Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beauties, Freeks and Geeks: Part Deux
By Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

Well, here we go again. Now that the madness and craziness of the next-to-the-last edition of Fashion Week at Bryant Park has just ended – the move to Lincoln Center is coming soon - we’re bringing you a brand new, second-time around assortment of some of our favorite, undiscovered “personalities”, coming straight to you from The Tents (and beyond) in NYC.

Now, although we’re not really saying for sure which of these “faces” might fall under which category of either being a Beauty, a Freek or a Geek, we think it’s much more interesting for you to draw your own conclusions about who fits where. And although we pretty much have our own ideas about who fits which of the categories in this eclectic puzzle, we simply wanted to let you play the game and have as much fun and frolic as we did, when we first found this cast of characters, and then lifted the veil about who they are and what they had to say, at the Spring/Summer 2010 Fashion Shows.

Tyler Laswell

Photo: Isabelle Erb

Affiliation: Celebrity Hairstylist, TRESemmé Booth
You live where: Lower Manhattan. I also have homes in Key West and Kentucky.

And, you are wearing: A pile-on of expensive labels with a few more, reasonably-priced things. John Varvatos sunglasses. Double-hoop, Tiffany, sterling silver earrings in my right ear. I am sorry to say this, but the earrings are a little bit tarnished and they are very tired; they’ve been in there for a long time. Marc Jacobs T-shirt. Christian Dior jacket; my absolute, most favorite jacket in the world. I am super-picky with the jacket. Uniqlo jeans. John Varvatos boots. Hermes Birkin bag; the piece de resistance. We could fit 101 Dalmations in that bag. A lot of people ask me what I carry in the Birkin, and I say, ‘my ego’, and it’s barely big enough for that. What’s in there today? Actually, another cheaper bag from Club Monaco. The Hermes bag was actually a gift from an anonymous benefactor who lives in Germany. I met him in quite the round about way, at a celebrity birthday party in the city, but I can’t really say any more about him. So, we’re just going to leave him alone; leave him in the street.

Great and Not So Great Observations: One of the most fabulous things that I have done during Fashion Week is working on fierce shows, such as Brian Reyes and Tracy Reese.

In the six years that I have been working at Fashion Week, I have to say that we get around 80% crazies and 20% bona fide people in the TRESemmé booth. The crazies are the crazies and they know who they are, and that’s that. Now, when it comes to the bona fide people, we are seeing a lot more buyers than we do editors, and stylists. I think this is because the editors, for the most part, are so put together in their own ways, whatever that way might be, and I feel like so many of the buyers that we see in the booth, even though they are fabulous, really do not put that much time into their appearance. So, it is a good thing for us to have the chance to add to that particular person’s individual ‘look’, which is as much fun for us as it for that buyer.

It is interesting to note that while we have had a surprising male response this year, in terms of the females to males ratio we have been seeing, most of the men coming to the booth for touch ups are wearing a lot more of the longer, not so coiffed hair; more of the sexy, Italian style, James Dean with an Italian style twist to it. And, in that vein, I put myself, although I would characterize myself more as probably a little bit of all-American prep with a little bit of James Dean, rock-and-roll background. I cut my own hair and style it with TRESemmé products, of course.

It’s really sad that the fashion business has turned into a world of bloggers, and this really bothers me, because everyone has become so taken up with living in a world of immediate satisfaction, Nobody wants to wait for the beauty in the magazines anymore. Everybody has to have it right now and everybody wants to have it so fast and nobody wants to wait for everything to be right and correct. It’s really as if everything that so many of these bloggers say is 100% right and written in stone, vs. the magazines, where the editors truly do their homework and fact-check everything. For me, with the magazines, it is all about the art, and the fact that the magazines do not just give information, which is pretty much all that the bloggers do, and in most cases, the bloggers really mess up with the information that they give out, but the magazines give the history and all of the beauty and the behind-the-scenes about a particular story. And, for me, that’s what makes magazines work, even in this day and age of instant gratification.

Sam Morris

Photo: Isabelle Erb

Affiliation: Creative Director, Raine Magazine
You live where … Financial District

And, you are wearing A much shorter hairstyle than I had a few weeks ago, when my hair, which I hadn’t cut in around five months, was so super-curly and wild and long, that I looked like the ‘Sideshow Bob’ character from ‘The Simpsons’. But, now, I have people coming up to me at The Tents, asking me if I’m Seth Rogen. I tell them no, but sometimes I get the feeling that they still think I am him, which is kind of funny. I cut my own hair, no I’m joking. I always go to a great salon in Westchester, because there’s one stylist there who really knows how to cut my very curly hair, and they always get it right. Sunglasses; I believe they’re just really nice, little black glasses from Lens Crafters. But wait; oh no, Cohen’s Fashion Optical, just like your vintage black Rayban’s. Argyle Sweater; I don’t remember. Oh, wait a minute; Dockers. T-shirt with little London logo, from London. Pants from when I went to Rome two years ago, by some Italian designer, whose name I can’t remember. BCBG shoes.

Great and Not So Great Observations: We just came out of Christian Siriano, whom I loved. I love how he plays with architecture; how he mainly does dresses, but also, how he plays everything up with voume and with color. The first half of the collection was all of those muted tans and browns and beiges, and then, all of a sudden, there are these giant pops of color at the end. His show was one of the best I’ve seen so far.

Adam Lippes is also absolutely one of my favorites. I saw his Fall 2009 collection in February and I fell in love with it. I love how everything this designer does is so elegant and simple and really and truly ready-to-wear in the truest sense of the word; it’s all just out there and ready to be sold immediately.

On the other side of the coin, we have Charlotte Ronson, whom, to be honest, kind of underwhelmed me. I know that her show was one of the more packed and crazy shows that I’ve seen this week, and everyone seemed to love it, but I did not. Maybe, great expectations, because I know that she has a big fan following; plus, everybody loves her sister, Samantha. Now, with Samantha dj’ing at the show, the music was really great, and with the music being so great, well, for me, the music overshadowed the fashion, and that’s not such a good thing.

This is my first year and only my second season of covering Fashion Week. I’ve learned, sort of, kind of, some of the ‘tricks of the trade’, as opposed to seeing so much difference in the clothing from one season to the next. I’ve learned how important it is not to cause a mess and not cause a fuss. For example, if you’re not on the list, you might or you might not get into a show. If you do get in, you might get a seat, but you have to be cool about everything. Conversely, if you’re on the list and have a seat, but you don’t like that seat, you’ll generally be able to get a better seat, but again, you have to be cool and civilized. My thing is to simply relax, do my job, but still have fun; Fashion Week is all about doing all of those things. I feel that all of the big drama should be backstage.

As for the hangers -on who come to The Tents, I can sort of understand that part of it all, because when I was in High School, I always wanted to be at Bryant Park; in The Tents and everything, but now that I am here as a working professional, I understand that this is my job and that while I am definitely here to work for my magazine, I am also entitled to enjoy myself and have fun. I think that what I have learned the most during my time at Fashion Week, is how important it is to be able to know how to balance out the business and pleasure side of things, because at the end of the day, Fashion Week is hard work.

The people who come to The Tents as hangers-on, well, for me, these are the people who are usually the most annoying, the loudest and the most obnoxious; the people who bump you and then tell you to get the hell out of their way. These are the people who’ll be the first to steal your seat at a show, or grab your gift bag at a party, and then, try to intimidate you into thinking that they deserve the seat and the gift bag, which is just insane. So, at that point, all you really want to say to that person is, ‘can I see your pass? Can I see your badge? Are you supposed to be here?’ It’s just all so ridiculous.

