in the front row) and deservedly so. His strong signatures: innovative tailoring (exemplified by several coats and jackets with ‘lifted’ shoulders, and unexpected mixes (fabric, texture, color, pattern), were very much on display. In a season of pattern mixing and plaids, Richard’s poppy streaming plaid, looked especially good when paired with leather to ‘tough’ it up.

Standouts include the umber ‘plunge’ leather draped front coat with lifted shoulder worn with a poppy streaming plaid printed wool silk sateen draped knee length dress; the lifted shoulder umber brushed wool shaped cutaway jacket paired with a charcoal mohair cardigan and umber plunge leather wide leg pleated trouser; the poppy streaming plaid printed wool satin cut away jacket, silk voile burnout shirt and wool sateen slim pleated pant; the umber confetti printed silk top with printed pailletes worn with an umber confetti printed pailletes slim pant.

3.1 Phillip Lim Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

While 3.1 Phillip Lim may not have staged his best showing thus far, there was still plenty to like among the eccentric 51 piece collection for men and women. Once again, it’s all about the young designer’s signature off handed mixes, resulting in something youthful, quirky, and offhanded, (as though the woman quickly and unselfconsciously threw herself together in a very personal way). Adept tailoring, printed dresses, Sergeant Pepper influences, gauntlet gloves, shots of gold, graphic embellishments, Mongolian fur chubbies, peaked shoulders, cocoon shaped knits and coats, were some of the recurring themes.

Alexandre Herchovitch Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

The word ‘eccentric’ would also describe Alexandre Herchcovitch’s fall collection, which was the designer’s most scaled down (and shortest) runway show I can recall, and where key trends du jour continued. By that I am referring to short lengths, pattern mixes, sequins, leggings, layering, long leather gloves, and fuzzy fur trim (in some cases one can tell it’s real fur and in other cases, it’s hard to tell what the fabric is and at Herchcovitch, it was a case of the latter). Here, a furry looking material (mohair?) in dark gray, covered sleeves, shoulders, and bodices of several black dresses. But since offhanded prints and pattern mixes have long been Alexandre’s signature, it was not surprising that the strongest part of the collection was the opening, which mixed a red and purple abstract splattered floral print (for lack of a better description) with pieces in bold sequined horizontal stripes, in some cases, turning up as footless tights or legwarmers layered under short skirts and dresses, or peeking out of out of cropped trousers.
By the way, I thought I would recap a few of the more obvious ‘trends’ and recurring themes seen on the runways thus far:

The eccentric hat; the colored fur; leggings and tights; sequins; layering; fur chubbies; fur trim (sometimes very fuzzy and furry); short (as in abbreviated coats, dresses, skirts); pattern mixing; peaked shoulders; menswear inspiration; leather gauntlets; cocoon coats .

-Marilyn Kirschner

Narciso Rodriquez

Narciso Rodriquez Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

Sitting cheek to jowl with the A-list fashion pack, as everyone waited with baited breath for the Narciso Rodriguez show to begin, this editor was caught up in the heavy mood of anticipation for what was to come. Knowing that this designer always puts his best face forward just about every season, the air was filled with the fragrance of haute fashion, eleganza and sophistication beyond compare. Always known for impeccable tailoring, deluxe, most luxurious fabrics and an opulent sense of fashion across the board, it was certainly expected that Rodriguez would not disappoint for the new season.

The show began calmly with beautifully groomed, reed-thin models, sporting khaki wool twill coats, white viscose knit x-neck sweaters, khaki wool gabardine pants and white silk crepe dresses, seen plain or printed. Well, everyone in the house breathed a sigh of relief, as they readied for what was to appear next on the catwalk. While the designer definitely showed a preference for on-the-down low hues - black, of course, which is everywhere during this edition of Fashion Week, is also at the top of the list here - there were the fun and vibrant colors of the moment - citrine, purple, pink and yellow (or as Rodriguez says of the latter hues; "highlighter pink and yellow") that really hit the mark. Rendered in an array of viscose knit dresses, wool tweed jackets, viscose knit cardigans, wool/silk coats, et al, these kinds of crazy colors made everyone in the audience sit up and take notice. Additional shades of blue, bronze, gold, pewter and platinum obviously interested Rodriguez, as he incorporated these cool tones with other deeper, darker, more morose colors across the collection.

Mixing prints and patterns so deftly, that to the untrained eye, a viewer might think that the clothing was "painted", when in actually it was the studied art of a master craftsman and designer, such as Rodriguez has always been in the past that brought prints such as the silk camouflage pattern seen on several coats, dresses and pants, that totally made a unique statement and set this part of the show apart from other looks in the show. Shown with whimsical bucket hats - reminiscent of Courreges,. Paco Rabanne and everyone's favorite 1960's stewardesses, flying for Pacific Southwest Airlines, the grooviest airline that at that time, flew from San Diego to Los Angeles to Seattle - worn over the face, showing only the models' eyes peeking through the hats' cut-outs, the clothes came across as whimsical, fun, zippy, and cool; descriptive words not generally associated with a high designer such as Rodriguez.

