Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New York Fashion Industry Video Report

We are back online with our monthly New York Fashion Industry Video Report. Marilyn Kirschner reports on what is of interest, at issue, or curious about the goings on at the high end of New York fashion.

Click here to play video.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Calvin’s Fall View: Some of This & Some of That. All Au Moderne in Color and Monochrome.

All Photos: Greg Kessler for Calvin Klein

Judging from what was on view at Calvin Klein’s Thursday, March 26 informal showroom presentation, the clothes, jeans, underwear and accessories collections for women and men, all seem to have much in common, which means that nearly everything shown is cool and moderne; young, wearable and with it.

No matter if everything was shown on models, on hangers by classification and color, or via still-life presentations, the story here begs the question of whether Klein is somewhat moving away from his expected minimalist viewpoint. Sure, there there is still lots of black, grey and white going on, but on the flip side, there is more color; lots more color across the collections, especially notable and unique when considering all of the vibrant jewel tones Klein has chosen to play with for Fall'09.

So, is the collection, on the whole, predictable Calvin? Well, on one hand yes; on the other hand, no. And, that is what makes the whole package so interesting because, while the collection is pure, expected Calvin Klein, there are still some new and neat tricks, coupled with a few surprises along the way. And, these factors serve to set such a refreshing tone for many of the pieces seen during the showing

First up, in the main room, there was a line-up (by category) of healthy, cheerful, fresh-faced models, each of whom were obviously there to portray Klein’s easy-going, fresh and definitively American look. The models, some of whom were obviously older than fifteen years of age, which was so nice to see, showed off the pieces informally to a well-attended audience of fashion editors, many of whom were given a personal walk-through of each grouping, by an equally good-looking and cheerful group of Klein’s PR and marketing people. Again, this was very pleasant to see vs. the sometimes morose, uncaring and rude PR people many editors encounter when covering collection openings; informally in showrooms and more formally at fashion shows.

At Klein’s event, everything was all good and lots of fun. It was just great seeing all of the sportswear, apparel, jeans and underwear on cheerful models (a refreshing surprise from the sullen, blankly staring models usually seen at events such as these), interacting naturally with one another (and the editors). Side-by-side with the models and the clothing and underwear, were the ample, still-life-tableau-styled accessories groupings – handbags, luggage, duffels, backpacks, footwear, scarves, ties, gloves and the like, most of which which went well with the clothing – nicely served up in groupings of day-into-evening leathers, faux animal prints and suedes.

On the whole, Klein’s idea for Fall is all about curvaceous, generous shapes and silhouttes, rendered in rich, jeweled tones of emerald, ruby and amethyst. When it came to womenswear, fabrics such as deep-pile felts, satins and cashmere blends are accented with velvet trims, heavy studs, lace and sequins, making for a interesting, if not somewhat out of the ordinary, statement here. Especially unique is the lipstick red, belted, funnel-neck cashmere coat, which brought to mind, for this editor at least, a young and lovely Nancy Reagan. Another great look is the easy-but-closer-to-the-body, black puffer jacket with super-long sleeves, that looks so right for cool to cold weather wear. It is wonderful to see a chic, little,cozy jacket like this one, that doesn’t make the wearer resemble The Michelin Man.

Moving on to the well-dressed guys, Klein favors a type of rejuvinated, modernized take on classic styling, by way of his classic peacoat, now looking zingier and more contempo by way of black and grey contrast seaming. Another neat twist on how Klein dresses today’s young man suit is the heather grey flannel two-button number, worn with a traditional white dress shirt and heather wool twill flannel top coat with grey suede gloves. Klein does have his way with menswear, because this collection is not only strong and good-looking, but thoroughly masculine across the board.

Shown right along with all of the clothes and accessories in the room are Calvin’s underwer offerings, worn, of course, by models in tip-top, athletic shape. Called “Black” and “White”, and shown in an array of classic styles, in lightweight Microfiber and stretch cotton, these pieces are good looking, but seem just too basic and staid for Klein’s customers. After all, if one is going to wear Calvin Klein inside and out, shouldn’t everything work from the inside out? With this part of the line, that simply is not clear. However, what does work and what is clearly Calvin Klein underneath it all, is the definitely sexual part of the women’s line, embracing bras, g-strings, garter belts and lace/mesh hipsters in French Leavers lace with soft mesh and microfiber. As the show program explains, these pieces are “woven with antique machines to achieve vintage touches”. A nice touch, indeed.

The new Calvin Klein Jeans Body collection was presented separately in its own little room. A few shirtless men and women in little tops – not as cheerful and interactive as the models in the main room, but all with great bodies, of course - stood in the center of the room, showing off the new jeans, while several jeans-clad men, slouched against the walls. Seeing all of this instantly brought back visions of the old-school Calvin Klein jeans campaigns (print and TV), especially the very suggestive images, which gave the designer so much publicity(good and bad).