As for walking into a show and seeing gifts only in the first and second rows, which is where basically the cream-of-the-crop editors and celebrities are seated most of the time, well, I do understand some of that. I also understand about economics and the fact that the majority of designers, especially the smaller, lesser-known designers, just don’t have the budget to give gifts to everyone who attends their show. And, that’s perfectly fine and completely understandable. But, on the other hand, the thing that I don’t understand and don’t like at all, is when gifts are placed in the first four rows; that’s kind of cheap and a little bit like saying to the guests that all of the first four rows are so much better and more important than the rest of the rows in the house.

Move to Lincoln Center: There are positives and negatives, I think. In Bryant Park now, there’s one giant tent, one medium tent, one smaller tent. From what I understand, at Lincoln Center, they’ll be able to have one giant tent and two medium tents, so they’ll be able to have two slightly larger tents, which is a good thing, I guess, because more people will be able to see the shows, which means more outlets will be able to cover Fashion Week in general. On the opposite side, however, there’s the fact that Bryant Park is such a centrally located place, which is literally in the center of Manhattan; so convenient and so easy and quick to get in and out of. Not only that, but a large part of the allure of Fashion Week is that it’s not really open to the public, and people always walk by 42nd Street and The Tents, and kind of gawk and stare in awe at everything that’s going on, along with gawking and staring at all of the people going in and out of The Tents, and so, all of this really does add to the excitement and the glamour of the whole thing.

At Lincoln Center, Fashion Week, I think, is going to kind of be quietly tucked away in a corner, where nobody really walks by, unless they have to, and I think that kind of diminishes the allure and the grandeur of what Fashion Week represents. But, who really knows what is going to happen once everything moves over there. Of course, I’m still going to come to Fashion Week and Lincoln Center, because I love the event and I love Lincoln Center and the upper West Side. I hope it all works out.

Donna Brasier

Photo: Isabelle Erb

Affiliation: Southern Belle, Fashion Afficienado
You Live Where … Indianola, Mississippi

And, you are wearing: My hair is cut and styled by a close friend who owns a wonderful boutique in my town. I just got this vintage hat from a very dear, very old friend of mine. The hat has been in her collection for many, many years, and she gave it to me to wear in New York City, especially for Fashion Week. I love hats and I have tons of them. My cocktail dress, beaded bag and beaded, Donald Pliner shoes are all from Maison Weiss in Jackson, MS. I’m wearing Mikimoto pearls and earrings. I love pearls.

I’m at The Tents because: I’m in New York visiting my son, who works for the New York Stock Exchange. I thought it would be neat to come to the shows and see what’s going on for next Spring. I just saw Christian Siriano’s new collection, which was totally awesome. I loved everything, particularly, the blue section of the show. I thought that everything he showed was very chic. I still can’t believe that the bags and shoes that I just saw on the runway are going to be at Payless; I just can’t believe it. Now, you know that I really wasn’t a client of Christian’s before, but after seeing this show, I certainly will be a client of his now. I’m also looking forward to seeing Chado Ralph Rucci’s collection later on.

Aside from the fun times I’m having at The Tents, my friends and I had such a wonderful time going all around town during Fashion’s Night Out. We had cocktails and great food at so many of the stores we visited; the whole night was just like one great party. At Gucci, I bought a couple of purses, which was fun. Overall, the total Fashion Week experience for me has been so exciting and so glamorous. It’s so interesting just to be here and see and know about what’s going to make you look so good and feel so good for the coming season.

Bruce Elliott

Photo: Isabelle Erb

Affiliation: Fashion Stylist
You live where … Greenwich, Conn.

And, you are wearing: A signature look inspired by Rick James. He is my muse and my inspiration; I get that I look like him a lot. I really like to look different, and it’s hard to do that, especially in New York. But, I haven’t seen another man wearing a bang like I wear in a long time; certainly not since Rick James anyways. My hair is cut and styled by a stylist by the name of Carmen; she’s a family friend and she has done my hair for years. Vintage sunglasses, Tokyo 7, Soho. Shirt: Kirra. Sweater wrapped around jeans: Ralph Lauren. Jeans: H&M. Boots: Dr. Martens.

Great and Not So Great Observations: I just came out of Christian Siriano’s show, which was so beautiful. I loved the ball gowns; he really knocked me out of the water with this part of the collection. The dresses were very beautiful, as well. I loved the marbleized prints that he used, and the volume of everything, which is what I really like from him. But overall, I think that he played it safe this season. The bags and shoes, which he created exclusively for Payless are totally unexpected, but that’s Christian. I didn’t like the repetitiveness with all of those big hats; we’ve seen that before. I think, as with many other designers that we see during FW, Christian needs to evolve and change things around and take risks.

Move to Lincoln Center: Since this will be the very last year for Fashion Week at The Bryant Park Tents, I think that being here right now makes everything a little bit more magical; a little more special.

What is different now at Fashion Week is that I am seeing more people who are showing up this season, and not only that they are showing up in bigger numbers, but many of these people are showing up much more well dressed and well groomed this time around. Also, I am seeing more designers presenting some really good and wearable collections, For example, David Elfin’s show was just amazing; same for Rebecca Taylor, Tuleh, Vivienne Tam and Venexiana. When you ask me about which designers I didn’t like, well, to be honest, I can’t really say that there was anyone that I didn’t like this season. It would be hard to badmouth any designer, because everyone that I saw ranged from good to better to really, really great.

Katy Winn

Photo: Isabelle Erb

Affiliation: Getty Images; House Photographer for IMG, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week
You live where … Bi-coastal. New York and Los Angeles.

And, you are wearing: Hair color given to me by my mother, who is a natural blonde. I finally decided to go with a natural color, because I am part Dutch, so I really have to give credit to my mother and her heritage for my coloring. Barry at Bumble & Bumble cuts and styles my hair. My hair is much longer now, because I’ve been using Biotin, an incredible product, which has really made my hair grow. Make-up is just a big, mish-mosh of stuff. I’m wearing a combination of Barbie from MAC make-up and Maybelline lipstick and that really glossy and slick ‘Lash Stilletto’ mascara. I love the fact that Maybelline is at The Tents this season; so fun and exciting and glamorous. Scarf: my mother’s vintage piece. Michael Jackson-inspired Jacket: Trash and Vaudeville. Shorts: Charlotte Ronson, from one of her first collections. Hosiery: The Sockman, Saint Mark’s Palce. Shoes: Trash and Vaudeville. Camera: Nikon D-3, ‘the only way to go’, Nikon SV900 Flash, Lens: 24 to 70, 14 to 24, 70-200, ‘you’re ready to rock Fashion Week’. Runway Access Pass/4CS: ‘This pass is from Christian Siriano’s show. If you don’t have one of these, you are not hitting the runways. I have nearly all access with this pass, but I also have a ‘House Photographer’s’ badge, which does make me all access, all of the time’.

Great and Not So Great Observations: I’ve been shooting Fashion Week in New York City for sixteen seasons; eight years and I think that I have seen it all and heard it all. I do more of a photo-journalistic take on what’s going on here at Fashion Week vs. the paparazzi-style of photography, which I really don’t do. I mostly have an interest in the editors, but of course, I will take a picture of a celebrity in the front row, because that is part of the story. But, I focus on the editors, stylists, fashionistas, in general; the staples who have been making Fashion Week the exciting event that it has been sine 7th On 6th first began.