But, in the end, this season was not the designer's shining moment. Overall, the clothes did not match up to what everyone always expects from Rodriguez, especially when it comes to the grandeur, expensiveness and finite tailoring that has, up until now, really has defined his style and been his signature. When colors, prints, patterns, accessories and the music that the models are walking to, capture more attention than a particular designer's actual clothing collection, than it might be time to rethink the repertoire. For this editor, the question that begs to be answered is whether or not what hit the runway was the Narciso Rodriguez designer line, or simply a watered-down, diffusion collection under the name of "NR".

- Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Anna Sui’s Belle Epoque

Anna Sui Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: Isabelle Erb)

For many reasons, Wednesday always seems to be the most trying day of Fashion Week. By this time it appears that we have all waited in one too many lines and rushed to one too many shows, and everyone’s patience seems to be wearing thin. The fact that yesterday was also a dreary, rainy Wednesday did not help matters very much. Little did I know that I need not have despaired. As I took my seat in the Tent at Bryant Park on Wednesday night for the Anna Sui show, I found myself reinvigorated by the soundtrack of classic French tunes mixed with more modern fare, like Blondie’s Sunday Girl.

Leave it to Anna Sui to provide the perfect antidote to a lackluster day. Her recent collections never fail to delight, as she expertly crafts her designs in the style of her chosen theme. For Fall 2009 she has conjured up a mixture of Belle Epoque meets Bohemian Hippie Chic. Those in attendance to enjoy the show included Allure Editor in Chief Linda Wells, seated across the runway from Taylor Momsen, who plays Gossip Girl’s Jenny Humphrey. A celebrity model even graced the catwalk. Daisy Lowe, daughter of rocker Gavin Rossdale and British singer- turned designer Pearl Lowe, made her only Fashion Week runway appearance last night.

Sui’s collection mixed ornate patterns and intricate prints with flouncy dresses and skirts and thermal leggings. Silhouettes channeled Chanel and French can-can girls. Colors and fabrics ranged from heavy black crushed velvet to light and airy print chiffons in bold colors like turquoise, heliotrope, and gold. The looks were accessorized with elaborate feathered hats and the occasional tiara and long gloves. Chunky shoes and boots and coordinating bags rounded out the ensembles. I especially liked the floral print dresses with cinched waistlines. They were at once tailored and feminine.

As an added treat, each seated guest received an Anna Sui shopping bag filled with assorted goodies like perfume and cosmetics. I left the tent relaxed and refreshed, having enjoyed my visit to Anna’s French Salon.

-Rhonda Erb

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fashion Notes - Day Five

Recession? What recession?

(More reviews later on today)

Badgley Mischka Fall 2009 Collection (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Mark Badgley and James Mischka staged their strongest showing in quite some time yesterday morning at the Bryant Park Tents. Like Carolina Herrera (and others), it was undeniably tilted towards late day, cocktail and evening, apparently factoring in the needs and wants of their privileged and loyal fan base. The only real daywear were the three chic opening outfits in black: a silk/ wool knee length belted dress, a black taffeta and wool boucle jacket and skirt, and a textured black taffeta and wool boucle knee length coat, all of which were shown with black opaque tights and either knee high boots or booties.

What made this well edited 33 piece collection work, was that nothing was overdone, the silhouettes were flatteringly close to the body and spare, and for the most part, dresses and skirts were short (though there were some entrance making gowns). The guys were masterful at showing restraint and they knew when to stop. Accessories were wisely kept to a bare minimum, hair (swept back in an up do) and makeup was modern and unfussy, and the clothes spoke for themselves.

Badgley Mischka Fall 2009 Collection (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Attention was paid to details and cut; draping, bias cuts, shoulder and back interest, were recurring themes; fabrics used were primarily organza, tulle, satin, lame, and georgette. While the color palette was primarily dark (anchored on black and gray), there were welcome touches of mauve, ruby red, crimson, absinthe, ultramarine, gold, and silver, some of the later shined thanks to ‘galaxy’ inspired beading. Speaking of which…because the Academy Awards are just days away, and Mark and James and have traditionally dressed many a star for such high profile red carpet events, I could not help but think that some of these dresses would certainly look beautiful on any number of stars this coming Sunday.