Ad campaigns aside, and while jeans are jeans are jeans, and so on and so on, and each company and each designer tries hard to make the statement their own, Klein has made big business out of designing jeans and, in this case, the new collection has its place. As the show program says, these jeans are “engineered, tough, yet sexy, for a contoured profile-enhancing fit.” Done in a classic, skinny cut for women in nouveau rinses of copper and rusted iron, and for men, in a straight leg style, in copper rinse and destructed ore, the $79.50 pricepoint seems reasonable.

Oh, and by the way, just to make sure that every invited guest left the event still feeling happy, a pair of jeans in the requested size, fit and wash, was handed out to each editor in a special Calvin Klein Jeans gift bag.

– Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Saturday, March 28, 2009

La Collection Goutte

(Photos: Isabelle Erb)

Frankly speaking, Bernardaud has not really been viewed by some in the fashion press as a primary shopping destination for the young, trendy and super hip. With toney shops in France, Chicago and New York (on Park Avenue, of course), Bernardaud’s image has generally been regarded as quiet and conservative; a place to to go for traditional and usually pricey Limoges porcelain tabletop and classic, interior design pieces; not quite the type of image (or merchandise) that might interest the super-cool fashion folk, who more often than not, lust after the new and now, usually sans the extravagant pricepoints.

So, when an email was sent to this editor, announcing an early morning, “Petit Dejeuner” presentation at the Park Avenue store, of a new jewelry collection, called “La Collection Goutte”, designed by Taher Chemirik, whose artwork is part of the permanent collection at the Parisian Museum of Decorative Arts, interest was piqued. A request to Bernardaud’s PR person to attend the event, yielded a slick, white, mailed invite, showing a stylized photo of one very modernist piece of jewelry on the front. Obviously, something unique and different was going on at Bernardaud these days, and the event was being held to showcase all of this.

Arriving at the open, airy store on the day of the event, editors and invited guests received breakfast and an informal preview of Chemirik’s newest gems. The capsule grouping, which for the most part is fresh, easy-to-wear, youthful and fun, centers around petite to bold sterling silver and porcelain sautoirs, rings, bracelets, earrings and pendants, in choices of white, ebony and 24 carat matte gold finish.

However, while the design of the jewels is creative, and the color choices as is are interesting and complimentary, the designer might have made even more of a dramatic statement, had he mixed in some brighter, more upbeat shades, along with the monotone palette here. After all, in this drab economy, bright colors kind of seem happy and right, esprecially when addressing the new season’s clothing lines, as well as the current jewelry collections that go right along with the wardrobe. When it came to pricepoints, both Chemirik and Bernardaud got everything right. How about $260 for a sexy, little white pendant, or a mere $580 for a bold, swingy, long sautoir, in ebony or gold. Seems very nice, right across the board, yes.

Obviously, by way of showcasing eclectic jewels at reasonable prices, Bernardaud is intent on making itself more appealing and modern to the younger, more fashiony shopper. Case in point: During the press event, several of the “downtown” editors showed more than just a bit of interest in the jewelry, not only for the publications and websites for which they were covering, but for themselves, as well. That’s a pretty good sign, n’est ce pas.

-- Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On the Waterfront: Nautica’s Fall 2009 Men’s Collection

Nautica Fall 2009 Menswear Collection (All photos Isabelle Erb)

Spring was definitely in the air on Wednesday night in Manhattan. The gloomy winter days had finally given way to temperatures hovering in the low to mid sixties. As the sun set slowly over the Hudson River, guests gathered on Pier 86 to attend the Fall 2009 presentation of the Nautica Menswear Collection.

The event took place on the recently renovated Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The historic World War II Essex class aircraft carrier seemed to be an appropriate location for the Nautica Show. After passing through a high-level security check, attendees climbed the stairs to Hanger 4 of the massive ship.

Entrance to the show

Inside, the scene was one part fashion show and one part party. Waiters and waitresses passed hors d’ouevres throughout the crowd as guests mingled and sipped drinks from the open bar. A DJ provided rock music to set the mood.

On one side of the cavernous space, thirty models stood at attention in two rows, clad in Nautica’s crisp fall looks. It was no surprise that the collection seemed heavily influenced by regulation naval attire. There was a wide range of oceanic blues, including navy, indigo, and cobalt. For contrast, the color palette was highlighted by the occasional orange, bright white, or cream, as well as neutrals like black and gray.

Many of the ensembles featured classic naval outerwear, such as the pea coats in charcoal wool or navy cotton or the black wool 3/4 length Captain’s coat. There was also a lightweight yellow sailing jacket as well as a variety of tailored sports coats. For dressier occasions Nautica showed navy or gray pinstriped suits in two button, three button, or three piece styles. A classic navy blue cashmere blazer was matched with a shawl neck sweater and a white button down shirt with a wool tie.

It is not often that one attends a fashion event and is given the opportunity to gain some insight into what military life is like on the high seas. Many of the Intrepid’s exhibits were accessible to the evening’s guests. Of particular interest was a glass portal that allowed you to peer down through the numerous decks below, and a short film that showed how planes landed (described as a controlled crash) and took off on the Essex class carrier when it was fully operational.