When you ask about my thoughts on all of the hangers-on who come to The Tents, well, I can only say that I really do have a problem with all of those people who would love to be a part of Fashion Week, but who do not really belong here. It seems that we just have so many random people who love to come to The Tents, and they get in somehow, and they go around, taking advantage of everything that they possibly can take advantage of. I see so many of these people running to the open bar, grabbing as many freebies as they can; stealing seats and goodie bags; i.e., doing whatever they can possibly do, just to be seen and be photographed. I think that all of this is just crazy, especially when it comes to stealing gift bags. I mean, anyone can get a lot of the stuff in those bags on their own, for a very nominal cost. So why, go and steal a goody bag? I guess for these people, running around with a gift bag from Fashion Week is the thrill of the hunt; the be all and end all of their lives. On the other hand, there are so many fashion, art and design students in New York City who want to be here, and I’d love for them to be able to come in and see the shows, because these young people are truly followers of fashion and style, and for them to be a part of Fashion Week seems right.

When you ask about whether or not people in fashion can be nice, vs. all of the rudeness that just seems to be such an integral part of Fashion Week, I have a story. I lost my Blackberry when I was shooting house for Duckie Brown. You know that in the fashion industry, we’re driven to tears for losing something as crucial to our lives as a Blackberry is. Our whole lives are stored in there; we’re tethered to that Blackberry. You see many, many people going through The Tents on their Blackberries, constantly talking and texting on them. Everybody has all of their important numbers, contact information, et al, on the Blackberry; nobody has any of that information committed to memory; everyone depends on the Blackberry for all of that. So, when I lost my Blackberry, I went crazy, obviously. Most of the Duckie Brown team, who were just darling and great, was searching with me, once we got everything straightened away with the show and all of that, but in the end, the Blackberry was nowhere to be found. I walked out of that show in tears. And, I’m thinking, so, this really is the rudeness and disgraceful attitude of some person, who would actually take someone else’s Blackberry and just walk away with it. I cannot tell you how I felt at that exact moment, just thinking that there was someone out there, walking around with my property that they had stolen. But, there was good news in the end, because when I walked to the front of The Tents, I went to the Information Booth, just on a hunch. I figured that I’d make one last ditch effort, and I’ll ask if anybody had turned the Blackberry in; well, somebody did find my Blackberry and they turned it in. I was so happy. Maybe one day, I’ll find out who that person was who turned it in and be able to do something equally wonderful for them.

Some Good Dish: I can tell you who had a hard time getting a seat at one of the major shows this season. You’ll have to forgive me, though, but I just can’t remember which show, because right now, it’s all become such a blur. Poor Russell Simmons, who is one of the richest men in the music and clothing world, had just come into the show, and was jostled around from one front row seat to the next, because the publicist couldn’t find the correct seat for Mr. Simmons. So, the publicist finally sat Mr. Simmons down, right next to Nikki Hilton, who was being really heavily photographed, and there were flashbulbs going off everywhere. So, while all of this was happening, Mr. Simmons turns right around to the publicist, who just happened to be standing right there in all of this craziness, and says, ‘I’m here to watch this show, and I want a real seat, where I can do that’. And, so, then, Mr. Simmons was relocated to another seat in the front row.

Celebrities At The Shows: The thing overall that I find most interesting about the celebrities who come to Fashion Week, such as Tori Spelling, Tim Gunn, Kelly Rowland, Mena Suvari, et al, who were at Christian Siriano’s show, is that they all continue to draw so much interest and attention from the general public. The media and the designers are all interested in the celebrities because the celebrities make news and they also help to sell the designer’s image to the general public, so it’s all a big circle, going around and around. But, there are certain shows, and I don’t want to name any names here; there are those shows that do not encourage celebrities to show up. And, that’s OK, because in those cases, those lines are not de-valued at all. Some of these designers are really big names; some are smaller names, but no matter who they are, they just seem to want to make a conscious decision not to being in the celebrities nor encourage the celebrities to show up. And, the reason is simple, because for these designers, it is all about and only about the lines, and what they are showing on the runway for that season. And, for many of us in the fashion industry, we like that way of thinking, because whether or not you choose to have that celebrity factor , ultimately it should really be about the line and the fashion for that season, and not necessarily about which celebrities are going to be at your show, or which celebrities are going to be wearing your pieces on the Red Carpet for that season.

Astrid Brucker

Photo: Rhonda Erb

Affiliation: Fashion Stylist
You live where … East Village

And, you are wearing: Hair cut, style, color, Nathaniel Hathaway. Make-up, Makeup Forever. Fragrance: Soir de Lune by Sisley. Draped neckline cocktail dress with asymmetrical sash, designed by Astrid Brucker.

Great and Not So Great Observations: I’ve been covering Fashion Week on and off, since I went to Parsons School of Design and majored in Fashion Design. Over the past fifteen years, I do think that Fashion Week has gotten away from its roots, where the clothing on the runway and the designer’s creative vision behind a collection, were the true stars of what made Fashion Week such an interesting event. Today, Fashion Week has become very celebrity driven, and I really don’t think all of this should be as important as it has become and is now. But, I do think that the celebrity factor is done for the press, purely to get the attention of the media, in general, which, in turn, drives and garners the sales in the stores.

So, it’s understandable that more and more designers want to get those celebrities in the front row. And, so, all of this has taken priority over seating those people who will take the good pictures, post them, and write about a collection in a way that matters. Plus, we’re not really seeing so many of the A-list celebrities at the majority of shows; we’re seeing more of the C-and-D-listers; more and more of the ‘Reality Show’ celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, The Gossip Girls, and Alex McCord from The Real Housewives of New York City. Speaking of ‘Reality Shows’, and their popularity right now,I do think that Anna Wintour was really smart, and totally ahead of the wave when she began creating a look for celebrities on her covers.

Addressing the crazy draw of celebrities and how all of that is hooking into fashion, I think that for anybody who is not as passionate about fashion and style and the shows and the glamour, such as people like you and I are, well, don’t we love the drama and the clothing, and the actual craftsmanship that goes into what we’re seeing walk down that runway; well, for me, nobody who is not an industry professional can really have that love affair, nor understand it all. On the other hand, people like you and I know and understand what all of this entails behind the scenes. We know all about the pain and suffering that go along with creating a line, and the hard work and many, many years of studying the craft, that in the end, is what really matters when it comes to the creation of that collection we’re seeing at that designer’s show.

Really, I don’t think that any of these celebrities, no matter if they are A-list or not, truly understand or know about, that fashion is what it is; hard-work and everything else that goes on behind closed doors, way before that celebrity walks into the show and takes their front row seat. I think that these celebrities just come to Fashion Week and come to the shows and they think, ‘oh, this is just a great, fun party, and I can dress up and get my picture taken and maybe promote my new project, and get some free clothes and go to the gifting suites and pick up some freebies, and then, we’ll be done’.

Move To Lincoln Center: I am sad about the move. Bryant Park is the fashion center as we know it; the place is convenient to everything. For example, when I have a break between shows, I can quickly run over to M&J Trimming or the fabric stores where I always shop, and see what’s new over there. Plus, I can take the F train right here from where I love downtown, so, when it’s bad weather, I can just hop on the subway and be here in a moment’s notice, with no muss or fuss. Lincoln Center is far away and for people like me, it’s not going to be so easy to get there. And, once we’re over there, we’re there, because getting around isn’t going to be as easy it is with Bryant Park. Plus, Bryant Park is gorgeous and I think that the entire location adds to the mystique of the city, not to mention Fashion Week, for tourists. The Bryant Park location makes everyone excited about Fashion Week, even if they’re not involved in fashion. We see many regular people coming to The Tents, just to get a look at who’s coming and going during the week. And, that only adds to everything that’s going on here. I do think that we will lose a lot; really, a lot, of the excitement of Fashion Week At Lincoln Center, simply because the location is so out of the way. For me, it’s quite an odd choice.