While I’m on the topic of the red carpet and Hollywood, after I took my seat at Pamella Roland, designed by Pamella DeVos, I spotted none other than Paris Hilton and her sister sitting in the front row (Paris looked sweet and pretty in her new short hair but I thought her outfit: white sunglasses, white tights, gray abbreviated shorts, and white sleeveless top with gray tie) looked silly, juvenile, and completely out of place for New York in the middle of February. She was also non-stop on her cell phone, even while the show went on.

At 56 pieces, this ran much longer than most others (the trend nowadays is really going for a tightly edited and short runway show) and it would have benefitted from some serious editing. Ms. DeVos was admittedly inspired by the masterful art of Faberge and the Russian Master Goldsmiths (which I suppose explains its overtly luxurious vibe). Unfortunately, much of it was a tad too over the top which translated to ‘old fashioned’ especially where the unwieldy ankle length lavishly fur trimmed coats were concerned.

As it turns out, the chicest and most modern daytime outfit was a glazed black stretch pea jacket worn over matching slim pants and a crisp white sateen shirt, but since Pamella is known for her eveningwear (and her fan base includes many A list stars), I’d have to give my thumbs up to the knee length gold degrade embroidered ‘Faberge’ dress; the black sateen plunging back draped goddess gown (with rhinestone tie in back); a white kimono sleeved black fox and chiffon tiered evening coat worn over winter white sateen blouse and flared leg pants; and the plunging front, plunging back platinum beaded knot waist mermaid gown, which Ms. Hilton seemed to be quite interested in. Perhaps she was planning to attend the Academy Awards this Sunday and was there to pick something out just for the occasion.

Dennis Basso Fall 2009 Collection (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

This has been a ‘let them eat cake’ kind of day. Actually, it’s been a ‘let them eat cake’ kind of week thus far and it seems to be the trend going forward. Recession? What recession? You really wouldn’t know it by many of the well dressed, fur clad show attendees these past few days, and you certainly wouldn’t know it from many of the runway shows, where the luxury quotient (and the price points presumably) appears to be going up, not down. That was certainly the case at Dennis Basso, where broadtail, sable, chinchilla, and bassarisk furs, were paired with tweed, crocodile and brocade. (And many of the guests, especially those in the front row, were not only fur clad, but fur and leopard hatted as well).

Dennis Basso Fall 2009 Collection (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

While this season was an improvement over the last, owing to a younger, more modern and up to the minute look, the 38 pieces, rendered in a neutral palette of brown, gunmetal, pewter, tortoise, graphite, desert sand, champagne, natural, and black, quickly began to look repetitive. How many horizontally worked 60’s inspired knee length coats and abbreviated jackets with massively fur trimmed sleeves, hems, backs, sides, can you look at?

-Marilyn Kirschner

Domenico Vacca

Domenico Vacca Fall 2009 Collection

Domenico Vacca packed them like sardines last night in the Salon. The scene was fairly chaotic and I thought that if I just closed my eyes and listened, I could pretend I was far away in Italy. If only. On my way in, I felt like a nervous school girl as I hoped for a possible Jonathan Rhys Meyers encounter. If only. Oh well, I was quite happy nodding to Forest Whitaker (no surprise to see him there) and Mickey Rourke seated down front. Both guys looked great and were nice enough to pose for a quick photo.

Domenico Vacca Fall 2009 Collection

Vacca’s clothes are luxurious and this collection pounded that point home. Rich velvet, delicate chiffon, buttery silk, rainbow-shimmer and liquid-like fabrics appeared in the women’s portion of the collection, while the finest men’s suiting (which also included velvet) comprised the other half. Styling was classic as always, but unexpected touches gave the garments an edge. Chains cascading from pocket trousers of traditional pin stripe staples definitely didn’t look like the typical banker. Large and layered appliqué treatment on fine jersey and chiffon (like fall leaves stacked on top of one another) kept a youthful look to the dresses as did the exciting and daring cut-outs placed in strategic fashion. I also particularly liked a men’s tomato red leather jacket. Only Domenico Vacca can do this without it looking tacky. Apart from the tomato red, colors were warm and very much a true fall palette. Dusty purple, garnet, chocolate brown, forest, navy and black received some zest with the addition of jewels and sparkle. As always Vacca showcased an elegant collection that included several pieces I’ve put on my wish list.

-Stacy Lomman

G-Star Raw

Hammerstein ballroom was a mob scene last night. I’m sure the G-STAR show was a celebrity fest although I couldn’t see anybody through the wall of photographers set up near the entrance. And it didn’t help that the venue was nearly pitch dark. I did walk out in the end with Mischa Barton who apparently lost her friend in the shuffle. Even with an invitation, an RSVP and personal email correspondence, the girl at the check in table handed me a card marked with the letter “S.” The standing area in Hammerstein is in the nosebleed section and there was no way I could possibly view the show very well from that vantage point. So, I managed to get a nice girl with a headset to escort me back down to a seat in the main area where I could actually see the clothes coming down the runway.