- Rhonda Erb

Think It’s Hermes? Guess Again.

Even in the wild and wacky Fashion Industry, sometimes good things do come to those who wait. Take for example, Nadja Solovieva, the Russian-born and London-based designer, who waited until all of the craziness of NYC Fashion Week ended, before showing her new, Vassilisa clothing and accessories collection. Further to the point, the designer pared her pieces against an eclectic backdrop of a midtown loft space, where models informally showed the line, as guests munched on pastel-colored cakes.

Solovieva’s story focuses on romantic dressing that mixes modernity with Seventeenth century silk furnishings from her native, Russian homeland. Here, kaftans (long and short), evening dresses, tops, tunics, skirts, coats, jackets, and covetable, printed chiffon scarves and shawls are basically wearable, classical and for the most part, quite glam. Generally, there are many good-looking pieces in this line, which not only looked great on the skinny models, but could definitely be flattering, on larger, real-life people, a point not missed by this editor.

The collection brings to life lots of intricate draping, pleating, shirring, corseting, one-shoulder effects and the like. While much of this handiwork looked great, sometimes it was just too much and too overdone, marring the prettiness and lightness of the clothing and taking away somehow from what the designer was obviously trying to express acorss her line. On the flip side, fabrics, such as satin, silk, chiffon, English boucle and a bit of Rex rabbit worked well, playing up the color palette, which ran from happy and breezy to dark and moody. The prize winners here, though, were Solovieva’s specialty prints and patterns, many of which showed a decidely strong Parisian feeling.

Assessing the collection overall, it was the gold kaftans, Sadki evening dress, black Sheba evening dress and chocolate with Brown Winter Coat that made this editor long to be all dressed up in Russia during Wintertime. Ditto for the long scarves and shawls. But, no worry here, because for these well-priced accessories, every fashion maven can easily have the look of that hot and very recognizeable Parisian brand, without ever even thinking about having to mortgage the house or sell the condo.

– Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Monday, March 09, 2009

Muriel King: Artist of Fashion

Evening dress with corselet, navy-blue silk satin with chiffon and magenta ribbon,1938, USA. Gift of Muriel King. (Photos by Irving Solero, courtesy The Museum at FIT)

Sought out in the 1930s and '40s by the glamorous women of Hollywood and high society but largely unknown today, the American couturiere Muriel King (1900-1977) will be rediscovered in Muriel King: Artist of Fashion, on view at The Museum at FIT from March 10 through April 4, 2009.

This is the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to King, whose career spanned four decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s. The exhibition and accompanying brochure, organized, curated, and written by FIT graduate students in the Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice program, will introduce Muriel King to the general public, provide new scholarship, highlight her legacy as an artist, and identify her place within American fashion history.

King was one of several women designers who dominated fashion in the 1930s. The influence of Parisian couturieres such as Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel and Madeline Vionnet was pervasive, but in New York, King and her contemporaries such as Valentina, Elizabeth Hawes, and Clare Potter were becoming known as American style-makers.

Interestingly, Muriel King had no formal training as a fashion designer. She did not cut, drape, or sew. Rather, she created superb, fully-rendered watercolor sketches detailing the construction and look of her designs, which her tailors and sewing staff then worked from to construct her garments.

Evening ensemble, grey, brown, and gold striped silk, 1935, USA. Gift in memory of Mrs. Junius S. Morgan.

Born in Bayview, Washington, in 1900, King aspired even as a young girl to be an artist. She moved east when she was 19 years old to study watercolor painting and theater design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts. In 1927, she went to Paris, where she sketched clothes for such publications as Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, and Femina. In the early 1930s, she started designing dresses for herself. Her friends asked for her assistance in planning their wardrobes and encouraged her to start her own line. In 1932, she opened her own New York couture salon and signed a licensing partnership with Lord & Taylor, the first department store to sell her ready-to-wear garments.

Muriel King, sketch of an evening dress, design sold to Hattie Carnegie, watercolor on paper, 1936, USA. Muriel King Archive, Special Collections, Gladys Marcus Library
at FIT.

King's career flourished in the 1930s. Her fashions were particularly popular among socialites who could afford the high prices of her couture creations. They appreciated the sophistication and sensibility of a dress designed by Muriel King, who believed that "beauty, economy, and usefulness [are] the best rule[s] for the well dressed woman." King’s emphasis on separates and day-into-evening looks created versatility and value amidst the troubled economic climate of the Great Depression, yet the quality of her clothing indulged her clients' lingering desire for luxury.

Her designs evoke a distinct interpretation of chic, best encapsulated in her motto of "cautious daring." She believed that you "put just one detail in a dress," and her clothing was lauded for its clean lines, elegant simplicity, and exquisite quality.

Day jacket, wool flannel with passementerie trim and metal buttons, 1935, USA. Gift of Muriel King.