Trending, Meeting and Greeting at Fashion Week: The main trend that I don’t like is the l980’s theme; it really is the most awful trend, even though many designers are showing it this season. I’ve never worn it and I don’t care to ever see it again. Once was enough. Big shoulders don’t look good to me or on me, and I suspect that other women feel the same way that I do. After all, how many women do you know that can pull off this look, aside from the tall, skinny models we see wearing this look on the runways.

Maybe, maybe not. On the other hand, the designers whom I did love and thought showed some amazing things in their collections are Vera Wang (her show was absolutely gorgeous; her mix of colors and fabrics are incredible); Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs. I thought that Marc’s things were interesting, especially his mixes of ruffles and the Japanese touches; exquisite.

I also very much liked David Elfin. You and I met in a very interesting way at his show. I recently worked with People’s Revolution as part of a photo shoot I did with The Plaza Hotel. So, in working with the company and several of the designer collections, which People’s Revolution represents, I was invited to David Elfin’s show. I was really excited to see this first showing of his work, because he’s so interesting to me, aside from his creativity. He’s good friends with Pedro Almovadar, and he’s involved with the film world, and he’s an actor, and I was so intrigued by all of that. So, I was excited about coming to see his show. I think that he showed so many different silhouettes, and at first, I thought that it was interesting choice for him to focus on the color green, as he did throughout much of his collection. For me, his sea-foam green shade was really evocative of springtime. But, I also think that when you’re showing in the Fall, and you’re using these one-off, springy colors, such as sea-foam, especially in a setting such as Bryant Park, where it really is looking like Fall, well, maybe that might be too different and out of place. So, some of that took some time to adjust to and get used to, because it was just so different.

I did like the fact that he mixed classic, simplistic silhouettes and shapes with those colors, as well as using some odd, bits and pieces, such as the man’s jacket with one sleeve. I’m not so sure that I was so crazy about that piece, but I especially liked the bandau with the front and back drape; I just loved that one. So, overall, I thought that this designer showed lots of really great pieces that I would wear. On the whole, I liked this show, because there really was a definite point of view; plus, most of the garments were not totally un-wearable, vs. so much of what we see on other runways.

During the show, I was taking pictures of the audience’s reactions. I always love to see how other people are looking at things, and what things they are looking at. So, I’m sitting there and I’m thinking about what I’m seeing on the runway, and I’m wondering if maybe there’s just too much green and if it’s just too strange. Then, all of a sudden, I looked around, and I saw you looking, and I saw the expression on your face, and I thought that perhaps you were thinking the same thing as I was thinking. And, it really showed on your face. So, even though I was sitting in one of the last rows, and you were further down front, I knew that we both felt the same way. I wanted to try and talk to you after David Elfin’s show, but you were gone.

I then ran into you at Douglas Hannant’s presentation at The Plaza Hotel. I just used Douglas Hannant’s clothing from this collection for a print and website campaign, which I styled, and which was photographed by Walter Chin. Douglas’ pieces are gorgeous, especially all of his Grecian Goddess things. I’m glad that he chose The Plaza Hotel to show his collection, which does make sense, not only because of the delicate and beautiful ambience of the room where the presentation took place, but also because, he just opened his own retail shop at The Plaza.

Lisa Robertson

(Photo: Sam Morris)

Affiliation: QVC Program Host
You live where … West Chester, Pa.

And, you are wearing: Hair cut and styled by Chaz Dean; Wen product. Make-Up: Bare Minerals Foundation; So Natural Liner. Earrings: QVC gold hoops. Ring: Italian Gold. Pendant: Gold Expressions. Indian Bangles: Marc Bouwer. Blouse, Leggings: BCBG. Rocker Boots: Donald Pliner.

All About Q: We met Robertson, sitting front row at Isaac Mizrahi’s show, and then, talked with her at the QVC sponsor booth at The Tents. Robertson, who has been one of the more prominent “faces”, selling on QVC since 1995, competed in The Miss America Beauty Pageant in l989, winning the Miss Tennessee title. She went on to become a spokesperson for The Cultured Pearl Association of America and Japan, where she served as U.S. Pearl Princess; a spokesperson for the Governor of Tennessee and a hostess for a small, cable network show, “Shop at Home”.

Robertson lifted the veil on the tie-in with Mizrahi, which is due to launch on air in early December 2009. ‘Live! Isaac Mizrahi’ will broadcast out of New York, where a special studio is in the process of being designed and built, as well as from QVC’s Pennsylvania headquarters. Reported to be the biggest QVC launch ever, Mizrahi’s shows will feature his particular brand of lifestyle, home décor, clothing, accessories, food, and costume and fine jewelry lines, all at affordable prices. Obviously, Mizrahi’s teaming up with QVC makes a lot of sense, Robertson says, not only for his creativity, but more importantly, because of his personality and showmanship. No doubt, this partnership makes for a perfect package, especially when it comes to really reaching millions of shoppers who are not necessarily the young, well-heeled, genetically perfect, size 2 designer favorite, but still covet the look at realistic prices.

QVC had a huge presence at Fashion Week this season. Its name and sponsorship apparently enabled the company to make a big hit with the press, but also to make an even bigger hit with its broadcast and website shoppers, many of whom would probably never have gotten the chance to know about or purchase capsule clothing and accessories collections in small to plus sizes, all at budget prices, from names such as Viv byVivienne Tam, Edition by Erin Fetherston, Logo by Lori Goldstein, Marc Bouwer, Rachel Zoe, Chloe Dao, Pamela Dennis, Bradley Bayou and Shop Intuition by Jaye Hersh.

Here, QVC broadcast two, live, sold-out, fashion presentations, straight from The Tents on two different evenings, via an intimate, cocktail party-style selling event in the lobby and a back-of-house runway show, both complete with an invited audience and guests, stylized models and personal appearances from the featured designers

Given the fact that that QVC is seemingly doing its best to further market and brand itself in a much more fashionable way, as evidenced by its amped-up visage at Fashion Week, its growing roster of new and name designers, and everything else that the company is doing to become the number one retailer in the world, is there any doubt in anyone’s mind out there, as to exactly how long it’s going to be before the fashion press, buyers, et al are attending QVC Fashion Week? An interesting point to ponder - no?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ralph’s Got the ‘Blues’


Ralph Lauren showed his spring 2010 collection at two back-to-back showings downtown on Hudson Street. His program notes made mention of these trying and difficult times and the “resilient spirit of America”. He was inspired by the “character of the worker, the farmer, the cowboy, the pioneer women of the prairie living authentically through challenging times”, and the ‘honesty of their work wear and its reinterpretation”. This theme played out for both day and evening (a metallic ice blue lame voile overall gown, anyone?). Save for the vintage prairie flowers, a grouping in white, and a pink gown at the end of the show, which was shown beneath a blue pinstriped jacket, almost the entire line was a study in shades of blue. It was signature ‘Ralph’ and both the designer and his wife Ricky, were wearing their faded denims in a display of harmony.


The show opened with western inspired work wear and denim in a range of washes, silhouettes, and proportions: fitted jackets and boxy jackets, roll cuffed relaxed jeans, and overalls. (But ‘honesty’ and ‘authenticity’ has its limits; Ralph did not show these pieces with dirty and soiled workmen’s boots but metallic high heeled sandals). This was followed by what Ralph does better than anyone else: different takes on the haberdashery lightweight wool navy pinstripe 3 piece suits (fitted jackets, vests, shirts, pants, broadcloth shirts, ties - the whole nine yards). Then came the whites followed by a grouping in faded blue ombre charmeuse (workshirts, carpenter pants), and then the embroidered and beaded evening pieces.


