Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Museum at FIT’s
Annual Couture Council Summer Party

Cocktails being served in the garden

A cocktail party was held last night at the upper East Side home of decorator Charlotte Moss. This party kicked off the fundraising drive that culminates in the annual Couture Council luncheon where Dries Van Noten will make a rare trip to New York to receive the 2009 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion.

Over a hundred people showed up on a warm and muggy night. A lot a familiar faces were out in the garden enjoying cocktails. They included Ralph Rucci, Hamish Bowles, David Chu, Christian Cota, Somers Farkas, Amy Fine Collins, Cece Cord, Arnold Scaasi, to name just a few. And quite a number of photographers were on hand, including Bill Cunningham and Patrick McMullan to record the event.

Co-hosts for the evening was FIT museum director Dr. Valerie Steele and deputy director Patricia Mears. We also ran into Charles B. Froom, the exhibition designer responsible for setting up the museum's exhibitions and who we interviewed for our Masters of Fashion series.(see article)

The Couture Council is a membership group of fashion enthusiasts that helps support the exhibitions and programs of The Museum at FIT, a specialized museum of fashion. Previous recipients of the Couture Council Artistry of Fashion Award are Isabel Toledo in 2008 (a prescient choice made before Michelle Obama selected Toledo's design to wear on Inauguration Day), Alber Elbaz of Lanvin in 2007, and Ralph Rucci, the recipient of the first award in 2006.

Currently on exhibition at The Museum at FIT, Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out, a mid-career retrospective displaying approximately 70 iconic looks from the mid- 1980s to the present, including the ensemble worn by First Lady Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day. Also on exhibition, Fashion & Politics, a chronological exploration of over 200 years of politics as expressed through fashion.

-Ernest Schmatolla

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Summer Fashion

Summer 2009 breezes in just in time to lift the dark cloud of despair that has been hanging heavily overhead for the last several months. Right now, we all need a recess from the recession, a summer vacation, a new beginning. Or, we could just re-visit the past when things were happier and more prosperous. Fluorescent hues, a la Stephen Sprouse, are pioneering an eighties revival. Neon colors have saturated the fashion world with no intention of stopping in the near future. Remember the days of football player-like jackets? Well, they’re coming back! The shoulder has been the focal point on the runway for the last couple of seasons and we’re seeing it manipulated in a variety of ways. Strong shoulders, whether they’re achieved with padding, cutouts, asymmetry, shirring in sleeve caps, pleating, draping, etc., are one of the most significant features of the Spring/Summer season.

With a new President in office America is ready to embrace change. It’s not just that Barack Obama is the first African-American President elected, but also the fact that he represents a new point of view. Politics play an important role in fashion and this season is no exception. Influences from all over the world are setting trends ranging from elaborate embellishments, ethnic prints/motifs and tribalistic jewelry. Textured natural fabrics such as linen, silk and cotton in neutral tones as well as warm saturated colors are key. Reptile skin dominates and Summer ’09 is overwhelmingly animal friendly in terms of print.

The return to American idealism is perhaps the biggest trend occurring as of late. Because we know that nothing can change overnight and that “Made in USA” may take a while to come back (at least in apparel), we choose to reminisce about times gone by. Feathers, fringe and turquoise compliment buffalo checks, plaid and Navajo motifs. Cowboy and other styles of rugged ankle boots make a strong statement and, as always, denim rules. The Bohemian style lingers on, but in a more elegant way this Summer. Maxi-dresses are one of the season’s most important silhouettes, while the mini-skirt is still present. Watercolor, floral, medallion and paisley prints decorate chiffon, jersey and voile. Ornamental touches of crochet, lace, eyelet and other open work fabrics add dimension.

Wall Street may have crashed and burned recently, but the market has bounced back, in a sense, emerging in fashion. Clean sharp lines materialize into tailored pieces while, on the flip side, a wave of feminism is washing over the fashion industry providing a balance between the masculine and feminine. As a key component of the season, trousers have never been more diverse. Skinny flat front pants still stand strong, but a new regime of wider leg silhouettes are marching in with higher waists, pleats and yoke treatments. They come in all lengths ranging from full, to cropped, to shorts. In fact, shorts have exploded as a category and are available in a vast array of shapes and styles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, delicate fabrics in cosmetic colors (or non-colors) such as nude, buff, porcelain, blush and Champagne evoke femininity. They are draped and layered creating pretty pieces fit for a princess. Ruffles are unavoidable this season as are rosettes and bows. While Donna Karan has been the “Queen of Drape” for years (and let’s not forget the late greats, Halston & Madame Gres), the Grecian look is becoming increasingly important. Draping and folding tend to camouflage and accentuate where needed, therefore, it’s no mystery why women gravitate toward these styles. We feel pretty, sexy, self-assured… like a Goddess.

With the message of change permeating the country, there is more focus on America’s youth. Thanks to the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, IPhones, etc., the younger generation is more cognizant than ever of politics, science, culture and fashion. An awareness of domestic and international issues is infiltrating schools all over the country and prep-school socialites have created a huge buzz in the fashion world. Pretty little fine-gauge cardigans and preppy cropped blazers mingle with short tulip skirts to create refined and sophisticated (but inherently young) ensembles. Plaids are flirty rather than serious and dots and spots in all sizes dance around on a variety of fabrics exuding zest and vitality as if they are personal messengers of hope assuring the world that everything will be OK.

-Stacy Lomman