King is remarkable for the unusual way she designed clothes. The sketches featured in the exhibition were an integral part of her "backwards" design process. In 1935, King designed the costumes for Katharine Hepburn – whom she dressed both on-and off-screen – for the film Sylvia Scarlett. This was King's first feature film. In 1937, she designed for the film Stage Door, which also starred Hepburn, along with Ginger Rogers and Gail Patrick. King was among the short list of designers considered for Gone with the Wind, and author Margaret Mitchell's favorite, but ultimately did not win the job. Her design for an unrealized costume for the character Scarlett O'Hara is among the sketches in the show.

During the 1940s, King continued to design for Hollywood, while she simultaneously created ready-to-wear collections for a wide variety of department stores. She also created Flying Fortress Fashions for female factory workers at Boeing and other West Coast aerospace firms.

King retired from fashion in the late 1950s to return to her first love – painting.

FIT Masters of Arts in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice

FIT's graduate program leading to the Masters of Arts degree in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice, prepares students for professional curatorial, conservation, education, and other scholarly careers that focus on historic clothing, accessories, and textiles. The program offers a hands-on approach to the study of fiber-based objects through a close association with The Museum at FIT.

7th Avenue at 27th Street
Museum Hours:
Tuesday - Friday – noon-8:00 pm
Saturday – 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Closed Sunday, Monday, and legal holidays

Admission is free.

Friday, March 06, 2009

VALENTINO: The Last Emperor

-by Anna Bayle (read more about Valentino on her site)

What makes a great film? A great story.

The indie movie, Valentino: The Last Emperor, has been doing the rounds of the film festivals around the world. It is a fashion ‘docu-film’ following Valentino Garavani for the past 2 years, shooting 250 hours of footage. The film is directed by Matt Tyrnauer, a longtime Vanity Fair editor and writer, who handled the many layers of this great story with discreet efficacy.

The story is about the iconic career of one of fashion’s greatest masters, Valentino Garavani. It is also an incredible story of love between 2 men (Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giacometti) who together built a billion dollar fashion business from the ground up. Moreover, this is a true fashion film; it a rare inside look into the world of haute couture that has never been seen ‘up close and personal’ – from the arguing seamstresses to the 6 dogs laying sleepily in the atelier. It culminates with an extravagant 3 day event in Rome celebrating the house of Valentino’s 45th anniversary in fashion.

The movie starts with spot interviews of Valentino and how he started. As a child, Valentino was always fascinated with movie stars – Hedy Lamarr, Judy Garland, Jimmy Stewart. He wanted to be the designer to dress the biggest stars of Hollywood. The best one liner is when Valentino was asked what women want. Valentino, whose name is an international symbol of elegance, timelessness and beauty, says with certainty that he knows what women want.

“Women want to look beautiful.”

The movie captures truthfully the process of creating a beautiful garment. It starts with Valentino sketching an evening gown. The fabrics are draped over a model and the seamstresses scurrying about rushing to finish the garment for Valentino’s inspection, right to the runway. This creative process is dissected in the film, as the atelier went back and forth on the minute details of a white ruffled evening gown. After 4 or 5 alterations Valentino is ecstatic about the gown, then Giancarlo walks in and comments that it looks unfinished. Valentino, as expected of any creative genius, throws a mild tantrum. It is hard to imagine the real life of a fashion designer but this film understands and captures what fashion designers go through. And to think that Valentino has been doing this for more than 50 years (including his apprenticeship in Paris with Jean Desses and Guy Laroche), and still kept his ‘movie star’ cool – as proved by the many pictures of Valentino from the 60’s to present, is very impressive.

All throughout the film are scenes of a perfectly glamorous life. The locations were Valentino’s palatial homes in Paris, London, New York, Gstaad and aboard Valentino’s yacht. There were parties and gatherings with kings and queens, Hollywood celebrities, Italian political figureheads, aristocrats, journalists and fellow designers. Though all these were very impressive, they were only a backdrop to the compelling story of love between two men who met at a café in the Via Veneto in the 60’s. In the film are tender scenes of affection between Giancarlo and Valentino and pictures of when they first met. Giancarlo Giacometti, Valentino’s business partner and companion for 50 years who brings the business acumen to the table and is credited with building the Valentino brand and empire is the other star of the movie. This is a story of a bond that is perfectly complimentary. In the film, there were very touching moments like when they were walking in the park in the early morning, reminiscing in Via Veneto and when Valentino offers a tearful tribute to Giancarlo “who stayed by my side all these years” when Valentino was accepting France’s Legion of Honor award for contributions to art and culture.

Conflict is introduced in the film, as the house that Valentino and Giancarlo built is slowly taken over by a private equity firm, Permira. Since 2002, Valentino and Giacometti sold controlling shares to the Marzotti family, known as Valentino Fashion Group. However, in 2007, the Marzottis started to sell its controlling stake. Valentino who is used to freedom is defiant.

“The world of fashion is very different today. If there is a reason for Valentino to stop one day, it is because it is a world not made for him.”, Giacometti asserts.