For Ralph, it’s always about unexpected combinations and mixes, and so, while the vintage chambray single georgette beaded gown was pretty, it was the more unusual pairings that stood out (the indigo cotton striped jacket worn over a faded blue ombre organdy work shirt and faded blue stretch denim pants; the vintage chambray georgette beaded top and faded blue ombre charmeuse jodhpur, or the aforementioned indigo cotton striped peak lapel two button jacket thrown over a faded pink ombre gauze embroidered gown). FYI, since there is almost no living designer more synonymous with 'American Style' than Ralph Lauren, you can be sure many of the attendees at this year’s "Party of the Year" (in honor of the exhibit, “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity”, will be wearing something by the designer.

The ‘Rain Man’


You can always expect the unexpected, and theatrical from Isaac Mizrahi, though you never know what that will be. How funny fashion is, now that so many designers have seemingly ‘caught up’ with Isaac in terms of using bright colors, stripes, madcap pattern mixes, and injecting a feeling of lighthearted whimsy into their collections (remember his fall 2009 collection?), Isaac has moved on to something else.


And that something ‘else’ (though of course there is still Isaac’s sense of playfulness and whimsy) was decidedly chic, tailored, classic, and spectator-y (I loved the black and white spectator flats and low heeled shoes that were shown at the beginning). And the ‘something else’ also had more than a feeling of vintage YSL in the shapes (the tailleur, the pleated trouser pants, the tuxedos, the use of black and white, the dresses and gowns decorated with large flowers, the use of transparency in the form of sheer black ‘cages’ over dresses).


And then of course, there were the chic straw hats. Whereas last season, Isaac used pocketbooks turned upside down as hats, the only place bags were used (and they were classic and elegant as well), were on the arms of the models. Soon into the show, it began to ‘rain’ from the ceiling, and on cue, a guy dressed in a black jumpsuit ran out with an umbrella, to shield the models from the downpour. At the end, a golf cart appeared. I’m still not sure what the symbolism was; after all, Isaac was not hawking umbrellas and there was not one raincoat amongst all the beige (the main color story was the use of tan or beige mixed with strong pastels). Could it be that Isaac is spending a lot of his free time on rainy golf courses?

‘Needle’ in a Haystack


If nothing else, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein had to put on one of the most quickly paced shows this season. There were only 35 pieces, but 35 pieces can last an eternity (lumbering music, slowly paced models -you know the drill). But Francisco had one exacting artistic vision and he delivered it quickly and to the point (the models walked by so quickly it was hard to take notes). It shouldn’t be a surprise that since fall was almost entirely all about black, there was hardly any black at all (when it was used, it was used as an abstract ‘print’). A grouping in white opened the show and there was also porcelain, bisque, shades of gray, and hits of color in the form of pale jade, shell pink, coral, and yellow.


Francisco has become known for his use of innovative fabrics and this time he introduced what the program notes described as ‘needle punched’ cotton voile or silk chiffon which was used along with double faced cotton poplin, nylon, rinsed double faced cotton voile, pleated cotton, silk gazar, and silk organdy. The result was somewhat rumpled and highly textural: surface interest without the use of any decoration. And each piece (be it a racer back dress, a coat, a gown) had its own organic shape. Speaking of organic, that would be the best way to describe the collection as well as the ‘prints’, which were very free form and abstract, (some looked marbleized in shades of gray, black, and porcelain, while others seemed to mimic the sky right before a storm).


Everything looked light and airy; nothing clung to the body, yet volume was controlled. While there were some pants shown with jackets, long skirts, (often paired with elongated racer back tank tunics), and a smattering of gowns, it was a ‘short’ story, and a dress story at that. Almost everything was short (but wisely, not too short), and when coats were shown, they were the same length as the dresses beneath. The overall effect was modern, if not somewhat Zen like, and a Japanese influence was hard to ignore. This was even apparent in the footwear (mainly lacquered calf t strap sandals on a very low platform). Hurray!Once again, another designer has endorsed a lower heel for spring. While it was certainly innovative, well conceived,and beautifully done, the clothes are not necessarily the easiest to pull off for most women and admittedly, this is not a collection for everyone (and that's apparently fine with the designer).

-Marilyn Kirschner

"The Daily Bet" by Rhonda Erb


Fashion Week is over and that means it’s time for the press to pack up and travel to the next locale. It’s hard to look fashionable when you look like you’ve been living out of a suitcase. Rowenta’s First Class Travel Iron fits conveniently into any size bag. Its great for touch-ups so that you can arrive at your next destination looking your best. From now until September 29th, Rowenta is offering free garment care at their 5th Avenue boutique.

Rowenta Fashion Week Boutique
475 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let’s try this again…Woops! Well of course, the title yesterday should have been, “I (don’t) feel bad about my neck”, not “I (don’t) feel back about my neck”….what can I say? In my haste to send out the story, rushing out to the morning’s shows, I somehow overlook the glaring typo. - Marilyn

Message to Michael

All Photos:

I am a big fan of Michael Kors. I always look forward to his collections since he is one designer with a consistent vision and great taste. And his clothes are not hard to wear for women who don’t look like Elle McPhearson or Gisele. In other words, the proportions and lengths are generally well suited for your average woman; a woman who wants to look great but not like a fashion victim. While he delivered some nice classic pieces and desirable items, as always, I’m sorry to say his spring collection, presented yesterday morning, was not one of his stronger shows. It just fell a bit flat, especially when you consider his blockbuster fall 2009 line, with its strong message and even stronger visual images. Spring simply ‘paled’ by comparison (pun intended).

The program notes said that the message of spring is “urban renewal...sleek architectural shapes...utilitarian luxury...splatter prints, etc”. But instead of East Coast, urbane chic, and a look that was ‘very New York’, much of the line smacked of the West Coast and was ‘Very Hollywood’. Oh gee isn’t that funny? Michael’s new fragrance is called ‘Very Hollywood’ and its elegant bottle, packaged in a chicly square coral and gold box and sitting inside its own mini shopping bag, was on the (white covered) seat of each show attendee. At least Michael was classy enough to put the gift on every seat, including those up in the bleachers.

How insulting it is, for a gift to be made visibly available to only the front row? This is exactly what happened later in the afternoon at Alexandre Herchcovits. And what a pity, because the chic and sturdy wood handled umbrellas, which were lined up in a rainbow of colors to mimic the rainbow hued, bold and graphic theme of the collection, was one of the more practical and desirable gifts given out this season. Especially since rain was threatening all day and rain was predicted for the last day of Fashion Week as well).

Getting back to Michael, the splatter prints sounded better than they were, the group of black stretch crepe dresses with their open cage work and transparent insets, looked too forced and contrived, and the use of one sleeved tops, often looked awkward. And when I read the run of show and saw the words ‘trompe l’oeil - it put me in a good mood. As an admirer of Roberta di Camerino and Elsa Schiaparelli, both of whom have dabbled quite a bit in trompe l’oeil, I have always loved its whimsy. And wouldn’t you know it, at that same moment, I saw Robert Verdi walk to his seat wearing a trompe l’oeil sweater that could be seen from rows away. But Michael’s black merino trompe l'oeil cardigan was not exceptional. You had to really look hard to see there was any trompe l'oeil in the silver and black paillette trompe l’oeil shifts that ended the show.

