Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What’s in the Air’


Photos: Firstview.com

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.

http://www.mysharpie.com/

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