Giacometti steps in and once again saves the day and initiates an idea of throwing the biggest fashion event ever to mark Valentino’s achievement and secure his place in the fashion firmament. It is a 3 day event in Rome for their 45th year, starting with Valentino’s summer couture collection. Following that is a retrospective of the designer’s work at the Ara Pacis Museum, a black-tie ball at Villa Borghese, an over-the -top gala bash at the Temple of Venus overlooking the Coliseum, complete with fireworks and flying models. Estimates of the total cost were around 20 million.

There were rumors of retirement, but it was not forthcoming until Permira has completely taken over and two months after the 45th anniversary celebration, Valentino retired. It is very fortunate that the film was able to document the dramatic closing act of Valentino’s celebrated career.

As someone who has personally interacted with the principals of this film, Valentino, Giancarlo Giacometti and their entourage, I almost left the screening room teary eyed. It is not only the triumphant but bittersweet end of a brilliant, masterful career but the start of a decline of an art form – haute couture. There are very few designer houses left carrying the torch for this art form and when one of the masters retire – we ask ourselves, what will happen to haute couture? There was a very poignant moment when Giancarlo Giacometti spoke about not having one sewing machine in the atelier, because everything was done by hand, as the picture segues to a shot of 6 seamstresses around a mannequin sewing on the bodice of one gown simultaneously.

Valentino: The Last Emperor was premiered for the press today, March 5, 2009 at the Magno Screening Room. It will be shown in select theaters for a 2 week engagement from March 18-31 at the Film Forum on West Houston Street with daily screenings. It is a must see for anyone involved in the business of fashion.

Don’t miss one of the best shots of the film - 6 pugs (Milton, Monty, Maude, Margot, Maggie and Molly) seated in a line on a banquette of a private jet, travelling with Valentino.

Monday, March 02, 2009

New York Fashion Week

Beauties, Freeks and Geeks

-By Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg & Photos by Isabelle Erb
OK. OK. We know how much every Fashion Week “insider” wants to get close, cozy and lovey dovey with all of the big editors (Anna, Andre, Glenda, Robbie, Linda, Cathy, ad nauseum) and the even bigger “name” fashionistas (designers, stylists, photographers) across the board (or in the case of FW, The Tents). Well, we’ve had quite enough of that. Now, for something new and different, we scoured The Tents (and beyond) during FW, with a sharp eye trained on bringing you something you might not have seen, heard, read about or even thought of before.

With all of this in mind, we’re bringing you a diverse array of fashion folk, we’re calling “the great undiscovered”. For this interesting and virtually unknown (up until now, that is) group, who really do place quite an interesting and signature spin on the categories of beauty, freek or geek (we know, but we’re leaving it up to you to draw your own conclusions), some of the most interesting looks, style and FW observations come.


Affiliation: Publisher, Editor, http://www.crapandcouture.com/

And, you are wearing … Silver gray, early 1950’s, fitted suit; very Bergdorf Goodman at that time. I’m channeling Christian Dior via Lucy Ricardo. The cuff is from Gerard Yosca; the pearls and the fur are from H&M.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … To me, glamor is sort of fading. Most of the designers are aiming at the 18-year-olds who go to clubs, or at most of the shows that I have seen, the clothes are for the society woman who has these mgnificent balls to go to, which I really do not think is the right way to go right now. We’re in a recession and I think that the idea is to sell beautiful, wearable clothes; not just to present a fantasy idea of that on a runway. Plus, if the clothing is expensive, it should not necessarily be timeless, but still high fashion and not something to be worn just once and then spend the rest of its life in the woman’s closet.

Move to Lincoln Center … Personally, I am unhappy, and the people that I have spoken to about this topic are also unhappy. For the most part, it becomes difficult to maneuveur around; not everybody who covers Fashion Wee has a limo, you know. Public transporation is difficult, because there’s no express that you can take anywhere. Then, there’s the NYC Crosstown bus, which is a joke. Lincoln Center is really not a place, I think, that has much to offer by way of relaxing between shows. Also, for the established designers, as well as the younger, less known designers, many of whom may want to show in their showrooms to do a presentation; well, some of these designers, especially the younger ones, may not get the traffic. I really feel that many of these younger designers will get stuck, and they will suffer, because to go from Lincoln Center all the way down to The Garment Center, is going to be hard and extremely time consuming. That’s truly how I feel, and I doubt that I am alone in what I think.

Trending the season … Skinny, skinny, skinny pants that you have to be 8 feet tall and anorexic to wear … lots of drab, dull colors, which could be a subconscious manifestation on the part of many designers right now, of the economy and the times … For example, at Carolina Herrera, the skirts are falling below the knee. Usually, when you’re going down into a depression, hemlines drop accordingly. Unfortunately, I hope that’s not going to fall true. But, we’ll see what happens.