FYI, one of the best examples of trompe l’oeil I’ve seen in a long time, was the sweater (designer unknown) worn by Lizzie Tisch at last week’s Couture Council luncheon, honoring Dries Van Noten. Knitted on the front, was a larger than life facsimile of a huge, statement making necklace. What made this so much fun, is the way it mimicked what turned out to be one of the biggest trends (on, and especially off, the runway) this season.

That said, the white glove leather zipper shift was clean and modern; the strong modified pagoda shoulder, (especially when translated into a white stretch cotton suit) made a statement without looking like a dangerous weapon (Michael’s tailoring is also great); the coats were standout as usual including a perfect white bonded faille reefer coat with a trench back, and the ink blot cotton broadcloth pea coat and matching Bermudas, which was an interesting take on a classic. The mint crinkle cashmere oversized cardigan and ombred thistle tissue mohair tank, sea foam tissue mohair pullover, and watercolor shantung shorts looked fresh; the draped jersey dresses, one in thistle and the other, an asymmetrical white version to the knee, were great; and his graphically cut out swimsuits always make an impact (just be sure you have the body to carry them off).

Yes, Yes, Nanette!

Nanette Lepore is on a mission to save the garment center. She not only wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times along with her husband Robert Savage, "The Fabric of New York”, which appeared on Monday, September 7th, but had time to put the finishing touches on her well done, lighthearted 28 piece spring collection which was shown yesterday. (Included in her run of show, was a copy of the editorial and a bumper sticker: "Save the Garment Center").

The overall message of the collection was its endorsement of color and prints, (notably florals and multi colored stripes which were often mixed together or juxtaposed against items normally considered to be utilitarian and military staples like the trench, the army fatigue pant, the drawstring short, the parka), and the use of knitwear. It was point/counterpoint (the idea of hard and soft, sweet and functional, girlie and masculine, street and evening). Best pieces were the short watercolor floral wrap dress and striped top; the olive utility trench jacket worn with a striped top and wildflower pants; the floral jacket, striped sweater, and raindrop printed shorts; the multi colored striped knee length cardigan worn over a shorter raindrop printed dress; and the midcalf khaki trench coat dress worn over a striped knit.

Phillip’s ‘Mac’ Attack

Phillip Lim’s clothes resemble nobody else’s. The young designer has a wonderful vision, a great sense of color and proportion, and his clothes have that rare combination of youth, modernity, personality, and sophistication. There is never anything vulgar or insulting about his designs.

Among those things he has become known for in a rather short time, are his inventive mixes, his beautiful fabrics, and his love affair with military inspired outerwear (trenches and Macs). The spring show which followed Oscar de la Renta’s double header, began with a grouping in lacquer red (almost head to toe), went on to grey mélange cashmere knits, and continued into tan and camel (here come the trenches and Macs, which were sometimes cropped of abbreviated). His pants and cuffed shorts are always beautifully cut and his offhanded combinations, taking classic shapes and wardrobe staples and putting them together in surprising combinations, are interesting. But for me, it was the beautifully done group of organza knee length, accordion pleated dresses at the end, (especially the sculptural, collaged, and appliqué numbers, some with abstract cubist detail) that stole the show.

'Marc’ my Words

FYI, I am so bored with that aggressive and ubiquitous ‘bridge and tunnel’ look which is visible all over town and in and around the Bryant Park tents: the skintight low rise jeans, the skimpy tops, the tacky hooker like high heels, etc. This is another reason I think the adulation surrounding Marc Jacobs is not underrated. Regardless of what you think of all his designs, there is always symbolism within a collection and what Marc’s collection pointed to was a return to the chic and feminine, a move away from the tough, aggressive look that has pervaded fashion, a call to dress up and have fun again, a re-evaluation of a longer length, and a signal that the heavy, clunky ‘orthopedic’ looking shoe which nobody can seem to walk in is over (I loved that Marc showed a decidedly innocent, practically flat, delicate, t strap shoe). I have spotted so many girls and older women literally having to lean on someone in order to navigate the streets in their ridiculously high heeled shoes. One editor-in-chief (I won’t say who), was seen leaving Donna Karan literally holding on to her associates in order to get to her car. Would you please explain what the appeal is of footwear that not only looks horrible, but is impossible to walk in, and makes the wearer have to literally hunch over?

-Marilyn Kirschner

In the Center Ring: Anna Sui


How apropos that Anna Sui’s Spring 2010 presentation would have a circus theme. The spectacle that is Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is, after all, held in an enormous tent. On Wednesday night, Ms. Sui entertained an audience that included celebrities like Whitney Port with what was undoubtedly one of the greatest shows of the season.

Only Ms. Sui could concoct a mixture of prints, plaids, dots and stripes and have it turn out to be such a sheer delight. Her collection was playful and flirty, and every ensemble was a study in unexpected contrasts.

The models strolled the runway to a soundtrack inspired by traditional circus music and a big top backdrop completed the theme. Ms. Sui showed a black capelet with an orchid print dress, a preppy purple cable knit sweater with a lilac floral crinkle chiffon blouse and liberty print skirt, and a foulard print dots and daisies dress with a circus striped sweater in black and cream. Her dresses in sunflower and marigold prints were particularly appealing, and the mix of a voodoo beaded jacket, royal paillette embroidered dress and denim short was a clear stand out. Accessories included majorette hats, oversize bags, and gladiator sandals.

Ms. Sui recently collaborated with Target on a successful collection inspired by Gossip Girl and received a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award in June. Judging from the reception that her show received from the crowd on Wednesday night, it is clear that many will be running off to join Anna Sui’s circus.

-Rhonda Erb

"The Daily Bet" by Rhonda Erb

Casio Watch

This bright yellow Baby-G from Casio is definitely the “It” watch of the season. It’s been seen everywhere this week on the wrists of celebrities and fashionistas alike. You say yellow is not your color? This stylish watch is also available in black, red and white.

Casio Baby-G Watch

Casio Digital Camera

The Casio EX-S5 is the perfect little camera for snapping shots from the front row. It has 10.1 mega pixels and a 2.7” LCD monitor. The camera is small enough to fit into the tiniest handbag and its two-tone body comes in four great colors.

Casio EX-S5 Digital Camera

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

“I (don’t) feel bad about my Neck”

All Photos:

The whole statement necklace trend (and I hate using that word because it’s far more than a trend at this point) has really taken off so much so that probably by this time next season, we will all have gotten bored of it and it will look entirely passé. Until then, (if show goers and spring 2010 runways are any indication) they are here to stay.

And they make good sense on so many levels. At a time when the economy is the way it is and shoppers are exercising more caution in terms of their purchases, these amazing necklaces, neck pieces, bibs, chains, etc., are a rather simple, quick, easy, and inexpensive (or at least, they can be) way to instantly change one’s look and really make an impact, without even buying anything new.

The transformative nature of accessories (and the statement necklace in particular) was very much on display at the Badgley Mischka show held yesterday morning. In addition to ready to wear, the dapper duo, who originally made their name designing Red Carpet entrance making gowns, have a successful jewelry licensee, in addition to shoes and handbags, and as it turns out, the decidedly simplified, rather classic shapes that comprised spring 2010, were a perfect foil for their eye catching bijoux -- most notably their necklaces, which were presented in a variety of incarnations.

Among the standouts from the well edited 41 piece collection, (many of which benefitted from the use of these over the top neck pieces), include the chic salt and pepper silk and tweed skirt suit with belted and peplumed jacket worn over a narrow pencil skirt which opened the show; the simple white shantung jumpsuit; the white shantung tuxedo pantsuit; the white matte jersey gown with trompe l’oeil beaded belt; the ivory lace and taffeta clover (petal) dress; the black shantung jacket shown over an ivory taffeta clover floor length skirt; and the group of glamorous swimsuits in pimento, black and white (there was a maillot in white and a black bikini shown with a white blazer). FYI: the glamorous, dressed up swimsuit is shaping up to be a bonafide trend this season.