Of course, I wanted to hate the show at this point (also, it didn’t start until 7.45), but I have to say, I absolutely loved it. The dramatic setting included a raised runway stretching through the center, dropping down and continuing along both sides at ground level. This provided a great way for everyone to see the ensembles for a longer period of time. The stage itself was back-dropped with a sheer, black curtain and one could see all of the models standing behind it like soldiers waiting for their turn to move. A piano (or keyboard or organ – it was hard to see from the side), tucked in the middle of the models, was playing Gothic-like music which set the mood.

The tightly designed collection consisted of 41 styles split almost evenly between guys and girls. A vampiric theme could be sensed immediately. Female models wore fairly porcelain faces with hair pulled back in a swooping fashion. Tuxedos made a strong statement right away as girls glided past in tailored black suits (one with satin lapels) and crisp, starched, white shirts. Black dominated and enhanced the Gothic mood. Very naturally, the collection segued into more neutral colors (sand, grey, indigo) and the garments took on a military feeling. Complex jackets incorporated high-standing collars, pockets, flaps, buckles, zippers and even parachute-like straps and ”neck roll” attachments. Pants were mostly narrow in the leg and low and baggy in the seat, almost like a modern, less severe version of the military jodhpur. Coats were, of course, an important feature throughout the collection, therefore, layering (a “trend” we’re seeing a lot so far this season) was necessary in order to showcase all components.

Fabrics were kept to a minimum -- denim, leather and wool (utilized liberally) were complimented with sweater knits and plush texture. Surface treatments such as lacquer shine and different washes of denim enhanced certain pieces. Nothing was overlooked. Details were perfectly placed such as; the large metal razor blade hair clip with ‘G-STAR’ stamped on it; the heavy trapunto stitching; seam binding or the addition of just the right amount of heavy gauge rib knit.

As if all that wasn’t enough, perhaps the highlight of the evening was the unexpected appearance of Benicio Del Toro walking down the runway, reciting a monologue. He stood there for a couple of minutes and continued reading. When he finished, the models did their final rounds while Joy Division sounded throughout – a perfect note on which to end a very well done season.

-Stacy Lomman

Cho Cheng’s Ready-to-Wear Debut

Cho Cheng Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: Isabelle Erb)

On Tuesday, designer Cho Cheng brought his first ready-to-wear collection to Bryant Park. The designer has long been known for his craftsmanship of made-to-order clothing, and he feels that turning his attentions to ready-to-wear is a natural progression. He has no qualms about launching his new line in such uncertain economic times, believing that there is always a market for finely tailored versatile clothing.

The inspiration for Cho Cheng’s Fall/Winter collection was “The Little Prince,” a theme that worked well with his love of jewel tones and creative silhouettes. The designer loves to work with durable fabrics such as Harris Tweed and his signature velvet. He sees his core customer as a high-society woman who values quality clothing at a good price.

His collection began with a series of rainbow colored jackets (turquoise, cherry, canary yellow, key lime) that were elegant and feminine. They were paired with skirts or cropped pants. One of his most playful looks was the black satin mini can-can skirt shown with a velveteen two-buttoned jacket in green with red satin piping.

Cho Cheng gives a nod to his many years of experience as a couture designer with the creation of his evening wear. His sleekly elegant Siren gowns seemed to glide down the runway. Cho also includes a traditional Chinese long, slinky dress, the Qipaos, in all of his collections. Cho Cheng is a lover of children’s’ books, Japanese anime, and Walt Disney. In keeping with his theme of “The Little Prince”, each model donned a light blonde wig, reminiscent of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s title character.

-Rhonda Erb

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-Rhonda Erb

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fashion Notes: Day 4:

Urban Legend

Carolina Herrera Fall 2009 Collection (Photos:

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous or vice versa, depending, I suppose, on your point of view. My day began with Carolina Herrera and ended with Yeohlee (alas…because of the scaled down Marc Jacobs show this season, I did not get an invite but that doesn’t mean I didn’t ‘see’ it thanks to all the websites which keep up to the minute). And I can’t imagine two shows, both geared to an urban customer, more diametrically opposed (in look, mood, philosophy, and aesthetic).

Carolina Herrera held her show, as usual, at the large Tent in Bryant Park. No scaled down venue for her. I must say, it was not only hard to see the clothes from my 5th row seat, but it was harder still, to follow the program or attempt taking notes, thanks to tricky dim lighting and obnoxious almost blinding flashes of light going off right before my eyes. I won’t even get into the distracting music.