Affiliation: Costume Designer, ABC TV’s “All My Children”

And, you are wearing … My oldest suit; Ralph Lauren; probably 15 years old. A custom-made coat from Grenfell, in an exclusive orange color, which I specifically asked them to create for me. The shirt is custom-made in Italy by Antichi Telai. I’m wearing a Charvet tie, Edye Jetta scarf and To Boot shoes.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … Fashion overall is probably at its most exciting point. It’s a time to re-invent; it’s a time to get back to real quality. I feel it’s a time to not follow a look or a trend, just because it is in, or follow a certain name because that name is in or popular, or puts a lot of advertising behind it. I think right now, it’s really going to go back to quality; what is right for a particular person and what that particular person feels attractive and good in, vs. to being simply a follower. I’m on my way to Tracy Reese right now, and to me, she’s fantastic and so right for the times. In all of the 20 years that I have known about Tracy Reese, she has always presented great, wearable clothes that show a great mix and something for everyone/ Each collection is unique and individual, and this is why I think that is one good reason why she has continually maintained and built her name and brand.

Move to Lincoln Center … I’m open to it. I actually began my career as a fashion designer, doing my own shows here at Bryant Park. And before that, we did the shows at Parsons. So, yes, I am open to and embrace change.


Affiliation: Owner, Port City Models, Freelance Fashion Stylist, Writer, based in Portland Maine and Boston

And, you are wearing … BCBG Max Azria, little black dress and boots, Le Chateau accessories, Express fur piece (I’m like Michelle Obama), Chanel bag. I’m opening a division of my modeling agency in New York City soon, and I’m at FW because I brought 3 models with me who are doing some of the shows.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … I’ve been covering FW for awhile, and this season, especially, I see fewer big name designers showing at The Tents, and that’s good, because they’re allowing more emerging designers in. Generally, young designers don’t pay as much to show here, and this is giving them the chance to be seen, known and recognized by so many more press and buyers, vs. showing somewhere else. Also, the chic people are still chic and everyone loves fashion and frivolity. Everyone wants to enjoy life, and fashion is a way to express oneself and get away from the everyday, humdrum of counting pennies in this economy. But, in this economy, more and more people are buying vintage items and mixing in a few expensive, luxury pieces. For example, Michelle Obama is buying J. Crew and mixing in Jason Wu. Overall, I think that looking too luxurious is almost looked down upon at this moment. It’s all about people that can be creative and still look fashionable without being too showy or ostentatious.

Move to Lincoln Center … That’s going to be hard to get used to, especially considering the fact that the whole aura of FW is that it needs to basically be under one, easily accessible tent, and I’m not so sure that Lincoln Center is going to provide that. I love being here in Midtown Manhattan, and being close to the hotel and the apartment where I am staying. Just being close to the hub of everything is wonderful and exciting. Although the move away from Bryant Park is inevitable, I will miss Bryant Park. It saddens me a bit, but at least, FW will still be celebrated. Allowing FW to remain in NYC in one central location is good, because the event just wouldn’t be the same if all of the shows were held in a million, different off-site locations.

Trending the season … I love Miss Sixty’s 80’s theme, Rocker Chic, lots of black, but not depressing black; they’ve dressed black up with lots of great accessories.


Affiliation: Publisher, Editor, www.dereklovesshopping.com

And, you are wearing …Comme des Garcons top, wild mink wrap by Northern Furs, Jeans (I don’t know actually, I just thought that they were hot), YSL boots, necklaces (wood, 18karat gold and diamonds) by Kara Ross, vintage Chanel, bracelets by Louis Morais (a gift), Burberry, 18karat gold vintage, watches from Hermes, Bulgari, Gucci, sunglasses by Bernard Willhelm

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … Well, it’s funny, because I’ve been talking about this, and everybody’s been interviewing me about this-I expected the clothes on the runway this season to be much more somber, and it’s surprising to me that there’s been way more fur and a lot of rich color mixed in with lots of metallics and layers. So, there is richness, even though the economy has gone bad. But, people need to cut back, and maybe not everyone is going to cut back on fashion. Well, maybe something else that they can cut back on could be coffee, for instance. Let’s face it, we all go to Starbuck’s, but now, we can all go to McDonald’s and get a McCafe for 69 cents and I think that’s why McDonald’s is right here in The Tents at FW. They’re trying to pick up on our kind of crowd. They already have their urban crowd and they already have their lower income crowd and they already have the crowd in Middle America. But, they don’t have us. They don’t have the more fashiony, NYC crowd, and it only makes sense for McDonald’s to capture and bring in this crowd, especially now that times are hard.

Now, I don’t have any money, but I’d rather spend what I do have on looking good and feeling good, vs. spending my money on a regular-tasting $5 cup of coffee, especially when I can get a really good cup of coffee for 69 cents. That makes sense to me. I haven’t really cut back on maintaining my interesting haircut, because I’m an artist and I love to look unusual, because I feel good that way. So, I want to have my hair looking chic. Before, I had razor stripes in my hair, but then, I said no, I can’t do this anymore. But, I have cut back on where I live and work; now, I live and work all in one place; downtown on Exchange Place. Basically, I think fashion is all about mixing right now. People cannot stop shopping. I have many friends who can afford basicaly anything that they want, but they feel guilty to just go out and buy everything and anything; they don’t want to be flashy anymore.