Strange Bedfellows

It looks as though it’s going to be a ‘brief’ season. Brian Reyes was yet another designer using almost ‘nothing’ but briefs (and mile high legs and higher heels), beneath his coats or jackets, on his runway. The designer always cuts a fabulously chic car coat and this season, in stone Japanese cotton, was no exception. Of course, it’s his prints and patterns that always stand out (this time, it was his group of ‘bleeding heart prints”). Also notable were the embroidered ‘skeletal’ print tank dress and top shown with black centipede skirt. A white Japanese cotton strapless harnass dress was simple, to the point, and elegant; and for pure color impact, the wasabi (bright chartreuse really) silk crepe tiered dress deserves a mention.

That said, one of the most curious aspects of the show, was the press release attached, announcing Brian's collaboration with Proper Attire, “The company Proper Attire condoms transform the "Staple" everyone should carry to the signature item every woman should own". The designer was selected because of his “ultra feminine designs that make every woman feel elegant and sexy”. Brian designed the packaging by incorporating a pattern used throughout his resort 2010 collection: a botanical motif with abstract poppies, blooming buds, and climbing roots, (I have a question: how exactly does one decide what print to put on a condom???)

At a time when so many designers are collaborating with different kinds of companies on a wide range of products…this one takes the cake!

‘After Five’

Dennis Basso cited “fluid movement with a nod to the ballerinas of the great Degas”, as inspiration for his 'After 5' collection that was dedicated mainly to “cocktail dressing”. I don’t know about you, but for me, the notion of a collection based on ‘cocktail’ hour, and for ‘after five’ seems rather old fashioned especially these days but I guess Dennis Basso knows what his gals want and furs continue to be used year round like any other fabric.

So it was hardly surprising that here were a smattering of pelts (horizontally worked pastel mink and organza cover-ups and abbreviated shrugs and boleros) on Dennis’s runway (PETA protesters were in position outside the Tents, shouting their disapproval and holding signs up but that didn’t deter some of Dennis’s faithful fans, including some of the social set like Jamee Gregory, Cece Cord, and Somers Farkas). Too many of the ‘ballet’ inspired dresses featured skirts that were too full and too short (and often had too much going on), and in general, the more simplified pieces looked the best, like the platinum jersey and bronze chiffon gown worn with a gold diamond dusted python bolero. And the group of dresses featuring a large poppy print on a white background appeared to interest the social set who always need dresses for garden parties and garden themed galas that always come up in the spring and summer months.

Architectural Digest

Ralph Rucci and Yeohlee are not the only designers with an architectural bent, who have lightened up, gone softer, more colorful, and less austere this season. The collection shown last evening by Narciso Rodriguez, was beautifully conceived, smart, chic, and wearable, and a study in restraint; and would suit the needs of many women who work and also need clothes that look special, not fashion victim-y (not often easy to find).

It was also a toned down yet natural evolution from fall’s almost jolting and bold graphic patterns (which were shown from head to toe in many cases) and its equally strong color story. This season, there were still shots of color (green, pink, fuchsia, burnt purple), used effectively with the designer’s signature palette of black, white, natural, and jute, but it did not look as jarring as it had for fall. And the patterns, while graphic and still effective, were more scaled down.

There was a feeling of lightness and weightlessness in the construction of garments, and the use of controlled volume throughout (jackets, coats, and dresses followed the lines of the body but did not constrain the body), and pleats gave movement to skirts and dresses. Layering and transparency, themes that have all been in Narciso’s stable of signatures, showed up again, and the over all effect is one that is feminine and even sexy without being obvious or vulgar in any way. This is something Narciso has perfected.

Suits, matched or unmatched, with jackets devoid of any stiffness, and shown with a soft skirt or narrow pant, were a recurring theme. (Sleeveless jackets, a trend on many runways this season, looked especially good here). The show opener, a beautifully shaped black linen canvas and silk faille jacket paired with an ecru pleated silk organza skirt and white satin chiffon top set the mood, and a white silk/linen organza jacquard jacket with a double peplum, shown over a white silk linen organza jacquard pant was very appealing.

There were two artfully constructed coats, in silk and cotton mud cloth and dresses (a Narciso mainstay) were given a lot of attention, appearing in a variety of ways. There were silk linen organza jacquard dresses, mud cloth dresses, printed dresses, dresses with arrestingly cut out backs, dresses with loose backs (a modified ‘sack’), and graphic tri-colored dresses (one notable example was the black/purple/coral silk crepe and chiffon dress). The show ended with a trio of gowns in black, white, and silver, that were short in front and long in back and when the models walked down the runway, they appeared to float.

-Marilyn Kirschner

"The Daily Bet" by Rhonda Erb

HP Simple Save Portable Hard Drive

Now backing up all the photos, video, music and other data on your PC is practically effortless. The HP Simple Save Portable external hard drive is quick and easy to use and comes in 320 and 520 gigabyte capacities. The sleek case stays cool and runs quietly without a fan. It’s so small that you can take it with you anywhere and keep all the information that you treasure safe and secure.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What’s in the Air’


The weather was so glorious yesterday that it’s hard to imagine anything could happen which would spoil the good feelings. But it did and this one takes the cake. I boarded the bus provided by Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, right after the 1 p.m. Tracy Reese show ended, to head downtown to Donna Karan, who always shows her collections at 711 Greenwich Street. The ride was uneventful. The show was scheduled for 2 p.m. and we got there a few minutes before the show was to begin --approximately 2:30.

The 41 piece collection went by the title, ‘What’s in the Air’, and Donna cited inspiration from the elements: “the sky, water, wind, sand, earth and fire” (what else is new?) Whereas the designer seemed to revisit her roots for the fall collection (where all her familiar ‘best hits’ were re invented and re imagined), spring was a bit more esoteric and experimental (and what’s with those unnecessary Stephen Jones hats, Donna?). While there were a smattering of coats and some pants, it was primarily about artfully deconstructed and fitted skirt suits, worn over stretch body suits, in innovative fabrics (such as viscose matte stretch twill and silk/nylon stretch taffeta) which allowed for fabric manipulation and a feeling of movement.

Evening consisted of Donna’s familiar draped gowns (many of them narrow yet falling away from the body, exposing the sides and backs) in viscose/silk crepe jersey and viscose/silk satin devore. Admittedly, these are not the easiest dresses to pull off if you need to wear any sort of undergarment, or if you are not over 6 feet tall and weight under 100 pounds, like Donna’s stable of models.

The color palette carried out the ‘elements’ theme throughout, in barely there non colors such as pumice, storm, blush, and sky blue, not necessarily the most flattering shades to wear for most women; which made the periodic appearance of ‘fire coral’ (lacquer red by any other name), even more appealing. This turned up in form of a stretch taffeta coat, stretch canvas strapless dress, organza shell; a double linen envelope jacket and double linen scissor pant; a nylon stretch dress with coral branch belt; and a viscose/silk satin devore evening dress.

And since I was sitting across the room from Anna Wintour, who I knew was headed out to the U.S. Open men’s finals (she kept looking at her watch and checking her cell phone), I was reminded that red was the power color worn so well by her good friend Roger Federer this season (though he lost his match last night). By the way, Anna made her quick exit out a back door right before the show’s finale.