Carolina Herrera Fall 2009 Collection

What was easy to see, was that the show was rather opulent to say the least. Muted colors and narrow shapes: slim pencil skirts and skinny pants, kept things somewhat ‘grounded’ and the focus was unapologetically on eveningwear. Quite frankly, there were very few ‘obvious’ day time clothes. I suppose Ms. Herrera knows that her customer is really not going to her for ‘sportswear’, though the designer always takes her ‘bow’ in a crisp white shirt and simple trousers. A fitted forest green mink cropped jacket with caviar silk tulle corset paired with skinny copper lace embroidered pants and a copper and forest green mohair organza jacket with caviar silk tulle corset paired with forest green textured silk pants were just about as 'daytime' as CH got. Just the thing to wear to Gristedes!

Carolina Herrera Fall 2009 Collection

More often than not there was a blurring of the lines between what was day and what was evening within the 34 piece collection, and rather than showing daytime first, which is usually the order of things, the two were mixed. That said, one of Ms. Herrera’s best ideas this season, was the unexpected pairing of sturdy, double face woven crepe jackets or suede coats with dramatic floor length chiffon gowns, offsetting their delicacy. The color palette was jeweled toned and rich (rich is the operative word here), emphasizing copper, forest green, lapis blue, cassis, and smoke gray. Hems, cuffs, collars, and mini shrugs were jewel encrusted as were the belts, which shined in metallic copper.

In terms of fabrication, it was all about the layering of luxurious textures (textured silk, reflective jacquard, lace, suede, and a floral fils coupe). It was about a lavishness, richness and opulence that spoke volumes about a pampered life of privilege and a customer who is probably being chauffeured around town, which also made it seem a bit out of sync with the ‘new’ reality. That said, how one dresses in these times, is a personal decision, there is no ‘right’ and no ‘wrong’ way…it’s a matter of choice.

Marc Jacobs Fall 2009 Collection

And it’s obvious as the week unfolds, that not all designers are proposing a ‘doom and gloom’ reaction to the current state of affairs, exemplified by Marc Jacobs’ colorful, big shouldered, big hair collection recalling the club hopping days of the 80’s. Yay Marc and thanks for making it ‘okay’ to wear color again. Not that we need his ‘approval’ but you know what I mean. And gee, come to think of it, that hot pink ‘Barbie’ Official Gift Bag from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is beginning to look better to me.


Yeohlee Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

At the opposite end of the specter, Yeohlee eschewed hotel rooms and museums from past seasons and opted for her loft like West 35th street showroom, as the venue of choice to stage her 23 piece collection. Her muse is and always has been the Urban Nomad (it’s a term that not only defines her work but could not be more relevant and in sync with the times). She is a woman who is strong, grounded, unspoiled, and undoubtedly walks everywhere or takes the subway. To wit, only pancake flat black calf boots with a slightly pointed toe (Manolo Blahnik for Yeohlee and Nancy Geist for Yeohlee) were shown throughout for both day and night (no high heels and not an unwieldy platform in sight -- thank goodness). The color palette this season was again very urbane and very signature Yeohlee. It was edited down to chalk, black, shades of grey and grey mélange (a combination of black and white), and ‘molten’ or liquid silver.

Yeohlee Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

This season, Yeohlee cited inspiration as the industrial landscape photographs of Edward Burtynsky with his inverted cubed architecture, but more importantly, as one of the most consistent designers around, she wanted to ‘pare down’ to the ‘bare bones’ of her work, emphasizing the workability, versatility, practicality, and enveloping nature of her pieces. At the same time, she wanted to illustrate the many ways one can transform her clothes into different looks. In her program notes, she proudly pointed out that factoring in the current world situation, she wanted to create a collection with ‘zero waste’. Every inch of the fabric was used and not scrap of material is wasted.

Yeohlee Fall 2009 Collection (Photo: by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

The pieces that stood out from my point of view (all were shown over a fitted black jersey bodysuit), were the ¾ length hooded chalk white cascading triangles ‘painter’s coat, belted with a wide black leather belt; the black denim ‘apprentice’ cape back jacket and beautifully shaped black denim quarry coat, both paired with black denim trousers; the utilitarian hooded and cropped black rubberized felt vest and catenary jacket; the black leather belted grey mélange alpaca Yeti ovoid coat and matching skullcap; the sleeveless v neck molten (silvery) metal triangles dress (with asymmetrical hem); and the molten metal mobius jacket, tank, leggings, and skullcap which had a decidedly futuristic space age look. The show began and ended with a graphite pinstripe ankle length sarong shown over a black jersey bodysuit but in the finale, the model stepped out of her skirt and folded it neatly on the floor.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Adrienne Vittadini Fall 2009 Collection

Adrienne Vittadini Fall 2009 Collection (Photos: Muriel Geny-Triffaut)

Recent excesses and over-the-top designs and lines are disappearing in
the fashion industry. This year, Fashion Week shows how much
designers have scaled back in many ways: less guests invited to the
shows, less glitz, less of just about everything. The impact of the recession is felt everywhere when it comes to fashion. Designers are showing smaller collections, and many designs show separate pieces to allow customers to mix the new with what they already own.