But, for me, if there’s a time to be flashy, this is it. If we don’t buy and we don’t shop, the economy is just going to go lower. But, while we’re still shopping, we have to keep in mind that we need to shop differently. And, on my website, that’s exactly what I believe in. I tell my readers to go to stores such as Ina’s Designer Re-Sale or to H&M, where the word “bargain” is the name of the shopping game. I wear a lot of vintage myself; I do buy re-sale, but I also go to Barney’s, especially during the sales. I mix it all up, buying thrift and buying luxury. For example, I might scope things out at Barney’s prior to the sales, and if I’m dying for something that is not on sale at the time, and have to have it right this minute, well, then, that is my investment. I’ve had to shop this way my entire life and I continue to shop this way now. Clearly, we all live from check to check, even though some of our checks are cuter than others. You know what I mean? I live from check to check, but my check is just cuter now than it used to be. So, because I am still not wealthy, I’ve just made choices to do things differently.

For example, if I go to dinner in Tribeca, I’ll order one cocktail, instead of two or three cocktails. I’ll have a cocktail or some wine at home before I go out to dinner. Then, I’ll walk home, rather than spend $10 on a taxi. It’s great exercise and I’m working off that dinner. So, all of this is about thinking about how I spend my money, but still not stopping to spend that money.

Move to Lincoln Center … The Tents are The Tents. The Tents are a classic. The Tents are and always will be, to me, at least, synonomous with FW in New York City.


Affiliation: Freelance Fashion Stylist; Independent Film, Personal Shopper, Special Events

And, you are wearing …
Aubrey Meade cape, Vintage fur by United States Furs, vintage gloves, H&M pants, Aldo shoes, Heather Huey Milliners, custom-made chapeau, eye-liner, naturally plump, pink lips (my lips are real; no Restalin or Botox; Angelina Jolie can eat it), custom haircut by a New Jersey lady. I’m all about New Jersey for hair. I just like to pump up the volume a bit. Do I dress like this everyday? Well, what I’m wearing today is a bit formal for me, but when it comes to FW, I always like to take it to the next step.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy: I think I’m a little upset this FW because in times of financial trouble, designers should strive to create and produce those special, one-of-a-kind pieces that never go out of style, especially those pieces that are just so over-the-top and funky. But, I didn’t see very much, if any of these kinds of pieces this FW; I think that too many designers this season just played it close to the vest and overly safe, so that the bigger stores will pick up their lines. I think that too many designers did not step up this season. Instead of going over the top, they were boring and uninspiring. I always want to see the new and different at FW; that’s what I come here for. But, I didn’t see much of that this season. But, I did like Diesel’s Black Gold show, which was just great as a commercial line. They always do fun, crazy stuff and I think that this season, the show was no exception. The furs were really phenominal and the models, hair, make-up and styling were as out there as always, which is Diesel’s signature. The fact that they stayed true to their roots, and showed everything in the way that they did, especially so much fur, even with all of the crazy PETA nonsense going on out in the street, is just great and made me feel good. I’m looking forward to seeing Untitled Love, which is another one of my favorite shows. They’re going green with lots of organic fabrics paired up with vintage embellishments (buttons, zippers), and to me, that’s a great move right now.

You didn’t ask me about the people walking around The Tents. To me, the majority of these people look derelict and demoralized. Very few people, if anyone, even dress up for the shows anymore. I think there’s just me and you and Rosemary Ponzo, and isn’t that sad. I have always felt that FW is such a great event to have fun and experiment, where everyone gets the chance to have their own style.

Move to Lincoln Center … Really pathetic. There’s just something so tender about FW at Bryant Park, and it’s not only so historic, but also so traditional, welcoming and iconic. While I do think that some designers – Marc Jacobs comes to my mind – are better suited to different venues aside from The Tents, per se, I also feel that for the majority of designers who show during FW (known and new), The Tents have become and are home. To now take all of these feelings and ideas and transpose everything away to another place, well, I don’t know if that work work.


Affiliation: Creator of special events at The Tavern On The Green, Creator of Studio 54 with Ian Schraeger and Steve Rubell

And, you are wearing … Bebe top, dress and belt by Dolce Gabbana, Aldo boots, fur and metallic bag

And, you are here because … I came today especially to see Cho Cheng’s show, which I loved, because of all of the very young clothes, especially the short skirts and bright colors. I adored the finale piece – meringue-colored evening dress. I want to grab a little bit of FW, because in two days, I’m leaving for Rio to enjoy ten days of Carnivale.


Affiliation: Salon Tea

And, you are wearing …
Gilles Montezin haute couture gown. Any woman who wears this gown, which is so haute coutre in its feeling, feels so special; just like a fairy princess. Gilles is a close friend of mine, who recently came to NYC from Paris, where he worked with LaCroix. Vintage designer bracelet, YSL bag, Lanvin shoes.