‘Dumb and Dumber’

Well anyway, after the show, I looked for Stephanie, the sweet intern who was trying to be helpful and in charge of getting show goers on the bus (in her fuchsia dress, she was hard to miss). She was also in charge of getting us up to the Yeohlee show at 4 (it did seem as though we would have a bit of time to kill but I thought that was wise). We waited and waited and finally, the bus came back and picked up a group of us. It was only after the bus left, that we were told it would make one stop, on West 21st street, where Thakoon was showing at 3. I assumed the bus was dropping show goers off to Thakoon to see the show. Well,I was wrong! When we got to the venue, Eyebeam, at 10th Avenue and west 21st street, we were told that we were going to wait until Thakoon ended, and then bring those attendees to Yeohlee, on West 35th Street.

When a few of us complained, it was obvious that Stephanie did not have the authority to give directions to the bus driver to drive us to Yeohlee or to bring us closer to transportation. She had to answer to ‘higher authorities’, specifically, Katie, at the ‘Command Station’ at the Bryant Park Tents. There were many of us who were irked because this was a huge waste of precious time. We were literally sitting and waiting on the bus for what turned out to be nearly two hours and literally felt we were being ‘hijacked’ and had no choice but to wait. And on top of that, when we finally got to 34th and 7th, just a few blocks away from Yeohlee’s showroom, the bus driver headed east, all the way to Madison Avenue in order to make a turn back to 35th street! We could have simply gotten off the bus on 7th Avenue, walked two blocks, and had gotten there a half hour earlier than we did (it was about 4:30 when we arrived). It was a true comedy of errors though it wasn’t really funny. I blame it on lack of communication and poor organization. But regardless, it was unacceptable.

Birds of a Feather’

In the meanwhile, when I walked into the Yeohlee showroom, in addition to FIT’s Valerie Steele and Patricia Mears, Elsa Klensch, and Joan Kaner, I spotted Iris Apfel sitting in the front row. Of course, she’s the original ‘Rare Bird’ (‘Rara Avis’ was the name given to exhibit mounted by the Met’s Costume Institute several years ago, when they paid homage to her colorful and eclectic sense of style). Coincidentally, after I read Yeohlee’s program notes that I found there was actually a ‘connection’ between Iris and Yeohlee’s collection, which was called, ‘The Shape of Sound’.

In addition to the “invisible sonic dimension of sound”, Yeohlee cited tropical birds with their colorful plumage as inspiration for a well edited 21 piece collection that was all about form, texture, and movement. And it was departure for the designer in that it was less severe, austere, and minimal than in the past, and dare I say, more colorful, playful and very feminine! There was a veritable explosion of color, and the use of a print (a fuchsia, green, buttercup ‘Macaroon Dot’ which was fashioned into a ‘bird’ dress and was also used for a peplum jacket paired with a striped sailor top and fuchsia cotton pique shorts). And, can you imagine there were even ‘ruffles’.

But not your typical ruffle, this is Yeohlee, so it’s always about the arduous, brilliant, and innovative manipulation of fabric, and working it into a theme where every detail tells a story. And so, a stripe embroidery fabric mimicked a musical score; sound was envisioned as ‘waves’ (as seen in the stripe embro wave top worn with a black jersey wing skirt); interlocking sound wave patterns were woven onto the top of a black jersey dress; and the wave theme continued in several metallic brass matelasse dresses, which exposed the fabric’s soft white cotton interior, (“a link to the contrasting surfaces found in melodic duality” according to program notes).

Carolina's a ‘Basket’ Case

Could it be that Carolina Herrera is taking boxing lessons with Ralph Rucci to help her stay in great shape? Perhaps that would explain why a longtime Rucci inspiration: the intricate forms, textures and techniques used in the ancient art of Japanese basket weaving, has found its way into her spring 2010 collection where they were translated onto fabrics, prints, and could be found in the interlacing of the accessories. Hence, there were stone rope weave jacquard linens, straw striped linens, embroidered rope weave printed cottons, and basket weave jacquards (like the asymmetrical gown that ended the show).

Carrying out the nature theme was the predominately neutral color palette, based around stone, straw, ivory, caramel, and amber, with hits of amethyst and rose. While there were probably more evening gowns shown on this runway, than on any other thus far, there were also knee length and ‘tea length’ dresses, many of which were beaded and embroidered, which added further texture, shine, and surface interest. And the designer apparently feels very strongly about the new ‘short’ suit (a belted jacket worn over shorts), because they were a recurring theme, several of which were beaded as well.

Blame it on Rio

Attending a Carlos Miele show is often like taking a quick trip to Brazil. Carlos's forte has long been his exuberantly colored eveningwear and he didn’t disappoint this time around. But in addition to his dresses and gowns, he included more separates this time, which made for a nice balance.

Standouts include the group of pink degrade silk chiffons (a mini dress was shown with a nude tropical wool pleated bolero, a long gown was shown beneath a nude silk chiffon vest with colorful silk ‘deadlocks’, and the pink degrade silk chiffon was used for a tank top and paired with nude wool pants and a dark denim bolero). Black and white beach and city photo prints found their way onto long and short dresses, and python and snake prints turned up in the form of separates and evening gowns…one, in silk charmeuse with a deeply plunging neckline, was standout.

Mirror like embroidery added texture and shine to a nude tropical wool jacket shown with stiff dark jeans; decorated a black wool jacket which was paired with nude tropical wool shorts, and completely covered a black silk bolero, which was thrown over a black silk tank and wool mini. All I know is when the show was over, I was somehow hungry for Brazilian food.

-Marilyn Kirschner

"Move Over Eloise": Douglas Hannant At The Plaza

Photos courtesy Douglas Hannant

The Park Avenue set has a new outpost to call home. Designer Douglas Hannant opened his first retail boutique last month in New York’s Plaza Hotel. There is no sign of a recession in Hannant’s chic new flagship store. The elegant boutique, designed by Geoffrey Bradfield, features white Venetian plaster, mirrored walls, and white marble floors. Located on the street level of the Plaza’s retail area and in close proximity to Hannant’s loyal clientele, one assumes that the store will fare better than some of the hotel’s other retail establishments.

To celebrate the boutique’s opening, Hannant presented his Spring 2010 collection at a cocktail party held Monday night in the Plaza’s Terrace Room. The theme was a tribute to Venus, the goddess of love, and the space was draped throughout in large swaths of white fabric. The designer’s new looks were displayed on mannequins mounted high above the crowd, as fashionistas and socialites sipped champagne while listening to an 80’s music mix.

In keeping with the theme, Hannant’s new offerings were predictably elegant and goddess like. The color palette included pale shades of blue, yellow, pink, lavender, and green. Two of his most striking gowns were in delicate prints, one in porcelain blue and another in a multi hued floral pattern.

Since not every night can be a party, even for Hannant’s social set, the collection also included skinny pants paired with soft blouses, knee length dresses and well-tailored suits. In addition to the designer’s luxury ready to wear, a new line of accessories will be sold in Hannant’s boutique. The line will feature jewelry, shoes, hats, and evening bags.

- Rhonda Erb

"The Daily Bet" by Rhonda Erb

The Sharpie Bar

Photo: Caroline Erb

On Monday, everyone’s favorite permanent marker, Sharpie, debuted its very first Sharpie Bar in the lobby of the tents at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Designer Betsey Johnson headlined an event to introduce her exclusive Sharpie Shirt. While there, she demonstrated her doodling skills using the colorful markers. The Sharpie Bar will be open until September 16th and Betsey’s shirts will be available free of charge, while supplies last.

Sharpie has designed personalized markers for many designers at the Tents and you can design your own by visiting their website.