Adrienne Vittadini is a perfect example of the new mood shaping up the
industry: she chose to display her Fall 2009 line at the International
Center of Photography in New York City; mannequins in lieu of live
models walking the catwalk, simple yet effective designs.

Adrienne Vittadini Fall 2009 Collection

This year Vittadini is going back to her roots, or if you will, she
is choosing to offer simple knitted pieces that fit well with the
times. Her iconic signature designs are back, offering fashion lovers
updated lines that are more affordable. It is still luxury knitwear,
only scaled back to show elegance and austerity. And the designer is a
pro when it comes to knitwear.

A lot of grey is everywhere, as well as black, forest green, and dark purple. Colors are darker and patterns are rare. The mood is somber nowadays, and Ms Vittadini's pieces fit well in these times, allowing the wearer to still feel a sense of chic in easy, wearable, well designed clothes. Indulgences are seldom but of quality: peacock feathers embroidered on collars, sequins shining just on some parts of the clothes. The lines are sleek, simple and casually elegant. Unusual and beautiful ceramics created by Amanda Ferrer adorn the necklines of many of the mannequins. The beautiful one-of-a kind feather embellishments are the creation of Julie Everett.

The whole collection allows one to use already owned pieces
and blend them with this new line. Here and there, a jolt of color is
provided through the use of chartreuse (a hit color in fashion
and interior design lately). Her line speaks of uncomplicated
designs and are easy to wear for just about any body type. This is
not a simple feat, and she does it in a very elegant and understated manner.

- Muriel Geny-Triffaut

Let’s Get Jazzed

Tracy Reese Fall 2009 Collection (Photo:

In her collection show notes, Reese tells the press and buyers that she is blending romance and understated glamour over rustic undertones, adding a brush stroke of whimsy, inspired by post-impressionist portraiture, including the works of Vuillard, Van Gogh and Modigliani and their expressive use of color. As a vehicle to convey mood, Reese combines textures, patterns and rich hues on a neutral palette to create an eclectic fall 2009 collection. Right on, Tracy. And, true to her word, the designer channels the modernist flapper and mixes in a healthy dollop of Anna Sui on the tame. While there is lots of black and shorty short lengths in the offing here – only one floor-length piece was shown (finale); black shaw tux and plaster flirty floral long slip - the designer certainly layers on the color and patterns, which add more than just a bit of fun and dash to the repertoire.

Looks such as the raspberry argyle applique shift, brown herringbone boyfriend jacket and basil floral frilled shift, deep mauve melange alpaca dress and dotty dots tie-back blouse, which so immediately reminded this editor of lookonline’s, Marilyn Kirschner, saffron ruffle dolman sweater and prune flirty floral tiered skirt, were excellent, covetable and oh so easy to wear. Not so, unfortunately, were Reese’s bronze brocade blazer and trouser, which not only looked stiff and out of place in this easy, breezy collection, but seemed to be borrowed straight from a later-year’s Elvis concert in Las Vegas. Elvis, Las Vegas and gold aside, the accouterments Reese featured in the show were spot on and quite cool. Accessories such as tight, little stocking caps, and black thigh highs and black tights from Hue were nifty and looked just right with the clothing, as were the shoes from Highline United for Tracy Reese. The flirtateous jewels, conjured up by Gerard Yosca exclusively for Reese were long, luscious and lovely. Overall, the designer’s show, which had Miss J of America’s Next Top Model fame, seated front row and in rapt attention as the looks paraded down the runway, was definitely young, with it and refreshing.

– Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

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-Rhonda Erb

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fashion Notes: Day 3

Upon taking my seat at Lela Rose on Sunday morning, I looked up and noticed an attractive young woman clad in all black, wearing an eye catching chunky, multi strand bead and wood necklace, her waist wrapped obi style in a wide striped satin sash. I quickly realized it was Chelsea Paskvan, the woman I met Sunday at Andy & Debb, whose card I took, and who I blogged about. Apparently, she will be at the tents every day wearing something fabulous of her own design. A walking ‘model’ for her line of accessories. Once again, her contact information should you be interested in finding out more about her:

As for the Lela Rose show. it was certainly an upbeat way to start the day. Her show notes promised the "notion of an enchanted forest and all its magical creatures, and a kaleidoscope of colors" (which it delivered), in addition to the layering, inventive texture, pattern, and fabric mixes, which have come to be a signature of this popular label. Ms. Rose was adept at mixing tweeds with plaids and stripes with checks, as well as mixing day for night, by adding subtle touches of shine through sequins and the use of antiqued spun gold. Nothing seemed forced or overdone, and it made a statement. I particularly liked the way sporty shapes were transformed into something special, through the use of unexpected fabrics, inventive mixing, and layering (a big trend on the runways thus far and which looks especially relevant at the moment). These were wearable yet special pieces and the overall effect was young, modern, and effortlessly glamorous and except for 5 thinly belted long dresses at the end, everything was short and leggy.