And, you are here because … I came today to see another friend’s show; Cho Cheng. He always makes lovely jackets and they are wearable, but in a fun, spirited, never boring way. I liked the very short skirts that he showed, but I don’t wear anything that’s not underneath myk nee. I’m very ladylike.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … For me, if someone has style, that person can go into their clset and put things together in a unique, creative way. You have to use what you have in your closet, and then, add the accessories, but always pairing everything together differently. We all have to be respectful of the times. I have not really gone out and made a major purchase, except for shoes. I’ve definitely toned back


Affiliation: Professor, LIM (Laboratory Institute of Merchandising), The College For The Business of Fashion

And, you are wearing …
Coat and pants from Banana Republic, “Sex Slaves” t-shirt by FCUK, Cashmere shirt, “looks like to came from Kmart, but it’s not; it’s Ralph Lauren”, Missoni scarf, shoes, “so old I can’t remember where they’re from”, tote bags, the store at LIM and various FW bags, drinking, “some type of vodka drink, but not a “Passionista”; rather, a real Martini-ista with olives from the cocktail lounge. Your boss gave me this”.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy … I think the worst mistake that most companies are making right now is trying to play too safe. I think in order for anyone to purchase anything, it’s going to have to be exciting, different, and something the consumer does not already have in their closet. It’s the “if I already have it, I’m not going to buy it” mentality. That’s it, period. And, I think from what we’ve just seen on the video screens here in The Tents this afternoon, Diane von Furstenberg has certainly gone in the right direction. The collection was wonderful. She just doesn’t seem to care and that is the attitude that people should have right now. Speaking of that kind of attitude, as I watched this show, I really was captivated by the fantastic hats. I immediately channeled Vivienne Westwood. I mean, where else would you find someone as eccentric as Westwood? She never reads magazines. She doesn’t watch television. She believes in researching from history.

Why not? I still believe that even in this economy, shoppers in general want so much creativity and fashion, but in a different way than before. They are going to be adding on to what they already have in their closet, but still, their add-on piece or pieces have to be things that are worth buying. Everything has to be fabulous, exciting, fresh and new. The customer is not going to be looking for the same, old, dull, basic things that they have been buying for God knows how long. The Gap, forget it. And, the feeling is everywhere. I was in London in December, and the stores were not only giving stuff away, but you’d buy one and get three. So, it’s not just in America, where people are feeling the recession.

But, I also think that it’s more to do with the same stores that it’s happening with here - stores such as Tommy Hilfiger and The Gap – American companies that have opened in London, for example, and are now starting to feel the thing that Europeans are much more fashion-oriented than they are prepared to be. So with this being said, I think that these stores are in jeopardy, period, worldwide, with the exception maybe of somebody like Ralph Lauren, who is selling a lifestyle, rather than pieces. He’s selling an image, which people have bought into for years now. As I’m speaking with you today, I’m reminded of a disappointing event, which happened to me when I first came to this country from London. In my first job in America, the principals weren’t interested in the fact that I’d spent seven years of my life, training to be a designer. All they were interested in was, “who sent you to Europe?” and "how much money can you spend on samples to knock off?”.

As a menswear specialist, I think that the most exciting menswear company is Rag and Bone. The designers there just happen to be English guys, who are married to American women. They’re really doing stuff that is edgy, exciting and still very wearabe and understandable. The one thing that I have to give them credit for is that the line is made in this country. They have opened up factories in the South, where the women were there, ready to work, and they’ve done it. So, the pieces may be a little bit more expensive, but everything is beautifully made, and they also do womenswear, as well. And, it is all different, yes.


AFFILIATION: Jacob, 17, HS student, soon to be at Parsons; Erla, 16, student at Art and Design

And, you are wearing … Jacob: Imported from India Twigs top, Genetic Denim jeans (“very comfortable; they feel like leggings”), Calvin Klein boots; Erla: Children’s Place top, shirt bought on the street, Genetic Denim jeans, Dr. Martens boots, home-made twine bracelet, baby pink manicure

And, you are here because … Jacob: This is our first time at FW. Our mother got us tickets to FW. I’m so excited. We’ve been to a few shows and noticed that lots of designers are using gold and feathers. We’ve seen so many glamorous things. Erla: FW is awesome. I’ve never been to something like this. Everything is so inspiring. I can’t wait to get to the next show.


AFFILIATION: Fashion Icon, Designer who presented her collection for the first time this season at The Tents, Creator of the pink, plastic editor’s bag

And, you are wearing …
Everything vintage, from swimwear, to accessories, to the ponytail and make-up.

Thoughts on Fashion and the Economy: Darling, I have seen it all. Remember that even though I still look like a modern woman, I have been around for a long time. And, I’ve had several reincarnations. But, through it all, and even though the economy is hard right now, I’ve always believed that it is a woman’s right to have fashion, beauty and love in their lives. That’s the passion and zest for life. And, this is FW. There are beautiful and fresh collections from so many designers, established and new, and each one is making a personal statement about the ways they want their designs to be seen and worn. Now, for me, it’s all about color, color, color and lots and lots of fun.