My favorite looks include the gray tweed belted 'explorer' jacket with funnel neck and cropped sleeves, layered over a ribbed cashmere sweater and plaid felt skirt; the moss green ribbed cashmere belted trench coat worn over a dragonfly silk dress with gold embroidered top; the forest green tweed down quilted vest paired with a plaid silk tulle cocoon skirt; the group of wide horizontally striped sequined tank tops and tank dresses in shades that mimicked nature; the fuchsia silk and wool short strapless dress layered over thick gray nubby tights; the black and white plaid paperweight taffeta one shouldered gown belted with a narrow glittery belt; and the spun gold strapless belted gown. By the way, all the shoes used on the runway were by Lela Rose for Payless.

One good idea this yesterday morning was a showing at the Promenade, one of the venues located within the Bryant Park tents, which combined the forces of three designers (three for the price of one and very cost effective these days). However, only one, Mara Hoffman, who showed last, truly stood out thanks to her crowd pleasing languid silk jersey and chiffon printed dresses, graphic astral tapestry short cape coat in black and white paired with black and white striped leggings; winter white wool fringe wrap thrown over 'native' printed leggings; and a group of black jersey separates adorned with massive gold studs. That said, it doesn't mean the first two designers had nothing of note.

First up was Nicholas K who presented his 43 piece 'grunge' (for lack of a better word) collection for men and women. While there were some very wearable and covetable cropped leather and shearing jackets bomber and motorcycle jackets, most often paired with muted plaid shirts and faded army green cropped trousers (some in Jodhpur shapes) …things did get a bit repetitive and I kept asking myself...haven't I seen that before?

This was followed by Sergio Davila who cited inspiration from the "Royal Heart" days of Spain's 19th Century Vice Royalty for his gender bending men's (and some women's) collection. It was not until the show was almost over, that the ‘royalty’ idea made any sense at all, and it was only seen on the guys: an elegant and timeless pale camel mohair short coat; an olive green pinstriped fitted suit in light wool paired with a fitted dress shirt and cotton and lurex scarf; a black wool quilted jacket worn with olive wool pants and embroidered cardigan; a diamond quilted black vest paired with a sheer embroidered sweater, window pane light wool pants and leg warmers; and a black sequined with gold striped cardigan that seemed like something Elvis might like if he were still with us (or in any case…something one of us gals might actually want).

All I can say is that it’s a good thing the practice of showering show goers with goodie bags has not completely disappeared, even though companies are tightening their belts at the moment. At Lela Rose, we were given a little bag that contained ‘lifesaving’ cosmetic staples (which come in mighty handy, especially during Fashion Week when you have to look picture perfect since you might be ‘snapped’ by any number of photographers). Among them: a small tube of Borghese Curaforte Moisture Intensifier cream; a pack of 10 ’Hollywood’ oil blotting tissues (which promise to remove the shine from your face quickly); Peptide’s Eye ‘Depuffing’ Eye Serum (to rid of those unsightly bags which become more pronounced as you stay up all night editing); and Stila’s Smoky Eye, the original patent pending ‘The Talking Palette’ which literally talks to you and tells you how to how to use the product when you ‘press here’. Unfortunately, once it starts gabbing, it doesn’t stop until it’s programmed to do so, which proved a tad embarrassing when I tried it out while sitting at quiet Kinko’s and everyone around me was trying to concentrate on their work on the computer. I got a lot of mean stares but it did make me smile.

And speaking of ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’, I know I should be thankful for any freebee that comes my way, but still, what’s up with this season’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Official Gift Bags? Yikes! Not only are they disappointing with regards to the contents therein, but the bag itself (normally something in neutral black, white or tan) is an embarrassment: I’m talking about cheap, hot pink vinyl emblazoned with ‘Barbie’. Just what a chic, grownup, sophisticated editor wants to tote around...NOT!

-Marilyn Kirschner


As day three of Fashion Week got underway, I felt a bit underwhelmed with the collections that showed thus far. But, I was baited with anticipation as Diane von Furstenberg’s presentation grew nearer. I knew it would be a big event in terms of celebrity; however, I was more interested in the clothes. The tent was hectic as usual and it was somewhat of a battle to maneuver through all the cameras on the runway to get to my seat. I passed by Rachel Zoe (wearing what looked like a gorgeous Burberry feathered coat from last Fall) and Molly Sims. Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum posed at the opposite end of the catwalk for hundreds of photos and Simon Doonan was chatting nearby while Diane Sawyer and Fran Leibowitz sat quietly in the front row. Also perched up front were Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Suzy Menkes, Hal Rubenstein, Robbie Myers, Joe Zee, Ann Duong, and Diana Ross (settled next to Barry Diller).

After the lights were dimmed a couple of times and we were all asked to take our seats, an announcement followed pertaining to those seated upfront. “Please uncross your legs.” In other words, please don’t trip the models. Everyone complied and the show was underway. A sped-up, “house” version of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” thumped through the speakers and immediately drew in the crowd. Models cruised by wearing oversized knit caps decorated with pom poms in various colors and sizes, resembling fireworks. This season’s collection, called Nomad, is all about comfort. The fabrics and yarns are soft and luxurious, the colors are soothing and the silhouettes are feminine and flattering to the body, but never constricting.

Perhaps it’s the extremely cold winter we’ve been dealing with, but I found myself longing to leave the tents wrapped in one of Ms. von Furstenberg’s cocoon coats which she featured in all types of rich and opulent fibers such as metallic tweed, plaid mohair, bonded lace and embroidered knit. Velvet, wool, cashmere and fuzzy knits were combined with or treated with prints (leopard mainly), plaid (soft, blurred effect), jacquard (Navajo and Mongolian patterns), embroidery and appliqué. Sequins and metallic jersey managed fit in somehow and looked fresh and chic when mixed with nubby and fuzzy knits.

“It’s a modern nomad and constant traveler journeying from place to place, from morning to night, finding freedom in layers and in pieces that work together.” This is how she describes her concept and inspiration. “Wherever she goes, she belongs… her clothes are her friends” - Diane von Furstenberg. This quote defines the Fall collection perfectly. As the last model vanished from the catwalk, Diana Ross’ “Upside Down” blasted through the tent and Ms. von Furstenberg took her victory lap accompanied by Nathan Jenden (DVF’s creative director) who stayed a step behind her clapping. She veered off to hug Ms. Ross and to give her husband a kiss, then continued down the runway leaving with another fabulous collection behind her.

-Stacy Lomman


After dealing with all the hustle and bustle of the tents, it’s refreshing to attend an event off-site… or so I thought. Bryan Bradley showed his Fall Collection last night at the New York Design Center on Lexington Ave. Although the space was quite dignified, it wasn’t the best venue to accommodate a fashion show. After I checked in, I was informed that they were over-crowded and had no more chairs available, so they handed me a "standing" card. Annoyed, I suddenly longed to be back at the tents. "Isn’t Erin Fetherston showing in the Promenade right now?" I thought to myself. I scanned the room and spotted Paper Magazine’s Mr. Mickey, Bill Cunningham, Hamish Bowles and a very pregnant Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl). After standing for twenty minutes, I decided to sit in an empty chair and wait for the show to begin. I waited a bit longer, and a bit longer. The chair next to me remained vacant. Finally, the music started – it was 7.45pm. "Who does this guy think he is," I wondered. "Marc Jacobs?"

Bradley served up a cornucopia of prints, colors and fabrics to create sobering ensembles; some of which were hits and some of which were misses. I think the concept "less is more" is applicable to this collection as I found the more simplistic pieces to be successful and the overdone styles to be less so. Some pieces were impeccable, such as a solid blue, strapless dress draped and gathered into a rosette shape on the front. An elegant, iridescent, plum fitted jacket over black pants was a classically tasteful look but, the flirty, leopard printed dress worn with the tiny cable knit shrug stood out as if it accidentally attended the wrong show. I happened to love the moss green hoodie trimmed in orange, paired with a shimmery- printed, short, flouncy skirt, as well as some of the tapestry coats but I felt, as a whole, the collection was disjointed.

-Stacy Lomman

Daily Bets :

Passport Panty and Cami Set

For the fashionista on the go: The Passport Panty and Cami Set is packaged in a faux croc passport cover so that it can be discretely carried in your purse or carry-on. Each set is made of a comfortable sheer mesh fabric. The size range includes Jump Seat (extra small), Window (small), Middle (medium), and Aisle (large).

Passport Panties

Buriti Baby by The Body Shop

The Body shop has a new skin care line to pamper your baby’s skin. The products feature buriti oil, which is used throughout South America for its skin softening properties. The new line includes a body butter, body wash, body lotion, massage gel, and shampoo.

The Body Shop

-Rhonda Erb